Schuhmann stat warns Chris Paul could stall OKC Thunder offense

Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets, Russell Westbrook of OKC Thunder, Terrance Ferguson (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets, Russell Westbrook of OKC Thunder, Terrance Ferguson (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Former OKC Thunder players Russell Westbrook and James Harden (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Diving deeper:

Considering these stats it’s clear the two squads’ superstars used vastly different strategies. It’s conceivable the players were following a specific team offensive plan. With Westbrook and Paul switching places the question is whether this dynamic will carry over to their new teams.

So, based on this trend I pulled up some team offensive stats to see if the theory of ball movement and pace factored in. Specifically, I looked at where the Rockets and Thunder ranked in pace, assist percentage and assist ratio. Since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be paired with Paul I pulled up some Clippers stats in these areas as well to determine if the Clippers placement in these areas was drastically different than either squad. And, just for fun, I looked at where the top assist team (Warriors) and the NBA champs ranked in these categories as well.


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Last season the Rockets ran the 27th ranked pace (98.39) while the OKC Thunder ran the sixth-fastest pace (103.38) per NBA stats. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s Clippers ranked seventh (102.66).

This would emulate the early shot attempts versus late attempts as conceivably the faster pace was often due to pushing the ball in transition for easy baskets before the defense could get set. Whereas, the Rockets are often set up dribbling the ball in isolation via Harden or Paul.

The stat which doesn’t correspond in terms of separating the teams is in points off turnovers. OKC ranked second (19.2) so that meshes with the easy scores but the Rockets were close to the Thunder ranking sixth (18.0).

Once again a statistic offers further insight. As per Team Rankings OKC Thunder (18.0) ranked fifth in fast break scoring while the Rockets (12.0) ranked 19th.

Assist Percentage:

In terms of assist percentage, the Rockets ranked 28th (54.1 percent) which speaks to the isolation heavy offense given either Paul or James Harden were the primary ball handlers. The Thunder weren’t much better, ranking 26th (54.8 percent) in assist percentage.  The Clippers ranked 21st, but part of that can be explained by the fact SGA was a rookie and his backcourt teammate Patrick Beverley isn’t exactly a dime master.

Assist Ratio:

Assist ratio which examines the percentage of a team’s possessions that ends in an assist provides more fuel. Chris Paul’s Rockets once again rank in the bottom tier at 28th (15.9) with the OKC Thunder just ahead in 27th (16.3) while the Clippers ranked 20th (17.1).

In comparison, league-best dime distributors, the Golden State Warriors ranked first in assist percentage (66.8), and assist ratio (20.4). Additionally, the Dubs (101.73) ranked 10th in pace and third (18.5) in fast break scoring.

The current NBA champion Toronto Raptors ranked in the middle for most of these categories; 15th in pace (100.52), tied for 13th in assist percentage (60.3 percent) and 11th in assist ratio (18.2). However, the Raptors ranked just below the Thunder in sixth in fast break scoring (17.9) which also speaks to their fifth-best defensive ranking.

The Thunder ranked fourth in defensive rating so the similar defensive and fast break stats of the Thunder and Raptors could explain the differential of the Thunder scoring earlier (read: defense leads to easy baskets). The Rockets 17th rated defense might also explain the variance as Houston elected to score in a methodical approach off the turnovers they created instead of pushing the break.