With the NBA looking to conclude their interrupted 2019-20 season with 22 of the 30 teams finishing the season in games only in Orlando, teams that depend on home court advantage will be without benefit of a home crowd as the season plays out. And one team that may not like this fact is the Milwaukee Bucks.
Based on home court records starting with the 2018-19 season and ending with the delay instituted earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bucks had a league-leading .847 winning percentage in home games over that period… 61 wins and 11 losses on their home court. Eleven NBA teams since the start of the 2018-19 season have won 2/3 or more of their home games.
With no crowds and no home court advantage, will this be a negative for some teams? We’ll have to see how this plays out since we don’t have any history of such a large sample of neutral court games in league history. But this we know for sure: None of the 22 teams finishing out this season will benefit from a home crowd. Will this make for a more level playing field (court) as the season winds down and eventually crowns a champion in 2020? Stay tuned.
Here is the winning percentage of each of the 30 NBA teams in home games since the beginning of the 2018-19 season through contests played in 2019-20.
Milwaukee, .847… Philadelphia, .833
Denver, .797… Toronto, .753… Houston, .726
Boston, .699… L.A. Clippers,.699… Utah, .694… Indiana, .685… Portland, .685… San Antonio, .676… Oklahoma City, .635… Miami, .630… L.A. Lakers, .625
Dallas, .573… Orlando, .569… Brooklyn, .562… Sacramento, .528… Memphis, .527… Washington, .521… Golden State, .507… Detroit, .500
Charlotte, .486… Minnesota, .452… New Orleans, .438… Atlanta, .413
Phoenix, .329… Cleveland, .312… Chicago, .307
New York, .270
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Did playing against Michael Jordan motivate Dominique Wilkins to greatness?
Dominique Wilkins is a Hall of Famer, selected in 2006. He averaged 24.8 points per game and was a nine-time All-Star. Based on researching some numbers from his career, he may been one player who when he played against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, really elevated his game when facing basketball’s GOAT.
Jordan played for the Bulls from 1984-95 to 1992-92, and then rejoined the team at the end of the 1994-95 season and retired from the Bulls at the end of the 1997-98 season. During those Jordan-Bulls years, there were 24 times (by 16 different players) when an opposing player tallied 40 or more points in a game versus Jordan’s Bulls. Of those 24 times, Wilkins scored 40+ points against the Bulls five times, most of any rival player.
Here are the players who scored 40 or more points in a regular season game versus the Bulls during the years Jordan played with the team.
Dominique Wilkins, 5 times
Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Bernard King and Reggie Miller, each twice
Adrian Dantley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Darrell Griffith, Allen Iverson, Jeff Malone, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Glenn Robinson, Rony Seikaly, Kelly Tripucka, one time each
Wilkins tops the list with the most points scored by a player in a game versus the Bulls with Jordan on the roster. Wilkins scored 57 points in a December 10, 1986 game. Adrian Dantley is second on that list with a 45-point game against the Jordan-led Bulls.
From the 1984-85 season to the 1997-98 season, Wilkins tops the list for most total points scored against the Bulls with 1,492, a 28.7 per game average, also tops on the list. Patrick Ewing was second with 1,154 total points, followed by Isiah Thomas with 1,070 points and Charles Barkley with 1,065 points.
If we look at which opposing players had the most 30-point games versus the Bulls from 1984-85 to 1997-98, again Wilkins tops the list with 23 such games. Barkley and Larry Bird follow Wilkins with 13 games and Ewing had 10.
Only one other opposing player had a 50-point game in a contest with Jordan playing. Kobe Bryant had 55 in a March 28, 2003 game between the L.A. Lakers and Washington Wizards. Jordan was a member of the Wizards and tallied 23 points in that game. Orlando’s Tracy McGrady had 50 points in a March 8, 2002 game against the Wizards, but Jordan did not play in that game due to an injury.
The numbers seem pretty clear… Dominique Wilkins seemed to raise his game to another level when he was on the same court as Jordan. For his career, Wilkins averaged 27 points versus the Bulls in 66 total games, second-most versus any team (he averaged 27.2 points per game against the Kings in 27 contests).
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Inside some numbers from The Last Dance
With little live sports to watch on TV, the next best thing we have these days is “The Last Dance,” the 10-part ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the1990s and their attempt to win their third straight NBA title (for the second time) in Jordan’s and coach Phil Jackson’s last season with the team.
As a person who tends to watch sports (and listen) with a curiosity towards the numbers in the games, I was interested in a couple of segments in the series where some numbers caught my attention. Here are two of them:
- In one episode that focused on Dennis Rodman, there was a trivia stat that was sandwiched during commercials. It mentioned that Rodman held the NBA record for most games played (seven) with 20 or more rebounds and zero points in that game. In fact, he is one of only five players ever to have those stats in a game; the others were Marcus Camby (twice), Reggie Evans, Happy Hairston and Clyde Lee (each once).
