Who’s still stepping it up in the NBA Playoffs?

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (C) questions a call during the first half of Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff series against the Boston Celtics in Miami, May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the numbers to see which players were producing at a higher rate in the Playoffs. Now that we’ve about closed down the second round, I thought it would be a good time to refresh the data.

I calculated Efficiency Per Minute for both the regular season (EPMr) and playoffs (EPMp) and took the difference as a percentage of their performance during the regular season. The resulting percentage is the gain (or drop) in their statistical production in the postseason.

Below you’ll find a table with the 18 (of 71 eligible) players that have managed to step up their games in the Playoffs. Keep in mind that I’m only looking at players that made it to the second round, so the sample size is a bit smaller.

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The NBA’s All-Points Per Total Shots Team

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (R) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum during first half of Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Dallas, Texas April 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

When looking at overall shooting, I like to use Points Per Total Shots (PPTS) which is simply:

PPTS = Points / (FGA + FTA)

I prefer this stat to Effective FG% (eFG%) because it accounts for free throw accuracy and eFG% does not. I also like it better than True Shooting % (TS%) because it doesn’t have any arbitrary constants. TS% does. Points Per Shot (PPS = PTS/FGA) is more popular, but PPTS takes into account free throw accuracy, which is important. PPS does not.

Here is a look at the top PPTS players at each position. To qualify, the player had to attempt at least 1000 total shots (FGA + FTA) over the course of the season.

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How does Ty Lawson compare to Chris Paul?

Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson celebrates a three-point shot in their NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Denver April 9, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Whenever I see Ty Lawson play, I think of Chris Paul. The two players have different games, but physically, they’re similar. Paul stands 6’0″ and weighs 175 pounds. Lawson is 5’11” and weighs in at 195 pounds, so he’s a little stockier than CP3, but they’re both fairly undersized for the point guard position.

Here are the per 48-minute stats from each player’s rookie and second season. Since Paul played about 16 minutes more per game in his rookie season (and 10+ minutes more in his sophomore season), we need to adjust per minute for an apples-to-apples comparison.

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Who is the NBA’s greatest Road Warrior?

Miami Heat forward LeBron James gestures to a fan in the crowd during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Minneapolis April 1, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

In general, NBA players play better at home. That’s a fact. The Top 250 players (in terms of total minutes played this season) are 6.3% better in Efficiency Per Minute (EPM) when playing at home.

But as with anything in life, there are exceptions to this rule. There are certain players who, for whatever reason, play better on the road.

The table below shows the Top 50 players (in terms of Efficiency Per Game), along with both their home and away EPM, and the “percent better” they are when playing at home. If the number is negative, the player actually performs better on the road.

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Does a 40-point game help the team win?

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant reacts during their NBA basketball loss to the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles, California, January 28, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Dwight Howard’s 46-point, 19-rebound effort in a Game 1 loss to the Hawks got me wondering — when a player scores 40+ points in a game, does it give his team a better chance to win? Conventional wisdom would be yes, it should increase the chances of his team winning, but by how much?

To find some answers, I fired up Basketball-Reference’s excellent Player Game Finder. Here are a few of the more interesting results:

— Since the 1985-86 season (which is as far as BR’s data goes back), a player has scored 40+ points 1,734 times or 66.7 times per season, including the postseason.

— In those games (both regular season and playoff), teams who had a player score 40+ points won 1,205 of 1,734 games (.695) so it does indeed mean a team has a better chance to win.

— A player has scored 40+ in the postseason a total of 148 times. His team won 104 times (.703), so it does not make a huge difference whether or not the game is regular season or postseason when it comes to win %.

— Of the 1,734 games, 893 (51.5%) were by guards, 657 (37.9%) were by forwards and 184 (10.6%) were by centers.

— The most points scored in a game (since 1985) was Kobe Bryant’s 81 points against Toronto in 2006. David Robinson scored 71 against the Clippers in 1994. Michael Jordan scored 69 against the Cavs in 1990. The most points scored in a playoff game in that span was a tie between Charles Barkley (1994 vs. Golden State) and Michael Jordan (1992 vs. Miami), each with 56 points.

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