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Tuesday Truths (02/15)

February 15, 2011
The Shootaround
Watch out for the Blazers

by Bradford Doolittle

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HEADLINER

TRAIL BLAZERS 95, TIMBERWOLVES 81 (box): The Trail Blazers entered the season as a sleeper contender in the Western Conference, at least according to our projection systems at Basketball Prospectus. Kevin Pelton forecast a 55-27 season with his SCHOENE system--the best record in the West. My NBAPET system predicted 54 wins for the Blazers, four games behind the Lakers. Of course both forecasts were based on at least some availability for players like Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla, Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby. Past injury problems for those players informed the games-played projections but there was no way to know that Oden wouldn't play at all or that Roy's career would take a sharp downturn because of chronic knee problems.

Portland has hovered around the eighth spot in the West for most of the season. With Roy opting for surgery, Oden declared out until next season at least and Camby going down, it looked like Nate McMillan's crew was losing an uphill battle against the surging Grizzlies and Suns for postseason position. Instead, Portland has jumped on the shoulders of LaMarcus Aldridge and pieced together a five-game streak, four on the road, and is 11-4 since falling to .500 on Jan. 14. The Blazers find themselves tied for sixth with the slumping Jazz in the conference standings.

On Monday, Aldridge received much-deserved recognition as the league's player of the week. Then the Blazers went out and jumped to an 18-2 start at Minnesota and went on to dispatch of the T-Wolves with very little resistance. Aldridge finally cooled off from the field, shooting 8-of-19 after going 41-of-65 (63 percent) in Portland's previous three games, during which he averaged 38 points. It didn't matter as Dante Cunningham put up 18 points and 13 boards despite his broken face and suddenly-content Rudy Fernandez scored 18 points on 10 shots off the bench. Kevin Love got his 41st straight double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) for Minnesota, which clinched a sub-.500 record for the sixth straight year and for the 15th time in the franchise's 22 years of existence.

Excitement about the Blazers' current streak has to be tempered with the quality of competition. The five wins have come against the Cavaliers, Bulls, Raptors, Pistons and Timberwolves. However, Roy is reporting himself pain-free after having both knees scoped. It was a temporary fix, but may get him through the rest of the season. And Camby is due to return as well. Suddenly, the Blazers are looking much more like the team that we forecast to finish near the top of the conference than the team struggling just to sneak onto the playoff bracket. Beginning Wednesday, the Blazers start a five-game home stand that wraps around the All-Star break. The competition is tough--the Hornets, Lakers, Nuggets, Hawks and Rockets are on the docket. If Portland is really going to makes some noise this season, this is their chance to do it.

POR (31-24).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  MIN (13-42).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
matthews,wesley......85%  23%  1.38  +20 34.1  ridnour,luke.........73%  21%  1.28  + 9 29.0
aldridge,lamarcus....82%  27%  1.11  +16 28.6  ellington,wayne......75%  22%  1.08  + 7 25.3
miller,andre.........74%  16%  1.18  +12 17.4  webster,martell......72%  16%  1.82  + 7 13.3
cunningham,dante.....51%  27%  1.49  + 5 12.5  love,kevin...........78%  12%  1.45  -14 11.4
fernandez,rudy.......57%  19%  1.85  + 2 11.0  milicic,darko........67%  26%  0.88  -12  9.2
batum,nicolas........66%  11%  0.71  +13  6.4  koufos,kosta.........11%  44%  0.71  - 8  5.1
marks,sean...........17%  16%  1.15  + 1  3.9  pekovic,nikola.......21%  18%  1.08  + 6  3.5
mills,patrick........26%  22%  0.67  + 2  2.4  johnson,wesley.......25%  32%  0.19  -21  2.1
przybilla,joel.......42%   7%  0.25  + 1  0.4  tolliver,anthony.....23%   4%  1.01    0  0.7
babbitt,luke......... 0%   -%  0.00  - 2  0.0  brewer,corey.........28%  17%  0.00  -21  0.0
camby,marcus.........(DNP)                     pekovic,nikola.......(DNP)  
roy,brandon..........(DNP)                     telfair,sebastian....(DNP)  
PACE: 81.4          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 81.4          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Trail Blazers....  116.8 .488  .389 .160 .087  Timberwolves.....   99.5 .442  .325 .098 .092

