1/17/11 - Pacers' Stat of the Week: Finishing Strong

ATLANTA GA - DECEMBER 11: Josh McRoberts #32 of the Indiana Pacers dunks against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 11 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this Photograph user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Welcome to the newest installment of Stat of the Week. This feature, posted each Monday, focuses in on one statistic or number to recap and tell the story of the Pacers' performance for the previous week.

The Pacers finally got off the schnide this week beating Philadelphia and Dallas, before turning in a listless performance in a loss to Chicago. Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George saw an increase in their minutes the past three games. In addition, Jim O'Brien let Darren Collison handle the ball a lot more. This meant we saw an increase in ball screens and early offense isolations as opposed to the high post, movement based sets we've seen so much of the year.

We've spent a lot of time diagnosing some of the team's offensive problems the past month. While things looked much better this week, a few more games are needed before we can declare this a trend. The outlier to the team's improved offense was their horrid performance against Chicago. This seemed to be less about the offensive system and more about an inability to make shots. The Pacers had good looks in this game they just couldn't make them. In fact they were just 9 of 19 at the rim and 13 of 35 from inside of 10ft. Inspired by that performance I wanted to take a look at which Pacers' players were doing the best job of finishing strong at the rim.

The table below shows a couple different ways to look at the idea of finishing strong. It shows the total number of field goals made at the rim, the field goal percentage at the rim, the total numbers of dunks, the percentage of made shots at the rim which came on dunks, the free throw rate (FTA/FGA) and the And1 percentage, which is the percentage of made field goals on which they drew a foul. 

Player FGM At the Rim FG% At the Rim Dunks Dunk% FTR And 1%
A.J. Price 3 100.0% 0 0.0% 0.21 6.9%
Brandon Rush 30 66.7% 6 20.0% 0.22 1.1%
Dahntay Jones 5 55.6$ 1 20.0% 0.44 0.0%
Danny Granger 65 55.6% 6 9.2% 0.29 2.6%
Darren Collison 57 58.2% 1 1.8% 0.26 3.7%
James Posey 8 72.7% 0 0.0% 0.03 0.5%
Jeff Foster 8 50.0% 2 25.0% 0.27 3.0%
Josh McRoberts 38 63.3% 26 68.4% 0.31 3.3%
Mike Dunleavy 38 67.9% 0 0.0% 0.25 1.3%
Paul George 10 58.8% 3 30.0% 0.12 3.1%
Roy Hibbert 78 63.4% 37 47.4% 0.26 3.1%
Solomon Jones 22 57.9% 12 54.5% 0.53 2.0%
T.J. Ford 22 47.8% 0 0.0% 0.21 1.9%
Tyler Hansbrough 15 55.6% 5 33.3% 0.46 0.9%

In looking at this table it becomes apparent how few strong finishers the Pacers have on the current roster. The league average FG% At the Rim is 63.0%, a mark topped by just six Pacers (Hibbert, Dunleavy, McRoberts, Posey, Rush, Price). Only six players are dunking more than 20% of their field goals at the rim (Hansbrough, S. Jones, Hibbert, George, McRoberts, Foster). The league average FTR is 0.308, a mark topped by just four Pacers (Hansbrough, S. Jones, McRoberts, D. Jones). The league average And1% is 2.9% a mark topped by just six Pacers (Hibbert, George, McRoberts, Foster, Collison, Price).

Another category which I didn't include in the table is Blkd%, the percentage of a player's shot attempts which were blocked. The league average is 6.1% and 10 Pacers have a mark worse than that. Only A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones, James Posey and Mike Dunleavy have a percentage of their shots blocked which is lower than the league average.

A lot of the problems here are related to physical limitations. The Pacers' roster lacks size and athleticism in several areas. Finishing strong at the rim is not necessarily something that can be taught and any improvements that are made will need to come in the concentration, attitude and aggressiveness department. With an offense that seems like it is seeing some changes their may be more opportunities for players to score at the rim instead of settlig for long jumpers. Each player will need to make a personal comittment to making the most of those opportunities when they present themselves.

Statistical Query of the Week: I received some great questions from Lefty this week about when the Pacers' shots are coming in the shot clock. Putting the numbers together requries coding play by play data so it will be awhile before I can get it wrapped up. In the meantime, if you have a Pacers' related statistical idea you'd like me to look into, send me an email at Levy2725@gmail.com and include Indycornrows somewhere in the subject line.

Rebound Percentage Update:

In the first installment of Stat of the Week we discussed Rebound Percentage and identified it as a season long focus and bellwether statistic for the team. The team's percentages 34 games into the season look like this:

Offensive Rebound Percentage: 23.8% (24th in the NBA)

Defensive Rebound Percentage: 75.0% (10th in the NBA)

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