Driving To The Basket

This year NBA.com rolled out the new SportsVU data causing stat nerds, like myself, to get sucked into a super dork vortex of numbers.  What the new technology does is track player movements throughout the entire game.  How it actually accomplishes that is beyond me.  All I know is they use a bunch of video cameras.  If you what to read more in depth about it there are multiple places on the internet to find that information.  The result is a plethora of new stats to look go over.  The fun doesn’t end there though, because losers like me look at the new data and try to create EVEN MORE new stats than the ones that have already been created.  So with pens, paper, a Mac, some Katy Perry, and my born again virginity intact I started coming up with some new stuff.  Whether any of these are useful I’m not quite sure, BUT I’ll share them anyway, along with some of the ones created by the professionals at SportsVU.

Before continuing a couple things to know:

  1. All the stats are through games played on December 4th
  2. The sample size is still small so things could change significantly over the course of the season

SportsVU defines drives as, 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.  Driving to the basket is a big part of the game, since it can lead to higher percentage shots at the rim, the defense to collapse leaving teammates open, or a shooting foul and trip to the free throw line.  As a Sixer fan I’ve paid closer attention to these stats since Evan Turner has seen both his scoring numbers and efficiency go way up this season.  Below is a list of the top 10 and bottom 10 players shooting percentages on drives.

Minimums:  Players drives to the basket 4 times or more per game and has played a minimum of 7 games

Number of Players:  55

First here are the 20 players who drive to the basket the most times per game.

Player Drives Per Game
Ty Lawson (DEN) 10.8
Monta Ellis (DAL) 10.4
Tony Parker (SAS) 9.8
Goran Dragic (PHX) 9.3
Jeff Teague (ATL) 9.2
Jeremy Lin (HOU) 8.6
Tyreke Evans (NOP) 7.9
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 7.9
Damian Lillard (POR) 7.9
Jrue Holiday (NOP) 7.8
Mike Conley (MEM) 7.6
DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 7.4
Jameer Nelson (ORL) 7.4
Brandon Jennings (DET) 7.4
Michael Carter-Williams (PHI) 7.3
Russell Westbrook (OKC) 7.1
Dion Waiters (CLE) 7
Evan Turner (PHI) 6.9
Eric Bledsoe (PHX) 6.8
Ramon Sessions (CHA) 6.8

Next, here are the bottom 10 and top 10 players ranked by their FG% on drives.

Bottom 10

Player FG% on Drives Drives Per Game
Russell Westbrook (OKC) 24.00% 7.1
Brandon Jennings (DET) 30.20% 7.4
Rudy Gay (TOR) 32.40% 6.4
Deron Williams (BKN) 33.30% 4.3
Damian Lillard (POR) 35.00% 7.9
Nate Wolters (MIL) 35.70% 4
Paul Pierce (BKN) 36.00% 4.1
Ricky Rubio (MIN) 37.50% 6.8
Alec Burks (UTA) 38.20% 4
Gordon Hayward (UTA) 38.20% 6.5

Top 10

Player FG% on Drives Drives Per Game
LeBron James (MIA) 66.70% 5.7
Jeremy Lin (HOU) 65.40% 8.6
Evan Turner (PHI) 62.50% 6.9
Tony Parker (SAS) 61.70% 9.8
Chandler Parsons (HOU) 60.80% 6.1
James Harden (HOU) 58.80% 6
Eric Bledsoe (PHX) 56.80% 6.8
Steve Blake (LAL) 56.50% 5.4
Dwyane Wade (MIA) 56.30% 5.8
Mike Conley (MEM) 55.20% 7.6

I was shocked to see that Westbrook has had such trouble converting on his drives this year.  It certainly hasn’t helped his FG%, which currently sits at 39.4%.  Last year Westbrook shot 52.1% on shots inside of ten feet.  Those numbers don’t take out his fast break points or other occasions when he possessed the ball closer to the basket, but it is about as close as I can get without having the SportsVU data from last year.  I assume at some point Westbrook’s FG% will rise significantly.  There is also the possibility he is still feeling some of the effects of his meniscus surgery from last season.  The other thing I was surprised to find out was that James Harden isn’t among the top 20.  He’s just outside at 6 per game.  I feel like any time I’ve seen the Rockets this year Harden is constantly driving to the basket.

Some less shocking news from the stats is that Lebron converts his drives at a rate higher than anyone else in the league.  In other news Nick Offerman has a mustache.

Other stats that come out of the drives data is how many points per game a player scores on their drives, and how many points per game the team scores off the player drives.  This is where I began to experiment, and came up with what I think is a way to see which players do the best job of kicking the ball out to a teammate when the defense collapses versus the guys who tend to keep their head down and attempt a circus shot even with defenders around them.  The way I got here is incredibly easy, I just took the total points the team (including the player driving) scores on a players drives minus the number of points the player scores on their drives.  Of course a player with fewer team points per game on drives isn’t necessarily at fault.  First, he could simply just drive to the basket less, and second if he passes the ball to an open teammate and they miss the shot, that’s not on the player driving at that point.  Even still I think this stat serves as a pretty good indicator.