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LIVE AT BASKETBALL PROSPECTUS

The Clipboard: Baby is Big Enough (by Sebastian Pruiti) Despite going against taller defenders on a nightly basis, Boston's Glen Davis has become a master of finishing at the rim. (premium)

Trend Watch: Foye, Mavs' Streak, Coaching Changes (by Kevin Pelton): Trend Watch considers Randy Foye's play as a starter, takes the air out of the Dallas Mavericks' 10-game winning streak and looks at the trends for midseason coaching changes. (premium)

Mini Truths: What to Make of the MAAC? (by Asher Fusco): Fairfield's atop the MAAC in both the standings and in per-possession terms, but Iona and St. Peter's aren't far behind. Asher takes stock of the MAAC in February and looks ahead toward March. (free)

Tuesday Truths: Blunt Force Edition (by John Gasaway): March is in sight and it's time to be blunt. Georgetown and Wisconsin are both looking strong, but both face tough road tests this week. Meantime Kentucky's struggling on the road, the West Coast is struggling at home, and everyone's struggling to figure out Washington. (free)

Sloan: The Legacy (by Bradford Doolittle): The thing we'll remember most about Jerry Sloan is that he did things his way.

The Clipboard: Sloan's Xs and Os (by Sebastian Pruiti): A tribute to Jerry Sloan after his sudden resignation takes a look at the long-time Jazz coach's most effective plays coming out of timeouts (premium)

Amazing Pace: Jayhawks on a Tear (by C.J. Moore): Can a team that's not even in first place in its own conference be playing some of the best offense seen in recent years? Apparently. C.J. Moore gives a guided tour of the remarkable Kansas offense. (premium)

What's Next? Life After Sloan in Utah (by Kevin Pelton): Thursday was all about paying tribute to Jerry Sloan's legendary run at the helm of the Utah Jazz. Starting tomorrow, the Jazz will have to refocus on the playoff race and an uncertain future. (premium)

The Class of 2007: A Look Back (by Kevin Pelton): Three of the league's brightest young stars were top prep prospects four years ago. Here's a look at where they ranked and what happened to the rest of the prospects in the high school class of 2007. (premium)

All Eyes on Pitt: Is This the Year? (by John Gasaway) They're alone atop the Big East and poised for their second 1-seed in three seasons, but the Panthers aren't satisfied. They want to get to the Final Four. In his feature for ESPN Insider, John weighs their chances. (premium)

Getting to the Line: Derrick Rose's Development (by Kevin Pelton): A conspicuous lack of free throw attempts had held back Derrick Rose's game, but improving in this regard has helped fuel his breakthrough over the last two months. (free)

Follow Unfiltered, the Basketball Prospectus blog.

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FANTASY PROJECTIONS

Our downloadable Basketball Fantasy Projection spreadsheets are available for anyone with a premium subscription to Basketball Prospectus. The sheet is updated weekly and can be found on your 'Manage Profile' page. The download includes a forecast for the seven days, Monday through Sunday, for every player, game-by-game projections, health status updates and current team rotations. (Current projections will reflect week of Feb. 7-13 but are pending due to our recent server switch.)

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HOOPS CHATS

Basketball Prospectus authors take your questions from time to time in always-popular chat format. All chats begin at 1 p.m. EST on the day listed, but you can go in and submit a question beforehand if you like, or read the transcript after the fact.

