Fourteen games into the season is probably a bit too early to start puffing out our collective chests regarding statistical achievements, but you've got to start somewhere. Here are a number of positive team and individual statistics where we rank among the Top 10 in the NBA. It's more than I would have expected.
• A large part of our early-season success this year comes down to shooting the long ball. Portland's 42 percent shooting from three, good for second-best in the NBA, belies that fact. No surprised than that we're fourth in attempts per game and third in makes per game.
• The Trail Blazers' ability to take care of the ball is the other major reason for their better than expected record. Portland ranks 1st in fewest turnovers, averaging just 12.4 a game. That only tells half of the story though. A team that plays at a slow pace like the Trail Blazers is bound to have fewer turnovers (fewer possessions = fewer turnovers), but the fact that Portland is also 2nd in assist-to-turnover ratio proves almost categorically that the Blazers are, in fact, careful with the ball. Being 2nd in the league in opponent steals buttresses that claim.
• The Trail Blazers, by nearly all accounts, are not a good rebounding team. 23rd in total rebounds per game and a miserable 29th in the league in defense rebounds per game. Our slow pace (29th in the league to be exact), have something to do with that. There is a silver lining though: Portland is 6th in offensive rebounds per game.
By the way; you want proof that our slow pace is the real drain on our rebounding numbers? Here it is: Even though, as mentioned above, the Trail Blazers are on the low end of both defense and total rebounds per game, we're also among the leaders in the NBA in opposing team rebounding. Portland is 5th in opponent defensive rebounds per game (22.0), 3rd in opponent offensive rebounds per game (9.6) and 2nd in total opponent rebounds per game (37.6). The Cavaliers, for example, are the best in the NBA when it comes to opponents total and defensive rebounds, and are also one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA. One of the few similarities the Blazers share with the Cavs.
• The Trail Blazers are second in the league in PER ratings for shooting guards with a 22.4 rating. No surprise there considering Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez, our only shooting guards, have PER ratings of 23.05 and 18.64, respectively. Moreover, Roy and Fernandez are ranked 4th and 9th, respectively, in shooting guard PER. Only the Bulls have two players ranked in the top 20 in shooting guard PER.
• Keeping with the above theme, the Trail Blazers are fourth in the league in small forward PER with a 19.3 rating. I'm not complaining, but I'm not entirely certain how that could be correct considering our two small forwards, Nicolas Batum and Travis Outlaw, log PERs of 15.48 and 15.11, respectively. 82games.com's stats were updated today, so maybe Hollinger's numbers are old. I'm assuming that 82games.com tabulates positional PER as an average of each individual player's PER, but that could be an incorrect assumption.
• The Trail Blazers also crack the Top 10 (in fact, 10th to be exact) in center PER with a 19.3 rating. Greg Oden is 6th in the league in PER among centers with a 21.27 rating with Joel Przybilla coming in 11th among centers with a 18.40 rating.
• No telling yet what effect Przybilla's move to the bench will have on these stats, but through 14 games, the Trail Blazers bench has been one of the best in just about every statistical category. Portland's second unit is 4th in minutes per game with 99.2, 3rd in points per 100 possessions at 107.8, 3rd in points per game with 37.6, 5th in rebounds per game with 16.9, 4th in assists per game with 8.4, 3rd in steals per game with 3.4, 6th in blocks per game with 2.4 and (finally) 8th per game in plus/minus with a +31.
• The fact that the Portland bench plays so much takes a bite out of the starters per game numbers, but the adjusted stats show a starting unit that scores the second-most points per 100 possessions.
• Even though he's still working on his stamina, Greg Oden has managed to lead all rookies in blocks per game. Really, there's no excuse for Oden not to have the lead among first-year players in this category.
• Back to Joel Przybilla for a moment. I don't believe he has enough attempts to officially qualify, but if he did, he'd be No. 1 in field goal percentage with a ridiculous 83%. Przybilla has only missed eight field goal attempts all season.
• Rudy Fernandez is fourth in the league in free-throw shooting percentage (94%). Again, there's no reason why Fernandez shouldn't stay in the Top 10 in this category.
• Brandon Roy isn't exactly a prolific scorer, but he is 7th in scoring per game among shooting guards. He's also 6th in minutes at the position, which is no shocker, especially considering he's playing some point guard and a little small forward every now and then.
• Though his percentage has a dropped a smidgen over the last few games, Travis Outlaw's clip from long-range still comes in at 51 percent, good for seventh in the NBA. Also worth noting that Outlaw has taken more three's than anybody ahead of him on that list.
• On the pure numbers side of the three-point line, Rudy Fernandez is tied for 2nd in the league in triples made with 33 and Steve Blake comes in tied for 7th in the NBA with 29.