Thursday, January 29, 2009

When Greg Oden plays 30 minutes or more...

Last night while the Blazers were pummeling the Bobcats the Portland broadcast crew showed an interesting line of statistics. It detailed the achievements of one Greg Oden when he played thirty minutes or more in a game, and it was pretty impressive. It was so very spectacular I figured I needed to explore what happens when Greg gets his thirty.

Oden averages 23 minutes a game. When he plays over 30 minutes in a contest, one would naturally expect an increase across the board in non-percentage stats just from the extra opportunities. Greg's increases are still impressive. He averages 4.3 more rebounds (including nearly 2 more offensive rebounds) and 5.3 more points per game. His over 30 minutes averages of 14 points and nearly 12 rebounds make me giddy. And I have to reiterate, in these games, Greg averages nearly five offensive rebounds. Look out people.

Perhaps because he gets more in a rhythm (by both more minutes and more continuous play as he usually is not in foul trouble), Oden also shoots a noticeably higher percentage from the field in his over 30 games: 59% compared with 54% on the season.

That increase makes it even more interesting that Oden shoots a lower percentage from the line with his extended burn: 60% compared with 64% on the season. Is this nothing more than statistical noise? Can we attribute it to Greg still getting his lungs and legs?

Another observation is that Greg is not blocking many more shots with his extra minutes: 1.2 compared with 1.1. This is the most enlightening of all these stats in that it shows what could be the key to Oden staying in the game for extended minutes. We all know that when Greg is not playing 30 minutes it is likely because he is in foul trouble. This stat could support the belief that he is still learning how to challenge shots without fouling. It could be that when Greg stays away from blocking as many shots, he stays in the game longer. Of course, nobody wants Oden to stop challenging, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on this as he continues to develop.

But how does Greg impact the overall team statistics? Not much. The Blazers score 2.5 less points per game when Oden gets over 30, but their opponents see a similar decrease. Field-goal percentages for the Blazers and their opponents are pretty much unchanged.

Most importantly, how are Portland's wins and losses influenced? Oden has played 30 or more minutes nine times this season and the Blazers have won six of those games. Winning at 67% is very nice, and even better when you consider that Portland is 22-14 (.61%) when Oden does not play thirty.

As Oden continues to learn how to be that aggressive defender without picking up as many fouls, we will see a rise in his minutes. I hope that he is dedicated to maintaining aggressive D, because right now it appears that when he goes for less blocks he stays in games longer and both the team and himself are rewarded. But in the long-term, an Oden that has figured out how to contend a high volume of shots without fouling will be of greatest value to the team. Go Blazers.

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