Your high school math teachers weren't lying to you when they said that you would need math in the future. But, what they forgot to mention is that you'll really want that knowledge if you're a fan of basketball.
NBA.com's statistics page is extraordinary. They completely revamped their website again this year, adding a plethora of new figures that get stats geeks like me excited like it's Christmas morning.
Using the Boston Celtics as our vessel, let's float through the rocky waters that is NBA.com's "advanced" statistics and introduce some of the new dashboards you'll find on the site:
Boston ranks first in assist opportunities per game (50.3), first in assists per game (25), and third in points created by assist per 48 minutes (57). These statistics are fun and useful, but if you go to any player page, you'll find the "passing dashboard," where things like the rate and success of passes can be found.
Rondo and Bradley have a connection
Avery Bradley is shooting a respectable 36 percent from three-point range this season, but SportVU allows us to dip a little deeper. Of his 25 total attempts, 16 have been on passes from Rajon Rondo. On those, he's hitting 50 percent, which means he's only 1-for-9 on the passes received from six other players. While the statistics themselves don't prove anything, it is quite mindboggling how he has been so successful on passes from Rondo, but not from anyone else.
Big man passes lead to success
Everyone saw Jared Sullinger's nifty backdoor assist to Evan Turner on Saturday night and the stats look good for him too. Sullinger passes the ball 43.5 times per game and his teammates have an eFG percentage of 53.1 on their 64 total attempts.
Tyler Zeller doesn't pass the ball at nearly the frequency (4.2 percent) of Sullinger (14 percent), but on his 78 passes he has seven assists, on a 57.5 eFG percentage. The Celtics have just a 43.9 eFG percentage on passes from Kelly Olynyk, but expect that number to rise, as they shot 53.4 percent (eFG) last year.
NBA.com's rebounding dashboard has loads of new information that I never imagined I would have access to. I always thought Kevin Garnett was an overrated rebounder during his latter years in Boston, as many of his rebounds were uncontested -- and what do you know, the past two years 71.7 percent of his rebounds are uncontested.
Thanks to SportVU, last year we got to see how many uncontested (no opponent within 3.5 feet) and contested (an opponent is within 3.5 feet) rebounds a player snatched per game, but now we get to see even more fine details.
Sullinger is a rebounding monster
Of the 35 players that average eight rebounds per game or more, Jared Sullinger ranks fifth in contested rebound percentage, which means 56 percent of his boards are contested. Sullinger literally has to work his butt off to box out and grab the ball at its apex. Looking even further, you'll find interesting things like how 44 percent of his boards come from shots taken over 19 feet away, compared to just 28 percent from within three feet of the rim.
Rondo, Turner, Green play cleanup
Rajon Rondo, Evan Turner, and Jeff Green have combined for 93 rebounds this season, but 74.2 percent have been uncontested (Rondo: 75%, Turner: 81%, Green: 68.8%). This could mean that they aren't "fighting" with the bigs for contested rebounds, but it more than likely means they're just in the area for long misses. Combined, 43 percent of their rebounds come from shots that land six or more feet away from the rim. By comparison, only 16 percent of Sullinger's come from this area.
NBA writers on Twitter died a little bit inside when mySynergySports closed down this summer, but SportVU's new shooting dashboard helps fill the void. You can now see how a player performs off of catch-and-shoots, pull-ups, and in situations, like time left on the shot clock and how many dribbles they took before shooting. Maybe most exciting are "closest defender" and "touch time" measurements.
KO is blessed by the basketball gods
Kelly Olynyk has an unreal 93.8 eFG percentage on 16 catch-and-shoot field goals. As you'd expect, Olynyk is extraordinary when he's wide open, sinking 56.3 percent of his 16 attempts. However, his percentages don't drop too much when he's contested. Kelly is hitting 70.6 percent of his "tightly contested" field goals (a defender between two and four feet) and 46.2 percent of his very tightly contested attempts (a defender within two feet). These are mostly all unsustainable percentages, but let's enjoy it while we can.
Turner has improved his efficiency so far
Maybe I'm the only person on the planet not surprised, but Evan Turner has made huge strides so far with the Celtics. ET has a 48.9 eFG percentage, which is right around the league average of 49.3 percent. Part of the reason for his early-season success might just be due to the fact he's frequently getting more open shots. Last year, only 75.2 percent of his shots were not very tightly contested, whereas 85.7 percent have been in six games in 2014.
Though it's a small sample size, Turner is a player who has always struggled with making the "right decision" and with getting his shot blocked, and Boston has made it a point to free him for his mid-range jumper. It'll be important to monitor the quality of his shots going forward.
The six nuggets above are only a handful of findings from NBA.com. I would encourage you all to go ahead and do some digging yourself, even if you're not too much of a numbers person. I guarantee that you'll find something interesting that you never would've thought of before. Please share some of your findings in the comment section below, or tweet me at @KevinOConnorNBA.