The Thunder’s “Big Three” and total team production
As I wrote in the “We don’t want you, Ben Gordon!” column, OKC was one of two teams (New York being the other) that had three players attempt at least 1,000 shots on the season. Kevin Durant took 1,390, Russell Westbrook 1,095 and Jeff Green 1,068. That got me to thinking – was OKC’s “Big Three” the most relied upon trio in the league?
Let’s look! (An absurd amount of stats coming – but there’s also colorful pie charts! Mmm… pie.)
The three averaged 57.1 points per game together and the entire team averaged 97.0 ppg. So of the team’s total points per game, Durant, Green and Westbrook averaged 58.8 percent of the total scoring. Three teams had three players contribute more to the overall scoring than OKC. Dallas was first with Jason Terry, Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard scoring 62.4 percent of the team’s points per game. Chris Paul, David West and Peja Stojakovic combined for 59.6 percent of the Hornets total output. And LeBron James, Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 58.9 percent of the Cavs total points per game (with LeBron having a huge chunk of everything).
But scoring is not the only thing Durant, Green and Westbrook did. They took 52.9 percent of the teams total shots (3,553 of 6,716) and per game, 45.9 of 81.9 shots (56 percent). And they made 52.4 percent of the team’s total baskets. They took 606 of the OKC’s 949 three pointers (63.8 percent) and made 69.5 percent of the Thunder’s total threes. They attempted 60.8 percent of the OKC’s free throws and made 64.1 percent of team’s total freebies. They grabbed 40 percent of the team’s rebounds, had 47.8 percent of the team’s total assists, had 50.5 percent of the team’s turnovers and averaged 36.1 minutes a game between them.
In other words, they kind of did it all. The 54.4 average of those 12 categories is the highest combined percentage of total production/usage in the league. The thing is, a lot of teams had three guys that scored a lot together. Or maybe dished out a bunch of assists together. But really nobody combined the amount of three pointers taken with rebounds and assists. I even left out steals and blocks, but OKC’s three combined for 47 percent of the team’s steals and 27 percent of the blocks. They really did do it all.
Compare that to Boston’s “Big Three” of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Piece (granted, Garnett did miss 25 games). They took 46.7 percent of the team’s shots for the season, took 52.8 percent of the team’s shots per game, scored 54 percent of the team’s points per game, made 59.1 percent of the team’s three pointers (and that’s with Ray Allen!), took 45 percent of the team’s free throws and made 50.8 percent of the club’s free throws. They grabbed 35.3 percent of the rebounds, dished out 35.2 percent of the assists, had 35.3 percent of the turnovers and averaged 35 minutes a game. Whew.
For the Mavs, Dirk, Terry and Howard really just mainly did the scoring and shooting. They only combined for 32 percent of the Mavs total rebounds, 29.8 percent of the assists, 35 percent of the turnovers and averaged 34.4 minutes a game. And that’s really what most every other combo did as well. Like Kobe, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were strong in scoring and rebounding, but weak in assists and three pointers. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili kind of the same thing. And on down the line. Nobody really did everything like Durant, Green and Westbrook.
So what’s it mean? I’m not really sure, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Obviously, help is needed and you shouldn’t have three players providing THAT much of your team’s total production. It helps that the three are spread out fairly evenly on the court with Westbrook at the point picking up assists, Durant scoring and rebounding and Green scoring and rebounding. But still, KD had to do so much this season as he was third on the team in assists, first in blocks, second in steals and third in rebounds.
If you’ll notice, all the other teams with successful trios (Cavs, Mavs, Celtics, Spurs and Hornets) were all playoff teams and all had sterling records. And while they all had three very productive players, they also had this little thing called role players. Andersen Varejao and Delonte West. Rajon Rondo and Leon Powe. Roger Mason Jr. and Michael Finley. James Posey and Tyson Chandler. Who did OKC have in that key supplementary role? Nick Collison? Nenad Krstic? Earl “God Help Us” Watson? Those guys are decent players, but they aren’t the key major contributors. Maybe Krstic could be with a full season, but still help is needed. And let’s hope the balls bounce right and BIG help is on the way.