Every season in the NBA, we witness some statistical anomalies that take us by surprise. The 2019-20 NBA season was no different as some players quietly racked up numbers - both good and bad - that we simply couldn't have predicted.
Such shockers spring up every now and then in a happening league like the NBA. It's about noticing them when the average NBA fan doesn't!
There are many statistics used in the NBA that are a bit more complex than the usual games won, points scored, rebounds grabbed, and so on. Statistics like defensive rating and offensive box plus/minus are advanced statistics that NBA analysts use to talk about player performances in depth. It is especially in those complicated metrics that out-of-the-ordinary players appear.
Without further ado, let's check out 5 statistics from the 2019-20 NBA season that will likely blow your mind!
#5 Damian Lillard, not James Harden, is the best offensive player in the NBA
When we talk about offensive players in the NBA, the first name that comes to our mind is that of James Harden.
Harden has averaged over 25 points per game through the last 8 seasons, and has been the league's scoring champion in the last 3 - where he has averaged over 30, including over 36 a game last season.
James Harden isn't just the best scorer in the NBA right now - he's one of the greatest of all time. Or is he?
According to the reliable statistics offensive box plus/minus, which gives an estimate of the offensive points per 100 possession a player gets above the league average, Damian Lillard leads the NBA with a stunning 8.3, marginally ahead of James Harden at 8.1.
Lillard even leads the NBA in offensive win shares, which is a statistic to determine how much a player's offense contributes to wins. Lillard's 10.9 is a whole unit ahead of Harden's 9.9 in second place.
#4 Mitchell Robinson had the most efficient scoring season in NBA history
22-year-old center Mitchell Robinson is one of the best young bigs in the NBA, and ceiling as an old-school defender is simply off the charts. He averaged over 2 blocks in his rookie season, and exactly 2 in his sophomore season. His offensive skillset needs work, but when he did attempt a field goal this season, he made it at a higher rate than anyone else ever has.
Mitchell Robinson scored nearly 10 points per game on 5.6 field goal attempts, making 4.1 of them. That is a field goal percentage of a whopping 74.2%, which is higher than any other player has ever managed in a single season of the NBA. Incredible.
#3 Jimmy Butler is the most free throw dependent player in the NBA
Drawing fouls is a skill in its own that any great scorer should master. One needs to study the opposition defense to perfection to draw contact, and then needs to sell it well enough to the referee. A player who can head to the free-throw line frequently can get his team valuable points even on a bad shooting day.
When we think of NBA players who are skilled at getting to the free-throw line, James Harden's name springs to mind once again. Understandably enough, Harden leads the NBA in both free throws attempted and free throws scored, around 200 more in either statistic than the person right below him.
However, he isn't the most dependent on free throws among major NBA players.
It is, in fact, Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler - a significantly high 37.9% of his 19.9 points per game come from free throws. Joel Embiid is a distant second with 29.9%, and James Harden is only third with 29.6%.
#2 Doug McDermott made 128 threes this NBA season, and not one was unassisted!
There is a special place in the NBA for 3-and-D players. They know their role perfectly well, and don't demand a lot of the ball to be effective. They hustle hard on defense, and space the floor diligently on offense.
When the ball does find its way into their hands, it is most likely because they're open. And they only have one job at that instant - knock it down.
Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott isn't much of a defender, but he sure is a sharpshooter from 3-point territory. Whether he is open or not, if he's feeling good about it, he will let it fly.
Very similar to Klay Thompson when it comes to 3-point shooting, Doug McDermott made 128 threes this season with a fantastic efficiency of 43.5%. He is the very definition of a catch-and-shoot player in the absence of Klay Thompson, as not a single three pointer he made was unassisted.
This means that all his made shots were a result of collecting a pass from a teammate and trying his luck.
There are a lot of three-point specialists in the NBA today who aren't exactly adept at making their own shot. For example, 260 of Duncan Robinson's 270 threes were assisted. However, nobody made more threes than Doug McDermott without a single one being unassisted. Know your role!
#1 Khris Middleton was one field goal away from NBA history
Khris Middleton is one of the most efficient scorers in the NBA right now. He can knock down 3s at a high rate, his mid-range game is strong, and he can finish at the rim very well. He had another great personal year where he made the All-Star game for the second season in a row.
Middleton averaged nearly 21 points with over 6 rebounds and 4 assists a game. He shot the 3-ball with an efficiency of 41.5%, made 91.6% of his free-throws, and made 49.9% of his overall field goals.
As you can see, he came mightily close to joining an elite group of players in the NBA. Known as the 50-40-90 club, as is clear from the name, it is a group of players who have shot over 50% from the field, over 40% from 3, and over 90% from the free-throw line in a single NBA season. Only 8 players have managed to achieve that feat, including legendary shooters like Larry Bird and Stephen Curry.
What's most agonising is the fact that out of the 850 shots Middleton attempted in the 2019-20 NBA regular season, he only needed to make 425 to enter that exclusive club. Guess how many he managed? 424.
What are the odds!?
Published 11 Sep 2020, 18:00 IST