Can a team win an NBA title without a 20-point scorer?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs,...

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which team would you guess has won the most NBA championships: A team that had no player average 20 points or more during the regular season, or a team that had two players average 20 or more points per game (ppg) in the regular season?

Before we answer that question, let’s look at the six remaining teams in this year’s playoffs. The Thunder are in the Western Conference Final and will face the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder feature the high-scoring twosome of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant led the league with 28 points per game while Westbrook was at 23.6 ppg. The Spurs, on the other hand, did not have a player with a 20 ppg for the season; Tony Parker led them in scoring with a 18.3 ppg.

Of the four teams fighting for the two playoff berths in the Eastern Conference Final, Miami is the only team with two players who averaged 20+ ppg in the regular season, LeBron James (27.1) and Dwyane Wade (22.1). The other three teams did not have a single player with a 20 ppg for the season. Paul Pierce led Boston with 19.4 ppg; Danny Granger led Indiana with 18.7 ppg; and Lou Williams led eighth-seeded Philadelphia with 14.9 ppg.

In the past 65 years of NBA playoffs, a team with no player who averaged 20 or more points during the regular season won 13 titles. Teams that had two players who averaged 20 or more points per game in the regular season won 18 titles.

Here’s a look at the 13 teams that won titles with no player who averaged 20 ppg in the regular season.

Year, Team, Player who led team in scoring (ppg)

2008 Boston, Paul Pierce (19.6)

2004 Detroit, Richard Hamilton (17.6)

1990 Detroit, Isiah Thomas (18.4)

1989 Detroit, Adrian Dantley (18.4)

1979 Seattle, Gus Williams (19.2)

1978 Washington, Elvin Hayes (19.7)

1976 Boston, Dave Cowens (19.0)

1964 Boston, John Havlicek (19.9)

1963 Boston, Sam Jones (19.7)

1955 Syracuse, Dolph Schayes (18.5)

1954 Minneapolis, George Mikan (18.1)

1951 Rochester, Arnie Risen (16.3)

1948 Baltimore, Kleggie Hermsen (12.0)

Here’s a few more interesting stats:

* Miami was the last team to play in the NBA Finals with two players who averaged 20+ ppg in the regular season: That was last season with Wade (26.7) and James (25.5).

* The 2006 Miami Heat were the last team to win an NBA title with two players who averaged 20+ ppg in the regular season. Wade averaged 27.2 ppg and Shaquille O’Neal averaged 20.0 that season.

* The last time two teams that had two players average 20+ ppg in the regular season faced off in the NBA Finals was in 1995 when Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon (27.8) and Clyde Drexler (21.4) defeated the Orlando Magic with Shaq (29.3) and Penny Hardaway (20.9).

* The last time the NBA Finals featured two teams that did not have a 20+ ppg scorer was in 1978 when Washington defeated Seattle for the title. Leading scorers for the teams were Washington’s Hayes (19.7) and Seattle’s Gus Williams (18.1).

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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  1. […] Can a team win an NBA title without a 20-point scorer?(statsontapp.com) […]

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