Let’s start this blog with a quiz…
Of the 10 NBA Hall of Fame players listed below, who scored less than 10 points in his NBA debut and who scored more than 20 points in their first game in the NBA? Here’s a hint: Four of the players listed scored less than 10 points; three of those listed scored 20 or more.
The answer is at the end of this column.
This blog is about NBA debuts. The NBA season got started earlier this week and a couple of rookies got their careers off to a great start. Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th pick of the Philadelphia 76ers (from Syracuse) had a big game in the 76ers upset of the Miami Heat. Carter-Williams had 22 points in his NBA debut. Two other first-year players tallied 10 or more points in their first games. Vitor Faverani, the 25-year-old Brazilian who played professionally in Spain from 2005-13, had 13 points in his NBA debut with the Boston Celtics. Victor Oladipo, the second pick of the 2013 draft (Indiana University) by the Orlando Magic had 12 points in his first game in the league.
Based on research on basketball-reference.com dating back to the 1963-64 NBA season, 21 different players scored 25 or more points in their NBA debut. Topping the list is John Drew who scored 32 points for the Atlanta Hawks on October 18, 1974 against the Chicago Bulls. Here’s a look at the players who scored 25 or more points in their NBA debut since 1963-64.
Points in NBA debut, players
32: John Drew
31: Isiah Thomas
30: Willie Anderson, Allen Iverson, Lamar Odom
29: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gordon Giricek
27: Ron Anderson, Bobby Jackson, Jerry Stackhouse
26: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Darrell Griffith, Magic Johnson, Donyell Marshall, Mitchell Wiggins
25: Willie Burton, Ron Harper, Elvin Hayes, Grant Hill, LeBron James, Rudy Macklin
Trivia answer: The four players who scored less than 10 points in their NBA debut were Dave Bing (0), Clyde Drexler (2), Karl Malone (8) and Pete Maravich (7). The three Hall of Famers who scored 20 or more in their first NBA game were Bob Lanier (22), Bob McAdoo (20) and Dominique Wilkins (23). The other three players on the list were Larry Bird (14), Michael Jordan (16) and Bill Walton (18).
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant won his third straight NBA scoring title becoming the eighth player in the league to win three or more scoring titles in their career; he joins Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, George Gervin, Allen Iverson, George Mikan, Neil Johnston and Bob McAdoo. He is also the seventh player to win three straight scoring titles.
With the Thunder still alive in the playoffs, Durant is hoping to join another elite group: those scoring titleholders who won an NBA championship the same season. The last time the scoring leader’s team made it to the NBA Finals was in 2001 when Allen Iverson’s 76ers lost to the L.A. Lakers. The last time the scoring leader’s team won the NBA title was the previous year when Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers.
Only five different players have won a scoring title and championship in the same season (it has, however, happened on 11 different occasions). They are:
Player, Team, Scoring title/championship year
Joe Fulks, Philadelphia, 1947
George Mikan, Minneapolis, 1949
George Mikan, Minneapolis, 1950
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee, 1971
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1991
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1992
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1993
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1996
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1997
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1998
Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers, 2000
Here’s a few additional stats regarding players who won the NBA scoring title.
* Five scoring leaders saw their team lose in the NBA finals: Chamberlain (1964), Rick Barry (1967), Jerry West (1970), O’Neal (1995) and Iverson (2001).
* Fifty-five of the 65 scoring leaders played in the playoffs that same year.
* The ten seasons in which the scoring leader’s team did not play in the playoffs: Neil Johnston, Philadelphia (1953, 1954, 1955); Chamberlain, San Francisco (1963); Nate Archibald, Kansas City-Omaha (1973); Pete Maravich, New Orleans (1977); Adrian Dantley, Utah (1981); Bernard King, N.Y. Knicks (1985); David Robinson, San Antonio (1994); Tracy McGrady, Orlando (2004).
* The scoring titleholder’s team made it to the final four in 31 of the 65 playoffs.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
“SIX STATS…” is a bonus feature of Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ and is published every Friday.
1. The Dallas Mavericks were a first-time NBA champion last season. They were the third first-time champ in the last 13 years; Miami in 2005-06 and San Antonio in 1998-99.
2. Derrick Rose was the league MVP last year. He became the 16th former Rookie of the Year to eventually win the MVP honor. The others: Bob Pettit, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Willis Reed, Wes Unseld, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave Cowens, Bob McAdoo, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and LeBron James.
3. Steve Nash won his fifth assists title in 2010-11. That ties him with Jason Kidd for fourth most assist titles in league history. John Stockton won nine titles; Bob Cousy, 8, and Oscar Robertson, 6.
4. The Chicago Bulls won the Central Division by 25 games over the Indiana Pacers. It was the third time in four years that a team has won a divisional title by 25 games. The other two: Cleveland in 2008-09 and Boston in 2007-08.
5. Paul Pierce became the 37th player in league history to score 20,000 points. He became the third Boston Celtics player (John Havlicek and Larry Bird) to score all of his 20,000+ points with the Celtics.
6. Another Celtic, Ray Allen passed Reggie Miller for the career lead in three-point shots made, 2,612 (Miller had 2,560). Last season Allen shot .444 from the three-point arc, the best percentage of his 15-year career. He also had his best field goal percentage of his career last year shooting .491 from the field. Allen is a career .399 percentage shooter from the arc; his career three-point percentage at home is .399 and .399 on the road.