We’re two weeks into the 2023-24 NBA season, which is far too early for overarching declarations, but not too early for a statistical deep dive into some numbers that jumped out at us. Put on your wetsuits.
Portland Trail Blazers sophomore Shaedon Sharpe has been assisted on 52% of his made baskets this season, down considerably from the 67% he was assisted on last season. That number dropping, combined with Sharpe’s points per game rising (20.1 PPG, up from 9.9 last season), allows us to infer a few things.
First, it shows that Sharpe’s role has increased significantly, which we expected. With Damian Lillard gone and Anfernee Simons sidelined for a few months with an injury, Sharpe was the obvious next man up regarding shot attempts. And the 20-year-old isn't afraid to put up shots, as he's attempting over 15 per game.
Secondly, it shows that Sharpe is getting his own buckets. His self-creation ability is one of the main reasons he was the No. 7 overall pick in last year's draft – despite not playing any college ball – and he’s starting to turn that creation potential into a real skill on a nightly basis.
Shaedon Sharpe’s 26-point second half: pic.twitter.com/lyhXlJzCcg— Brett Usher (@UsherNBA) November 2, 2023
That’s how many minutes Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis is playing per game thus far, which would be a career-high. While that number will surely come down as the season progresses – we don’t think Darvin Ham wants to run AD into the ground during the regular season – it’s a good sign nonetheless that he can play that many minutes a night.
Davis is making the most of his minutes too. He is leading the league in blocks per game (3.3) and has shot the ball extremely well from three-point range (42.9%). Maybe more importantly, he’s shooting just one three-pointer a game! That’s a great number!
That’s the league-leading defensive rating of the Minnesota Timberwolves. This would be the best DRTG in the NBA since the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs, who finished the season with a simply outrageous 98.2 DRTG.
Is Minnesota the best defensive team in almost a decade? Probably not, but they do have the potential to be elite defensively, and they are showing that through two weeks. Rudy Gobert is blocking 2.4 shots per game – much closer to his career average (2.1) than last season, when he was down to 1.4 blocks per game.
Surrounding Gobert is Kyle Anderson (who is still being a pest, while averaging 1.9 steals + blocks per game), a healthy Jaden McDaniels (who solidifies any defense), a 36-year-old Mike Conley (who has lost a step but still provides intelligent play on both ends), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (who is blocking shots like a madman, with a 2.7 block percentage) and budding (budded?) superstar Anthony Edwards (who is as bought in defensively as he ever has been).
Anthony Edwards is a two-way force— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) November 5, 2023
- hard closeout + block on defense
- tough PnR euro + finish through contact on offense pic.twitter.com/G3zZJNVJKf
That is Tyrese Haliburton’s AST% right now. Seriously. If a player on the Indiana Pacers makes a shot, there’s a coin flip chance that Haliburton assisted it. Sustainable? Maybe not. But I am confident in calling Haliburton a top-three facilitator in the league, and he could absolutely get to No. 1 on that list if his game continues to ascend at the pace it has in his first few seasons.
Haliburton has flash in his game, of course:
Haliburton with the no-look pass🙈pic.twitter.com/daZesj2sml— BasketballNews.com (@basketbllnews) October 30, 2023
But like all the great distributors, some of his best passes don’t even end up as assists – like this cross-court dime against Charlotte last Saturday:
This is a great cross court pass from Haliburton and swing to Buddy. Pay attention to Charlotte's defense Melo sprints over to Brown but no one else tries to make a run at Hield until after he's making the catch. pic.twitter.com/A0msdX9Cih— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) November 5, 2023
10.3 and 13.8
The first number is how many assists Chris Paul records for every turnover he commits. Paul’s facilitation is still elite, and the Golden State Warriors' second unit is benefitting mightily because of it. Point God lives on.
Here come the Dubs 👀 pic.twitter.com/oPW29CMIgg— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 6, 2023
The second number, however, is Paul’s three-point percentage this season. Paul is struggling to score regularly right now.
Dario Saric has been a nice surprise for Golden State off the bench, Jonathan Kuminga is scoring nearly 13 points per game and Gary Payton II is shooting the ball well too. Everyone plays better when Paul is distributing at an elite level like this.
That’s Mark Williams’ field goal percentage through six games. The Charlotte Hornets' second-year big man is looking like the big rim presence the franchise has desperately needed in recent years.
Williams was solid in a starting role down the stretch of last season – and he appears to have refined pretty much every aspect of his game in year two.
As a prospect, Williams was widely perceived as a defensive force with minimal offensive ability. But seemingly every game, Williams gets more comfortable on the offensive end, showcased by a career-high 27 points on November 4.