NBA Stats

Feb 19 2013 10:49PM

A Look at the Top Teams at the Break

By Brian Martin

After meeting in Houston to celebrate the mid-point of another fantastic NBA season, the games get back underway Tuesday night with a nine-game slate.

But before we get to the games, along with Thursday's trade deadline and the final two-month sprint toward the Playoffs, let's take a look back at the top teams at the All-Star break with the help of some advanced metrics from

With every team having played at least 50 games, the division leaders have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Other than Indiana (1.5) and New York (2.5), the remaining division leaders boast at least a six-game lead in their respective divisions, with San Antonio and Miami each holding 7.5 game leads. It's not surprising that the Spurs and Heat hold the top records in their respective conferences, with San Antonio topping the league with a mark of 42-12 for a winning percentage of .778.

Western Conference
San Antonio (42-12)107.4 (4)98.4 (3)9.0 (2)1.72 (2)19.2 (1)49.0% (20)15.0% (9)54.0% (2)57.6% (3)96.25 (7)
Oklahoma City (39-14)110.0 (2)99.7 (8)10.3 (1)1.40 (25)17.0 (16)51.2% (9)16.2% (29)52.9% (3)58.3% (1)96.0 (8)
LA Clippers (39-17)106.5 (7)99.5 (6)7.0 (4)1.58 (10)18.1 (5)51.20% (7)15.7% (16)51.9% (5)55.1% (5)94.08 (15)
Eastern Conference
Miami (36-14)110.4 (1)101.8 (11)8.6 (3)1.66 (5)17.9 (6)49.1% (19)14.4% (4)54.5% (1)58.2% (2)93.13 (21)
New York (32-12)108.8 (3)103.0 (15)5.8 (5)1.70 (4)16.0 (26)49.6% (17)12.6% (1)51.2% (7)54.6% (6)92.39 (25)
Indiana (32-21)100.0 (24)95.9 (1)4.1 (6)1.36 (28)16.0 (25)52.5% (1)16.0% (26)47.0% (25)51.0% (26)92.22 (26)

Here are some items of note:

  • Net Rating: Each of the six division leaders ranks in the top six in NetRtg -- Team Net Points +/- per 100 possessions -- but they each get there in separate ways.
    • The Spurs -- ranked second in NetRtg -- are the only team that has both their OffRtg (4th) and DefRtg (3rd) ranked in the top five. The Spurs have excelled on both ends of the floor and they have the top record to show for it.
    • All three of the Western Conference division leaders rank in the top 10 in both OffRtg and DefRtg, including the Thunder, which has the top NetRtg (10.3) and ranks second in OffRtg (110.0) and eighth in DefRtg (99.7). None of the Eastern Conference teams rank in the top 10 in both categories.
    • The Pacers have the biggest disparity between their rankings in OffRtg and DefRtg. While their defense has been dominant -- giving up only 95.9 points per 100 possessions, tops in the league by nearly two points over Memphis -- their offense ranks in the bottom third of the entire league.
    • The Heat has been the best offensive team in the league (OffRtg of 110.4 points) and an above average defensive team (DefRtg of 101.8 for 11th), which has combined to give them the league's third-best NetRtg, although it is tops in the East by a wide margin (2.8 points per 100 possessions better than New York).

  • Pace: The Spurs have played at the fastest pace -- 96.25 possessions per 48 minutes -- among the division leaders, ranking seventh in the league just narrowly ahead of the Thunder, which is ranked eighth at 96.0.
    • The third Western Conference division leader -- the LA Clippers - rank 15th in the league with a pace of 94.08.
    • Meanwhile, all three Eastern Conference division leaders are ranked in the bottom third of the league in terms of pace -- led by Miami (21st), followed by New York (25th) and Indiana (26th).

  • Assist Ratio: Once again the Spurs stand out, ranking first among all teams in ASTRatio -- with 19.2 percent of their possessions ending in an assist -- and second in Assist to Turnover Ratio at 1.72.
    • While the Spurs (1st), Clippers (5th) and Heat (6th) rank in the top tier when it comes to sharing the ball, the other division leaders fall off dramatically in ASTRatio, with the Thunder (15th) in the middle of the pack and the Pacers (25th) and Knicks (26th) near the bottom.

Western Conference
San Antonio (42-12)54.0% (2)0.255 (21)15.0% (9)20.3% (30)47.6% (4)0.234 (1)15.5% (14)25.6% (6)
Oklahoma City (39-14)52.9% (3)0.341 (1)16.2% (29)26.2% (17)47.4% (3)0.255 (9)15.5% (15)27.0% (19)
LA Clippers (39-17)51.9% (5)0.294 (8)15.7% (16)28.9% (9)48.5% (9)0.303 (27)17.7% (1)27.1% (21)
Eastern Conference
Miami (36-14)54.5% (1)0.291 (10)14.4% (4)22.8% (27)48.9% (13)0.280 (22)16.0% (7)26.8% (17)
New York (32-12)51.2% (7)0.254 (22)12.6% (1)25.9% (21)50.7% (24)0.266 (13)16.1% (6)24.8% (1)
Indiana (32-21)47.0% (25)0.273 (13)16.0% (26)30.2% (4)44.8% (1)0.252 (8)14.3% (26)25.7% (7)

When examining the Four Factors, we can see more notable items:

  • Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%): The Heat (54.5%) and Spurs (54.0%) are two top shooting teams in the league. It's important that they shoot so well since they are two of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the NBA, with the Heat ranked 27th and the Spurs ranked last in offensive rebounding percentage.
    • The Thunder (3rd), Clippers (5th) and Knicks (7th) also rank near the top of the league in eFG%, while the Pacers are near the bottom at 26th.
    • But the Pacers don't beat you with offense, they get it done on the defensive end, as evidenced by their top rank in OppeFG%, as their opponents shoot just 44.8% against their staunch defense.

  • Free Throw Rate (FTA Rate): The Thunder lead the league in free throw rate, attempting 34 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts. The Clippers (8th, 0.294) and Heat (10th, 0.291) also rank in the top 10.
    • The Spurs have done the best job of keeping their opponents off the line as opponents have attempted just 23 free throws per 100 field goal attempts. The Pacers (8th, 0.252) and Thunder (9th 0.255) also rank in the top 10.

  • Turnover Rate (TmTOV%): The Knicks rank in the bottom third of the league in free throw rate (22) and offensive rebound percentage (21), but make up for it in other areas, starting with taking care of the ball. The Knicks lead the league in turnover rate -- committing just 12.6 turnovers per 100 possessions -- while forcing the sixth most turnovers on the defensive end. So while they do not get many offensive rebounds to extend possessions, they make up for it by not turning the the ball over and shooting at a high percentage (51.2 eFG%, seventh in the league).
    • The Thunder (16.2 TmTOV%) and Pacers (16.0) are two of the worst teams in the league in terms of turnovers, ranked 29th and 26th, respectively.
    • The Clippers lead the league by forcing 17.7 turnovers per 100 possessions. New York (16.1, 6th) and Miami (16.0, 7th) also rank in the top 10.

As you can see there are a number of ways to find success, rather than a universal formula that must be followed. Each of the division leaders at the All-Star break built their lead their own way. The only constant was Net Rating, as the teams sitting atop the league's six divisions ranked 1-6 in point differential -- scoring more points than they allow.