What one statistical trend or number is most surprising to you this far into the season and why?
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Steve Aschburner: Consider this one part surprising, one part disappointing, but for now we’ve broken the double-digit ceiling on 3-point field goals per game. Through the first 158 games this season, teams were averaging 10.4 makes on 28.9 attempts — and that attempts number represents a 57 percent increase over what teams hoisted just six seasons ago (18.4).To me — and I suppose I’m in the minority – this represents the death of the mid-range game, a significant loss in terms of creativity and individual expression on the court. Finger rolls, tear-drops, turnarounds, fadeaways, floaters, bank shots, sky hooks — those were part of the varied history of the NBA offensive game, offering a direct lineage to some of the league’s greatest players. They gave kids signature moves to imitate in their driveways or at the playgrounds. Now we’re working with a limited palette of layups, dunks and 3-pointers, and if young players are imitating anything, it’s Steph Curry firing from 30 feet. Except there’s precious little personality in anyone’s 3-point attempt — if you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. This mournful rant already is too long, so I’ll wrap by saying I look forward to the day the NBA moves the arc farther out, equalizes the risk/reward factor and invites some old-school “two’s” back into the game.
Shaun Powell: Andre Drummond shooting … get this … 75 percent from the line? Bricklayers everywhere are rejoicing and now believers after seeing this career 38-percenter suddenly rolling like Rick Barry. I nominate his 14-for-16 effort against the Bucks as the day the earth stopped moving. Or maybe it was the backboard.
John Schuhmann: The Lakers, who ranked last in defensive efficiency each of the last two seasons (and in the bottom three each of the last four) currently rank seventh defensively. I expected coach Luke Walton, coming from Golden State, to make an immediate impact on the Lakers’ defense last season. It didn’t happen right away, but L.A. appears to have figured things out in Year 2 under Walton, showing big improvement in opponent effective field goal percentage, defensive rebounding percentage, and opponent free throw rate. It’s early and the Lakers have played seven of their 10 games at home, but it’s hard to say that their defensive improvement (they’ve allowed 9.4 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season — only Boston has seen a bigger drop) is schedule-based. Five of their 10 games were against teams that currently rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency and the three games that were against bottom-10 offensive teams(Phoenix, Utah and Brooklyn) were all the second game of a back-to-back for the Lakers.
Sekou Smith: It’s hard to go bonkers over an early season statistical trend nine or 10 games into a season, but shout out to my main man John Schuhmann for finally completing his full analytics world takeover. Aaron Gordon ranking in the top five in the league among 3-point field goal percentage is a sign that good things do indeed come to those who wait. I know it’s early and the nearly 60 percent clip he’s shooting from deep right now won’t last. But for Gordon to show this kind of improvement on his outside stroke is a testament to his dedication to his craft, the one things NBA players rarely get credit for when they are in the often arduous process of transforming themselves from prospects to true players. Gordon’s diligence should be applauded. His work on his game, and his confidence that is apparent in his his attempts and willingness to take and make big shots from long range, is impressive.