It might be too early in the 2019-2020 NBA Season to draw some long-term conclusions about teams and players, but statistics posted by Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Fred VanVleet and Bam Adebayo are worth a deeper look.
#1: Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Before the season began, head coach Nick Nurse told both VanVleet and Pascal Siakam that they’re going to get a lot more shots now that Kawhi Leonard is gone. More minutes too.
Siakam has been ballin’. VanVleet? To some, a deserving Finals MVP, who has risen to 38.2 minutes per game, second in the NBA at the moment. The volume of his shooting and overall numbers has grown obviously, but not necessarily the rate in which he tries to score. While his minutes have grown by 38.9% compared to last season, he’s only shooting 5.6% more per 36 minutes. And while his 3-point shooting has been solid (38.1%), his overall efficiency has dropped with a True Shooting ratio of 50.8%, dropping from 53.9% last season.
#2: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
While the Blazers aren’t really enjoying the start of this NBA season, it’s hard to ignore what Lillard is doing on the court. Playing more minutes than anyone in the league (38.5 per game), Lillard is so far on pace to being a strong contender for MVP.
He’s currently leading the league in Win Shares (2.6, above Giannis Antetokounmpo who leads the WS/48 crowd). When it comes to more easily digested numbers, he’s scoring 32.5 per game (second to only James Harden) while shooting at a career high efficiency rate (including 39.1% from three on 9.7 attempts per game). Obviously, if Portland don’t figure things out he’ll drop off from contention, but this might certainly the next step in the evolution of Lillard as a superstar in this league, still improving as he approached his 30th birthday.
#3: Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
While dominating the boards is not a foreign concept to Drummond, he’s really taking it to a whole new level this season.
The league-leader in total rebounds in each of the last four seasons, Drummond is averaging 16.8 rebounds per game, including 4.8 on the offensive glass. It’s a career high, both in total average and per minute numbers. His dominance shows in the percentages too – 28.5% on total rebounds, 40.8% on defensive rebounds, 16.2% (not a career high or a league best unlike the other numbers) on the offensive glass. Too bad the Pistons are only 4-8 so far.
#4: Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons
We’re sticking with Detroit, a team more than its fair share of interesting (and doing quite-alright players) despite the disappointing run through the first 12 games of the season.
Rose continues his renaissance as an NBA player, averaging 18.7 points on only 24.3 minutes of basketball. He’s dishing out 6.1 assists per game (highest since the 2011-2012 season for him) and just to show this isn’t just an individual numbers thing, the Pistons are 4 points per 100 possessions better with Rose on the court compared to the minutes without him. Even more astonishingly, he’s leading the NBA in assist percentage with 50.7% (his highest before this season is 40.3% in 2011-2012). He’s also 4th around the league in usage (34.7%, highest of his career), the most for a non-starter.
#5: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
We finish with a defensive specialist. Adebayo is a huge part of the Heat’s terrific start to the season – a definite DPOY candidate and MIP as well. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 9.8 boards in 31.5 minutes, but his defense is what truly stands out.
Where do we begin? There are the easy numbers: 1.4 blocks and 1.6 steals per game. But it’s deeper than that, and his ability, much like Rudy Gobert, is at the center of what makes the Heat such a good defensive team (3rd in the NBA with a 101.4 defensive rating).
He’s 6th in the league in defensive rating (96.8), which is at the top of the list, followed by 5th in defensive win shares (0.7) and 3rd in defensive box plus/minus (5.8).