Another NBA season has passed, and just like my mentor (yeah right, I wish) Bill Simmons keeps his tradition of publishing his annual Trade Value column (check this out – a collection of ALL his previous trade value columns!), I will continue the tradition of publicizing the statistical achievements that went under the radar this year, the shy ones, the ones who keep over-analyzing conversations and social interactions. I don’t know for sure which column is more popular, but we’ll give Mr. Simmons the benefit of the doubt.
Well, what can you say, not all statistical achievements were created equal, and some are more shy than others. I will present the non-traditional achievements, the ones that won’t be reported (or at least – not all of them) in the major sports websites, but which are nevertheless very interesting. Or, at least I think so. Now, it’s true that Benjamin Disraeli once famously declared that there are three kinds of lies: “lies, damned lies and statistics”, but first of all – fuck you Benjamin Disraeli, with this attitude you will never be accepted to our stats-teaching team at TAU, as long as I have a say in this. And second – well, actually yeah, you’re probably right, but I think your saying has to do more with the weirdos who try to make a claim for Wilt Chamberlain as the greatest player of all time.
Anyway, let us not dawdle anymore, let’s meet them, the unsung heroes of the past season!
1) As usual we start with Le King. I mention it every year, but this streak of his is simply too important to be ignored, and it is getting more impressive with each passing season. It really befuddles me how it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. As of the end of the 2014-15 season, LeBron scored in double digits in 641 consecutive games. Wait, let me write that again: 641 consecutive games! The third longest streak of its kind in history! Let’s see if LeBron can extend this streak further, after celebrating 30 this year and coming very close to ending it in the infamous game against Portland, when he scored only 11 points.
Just a reminder: Kareem owns the second longest streak – 787 games, and Jordan the longest – 866 games.
2) The relative paucity of games LeBron played in this season leave only his averages as worthy to talk about. No 2000/500/500 season, but yes a 6/6/6 season. This season was the 11th season in a row in which LeBron posted averages of at least 6 in 3 categories – points, rebounds and assists. In fact, he achieved this feat in each season of his career, except his rookie year. His streak of 11 seasons is the 2nd best of all-time, and only Jason Kidd can boast a longer one, of 12 consecutive seasons. In terms of the overall number of such seasons, Kidd has another season outside the streak, and he leads with 13 such seasons overall. Here LeBron broke the tie with Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, and he’s the sole possessor of the 2nd place, chasing Kidd. Can he, after nearly missing on the streak this year (6.03 rebounds per game this season), have another season or two of those?
3) The thing that impresses the most when you look at Mr. Jordan’s stats is not only his nice rebounds-per-game averages – we’ve seen seasons of 15+ rebounds per game not so long ago, both with Kevin Love and Ben Wallace. But what singles out DeAndre from everyone is that he simply doesn’t miss any games, which together with his awesome rebounding averages allows him to have crazy rebounds totals. This season he grabbed 1226 rebounds, a figure Dennis Rodman was the last to reach, back in 1993-94! 20+ fucking years! And still, one must remember that this amazing total is about 1,000 rebounds off Chamberlain’s single season record – 2149.
4) And if we’re on the DeAndre Jordan subject already… The fact that he’s having the second greatest season in terms of FG% (71.0), after Wilt in the 72-73 season (72.7%) – is known. What is perhaps less known is that if DeAndre continue to do his thang, he will completely shatter the all-time career FG% record, which belongs to Artis Gilmore – 59.9%. Right now Jordan’s career FG% is 66.4, and it’s comparable to what Messi is doing (and will continue doing) to the all-time goalscoring record in the Spanish league. Jordan needs to score 282 more field goals to be eligible for the record, and based on his last couple of seasons, it seems that starting from the end of March 2016 we will be able to say that we are witnessing live the most accurate field goaler (yeah, that seems legit) ever in NBA’s history.
5) I’m biased, but one cannot not mention the wonder that is Timmy. The greatest PF of all-time had just completed the second greatest rebounding season for a player his age. His average of 9.14 rebounds per game is ranked second all-time for players aged 38+, and the only player ahead of him is the legendary Robert Parish, who at age 39 averaged 9.37 rebounds per game.
