Friday, February 27

The NBA's All-Time Greats

Somehow in my Internet travels the other day, I ended up on this page, which has the all-time leaders in various statistical categories in NBA history. It's kind of a weird link - the title has "LIDERES" in Spanish instead of "Leaders," and I couldn't find a way to click through the main NBA site to get there.

Anyway, there were a number of interesting players and numbers that I found, and so I thought I'd share them with you.

Jordan and Wilt, no surprise at the top, whatever. More importantly, we've got LeBron sitting third. This seems like a good time to mention that his passing and rebounding skills are superior to Jordan's and that Wilt was like a foot taller than everyone else when he played. There, that was fun.

Interesting to see some of the surprise names on the list. Adrian Dantley at 15? Who is Paul Arizin? Where's World B. Free?

Ha, have fun with 3rd place, Jordan, you turkey.

This basically amounted to a longevity contest, with Kareem averaging slightly less than Karl Malone over his career but managing to appear in 84 more contests. Poor Malone, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

A couple of other surprises here: Alex English? Gary Payton? I knew the glove played a long time, but didn't realize he scored that much.

Rebounds per game
If you need any proof that the game was a little different back in the day, the top two finishers here, Wilt and Bill Russell, should take care of that. Both are over 22 RPG - 22! How often do we see a single 22-board game in the whole league anymore, like once a week? Old-timers will point to this as an indication of these players' dominance or toughness or some nonsense - I say they were good, yes, but it clearly reflects a change in the game, like how Cy Young's 511 wins in baseball is so far out of reach to modern players.

A non-LeBron Cav appears here, courtesy of Nate Thurmond's 14 464 rebounds (8th all-time). Not surprisingly, Wilt and Russell still man the top spots. It's funny how counting stats are less interesting in the NBA than rate stats, where the opposite is often true in baseball.

Field-goal percentage
Larry Nance (14th) and Brad Daugherty (26th) represent the Cavs in this big man-dominated statistic. When you think high FG%, you think: Artis Gilmore. Or maybe not. And who is Mark West, anyway? Who are Steve Johnson and Jeff Ruland? It should tell you something that the links to their names from this page lead nowhere.

3-point percentage
Yep, that's Jason Kapono sitting in the top spot - good thing the Cavs gave up on him so early! He's only played half as many games as second-place Steve Kerr (another former Cav), so he may drop, but an impressive start. It's a pretty steep initial drop from those two guys, Hubert Davis notwithstanding. Steve Nash at 5th is a bit surprising - I think of him more as an assist man than a long-range bomber. Cavs are all over this list - Kapono, Kerr, Wes Person (8th), Mark Price (21st), and look who it is at #16 - current Cavalier Wally Szczerbiak!

Probably the biggest surprise to me is ESPN analyst Tim Legler at .431. I didn't even know he played!

3-pointers made
Reggie Miller must have been a serious chucker - at .395 career he didn't crack the top 30 in percentage but tops the list of total makes. Check out Antoine Walker at #11 shooting at a .325 clip. Wow, dude. Still, that translates into a .488 rate at 2-point field goals, which isn't bad. That's the beauty of the three-ball; you only have to hit about 1 in 3 to match a reasonable percentage on short shots, although I'm ignoring all post-shot effects. Miller's, for instance, works out to .593, aka Artis Gilmore Territory.

Free throw percentage
Mark Price, baby.

Wally pops in at #26 with a respectable .860 mark.

Free throws made
Hey, Karl Malone won something!

This figure represents a huge chunk of wasted time. Malone had this stupid, really unnecessarily long pre-shot ritual that lasted far longer than the NBA rule giving players a maximum of 10 seconds to shoot. Opposing fans would count off the time he took and it always went far more than 10 seconds, but no ref ever called him on it. Boo.

Assists per game
This looks pretty much as you'd expect, with the game's finest point guards manning the top spots, headed by Magic Johnson. Former Cav PG Andre Miller clocks in at 16, Price and his coach Lenny Wilkens tied for 24th at 6.7, and LeBron cracks the list at #30 with 6.6. Who knew Lenny had such court vision?

Steals per game
Somehow I knew that the answer to this was Alvin Robertson. Not sure how that managed to stay in the memory banks, nor even how it got there in the first place. Micheal Ray Richardson (spelled correctly) is second. Fat Lever edges out Slick Watts in a battle of comincally bizarre names - I wonder if Houston's Von Wafer will be joining them on the list? Incidentally, Chris Paul would bump Jordan from 4th on the list if he had enough games to qualify.

Blocks per game
Just a list of tall, awkward dudes, headed by none other than Mark Eaton at 3.5 per. Manute Bol managed second place, though he more than made up for it with an occasional hilarious halfcourt shot. The Cavs are represented by Nance (the all-time leading shot blocker among forwards), Thurmond, and Ben Wallace.

It seems to me that blocks weren't kept as a stat back in the day; otherwise, I'm sure Wilt and Russell would have had like 8.4 per game each.

Total blocks
(H)akeem leads here by 550 over second-place Dikembe Mutombo. ("Who wants to sex Mutombo?") That might be a tough mark to chase down.

Minutes per game
I wish this crappy NBA page would list the minumum games played to qualify here. Kevin Willis is 30th at 26.9 minutes per contest, but I know LeBron plays like 67 a game and he's nowhere to be found. Wilt and Russell are again atop the list - no wonder they had time to get all those boards!

Kareem and Malone 1-2 again. Kareem's figure of 57 446 total minutes adds up to 5 weeks, 4 days, 21 hours, and 26 minutes, in case you were wondering.

I expected more journeymen here - all we get is Cliff Robinson, Buck Williams, and Ho Grant.

What do we learn from all this? Nothing, really, just interesting to see who slots where. I've gained a new appreciation for Hakeem Olajuwon, at least.

1 comment:

Figgs said...

I thought Larry Bird was surprisingly low on the total points list. I was also surpirsed to see Iverson ahead of Kobe, even though Kobe has played more games. Eddie Jones is sixith in threes?