NBA Player Stats: Top 7 Players – Touches & Possessions
By Tamberlyn Richardson
This season nba.com added a new component to their stats page called Player Tracking which looks at NBA Player Stats not previously available, at least publicly.
Player tracking uses 6 cameras to track each player and the video collected provides details on things like ball and player movement, shows their efficiency and areas of the game previously unmeasured such as number of passes or rebound opportunities.
In Part 1 of this series I outlined Distance and Speed. In Part 2 I’ll look at player Touches and Possessions including the top 5 players and the top ranked Houston Rockets which just happens to put two players in the top 7.
Part 2: Touches & Possessions
Definition of this category as per nba.com: Touches and Possessions- The number of times a player touches and possesses the ball, where those touches occur on the court, how long the player possessed the ball and the number of points, assists and turnovers that occur with the ball in his possession.
As per nba.com Players are ranked based on:
- Touches per game: number of times a player touches and possesses the ball per game
- Total Touches: number of total times a player touches and possesses the ball
- Front Court Touches Per Game: number of times a player touches and possesses the ball on their team’s offensive half of the court per game
- Time of Possession (min): total number of times player possesses ball in minutes
- Close Touches Per Game: all touches that originate within 12’ of basket (excluding drives)
- Elbow Touches Per Game: touches that occur within 5’ radius nearing edge of lane and free throw line, inside 3-point line
- Points: total number of points player scored this season
- Points Per Touch: number of points player scored per times they possessed ball
- Points Per Half Court Touch: number of points player scored per half court touch
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May 8, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) before playing against the Houston Rockets in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Top 7 Players Including 2 Top Rockets:
In terms of ranking the players for touches though Chris Paul ranks highest on nba.com in this player tracking category there are players within the list who rank higher in certain areas:
1. Chris Paul
CP3 ranks first in total touches by far and is also tops in elbow touches. This ranking is understandable given he is the main ball distributor and is constantly feeding bigs DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. I wonder if his stats will decrease somewhat this year if Josh Smith gets more ball handling duties.
2. John Wall
Last year’s demise of the Wizards in the playoffs wasn’t a fluke once Wall went down with the wrist injury. Watching them during the season was almost humorous given there were moments when his court mates were literally just standing watching him. A look at his touches stats gives us an better inclination as to why: Wall is first in touches per game, front court touches (leads by a healthy margin), time of possession and is second in total touches. Based on these stats I’d say the heir apparent to Paul is John Wall.
Though Lillard doesn’t lead any category he is second or third in most sub categories. Without his starting 4 teammates don’t be surprised if his numbers increase this season.
4. Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe is tied for first in close touches and second in elbow touches. Again, these numbers reflect the season with Goran Dragic in Phoenix until late February and Brandon Knight in place afterward. Given Knight had fewer assists as a Sun there may be some thinking Bledsoe’s number increase this season, assuming he doesn’t get traded which continues to be a strong rumor.
Curry ranks first in close touches more than doubling his closest competitor with 1.6 which is somewhat surprising as you would think Paul would lead that stat. He’s ranks second in sub categories: points per game and points per touch and points per half.
6. James Harden
The only non point guard on the list of top seven happens to be Houston Rockets Harden (unless you consider Bledsoe a non point guard, but he handles the point guard responsibilities) and he doesn’t just make the list he dominates specific sub categories:
- First in points: 27.4
- Points per touch: .356 (Curry is second at .296 and Lillard is third at .241)
- Dominates in points per half court touch with .431 (Curry second with .340 and Lillard third at .281)
- Third in elbow touches
- Tied third for close touches
The most interesting aspect of how well Harden performs in this player tracking Touch Category is he gets the fewest touches per game 76.9 compared to Wall’s 95.3 and has only 9 more total touches than Lawson who is last while Paul has 1,532 more total touches.
7. Ty Lawson
Lawson doesn’t lead any sub categories, but is consistent across the board. Considering who he played with last season versus the loaded Rockets squad he’ll be aligned with this year there’s reason to get excited. Factor in the top 7 players are all from different teams, but in 2015-16 will now feature 2 of top 7 with Harden and Lawson and it certainly bodes well for the upcoming Rockets’ season !
Next up in the series we’ll look at Passing Stats.
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