Bottom 10 Team PPG on Drives

Player Drives Per Game Team PPG on Drives
Nate Wolters (MIL) 4 3.8
Paul Pierce (BKN) 4.1 4.1
Deron Williams (BKN) 4.3 4.1
J.R. Smith (NYK) 4 4.5
Tyshawn Taylor (BKN) 4.6 4.7
Kemba Walker (CHA) 5.2 5.1
Alec Burks (UTA) 4 5.1
Jordan Farmar (LAL) 4.4 5.2
Rodney Stuckey (DET) 4.3 5.3
John Wall (WAS) 4.8 5.3

Top 10 Team PPG on Drives

Player Drives Per Game Team PPG on Drives
Ty Lawson (DEN) 10.8 13.3
Monta Ellis (DAL) 10.4 12.7
Tony Parker (SAS) 9.8 11.1
Jeremy Lin (HOU) 8.6 10.6
Tyreke Evans (NOP) 9.3 10.1
Goran Dragic (PHX) 9.2 10.1
Jeff Teague (ATL) 7.9 10.1
Evan Turner (PHI) 6.9 9.5
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 7.9 9.1
DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 7.4 8.9

And now here are the top 10 and bottom 10 according to the number of points their teammates score off of the player driving.

Bottom 10

Player Drives Per Game Player PPG on Drives Team Points Independent of Driver
Rodney Stuckey (DET) 4.3 4.3 1
J.R. Smith (NYK) 4 3.2 1.3
Kevin Durant (OKC) 5.2 5.1 1.3
Tyshawn Taylor (BKN) 4.6 3.3 1.4
Eric Bledsoe (PHX) 6.8 6.2 1.6
Paul Pierce (BKN) 4.1 2.5 1.6
Nate Wolters (MIL) 4 2.2 1.6
James Harden (HOU) 6 5.6 1.8
Kemba Walker (CHA) 5.2 3.2 1.9
Evan Turner (PHI) 6.9 7.5 2

Top 10

Player Drives Per Game Player PPG on Drives Team Points Independent of Driver
Ty Lawson (DEN) 10.8 5.6 7.7
Goran Dragic (PHX) 9.3 3.8 6.3
Steve Blake (LAL) 5.4 1.7 5.6
Jameer Nelson (ORL) 7.4 2.4 5.4
Ricky Rubio (MIN) 6.8 2.3 5
Tyreke Evans (NOP) 7.9 5.2 4.9
Monta Ellis (DAL) 10.4 7.8 4.9
Brandon Jennings (DET) 7.4 3.4 4.8
Jeremy Lin (HOU) 8.6 6 4.6
Jeff Teague (ATL) 9.2 5.5 4.6
  • Steve Blake?!?? WTF?
  • Maybe Tyreke Evans isn’t as much of a ball hog as he’s branded as.
  • Jameer Nelson might be able to help a title contender this year.


One last stat I came up with trying to negate the numbers of drives a player takes per game and illustrate if good things or bad things are happening from the player driving to the basket is by figuring out the number of points a team (both driver and rest of team) scores each time a the player drives to the basket.  It’s just Team PPG/Drives Per Game

Bottom 10

Player Team Points Per Drive
Russell Westbrook (OKC) 0.94
Nate Wolters (MIL) 0.95
Deron Williams (BKN) 0.95
Kemba Walker (CHA) 0.98
Rudy Gay (TOR) 0.98
Paul Pierce (BKN) 1.00
Stephen Curry (GSW) 1.02
Tyshawn Taylor (BKN) 1.02
Jameer Nelson (ORL) 1.05
Jose Juan Barea (MIN) 1.06

Top 10

Player Team Points Per Drive
Evan Turner (PHI) 1.38
Steve Blake (LAL) 1.35
Chandler Parsons (HOU) 1.33
Dwyane Wade (MIA) 1.31
Ramon Sessions (CHA) 1.29
Derrick Rose (CHI) 1.28
Tyreke Evans (NOP) 1.28
Alec Burks (UTA) 1.28
Reggie Jackson (OKC) 1.27
Kyle Lowry (TOR) 1.25
  • Keep driving Evan, good things happen when you do.  Bad things happen when you pull up or shoot a 3.
  • Just shocked to see Rudy Gay at the bottom of another advanced stat list.
  • Chicago is going to miss Derrick Rose and it’s painfully cold waiting for the el in the winter.


Who knows if any of this is useful, but it is more productive than looking at porn right?

More to come later.


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