One Team, One Stat: Winning With Pace


VIDEO: Schuhmann’s Advanced Stats: Golden State Warriors

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2015-16 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Golden State Warriors, who won with pace.

The stat

20151027_gsw_champs_pace

The context

20151027_gsw_basicsThe league started counting turnovers in 1977. And over the next 37 years, only one team ranked in the top five in pace in the regular season and went on to win the championship. That was the 1982 Lakers, who ranked fifth out of just 23 teams.

Typically, fast pace is not associated with good defense. From the 1996-97 season through 2013-14 (a span of 18 years), only four teams ranked in the top five in both pace and defensive efficiency. And there was an eight-year stretch (from ’03-04 through ’10-11) when no teams ranked in the top five in both.

Last season, the Warriors became the first team to rank first in both pace and defensive efficiency since 1978 Phoenix Suns. They got 18.4 percent of their shots (third highest rate in the league) and allowed their opponents to get only 12.8 percent of their shots in the first six seconds of the shot clock.

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League-wide, those shots in the first six seconds of the clock yielded an effective field goal percentage of 60.5 percent, while shots that come later in the clock yielded an effective field goal percentage of 48.0 percent.

The Warriors have multiple impact defenders on the perimeter and inside. And when they get stops, they have lethal guards who will take advantage of opportunities in transition. Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson ranked in the top eight in in fast break points per game last season.

Statistically, the Warriors were the best championship team since Michael Jordan‘s Bulls, having played at an elite level on both ends of the floor. And they changed a lot of people’s minds about the possibility of winning at a fast pace.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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