Feb. 3: Kevin Pelton (TRANSCRIPT)

Jan. 28: Bradford Doolittle (TRANSCRIPT)

Jan. 14: John Gasaway (TRANSCRIPT)

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HOT FIVES

POWER RATING (POW)      GR (02/14/11)         WP82 -- ALL        WP82 -- ROOKIES
San Antonio Spurs, 63.4 griffin,blake, 41.5   james,lebron, 24.6 griffin,blake, 13.2
Boston Celtics, 58.5    smith,josh, 34.4      paul,chris, 20.5   wall,john, 4.7
Miami Heat, 58.1        delfino,carlos, 34.2  rose,derrick, 19.2 neal,gary, 4.4
Chicago Bulls, 55.4     matthews,wesley, 34.1 bryant,kobe, 18.7  fields,landry, 4.1
Dallas Mavericks, 55.1  lee,courtney, 29.8    gasol,pau, 18.6    turner,evan, 3.1
Note: GR leaders are from previous night only.

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LEADERBOARD

WINS PRODUCED PER 82 GAMES, NON-STARTERS
PLAYER, WP82                 PLAYER, WP82
 1. Jason Terry, 14.19       16. Al Harrington, 4.23
 2. George Hill, 7.72        17. Ronnie Brewer, 4.22
 3. Jamal Crawford, 7.45     18. Gary Neal, 4.20
 4. Shawn Marion, 7.25       19. Gilbert Arenas, 4.19
 5. James Harden, 6.94       20. J.R. Smith, 4.14
 6. Thaddeus Young, 6.92     21. Jared Dudley, 3.82
 7. Glen Davis, 6.90         22. Kris Humphries, 3.80
 8. Louis Williams, 5.70     23. Jose Juan Barea, 3.77
 9. J.J. Redick, 5.41        24. Matt Bonner, 3.63
10. C.J. Miles, 5.41         25. James Jones, 3.62
11. Ty Lawson, 5.04          26. Reggie Williams, 3.60
12. Kyle Korver, 4.81        27. Charlie Villanueva, 3.38
13. Serge Ibaka, 4.75        28. Marcin Gortat, 3.29
14. Rudy Fernandez, 4.75     29. Evan Turner, 3.17
15. Ben Gordon, 4.56         30. O.J. Mayo, 3.03

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MONDAY'S RESULTS

NOTE: Glossary is at bottom of page.

BOBCATS 109, LAKERS 89 (box): In their fourth game in five nights, the Lakers had some tired legs against a Charlotte team that has beaten the Hawks on the road in a buzzer-beater and the defending champs in a blow-out heading into Tuesday's encounter at Chicago.

LAL (38-18).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  CHA (24-31).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
bryant,kobe..........72%  39%  0.70  -16 27.6  hendersonjr,gerald...59%  18%  1.83  +22 29.2
odom,lamar...........55%  15%  1.22  -22 17.0  livingston,shaun.....45%  18%  1.32  +16 15.6
gasol,pau............74%  16%  1.70  -19 14.6  augustin,d.j.........55%  11%  2.10  + 4 15.1
artest,ron...........50%  24%  1.13  -10  9.5  jackson,stephen......64%  23%  0.82  + 2 14.4
bynum,andrew.........48%  17%  1.26  - 9  9.4  diaw,boris...........47%  26%  1.33  + 8 13.8
fisher,derek.........55%   5%  2.00  - 7  6.1  wallace,gerald.......66%  26%  1.28  +21 13.6
walton,luke..........23%  21%  1.74  - 2  6.1  mohammed,nazr........50%  26%  1.20  + 6  9.7
ebanks,devin.........11%  45%  0.58  + 5  4.8  brown,kwame..........50%  15%  1.18  +14  8.2
brown,shannon........55%  17%  0.49  -12  3.4  najera,eduardo.......39%   0% 17.77  +19  3.0
caracter,derrick.....11%  27%  1.41  + 5  3.0  brown,derrick........ 8%  25%  1.66  - 4  2.7
blake,steve..........45%   9%  0.77  -13  2.6  carroll,matt......... 8%  27%  1.63  - 4  2.1
smith,joe............(DNP)                     collins,sherron...... 8%  42%  0.00  - 4  0.0
PACE: 85.5          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 85.5          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Lakers...........  104.1 .456  .316 .152 .103  Bobcats..........  127.5 .561  .268 .094 .108

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SPURS 102, NETS 85 (box): The Spurs spread out the minutes (Richard Jefferson's 31:54 was the most court time for San Antonio) and the points and improved to 6-2 on a season-long nine-game road trip that ends Thursday in Chicago.