It’s one thing to not score a point in a game and have 20+ rebounds, but what about playing in a game where you never put up a shot?
Rodman and Wilt Chamberlain are tied for the NBA record for most rebounds in a regular season game, 18, without taking a shot in that game. There have been 47 times that a player has had 10 or more rebounds in a game and did not take a shot in that contest. Rodman leads this group; he did it nine times in his career. Reggie Evans is second on the list; he did it in five regular season games. Four other players did it two or more times in their careers: Chamberlain, Caldwell Jones, Charles Jones and Alton Lister.
In today’s NBA game where shooting and scoring takes precedence, it’s hard to imagine a player being in a game where he doesn’t fire up at least a couple of shots when he is on the court. Well, Rodman played seven games in his career where he played 30 or more minutes in the game and did not attempt a field goal. That tops the league. Charles Jones did it in five games in his career; Ben Wallace did it four games in his career, and Jason Collins is fourth on the list with three such games.
- In one of the middle episodes, (#5 or #6), a good portion of the episode focused on The Dream Team. Jordan and Dream Team teammate Magic Johnson were shown bantering back and forth about fouls that were (or were not) called in a legendary scrimmage game played by the team. Jordan opined that Magic was always getting the calls in the NBA and had probably never fouled out of a game.
How correct was Jordan?
His comment sent me to the computer to do the research. Of the 12 players on the team, all are in the Basketball Hall of Fame except Christian Laettner. So here’s the question for you: Of the 11 members of the Dream Team who are in the Hall of Fame, which player fouled out of the fewest regular season NBA games in their career?
To refresh your memory, here are the 11 Dream Team members who are in the Hall: Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Chris Mullen, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton.
Well, Michael may have had a point… Magic Johnson fouled out of only five NBA regular season games in his career, the fewest among the 11 Dream Team members in the Hall of Fame.
Here is the list:
Career NBA regular season games fouled out
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Is Ben Wallace the worst free throw shooter in NBA history?
Ben Wallace was a four-time All-Star and was first team All-Defense in the NBA five times. He twice led the league in rebounding and was second on two more occasions. In his 16-year NBA career with five different franchises, he was known as a tenacious rebounder and defender. He was, however, a terrible free throw shooter… maybe the worst in league history.
Of all players who attempted 500 or more career free throws, Wallace had a career free throw percentage of .414, the worst among those players. He never made 50% (or higher) of his free throws in a season, and actually had six seasons where his free throw percentage was under .360.
Here’s a look at the 12 players who had career free throw percentages under .500 (minimum of 500 career free throws attempted).
Ben Wallace, 1997-2012, .414
Lou Amundson, 2007-16, .444
Chris Dudley, 1988-2003, .458
Andre Drummond, 2013-20, .461
DeAndre Jordan, 2009-20, .474
Eric Montross, 1995-2002, .478
Steven Hunter, 2002-10, .485
Greg Kite, 1984-95, .486
Ken Bannister, 1985-91, .492
Darvin Ham, 1997-2005, .494
Dan Gadzuric, 2003-12, .498
Adonal Foyle, 1998-2009, .499
If we drop the minimum attempts to 100 career free throw attempts, there are four players who had a worse career free throw percentage than Wallace. Kim Hughes (1977-81) had a career .333 percentage from the charity stripe, followed by Joey Dorsey (2009-15) .375, Lorenzo Wlliams (1993-2000) .377 and Jerome Lane (1989-93) .379.
Of all Bucks players who attempted 500 or more career free throws with the team, Dan Gadzuric is/was by far the worst free throw shooter. He had a career .504 percentage in free throws with the Bucks. He is followed by John Henson .572, Andrew Bogut, .574, Alton Lister, .575 and Ervin Johnson, .586.
Of Bucks players with a minimum of 100 free throw attempts with the team, Joel Przybilla tops the list as the worst free throw shooter with a .419 percentage.
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Who’s the best one-season player in Bucks history?
In college basketball circles, it’s called “one-and-done.” In professional sports, there doesn’t seem to be a catchy term, but the concept is still the same… a player spends one year with a team before he moves on to the next team.
In the 50-year history of the Milwaukee Bucks, they have had their share of players who have spent just one year with the team and then moved on to the next stop. But have there been any players who had exceptional years in their one-year stop in Milwaukee?
To answer that question, let’s first start with some numbers. Here is a look at the players who had the most points, rebounds and assists in only one season with the Bucks. For example, Richard Jefferson played only one year in Milwaukee and scored 1,607 points. That’s the most points by a player who had just a one-year career in Milwaukee.
