With most teams only having five or six games remaining, the 2018-19 regular season is winding to a close. Things get weird in the last couple of weeks, with starters resting for playoff teams and key players on lottery teams being shut down for the season as a precaution. For example, on Monday night the Chicago Bulls threw out a starting lineup of Shaquille Harrison, Walter Lemon Jr., Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Wayne Selden and Robin Lopez.
All this to say that outside of a few teams jockeying for playoff position, the regular season has all but finished. With that in mind, we thought it would be a good time to look at some of the more surprising and interesting statistical achievements of this season -- we're not talking points, rebounds and assists here, but rather the more intricate, lesser-known stats that you probably didn't hear about.
One of the benefits of the NBA's analytic age is access to a bevy of esoteric stats that you can't really make heads or tails of. Here are some of the stats that stood out this season.
*All statistics from NBA.com, accurate as of Monday, April 1
Consecutive games with a turnover
Westbrook has committed at least one turnover in every game this season -- an impressive feat in itself -- but that only begins to crack the surface of the triple-double machine's turnover iceberg. Westbrook has now committed a turnover in 242 consecutive games, dating back to March 16, 2016. But it even goes beyond that.
Prior to his anomalous clean sheet on March 14, 2016 -- 17 points, 10 rebounds, 16 assists, no turnovers in 28 minutes in a blowout, 128-94 win over the Trail Blazers -- Westbrook had another turnover streak of 179 games, dating back to 2013. Doing the math, that means Westbrook has committed at least one turnover in 421 of his last 422 games. Only one game without a turnover in six years -- simply remarkable.
Given his tremendous usage and the relentless ferocity with which he plays, this isn't all that surprising, but the number is still pretty staggering. James Harden is second on the list with 213 straight games with at least one turnover, which makes sense since he controls the ball so much and, like Westbrook, dishes out a ton of assists.
This isn't necessarily a bad stat -- turnovers are bad, for sure, but you would never want Westbrook to rein in his style of play to prevent them -- but when you dig into the numbers, they're pretty jaw-dropping.
Speaking of Harden, it might surprise you that despite being constantly ridiculed for his defense, Harden is actually second in the league in total deflections this season. He's right up there with leader Paul George, a top Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and ahead of defensive stoppers like Marcus Smart and Jrue Holiday.
Harden's gargantuan number of minutes surely helps him when it comes to totals, but his per-36 minute deflection rate is also among the league leaders. Shooting passing lanes and going for steals isn't necessarily an indicator of good defense, but at least it appears that Harden's gambles are paying off more often than not.
Loose balls recovered
When the basketball is loose, rolling on the floor for either team to scoop up or fall onto, that's generally referred to as a 50-50 ball. When Kyle Lowry's around, not so much.
Lowry has recovered a whopping 74 percent of loose balls on defense, by far the leader for anyone recovering at least 1.5 loose balls per game. The Raptors point guard's low-to-the-ground stature surely helps him get to the floor quicker than other players, but his tenacity and strength probably have a lot more to do with the fact that he gets three out of four loose balls that he goes for.
Known as a knock-down shooter, Ilyasova has never been afraid to sacrifice his body for the greater good, and he's taken it to new levels in 2018-19. Ilyasova leads the NBA with 46 charges drawn, well ahead of second-place Pistons big man Blake Griffin, who has 30. Ilyasova's feat is even more impressive when you consider he's played about half the minutes of Griffin, Marc Gasol, Kemba Walker and many of the other players at the top of the list. When you break it down, Ilyasova has taken 1.4 charges per 36 minutes -- the next highest player who's played significant minutes is Celtics big man Aron Baynes at 0.9 per 36 minutes. All hail Ersan, the Charge King.
Lopez has received much credit for helping revamp the Bucks' offense by stretching the floor with his 3-point shooting, but he's also made a huge impact on the defensive end. Lopez has contested 1,485 shots this season, by far No. 1 in the NBA. While you might expect him to have an edge in contested 2-pointers since the Bucks largely keep him in the paint and funnel drivers his way -- other league leaders include centers Rudy Gobert, Jarrett Allen, Steven Adams and Karl-Anthony Towns -- it's surprising to see Lopez among leaders for centers in 3-pointers contested as well. Adams is the only true center to contest more 3s than Lopez, which means the Bucks big man -- not exactly the most mobile guy in the league -- is hustling to get out on shooters as well as providing a strong paint presence. No wonder the Bucks have the best defense in the league.
Total distance traveled
Beal leads the league in total distance traveled on the court this season -- the guy has run 213 miles during games ... talk about getting your steps in. Beal is constantly working off of screens to free himself, so offensively it isn't much of a surprise, but he also leads the league in distance traveled on defense. Maybe it's because he's chasing around other shooters working off screens, or maybe he's not the most efficient with his routes, but either way, Beal is in rare air with the number of miles he's run on the court this season. The only player to lead the NBA in total distance traveled on offense and defense in a single season since 2014-15 is Nicolas Batum.
While fellow Sacramento King De'Aaron Fox is undoubtedly one of the fastest players in the league, it's Hield who leads the NBA in average speed (for players who have traveled over 150 total miles) at 4.70 miles per hour. Much like Beal, Hield spends much of his time running off screens, but the Kings' break-neck pace also allows him to get out quickly in transition. Hield leads the league in average speed on both offense (5.18) and defense (4.27), so nobody can accuse the breakout star of taking possessions off.