SAS (46-9)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  NJN (17-39).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
ginobili,manu........61%  31%  1.14  +21 29.2  outlaw,travis........42%  32%  0.82  -11 15.7
parker,tony..........56%  30%  1.01  +16 21.2  vujacic,sasha........51%  19%  0.76  - 8 12.1
duncan,tim...........54%  29%  1.06  +18 15.9  farmar,jordan........42%  26%  1.46  - 3 11.7
blair,dejuan.........57%  20%  0.91  - 2 14.4  lopez,brook..........63%  28%  0.78  -25 11.3
hill,george..........51%  18%  1.49  + 5  7.8  harris,devin.........58%  15%  1.21  -22  9.7
mcdyess,antonio......35%  11%  1.39  + 7  6.4  petro,johan..........36%  12%  0.94  + 8  6.7
neal,gary............51%  20%  0.97  + 5  6.3  morrow,anthony.......59%  15%  0.66  -19  5.3
jefferson,richard....66%   8%  1.57  +21  5.1  graham,stephen.......17%  28%  1.07  + 3  5.1
bonner,matt..........46%   9%  0.84  + 6  3.6  humphries,kris.......36%  24%  0.61  - 5  5.0
novak,steve..........12%  15%  1.93  - 6  2.0  uzoh,ben.............12%  28%  1.45  + 6  4.2
quinn,chris..........12%   6%  1.30  - 6  1.2  ross,quinton.........42%   7%  1.22    0  4.1
splitter,tiago.......(DNP)                     favors,derrick.......43%  12%  0.57  - 9  3.2
PACE: 90.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 90.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Spurs............  113.1 .494  .316 .144 .151  Nets.............   94.3 .382  .255 .089 .102

---

HAWKS 94, PISTONS 79 (box): The Hawks shot 56.5 percent from the field, held the Pistons to 3-of-16 shooting in the fourth quarter and snapped a two-game skid in a contest in which the teams combined to shoot 12-of-15 from three-point range in the first half.

ATL (34-20).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  DET (20-36).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
smith,josh...........86%  33%  1.27  +27 34.4  bynum,will...........43%  31%  1.22  - 5 27.8
johnson,joe..........76%  24%  1.14  +27 24.2  stuckey,rodney.......72%  20%  1.03  - 8 16.0
horford,al...........58%  15%  1.69  +14 23.2  mcgrady,tracy........57%  25%  1.40  -10 14.5
bibby,mike...........82%  20%  1.67  +25 18.3  villanueva,charlie...39%  26%  1.59  -16 11.8
williams,marvin......70%  17%  1.64    0 12.9  daye,austin..........50%  17%  1.83  - 4 11.3
collins,jason........31%   1% 11.06  + 9  7.0  prince,tayshaun......60%  26%  0.83  - 6  9.6
crawford,jamal.......62%   9%  1.06  - 3  4.3  gordon,ben...........34%  23%  0.88  -11  7.1
pachulia,zaza........13%  26%  0.42  -12  2.2  monroe,greg..........69%   4%  1.69  -11  5.5
wilkins,damien.......16%   5%  2.23  -12  2.2  summers,dajuan....... 6%  78%  0.43  + 2  2.0
powell,josh.......... 3%  46%  1.66    0  1.3  wallace,ben..........43%   6%  1.06  + 1  2.0
teague,jeff.......... 3%  83%  0.00    0  0.0  wilcox,chris.........28%  10%  0.37  - 7  1.6
evans,maurice........(DNP)                     maxiell,jason........(DNP)  
PACE: 72.3          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 72.3          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Hawks............  129.9 .621  .360 .180 .116  Pistons..........  109.2 .457  .250 .111 .116

---

BUCKS 102, CLIPPERS 78 (box): Carlos Delfino scored 26 points on 7-of-10 three-point shooting, Brandon Jennings add 20 points and John Salmons had 16 points and a career-high 12 assists as the Bucks added to the dog days of a Clippers team that has lost nine of 12 since Eric Gordon was injured and is now 1-6 on its current 11-game road trip.