6) Perhaps Timmy will find some consolation in the fact that he just had the greatest blocking season BY FAR for a player of his geriatric age. With 1.95 blocks per game, Timmy was ranked 6th in the league this season. The second best blocks-per-game average for a player of his age? Kareem, with 1.65.
7) Timmy started this season ranked behind Kevin Garnett on the all-time rebounds list. But then he used the fact that he’s awesome and managed to pass the fading Big Ticket, on his way to 8th place all-time, with 14,644 rebounds (Garnett is 9th with 14,512). Next year Timmy will be able to climb to the 6th place – Karl Malone currently lies there, with an advantage of 324 rebounds. But this will probably be the end of the road, because he will never reach the second Malone – Moses, who occupies the 5th place (a gap of 1568 rebounds). Will we ever see anyone who can threaten the top 2 spots, which as of now look utterly unreachable (Bill Russell – 21,620, Wilt – 23,924)???
8) Right until the last 3 games of the season, Russell had a fierce duel with James Harden over the top scorer title. But then Russell turned into Allen Iverson and won easily, with 28.15 points per game. It’s nice, and one should also take into account that Russell is a PG (at least, on paper). But up until those 3 games the scoring race this year was pretty lame, and was on its way to the second lowest average for the top scorer since the 1977-78 season (Westbrook’s average was 27.48 ppg), with the only one “topping” Russell being Iverson in the lockout 1998-99 season (26.75 ppg), which should carry an asterik anyway. I mean, Chris Webber was the rebounding leader then. Enough said.
But as I said – luckily, we were spared that fate.
9) Still Russell, who had a quite extraordinary season. It all started at the crazy All-Star game, where he almost broke the record for most points in a single game (finished with 41) and took home the MVP trophy. What is perhaps less known is that the game led him to another title, albeit a temporary one.
The thing is that as of now, 5 players in the history of the All-Star game have accumulated as much points as minutes. That is, they average at least a point-per-minute. Four of them – active (the only one who isn’t – Dale Ellis). But while with four of them it’s attributable to a statistical outlier of one game only – Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Anthony Davis and old Ellis, Westbrook manages to hold to this extraordinary average over the course of 4 whole games! 88 points in 86 minutes, unbelievable. Obviously, this average will go down in the future, but still – as of now it’s no less than amazing. Russell will surely not stay in this exclusive club for long, and so is Anthony Davis – they both can expect many more All-Star games. Jeff Teague? It’s hard to say. If he will be chosen to another All-Star game – he won’t average a point-per-minute anymore. But Korver? With Kyle I’m pretty sure that this was the first and only All-Star game of his career. So it seems that he will keep company to Dale in the “point-per-minute” club until the end of time.
10) I like CP3. He’s an astonishing point guard. But what is even more impressive about him is his consistency. He took Timmy’s thang of being consistent (just take a look at Timmy’s Per 36 minutes stats. I dare you) to a whole other level. His numbers for the time he played for New Orleans and for the Clippers – are nearly identical. It’s like he cloned himself. Otherwordly consistency.
11) The Big Ticket, who refuses to be over, has entered this year to the top 5 all-time in terms of games played (he now shares the 5th place with Kevin Willis, 1424 games). If he will play next year as well he might pass Karl Malone. Right now The Mailman has a lead of 52 games. What’s next? Well, John Stockton lies at 3rd place all-time, with 80 games more than Garnett, but if KG plays 80 games next year I’m quitting my PhD.
12) Players don’t make fouls anymore in today’s game. Garnett, who just played his 20th fucking season in the league, only managed to crack the top 30 in total fouls, and together with Paul Pierce (who enetered it right in the last game of the season) they are the only active players there – Garnett 29th and Pierce 30th. Personall I have high hopes for DeMarcus Cousins, who led the league in personal fouls during his first two years, and has been in the top 5 ever since, with a career average of 3.91 fouls per game. Perhaps he can return the lost fouls pride to present-day players… Make it happen, Boogie!
