NBA Player Stats: Top 5 Players – Drives


This season 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, Part 2 covered Touches and Possessions, Part 3 focused on Passing and Part 4 covered Defensive Impact, Part 5 focused on Rebounding. In this installment we’ll look at the top 5 players who excel in Drive stats.

Part 6: Drives

Definition of this category as per Drives: Any touch that starts at least 20 feet of the hoop and is dribbled within 10 feet of the hoop and excludes fast breaks. Measures the total number of drives as well as the points, assists and shooting percentages on drives to the basket.

As per Players are ranked based on:

  • Field Goal Percentage On Drives: Field goal percent on players drives to basket.
  • Total Drives: Total number of times player drives to the basket
  • Total Player Points On Drives: Number of times players scores on drives to basket.
  • Drives Per Game: Number of times a player drives to basket per game.
  • Player Points Per Game On Drives: Number of points team scores as a result of player drives to basket per game (points in this category come from assists or free throws resulting from player drives)
  • Points Per 48 Minutes On Drives: Number of points scored by ball handler on individual drives to basket per 48 minutes

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Mar 23, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) who scored 44 points sets up to play defense against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Houston defeats Indiana 110-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I chose to break down the category of drives by the top performers in each sub segment with a specific reason in mind. When I began researching these player tracking stats for this series I expected to find certain players featuring prominently in certain sections of the stats and sub categories.  Sure enough, many of the top MVP candidates found their way into the top 5 of categories you would expect. What was most surprising was how few top 5 lists MVP winner Stephen Curry and candidates like LeBron James and Russell Westbrook were especially comparative to  Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden. The Drive category was no different.  

Examining the various sub segments there are natural fits. For example players with a propensity to attack the basket, but who aren’t strong from the field are natural fits to this segment. To wit,  Tyreke Evans,  Michael Carter-Williams and Jeff Teague naturally appear atop the sub categories.

Other players who utilize the paint effectively to score and create for their team while creating their own offensive variety also land in the top 5 like  LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook. Once again this category is predominantly filled with point guards.

John Wall who handles the ball a ton, as was highlighted in the possession and passing stats doesn’t make any of the top 5 sub category driving lists. Neither do  Splash Brothers:  Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Given how much the Warriors’ offense is based on ball movement their absence from this particular segment of player tracking  shocked me.

It’s not a surprise to find James Harden on several of the sub categories: he’s the only player to make 5 sub categories and led 3 of them. Likewise Ty Lawson makes the list 3 times either atop the sub division or second.

Looking ahead to the new season the fact Harden and Lawson appear frequently in the passing, touches & possessions, steals and distance & speed categories it provides fodder for which team truly has the best back court! If nothing else I’m sure it will spark many debates and now you have the analytics to back up your argument.

Next up in the series we’ll look at Catch and Shoot Stats.

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Next: Player Stats - Catch and Shoot

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