Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY
Admittedly, I am still figuring out how to use the NBA's recently released SportVU statistics. I tried with the catch-and-shoot numbers in my previous post on 3-pointers. There are tons of information to pore over from the distance players run to where they shoot and how they shoot it.
The data is very raw right now with the small sample size. You do not want to draw too many conclusions.
There are still some interesting statistical anomalies. Regressing on Deadspin took a quick look at the numbers of touches a player gets per game and named the players nobody passes the ball to. Their results for players who play at least 15 minutes include a top three of luminaries like Bismack Biyombo, Robin Lopez and James Anderson.
No. 20 on that list? Maurice Harkless.
That just feels wrong, doesn't it? Harkless is averaging 11.5 points per game and is making 47.1 percent of his field goals. He is not the only surprising name in the top 20 as Klay Thompson too cracked the list, sorted by touches per minute.
Ordered by touches per game, Detroit rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets the fewest touches with 15.7 per game. E'Twaun Moore and Jason Maxiell actually get the fewest touches per game on the Magic among their rotation players with 20.0 and 23.5 touches per game.
Moore's numbers are somewhat surprising since he plays some point guard and is thus bringing the ball up the floor. He has played a lot with Victor Oladipo, who has taken over some of his point guard roles. Moore gets the 11th fewest touches per game in the league among players who play at least 15 minutes per game.
Harkless actually gets 30.0 touches per game which is 57th fewest in the league. Andrew Nicholson actually gets fewer touches per game than Harkless.
So the Magic are not abandoning Harkless on offense by any means.
The interesting thing is Harkless does not touch the ball very long. According to SportVU, Harkless touches the ball for a total of 48 seconds per game. That suggests he is involved in a lot more catch-and-shoot situations where he releases the ball. That is a good thing because Harkless is still struggling some working off the dribble. Harkless also scores 0.57 points per touch in half court situations. He pretty much scores once every four times he touches the ball.
What that means? I have no freaking clue. I am still figuring out how to sort this information. It is interesting to have.
It is also incredibly early in the season to make any conclusions. One thing I can conclude, Harkless is not being ignored.