Statistics can reveal interesting things. Like this. The Thunder is a better defensive team than offensive team.
Who would have thought it? Especially after this season of some massive defensive dips with the injuries to Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins.
But it’s true. In the best statistical analysis – points per possession – the Thunder defense ranks higher in the NBA than does the Thunder offense.
The Thunder defense is ranked fifth – 100.7 points allowed per 100 possessions, although I prefer saying it as 1.007 points per possession.
The Thunder offense is ranked seventh in the league – 108.1 points per 100 possessions (1.081 points per possession).
Those rankings are down from last season. The Thunder went into the 2013 NBA playoffs with the No. 4 defense in the league (99.2 points per 100 possessions) and the No. 2 offense (110.2 per 100 possessions).
The Thunder was much more dominant last season. Injuries have curtailed the Thunder’s occasional stretches of dominance this season.
But back to this season.
The NBA offensive efficiency ratings look like this:
1. Clippers 109.4
1. Heat 109.4
3. Mavericks 108.9
4. Rockets 108.6
5. Spurs 108.4
6. Blazers 108.2
7. Thunder 108.1
8. Suns 107.2
9. Raptors 105.9
10. Timberwolves 105.5
Interesting, don’t you think? Eight of the NBA’s 10 best offenses are Western Conference. Only Miami and Toronto crack the top 10.
Among other notable teams, Golden State ranks 12th (105.1), Brooklyn 13th (104.6), Memphis 17th (103.2) and Indiana 22nd (101.6).
Wow. Can the Pacers be NBA contenders with an offense that ranks in the bottom third of the league?
Anyway, the NBA defensive efficiency ratings look like this:
1. Pacers 96.8
2. Bulls 97.8
3. Warriors 99.7
4. Spurs 99.8
5. Thunder 100.7
6. Bobcats 101.3
7. Clippers 101.9
8. Grizzlies 102.0
9. Raptors 102.3
10. Wizards 102.4
This is a fascinating list. First, the Clippers are playing some solid defense. That can’t be good news for every other team in the West.
And the Warriors – who you never think of as anything except a gunslinging offensive team – actually are much better on defense than offense.
Other notable defensive teams: Miami ranks 11th (102.7), Houston ranks 12th (102.9), Phoenix ranks 14th (103.9), Brooklyn ranks 16th (104.6) and Portland ranks 18th (104.7).
Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins (5) and Russell Westbrook (0) defend New Orleans’ Austin Rivers (25) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 11, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman