2/7/11 - Pacers' Stat of the Week: Coaching Change

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

The first of week of Frank Vogel's tenure as Pacers' Head Coach was a rousing success. The week started with two confidence-building wins over Toronto and Cleveland. The Pacers then ran away from the Portland Trailblazers, a legitimate playoff team, before finishing with another win against the New Jersey Nets on Sunday.

The team played with an energy this past week that had been largely lacking the past few months. While there were plenty of mistakes they looked willing and ready to fight through them. In his post-game press conference Friday night Frank Vogel detailed some of the changes he's been trying to make with the team. Here's a quote borrowed from Tom's recap on Saturday:

We're changing the identity of our basketball team dramatically. We are a power-post team, blood and guts, old school, smash-mouth team that plays with size, strength, speed, athleticism. We attack the basket.

The Pacers are playing with a newfound confidence and energy. The offensive system appears to have been drastically simplified. Obviously the team has won four games in a row but how else are these changes manifesting themselves statistically?

For the next few weeks we will be looking at several different statistical angles to see how the Pacers are playing differently under their new coach. This week we will be looking at some general statistics at the team level. The table below shows some of the team's basic offensive and defensive statistics for the first 44 games under Jim O'Brien and the last 4 under Frank Vogel.

 

Under Jim O'Brien

Under Frank Vogel

ORtg.

104.0

110.1

FG%

43.7%

44.8%

3PT%

35.9%

41.3%

FTA/G

22.0

31.3

ORR

23.8%

35.7%

Ast%

56.9%

51.0%

TOR

15.1%

19.1%

DRtg.

105.6

97.7

Opp. FG%

44.4%

41.0%

Opp. 3PT%

38.1%

31.7%

Opp. FTA/G

26.2

27.0

DRR

75.4%

77.9%

Opp. Ast%

56.9%

57.6%

Opp. TOR

13.9%

14.5%

Over the past 4 games the Pacers have improved as a team in nearly every statistical category. Offensively, we have seen an increase in the Turnover Rate and a decrease in the team's Assist Percentage. However the team's Offensive Rating has risen dramatically because of a huge increase in their Offensive Rebounding Rate, their shooting percentages and their ability to draw fouls.

The two biggest and most important changes are with the offensive rebounding and free throws. On the season the Pacers are 23rd in the league in Offensive Rebound Rate and 25th in the league in Free Throw Attempts per game. Their totals in those two categories under Frank Vogel would be 1st in the league on both accounts. On the season the Pacers were averaging a -4.2 free throw differential each game. Over the last four games that has switched to a +4.3.

Defensively they have improved the Field Goal Percentage they allow their opponents to shoot and are also causing more turnovers. This has dropped their Defensive Rating to 97.7. If they had maintained that number across the entire season it would be easily the best mark in the league. They have also posted a Defensive Rebound Rate of 77.9% under Frank Vogel, which as a season-long number would be tops in the league.

Basically, over the past 4 games the Pacers have hit the offensive glass better than the Los Angeles Clippers, controlled the defensive glass better then the Orlando Magic, defended better than the Chicago Bulls, shot three pointers better than the Golden State Warriors and gotten to the free throw line at a higher rate than the Denver Nuggets. Their point differential over the past four games is consistent with that of a 69 win team.

Now this is somewhat colored by the small sample size and the quality of the opponents. Playing the Cavs, Raptors and Nets in a single week would give anyone a bump. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers would look respectable if they could just play themselves every night. Still, the four game turnaround is remarkable.

Frank Vogel has been talking about simplifying and letting the players play to their strengths. So far it certainly seems to be working. Even if the Pacers' have gotten the benefit of playing an easier stretch of the schedule, you have to accept the possibility that they could improve even further as the continue to adjust to the new system and style of play. Luckily we won't have to wait long to find out. The Pacers get to play Miami twice in the next ten days. They also have matchups with Charlotte and Milwaukee, two teams they're fighting for a playoff berth. If the Pacers' can continue to play at the high level they have the past week there is every reason to believe they will be staking a claim to one of those final playoff seeds.

 

Statistical Query of the Week: The past two weeks, prompted by some great questions from Lefty, we have been taking a look at when the Pacers' shots are coming in the shot clock. This week we're looking at some of the same numbers but from the defensive perspective, when the opponents shots are coming in the shot clock.

The table below shows the percentage of FGA, the eFG%, the Ast% and the points per game for the Pacers' opponents broken down by when the shots came in the shot clock. The shot clock times represent the elapsed seconds before the shot is taken.

Secs. Att. eFG% Ast% Pts/G
0-10 37% 49.3% 49% 29.6
11-15 25% 47.8% 61% 19.6
16-20 25% 46.9% 62% 19.0
21-24 14% 43.2% 59% 9.8

The Pacers seem to be allowing a fairly even distribution of shots over the course of a possession. They do a nice job defending transition and early offense opportunities allowing an eFG% of just 49.3%. It would be nice to see them hold opponents to a slightly lower percentage in opportunities at the end of the shot clock. The Pacers have been playing solid defense and it appears they have been consistent with that defense, not being especially vulnerable at any point during a possession.

Next week we will look at the connection between Danny Granger's FG% and the Pacers' Win%. As always, 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 48 games into the season look like this:

Offensive Rebound Percentage: 24.8% (23rd in the NBA)

Defensive Rebound Percentage: 75.6% (4th in the NBA)

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