LeBron James is having his most efficient shooting season yet.

The NBA In-Season Tournament semifinal appearances of the Pacers, Bucks, Pelicans, and Lakers can all be explained by advanced statistics.

LeBron James is having his most efficient shooting season yet

The semifinals of the inaugural In-Season Tournament are scheduled for Thursday in Las Vegas.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, and New Orleans Pelicans are the four teams that made it, and their respective records are third, ninth, tenth, and sixteenth in the league. However, they have made the necessary sacrifices to position themselves to win the NBA Cup.

OffRtg: League Rank points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg: (League Rank) Points allotted per 100 possessions
NetRtg: (League Rank) Point differential per 100 possessions
Pace: League Rank possessions every 48 minutes

Here are some numbers to know regarding each of the semifinalists. All stats are through Tuesday, Dec. 5

1. The (11-8) Indiana Pacers

OffRtg: 123.6 (1) DefRtg: 120.2 (28) NetRtg: +3.5 (9) Pace: 104.1 (1)

On 100 possessions, the Pacers have scored 123.6 points.

By a large margin, that is the highest score in NBA history. Additionally, it is 9.8 points higher than the current league average (113.8), the largest differential in the 28 seasons for which play-by-play data is available, surpassing the Dallas Mavericks’ (+9.0) mark from 2003–04.

They would be the first squad to lead the league in both offensive efficiency and pace in eighteen seasons.

The Phoenix Suns, who averaged 7.1 fewer possessions per 48 minutes than the Pacers, were the last team to accomplish it in 2005–06. Indiana has averaged 128.4 points per game, 1.9 more than any other team in NBA history, thanks to its efficiency and pace, which ranks fourth fastest in the 28 seasons for which play-by-play data is available.

Tyrese Haliburton has a 5.05. assist/turnover ratio.

That ranks SEVENTH in the league, but would be the highest mark for a player who averaged at least 10 assists per game in the last 34 seasons (60 total instances), since Muggsy Bogues averaged 10.7 assists with an assist/turnover ratio of 5.94 in the 1989/90 season.

2. Milwaukee Bucks (15-6)

OffRtg: 119.2 (3) DefRtg: 115.3 (21) NetRtg: +3.8 (8) Pace: 102.1 (5)

The Bucks are one of two teams in the top ten in field goal percentage in the paint (62.3%, first), mid-range field goal percentage (45.5%, fifth), and three-point percentage (38.4%, sixth).

The Pacers (58.9%) and Bucks (58.2%) have the two highest effective field goal percentage marks in NBA history. The previous high was 57.5%, set by the Brooklyn Nets in 2020-21.

The Bucks have given up 4.4 more points per 100 possessions this season than they did last year (110.9, fourth).

While the Bucks’ offense has seen the second-largest increase in points scored per 100 possessions in the league, the defense has seen the third-largest increase in points allowed per 100 possessions. They and the Pacers are two of four teams that rank in the top ten offensively but in the bottom ten defensively.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has averaged 20.8 points per game in the paint.

This is 3.1 points per game more than any other player this season, and it would be the most points in the paint per game for any player in the last 24 seasons (since Shaquille O’Neale averaged 22.5 in 1999-00).

3. New Orleans Pelicans (12-10)

OffRtg: 114.2 (14) DefRtg: 112.8 (15) NetRtg: +1.4 (14) Pace: 100.4 (12

The Pelicans have won eight of their last 12 games while scoring 119.8 points per 100 possessions.
Over that stretch, they rank ninth in the league, up from 107.7 per 100 (28th) in their first ten games (4-6). Better shooting in the paint, more free throws, and more offensive rebounds have all contributed to progress.

With CJ McCollum, they’re 7-2.
With McCollum on the floor, the Pelicans have only outscored their opponents by 0.2 points per 100 possessions, but they have won when he is available. Their most-used lineup (with Dyson Daniels replacing McCollum) has played only 84 minutes, ranking fourth among all teams’ most-used lineups.

Second Spectrum tracking shows that 85% of their 3-point attempts have come off the catch.

That is the highest rate in the league, and the Pelicans are one of six teams in the top ten in both ball and player movement. However, they rank 26th in overall 3-point rate, having taken only 35.0% of their shots from beyond the arc, with the Lakers being one of four teams with a lower rate. In terms of 3-point differential, the Pelicans (minus-7.4 points per game) and Lakers (minus-11.9 points per game) are ranked 27th and 30th, respectively.

4. Los Angeles Lakers (13-9)

OffRtg: 110.6 (24) DefRtg: 111.4 (9) NetRtg: -0.8 (21) Pace: 100.5 (11)

The Lakers have a field goal percentage of 60.6% (fourth best) in the paint but only a 46.6% (30th) effective field goal percentage on shots outside the paint.

This would be the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Lakers have had the greatest disparity between how well they shoot in the paint and how well they shoot from outside the paint. (Two seasons ago, they had the second-largest differential.) They’ve been outscored by 11.9 points per game from 3-point range, the third-worst disparity in the 45-year history of the 3-point line.

They are one of four teams that are unbeaten when leading at the half.

They’ve led at halftime in three of their last four games after only three of their first 18. They’re still 9.0 points per 100 possessions better in the second half of games (plus-3.7) than they are in the first (minus-5.3), with defense accounting for the majority of the difference.

LeBron James has a 61.1% effective field goal percentage.

That would be the highest point total of his career. His field goal percentage in the paint (68.9%) and 3-point percentage (38.7%) are both the highest in his six seasons with the Lakers.


Scroll to Top