The improvement in the Blazers bench is key to their early season success. Here is a summary of team scoring stats from hoopsstats.com. These stats are through 8 games, which is the first 10% of the season.
- Despite playing much better, the bench is playing the same number of minutes per game (13.3) as last year.
- Last year, as a team, we were outscored by 3.2 points per game (PPG). This year, we are outscoring our opponents by 3.5 PPG. The net: our scoring margin is 6.7 PPG better than last year.
- Last year, the bench scored 18.5 PPG. This year, it has improved to 24.9 PPG. Bench scoring has improved by 6.4 PPG. Improved bench scoring accounts for almost all of the Blazers improvement this year.
- Little else has changed significantly. The opponents bench is scoring the same as last year. For the starters, scoring per minute is down slightly, but opponents scoring per minute is down even more.
This year, the bench is doing its job. It is scoring 1.87 PPM and giving up 1.86 PPM. The bench neither gains nor gives up ground. Both figures are right at the midpoint for NBA benches. Compare this to last year. Bench scoring was 1.39 PPM, one of the worst in NBA history, while opponents scored 1.85 PPM. Last year, we gave up nearly half a point a minute (0.46 PPM) for every minute the bench played.
In my post over the summer at http://www.blazersedge.com/2013/7/21/4543366/bench-scoring-as-the-key-to-the-blazers-2013-2014-season, I concluded that:
"If the bench is able to attain the third quartile point in scoring, where it is better than ¼ of the league, scoring would be 1.80 ppm. Only three teams last year were significantly below this level, so it is not unreasonable that they would achieve this level of scoring. This would add 0.41 ppm, or 5.5 points per game. The team as a whole would have a net of + 2.3 points per game. This would have been 10th in the league last year. This is definitely a playoff team, with perhaps a chance at home court in the first round."
So far this season, it looks as if we are doing precisely this, and a bit more.
Now that he has a real NBA bench, perhaps Coach Stotts will play the bench more.They are playing the same number of minutes as last year's abysmal bench, and still play the least number of minutes of any bench in the league. More playing time for a bench that breaks even points-wise would rest starters for later in the game and later in the season.
And Neil Olshey, job well done! You identified bench scoring as the Achilles heel of the Blazers, and brought in the players that have delivered in plugging this gaping hole.