in WORST FG%.
Suck it rusty shooting teams, we own you. Or should that read "we own you? "
With all the talk of shooting I'd been thinking that people were making too much by focusing on the Pacers while the rest of the league also shot like crap as they shake off the rust early in the season.
So I went to prove it and saw that the numbers didn't agree. And for the record they are also 3rd worst in Adjusted FG%.
Now in the team's defense (and defense of my "rusty" point), just 12 teams are shooting better than they did last year (AdjFG%) and only 5 of them are doing it at a rate at least 1% better than last year. But there is something disturbing even in that list.
How are the Pacers shooting 7.4% worse than last year winning games while facing opponents shooting significantly better than they did last year? By not letting them do it against them. They are 6th in AFG% defense at 43.8% allowed. Pretty good when 2 of the teams you faced are otherwise shooting better than they did last year. TOR is at 52.8%, CLE at 48.6% and DET at 45.3%, all three are shooting better (a lot) in non-Pacers games.
As for that offense, here are the worst AdjFG% drops so far:
And the overall average team AFG% is down 2.0% so far; teams are shooting worse. Of course for the Pacers getting worse when you were already near the bottom of the league (22nd last year) is not a good trend.
You might think it's FTs making up the difference, but it's not. Points Per Shot has the Pacers 3rd from last, down -0.15 PPS, (PHX is worst at -0.17). The team is not scoring the ball. So all of you fans who hated the JO/RON 61 win team might need to look away.
CURVEBALL - NOH and PHX are worst and 2nd worst in drops in AFG% shown above, PPS just mentioned, FG% (well, 2nd and 3rd), and also 3P% (NOH -14.6%, PHX -14.0%, wow that sucks).
But the Pacers are actually UP 3.6% on 3P shooting. The reason this doesn't impact AFG% much is because attempts are way down. Only 13.7 3PA so far compared to...20.2 last year, top 10 on the season and that's a season that was half coached by Vogel. Yikes.
So they are picking better 3PAs and are working the ball inside more. That's helping rebounding and FTAs. Their rebounding differential is +8.6 this year, 1st in the league. Last year it was +0.2 and 15th. FTAs are at 26.3 this year, 24.8 last year.
HUGE DIFFERENCE - Okay, they are holding teams to poor shooting while playing tough defense, but last year's team was pretty good with opponent FG% too. So how do you account for the following:
Opponents PPS last year was 1.21, this year it's a staggering 1.05. That's not a FG% change, it's something else and along with rebounding it's the big key so far.
FTAs by opponents this year is at 21.7, last year was 26.3. The Pacers were 23rd in the NBA in FTAs allowed. This year they are 6th. That alone accounts for 2.5 points per game reduced.
Vogel has them defending shots as well as last year, rebounding much better than last year, and doing this without putting teams on the line as much.
So far the opponents have sucked to put it plainly. Statistical success against them will normalize as the Pacers face a variety of teams. The key might just be getting that inside the arc FG% to come up to somewhere better than "first" in the NBA.