Monday, July 24, 2017

Kareem's Devastating 1972 Season

Notwithstanding Stephen Curry's recent performance, the greatest scoring season in the history of the NBA occurred in 1972.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted elite level shooting efficiency (119 True Shooting+) while taking the most shots in the league.  He was the leagues most valuable scorer by a margin of 200 points versus second place Tiny Archibald.

The Greatest Scoring Season Ever?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stephen Curry & James Harden vs. All-Time Greats

The 2009 NBA Draft produced two incredible offensive players.  Eight seasons into their careers how do Stephen Curry and James Harden stack-up to the all-time great guards?

Total Scoring Production
After Eight Years in the NBA

Curry and Harden are squarely in the discussion of great scorers.  After eight years they sit a tick behind Reggie, Michael and The Logo.  But since Points Above Average is era-adjusted Oscar Robertson crushes the field.

Perhaps if league wide shooting efficiency declines Harden & Curry will look even better through the historical lens.  But with such a big lead Oscar is probably safe atop the career scoring leaders for guards.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Top Scoring Performances in NBA Playoff History

Which players most dominated the NBA playoffs?  Since pace of play varied widely throughout history we can't just use total points.  Nor can we simply choose the players with the highest field goal percentage because they may have been low volume scorers or played during an inflated offensive era. 

League-wide shooting was on a steady upward trajectory from 1958 to 1985.  After a blip in the early '90s efficiency peaked in 1995 thanks to the shortened three-point line.  How should we compare players from radically different playing environments?

'Points Above Average' combines scoring with shooting efficiency and adjusts for era.  This metric shows Jerry West shining through the poor shooting 1960's and Stephen Curry producing at historic levels despite the high octane offensive game of today.

The list below shows the highest Total 'Points Above Average' during a single NBA playoff season going back to 1950...

Top Scoring Performances 
All-Time, Single NBA Playoffs


1 Kevin Durant 2012 OKC 102 122 5.1
2 LeBron James 2014 MIA 98 122 4.9
3 Manu Ginobili 2005 SAS 87 122 3.8
4 Kevin McHale 1988 BOS 85 124 5.0
5 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1974 MIL 80 119 5.0
6 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1977 LAL 80 126 7.2
7 Stephen Curry 2015 GSW 79 115 3.7
8 Jerry West 1968 LAL 78 120 5.2
9 Dirk Nowitzki 2011 DAL 76 115 3.6
10 Ray Allen 2001 MIL 75 120 4.2

Click here for the Top-50 scoring performances in NBA playoff history.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Best Shooting Teams in NBA History

Who are the greatest shooting teams in NBA history?  The list below sorts teams by the most points/100 shot attempts (True Shooting+).

Each team season is adjusted to the league average for that year.

This adjustment explains how the Kareem & Oscar led Bucks were a better scoring juggernaut than the high flying Denver Nuggets of the '1980s.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Elite Rebounding Teams in NBA History

Who were the greatest rebounding teams in NBA History?  This list below attempts to deliver an answer.

Teams beginning with the 1971 NBA & ABA seasons are ranked by their rebounding production.  We start with '71 because that's when we first have team & opponent rebounds.

Unfortunately two candidates for the greatest rebounder in basketball history played almost entirely before we have opponent rebounding stats.  Without this piece of data it's hard to estimate rebounding chances for Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.  Still, late career Wilt makes an appearance in the table below.  

The players listed are the teams top two in total rebounds with a third slot for the teams leader in minutes (shown if he wasn't also a top-2 rebounder).

Elite Rebounding Teams in NBA History


Team Leader

REBOUND % Team's Leading Rebounders in Minutes Played
1973 Celtics 54.8% Dave Cowens Paul Silas
2016 Thunder 54.7% Enes Kanter Russell Westbrook
1995 Trail Blazers 54.4% Chris Dudley Buck Williams Clifford Robinson
1974 Celtics 54.4% Dave Cowens Paul Silas
1976 Celtics 54.0% Dave Cowens Paul Silas Jo Jo White
1996 Bulls 54.0% Dennis Rodman Michael Jordan
1994 Spurs 53.9% Dennis Rodman David Robinson
2012 Bulls 53.9% Joakim Noah Carlos Boozer Luol Deng

Click here for the expanded list of greatest rebounding teams in pro-basketball history.