Domantas Sabonis: Historic Efficiency

After an impressive college career at Gonzaga, Domantas Sabonis was drafted 11th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. Almost immediately, he was traded with Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka. After a quiet 2016-17 campaign with the Thunder averaging 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, he was once again traded along with Victor Oladipo to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George. In this first season with the Pacers, Sabonis showed tremendous improvement and became a valuable role player for the team. Being alongside Oladipo for his entire career, Sabonis has often been overshadowed by the exceptional guard. In 21 games so far this season, Sabonis has made sure he is not forgotten, and has made as good a case as any player so far for Sixth Man of the Year.

Here are Sabonis’s stats so far this season:

MPG

PPG RPG APG FG%
24.8 15.0 10.2 3.2

65.2

These stats are already impressive for a player coming off the bench and should be worthy of a Sixth Man of the Year look. Diving deeper into Sabonis’s efficiency and advanced stats, however, shows just how dominant the big man has been so far this season:

Offense

TS%

EFG% ORB% O Rate O Win Shares

O +/-

Stat

69.8 66.6 11.3 126.1 1.9 3.6
NBA Rank 2nd 3rd 16th 11th 16th

18th

Defense

DRB% TRB%

D Rate

Stat

35.4 23.5 101.9
NBA Rank 3rd 4th

10th

Total

PER

Win Shares WS/48 +/-

VORP

Stat

26.4 2.9 .266 6.5 1.1
NBA Rank 9th 15th 1st 12th

19th

(For descriptions of advanced metrics, reference here)

Sabonis’s advanced stats are truly remarkable. He ranks in the top 20 in the entire NBA in almost every advanced metric. His offensive and defensive ratings are both top 12 in the league. His Player Efficiency Rating, thought of in many circles as the definitive NBA player performance metric, is in the top 10. No matter what metric you look at, Sabonis is near the top of the list. Among the top 20 players in PER, he is one of only two players on the list that don’t start (Montrezl Harrell).

While many players have a great case for Sixth Man of the Year Award and may have flashier total stats, Domantas Sabonis is far and away the best sixth man in the league. As possibly the most important player on the Pacers roster, Sabonis cannot be overlooked anymore. Looking at both his and Oladipo’s statistics over the past two seasons, the Paul George trade looks like highway robbery. With an up and coming core of Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers are poised to take a spot among the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Sources:
https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/sabondo01.html

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