The NBA has a ton of stats, ranging from traditional stats to advanced analytics. As a result, there are many well-known stat leaders, such as Joel Embiid once again leading the league in scoring or Tyrese Haliburton being the assists leader. However, with a plethora of different stats, there are also plenty of surprising stat leaders. Let’s show some love to five surprising stat leaders midway through this season.
5 Surprising NBA Stat Leaders This Season
Coby White: Total Minutes
Coby White’s emergence has been one of the best stories of this season. The fifth-year guard has blossomed into an All-Star caliber talent and franchise building block. He is an elite three-point shooter and high-level playmaker. White’s availability has also been crucial to his success, notably appearing and starting in every game this season. Averaging a career-high 35.4 minutes per game, a 12-minute increase from last year, White leads in the league in total minutes by a slight margin over his teammate DeMar DeRozan. This is only the second season where White has averaged at least 30 minutes per game. It’s no surprise that his improved play is paired with increased minutes; nevertheless, before the season started, nobody would have expected White to lead the league in minutes.
Dwight Powell: Free Throw Rate
Free throw rate measures a player’s free throw attempts per field goal attempt. By dividing total free throw attempts by total field goal attempts you get a player’s free throw rate. Dwight Powell’s .849 free throw rate makes him the runaway leader for this stat, as Rudy Gobert’s .651 is the next closest. Getting to the foul line isn’t probably something most people think of when Powell’s name comes up. However, the stats show he’s elite at it this year, nearly averaging as many free throws as field goals in just 16 minutes per game. Furthermore, this is Powell’s highest free throw rate by a large margin, the next highest being .639 in 2020-21.
Obi Toppin: 2 Point Field Goal %
After being traded to the Pacers this offseason, many expected Obi Toppin to make a jump and benefit from a change of scenery. Toppin is in the midst of a career year and thriving in the Pacers’ top-ranked offense. Toppin’s 72.4% on 2-point field goals not only leads the league, but is on pace to be the highest number since the 2019-2020 season. Furthermore, Toppin’s 2-point field goal % has increased by 13% from last season. A big reason for this is Toppin’s elite athleticism and finishing abilities. He ranks in the 89th percentile for transition scoring. He also ranks top 25 in both total dunks and percent of field goal attempts that are dunks. Similarly, Toppin is an effective finisher; he can take advantage of mismatches with his combination of strength and athleticism. Ultimately, it shouldn’t be too surprising given how well Toppin is playing this year, but this level of efficiency is very impressive.
Jaden Ivey: Points Per Isolation
After a slow start, including issues with coach Monty Williams, the Pistons are finally figuring out how to use Jaden Ivey. In January, Ivey is averaging 18.9 points and 5.0 assists per game. However, more impressively, he is leading the league in points per isolation (minimum 40 attempts) with 1.42 points per possession. Stars Kawhi Leonard and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are second and third in the stat. Comparing these numbers to last season, Ivey has more than doubled his isolation efficiency on slightly less volume. As time goes on Ivey is showing more signs that he’s living up to his potential.
Potentially my favourite Jaden Ivey game last night:
32 PTS | 6 AST | 1 STL | 59% FG
The numbers were awesome, but the way he got to his spots via his handle and change of speed looked the smoothest I’ve ever seen.
Love watching a confident Jaden Ivey. pic.twitter.com/jnKdARPHpU
— Jack Kelly (@jack_kelly_313) January 18, 2024
Jalen Brunson: Charges Drawn
Jalen Brunson isn’t known as a high-level defender. However, his hustle and grit are changing that reputation. Brunson has a knack for drawing charges, a stat he leads the NBA in with 23 charges drawn this year. He has also been near the top of this stat for most of his career. Brunson’s elite positioning and IQ are central to his ability to draw charges. At six-foot-two, Brunson is putting his body on the line each night to make winning plays. Impressively, Brunson has more charges drawn than 18 teams this season. Ultimately, Brunson’s ability to draw fouls and make winning plays are impressive for a star of his caliber.