LAC (20-35).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  MIL (21-33).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
griffin,blake........85%  30%  0.97  - 9 41.5  delfino,carlos.......84%  21%  1.91  +21 34.2
davis,baron..........75%  27%  1.35  -12 21.8  salmons,john.........94%  17%  1.53  +21 21.3
foye,randy...........75%  25%  0.72  -10 10.6  mbahamoute,luc.......81%   9%  1.97  +27 18.2
jordan,deandre.......77%  10%  0.84  -18  8.2  jennings,brandon.....71%  35%  0.96  + 5 14.4
gomes,ryan...........62%   6%  1.74  - 4  5.1  bogut,andrew.........62%  24%  0.73  + 5 13.1
aminu,alfarouq.......38%  15%  0.84  -20  4.8  brockman,jon.........51%  11%  1.67  +22 12.2
cook,brian...........28%  25%  0.55  -21  2.7  dooling,keyon........41%  23%  0.93  +14 11.4
bledsoe,eric.........46%  14%  0.28  -19  1.8  temple,garrett.......11%   8%  1.32  + 8  1.6
diogu,ike............10%   9%  0.31    0  0.2  ilyasova,ersan....... 4%  30%  0.00  - 3  0.0
butler,rasual........ 4%  26%  0.00  - 7  0.0  boykins,earl.........(DNP)  
gordon,eric..........(DNP)                     douglas-roberts,chris(DNP)  
kaman,chris..........(DNP)                     sanders,larry........(DNP)  
PACE: 80.7          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 80.7          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Clippers.........   96.7 .400  .257 .161 .147  Bucks............  126.4 .596  .219 .099 .164

---

ROCKETS 121, NUGGETS 102 (box): The Rockets got 68 points from their bench, led by Courtney Lee's 22, and hit 14-of-32 from three-point range to hand Denver its fourth loss in five games and with the trade deadline looming, the Nuggets are just a half-game ahead of Memphis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

DEN (30-26).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR  HOU (26-30).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
billups,chauncey.....58%  21%  1.37  -13 20.0  lee,courtney.........54%  25%  1.99  +25 29.8
andersen,chris.......21%  38%  1.42  + 2 16.7  battier,shane........65%  10%  2.98  +12 19.1
afflalo,arron........76%  16%  1.26  - 9 15.7  brooks,aaron.........43%  33%  1.01  + 5 17.8
hilario,nene.........58%  20%  1.07  -27 15.7  scola,luis...........63%  18%  1.02  +22 14.2
anthony,carmelo......61%  30%  0.82  -13 11.8  hill,jordan..........50%  14%  1.64  +21 12.4
harrington,al........44%  31%  0.77  -14  9.5  budinger,chase.......54%  22%  1.22  +19 10.5
martin,kenyon........40%   4%  2.03  - 3  6.0  martin,kevin.........41%  31%  1.21  + 3 10.1
smith,j.r............47%  16%  0.92  - 3  5.7  lowry,kyle...........59%  18%  1.15  + 8  8.7
forbes,gary..........40%  14%  0.94    0  4.4  hayes,chuck..........41%  14%  1.01  + 2  5.0
lawson,ty............54%  14%  0.60  -15  3.9  patterson,patrick....11%  15%  0.73  -10  1.0
carter,anthony.......(DNP)                     miller,brad.......... 9%  12%  1.37  - 4  0.7
williams,shelden.....(DNP)                     smith,ishmael........10%  17%  0.27  - 8  0.4
PACE: 93.1          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%  PACE: 93.1          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Nuggets..........  109.5 .442  .265 .140 .208  Rockets..........  129.9 .573  .278 .086 .104