Points-800 or more (only one season with Bucks)
1,607-Richard Jefferson, 2009
1,194-Ruben Patterson, 2007
1,023-Wayne Embry, 1969
979-Ken Norman, 1994
938-Swen Nater, 1977
843-Fred Hetzel, 1969
825-Lindsey Hunter, 2001
805-Corey Maggette, 2001
Rebounds-400 or more (only one season with Bucks)
865-Swen Nater, 1977
778-Jamaal Magloire, 2006
672-Wayne Embry, 1969
500-Ken Norman, 1994
473-Fred Hetzel, 1969
440-Ruben Patterson, 2007
436-Benoit Benjamin, 1996
435-Bob Boozer, 1971
410-John Block, 1972
Assists-200 or more (only one season with Bucks)
252-Phil Ford, 1983
243-Keyon Dooling, 2011
232-Ruben Patterson, 2007
225-Freddie Crawford, 1970
225-George Thompson, 1975
222-Lindsey Hunter, 2001
222-Ken Norman, 1994
206-Gary Payton, 2003
So, based on these numbers who would you choose as the best one-season player in Bucks history? To help you make a selection, here’s my choices for eight players who should be considered for this honor. There’s a short narrative about each of these players and their time in Milwaukee. I am listing them in alphabetical order. (Listed in parenthesis is the only year they played in Milwaukee.)
(PPG-Points per Game, RPG-Rebounds per Game, APG-Assists per Game)
Wayne Embry, 1968-69: This season was Embry’s last in the NBA as a player. He came to the Bucks in the 1968 expansion draft from the Cincinnati Royals. He averaged 13.1PPG and 8.6RPG. He averaged over 30 minutes per game in 78 contests for the Bucks. He was the last center for the Bucks before Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. A 1999 inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Embry was the first African-American GM and team President.
Fred Hetzel, 1968-69: Another expansion draft player that played on the original Bucks team. The all-purpose forward averaged 15.9PPG that was third best on the team (it was the second-highest in his six-year NBA career) and grabbed 8.9 RPG that was third best on the team and the highest of his career. He was traded to the Cincinnati Royals after only 53 games with the Bucks that season.
Lindsey Hunter, 2000-01: A three-point specialist, Hunter teamed with Ray Allen that year with the Bucks to give them a potent 1-2 punch from beyond the three-point line. He averaged 10.1PPG that year and was a top reserve for the team. He came to the Bucks from the Detroit Pistons in a trade and was then traded by the Bucks to the L.A. Lakers after that season for Greg Foster. Hunter won an NBA title with the Lakers that season.
Richard Jefferson, 2008-09: He started all 82 games for the Bucks that season. Ended the year averaging 19.6PPG, 4.6RPG and 2.4APG. He was second to Michael Redd in scoring that season. He led the Bucks in three-pointers and three-point attempts that year and was third on the team in rebounds. He was traded to the Bucks from the New Jersey Nets and then almost a year to the date was traded by the Bucks to the San Antonio Spurs. Played 17 years in the NBA.
Jamaal Magloire, 2005-06: A rebounding machine, Magloire led the Bucks in rebounding that year with 9.5RPG (second highest of his career) and also tallied 9.2PPG. He was the Bucks starting center that season starting all 82 of the team’s games. He came to the Bucks in a trade with the Hornets and then was traded to Portland by the Bucks in the off-season for three players. He had a career-high 22 rebounds in a game with the Bucks.
Swen Nater, 1976-77: He was originally drafted by the Bucks in 1973, but decided instead to take his talents to the ABA. He played in the ABA until 1976 and then came to the Bucks in 1976. He led the team in rebounding that season with 12RPG and averaged 13 PPG. At the end of the season he was traded to the Buffalo Braves for a first round draft choice that later became Marques Johnson.
Ken Norman, 1993-94: His numbers that season were 11.9PPG, 6.1RPC and 2.7APG. He was second on the team that year in minutes played. The University of Illinois standout played six seasons with the Clippers and then signed with the Bucks as a free agent. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Roy Hinson in the off-season after his year in Milwaukee. He started 75 of the 82 games that season for Milwaukee.
Ruben Patterson, 2006-07: He started 53 of 81 games for the Bucks that season. He had his best year as an NBA player with the Bucks averaging 14.7PPG, 5.4RPG and 2.9APG. His 31 minutes played per game that year was the high of his career as was his 55% field goal percentage. He left the Bucks after the season for the L.A. Clippers, but played only 20 games and was then waived. He never played again in the league.
So, who is your choice? Or is there someone not mentioned that should be considered? Let us know your opinion.
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