13) Well, it’s actually not an achievement. It’s the opposite of achievement. Tnemeveihca. I can’t believe I predicted Love will be the next member of the coveted “20-10” club. What a horrible season, stats wise! A mere 16.37 ppg, not even 10 rpg… This is NOT how you enter that super-exclusive club! This is Love’s tnemeveihca.
So who might enter this club in the future? Well, right now it seems that perhaps Anthony Davis is da man to do it, although he must boost his rebounding averages for that to happen, because now, in his greatest season (out of 3…) he had an average of 10.24 rebounds per game. His career averages – 19.68 ppg, 9.50 rpg. Another potential candidate, and I can’t believe I’m saying that, is the same old Boogie Cousins, who apparently had his head fixed and produced one hell of a year, numbers wise. As of now his career averages are 18.91 ppg, 10.65 rpg. If he continues to play for a team like Sacramento he might just post some more seasons with amazing numbers like this one, and maybe enter the club…
14) Rondo, who used to be one of my favorite players in the league, is simply the worst player in the world. Seriously. His worseness manifests itself in the frustration he causes. First of all, how a player who is responsible for some of the most amazing playoff displays in recent years, with crazy triple-doubles and games of 25+ points – including a 44-points outburst, can’t even score 9 points per game?!?! Second of all, how did he manage to drop down to an average of 6.5 assists per game since his move to Dallas, after his average for the previous 6 seasons is 10 assists per game?!
But the most annoying thing is that this player, the walking triple-double machine, whose average of triple doubles per game is second only to LeBron among currently active players (and he’s very damn close to him), this player missed so many triple doubles because he can’t accomplish the most basic aim that James Naismith set when he invented the game – to put the ball in the fucking basket. 7 games he had throughout his career in which he grabbed 10+ rebounds, dished out 10+ assists, but scored less than 10 points. WTF is that all about?! His game against Atlanta this year, when he grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out 19 assists but shot only 1/8 from the field en route to only 2 points really made my eyes bleed. I already wrote a whole post on that issue, so this is just me letting out some more steam because I’m so frustrated with him.
15) And from the most frustrating player in the world we move to the most pleasuring player in the world. Er… basketball-wise. Steph, the ultimate shooter, set a new record for most three-pointers made in a season for the second time in 3 years, and as of now the most amazing shooter to ever set foot on a basketball court, and who is expected to break Ray Allen‘s total three-pointers record during the 2012/22 season, is responsible for 3 of the top 5 most prolific three-ponters seasons of all-time, and at age 27, wih only 6 years experience in the league he is already lying at the 50th place all-time in terms of total treys made. But it’s not just the volume, it’s also his crazy percentage. Steph, with his amazing volume of treys, is ranked third all-time (!!!) in terms of three-point field goals percentage, and next year he should pass the combined total of the two players ranked ahead of him – in terms of treys made (one of them is really familiar to him – Steve Kerr. The second one is… er… not so familiar to him – Hubert Davis).
16) I don’t really know why, but I never gave the great Pau due respect when he won those titles wih Kobe. I concentrated then on being pissed because Lamar Odom didn’t get the recognition he deserved (and I still think that the fact that he doesn’t have even one All-Star appearance is a big injustice). But Pau is an awesome player, and he was huge for the Bulls this year. In fact, he set a career-best rebounds per game average – 11.8, and all that at age 34! I was sure that this must be a record – the oldest player to have a best rebounding year, until I found that Robert Parish set a career-best average of 12.5 rebounds in the 1988-89 season, at age 35. So Pau’s achievement is not a record, but nevertheless it’s a great achievement.
San Antonio Spurs
17) I guess it’s getting really boring to mention their record streak of seasons with 50+ wins, a streak to which they of course added another season this year. But we can mention that the team qualified for the playoffs for the 18th consecutive season (ever since they drafted Timmy). This is the 5th longest streak of all-time, and the last time we saw such a streak was 12 years ago.