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NEWS & MOVES

Minutiae from press releases around the league

NBA: The Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard and Portland Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Feb. 7-Feb. 13. Howard led Orlando to a 3-1 week, posting point-rebound double-doubles in all four contests. Howard has 14 consecutive double-doubles and an Eastern Conference best 44 on the season. Howard's 16.8 rpg and .667 shooting from the field led the Eastern Conference. During Orlando's 101-85 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 8, Howard recorded his fifth 20-point, 20-rebound effort of the season. Aldridge led Portland to an undefeated week, tallying 36 or more points in all three Trail Blazers wins. Aldridge's 42 points in a 109-103 victory over Chicago on Feb. 7 were a career high. He shot .631 from the field and .846 from the free throw line on the week. Aldridge is one of three players in the league averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds, joining Howard and Blake Griffin.

KINGS: The Sacramento Kings today fined rookie forward/center DeMarcus Cousins for his involvement in a post-game incident with Donte Greene following Saturday's (2/12/11) contest versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cousins will rejoin the team and be available for Tuesday's rematch against the Thunder in Oklahoma City. ... "There is no place in the NBA for violence, either on or off the court," said Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. "Upon investigating the events of Saturday night, we feel it is necessary to impose an appropriate fine related to DeMarcus' behavior. We will now move forward together. We do not intend to give up on DeMarcus' talent or potential. We look forward to watching his continued improvement and development, which has been significant since the beginning of the season." ... "I wish to apologize to my teammates, the Kings organization and Kings' fans for my role in an unfortunate altercation between teammates," Cousins said. "I accept full responsibility for my actions and know that I must keep raising my standard of professionalism to be my best and a great player in the NBA."

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ON TAP

Tonight in the NBA

WTC  VIS @ HOM,  GAMETIME     NBAPET LINE    OFFICIALS
+ 9  mia @ ind,  7:00 PM EST [ mia by  6 ]   R.Garretson, O.Poole, T.Washington
+ 8  phi @ mem,  8:00 PM EST [ mem by  1 ]   G.Willard, K.Cutler, Z.Zarba
+ 7  uta @ phx,  9:00 PM EST [ phx by  5 ]   S.Foster, D.Collins, J.Williams
+ 4  cha @ chi,  8:00 PM EST [ chi by 12 ]   K.Mauer, N.Buchert, K.Fehr
+ 3  nwo @ gsw, 10:30 PM EST [ nwo by  2 ]   D.Bavetta, M.Ayotte, V.Palmer
- 1  sac @ okc,  8:00 PM EST [ okc by 11 ]   D.Crawford, M.Boland, S.Wall
Note: WTC is a junk stat rating the "watchability" of a game, taking into
account the quality of the opponents and the likelihood of a close game.

Through Monday, 815 of 1,230 games (66.3 percent) have been played in the 2010-11 NBA regular season.

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GLOSSARY
+/- (Plus-Minus) Raw data is from official box scores from NBA.com.
GR (Game Rating) Reflects a player's Points Created total, or the portion of his team's offense for which he gets credit based on his box score line. This number is then adjusted for estimated defensive performance based on box score counterpart productivity. GR is pace-adjusted so you can compare players from game to game.
PCP (Points Created Per Possession Used) An estimate of each player's points created per possession used, a measure of offensive efficiency. The stat accounts for a player's entire box score line, not just the scoring categories.
PLY% (Play percentage) An estimate of the percentage of a team's possessions on which the player was on the court.
USG An estimate of how many of those plays a player used by shooting, going to the line or committing a turnover, with a portion the team's offensive rebound total subtracted.
TEAM STATS
PACE: Estimated possessions in the game.
ORTG: A team's points per 100 possessions.
eFG%: Team's shooting percentage with an extra half-point added for each made three-point field goal.
oRB%: Percentage of a team's misses that they retrieved off the offensive glass.
TO%: Percentage of a team's possessions resulting in a turnover.
FTA%: Percentage of a team's possessions resulting in a trip to the foul line.

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