Today’s Sportstat: March 28, 2019
Will having the best record in the NBA help the Greek Freak’s MVP chances?
My esteemed colleague Gery Woelfel recently penned an article where he opined that Houston Rockets guard James Harden would be selected as the 2018-19 NBA MVP at the end of the season. Gery made several solid points in his argument for Harden’s MVP candidacy including his outrageous league-leading points per game average (over 36 points per game) and his improved defensive stats. He admitted that the MVP Award race was basically a two-player race with Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In discussing his article with him, I told Gery that my only pushback on his opinion was that league MVP voters seem to have a history of voting for a player from the team that ends the season with the most wins/best record. Gery concurred and added that it would be nice if we could find out just how often that has happened in past seasons.
“If only we knew someone who could do the research and run the numbers to see how many MVPs came from teams that had the most wins in a season.”
Well, I just happen to know someone who can get us that info…
Over the past 20 NBA seasons, 12 of those 20 MVPs selected came from a team that had the most (or tied for the most) wins in that season. Ten of the 12 had the best record outright, while two MVPs played for teams that tied for the most wins that season.
Ironically, Harden was a benefactor just last season; he was voted the league MVP for 2017-18 and his Houston Rockets had the most wins last season. Here are the 12 MVPs since the 1998-99 season that played for a team that had the most wins.
2018-James Harden, Houston
2016-Steph Curry, Golden State
2015-Steph Curry, Golden State
2013-LeBron James, Miami
2011-Derrick Rose, Chicago
2010-LeBron James, Cleveland
2009-LeBron James, Cleveland
2007-Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
2005-Steve Nash, Phoenix
2003-Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2000-Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
1999-Karl Malone, Utah
Duncan in 2003 and Malone in 1999 played for teams that tied for the most wins in the league that season.
Of the eight MVPs who did not play for the team that won the most games that season, half of them (four players) played for a team that finished with the second most (or tied for the second most wins) in the league that year. Those eight:
2017-Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (10th most wins in the NBA that season
2014-Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
2012-LeBron James, Miami (4th most wins in the NBA that season)
2008-Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (3rd most wins in the NBA that season)
2006-Steve Nash, Phoenix (4th most wins in the NBA that season)
2004-Kevin Garnett, Minnesota (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
2002-Tim Duncan, San Antonio (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
2001-Allen Iverson, Philadelphia (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
So, who will the voters choose? If the Bucks end the season with the most wins in the league, is that enough to propel Giannis to the MVP?
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Today’s Sports Stat: December 23, 2017
Houston Rockets superstar James Harden had an interesting couple of games during the week prior to Christmas. Harden on Dec. 20 against the L.A. Lakers and Dec. 22 against the L.A. Clippers scored 51 points in both games. Pretty impressive, huh? Problem is, Harden’s Rockets lost both games.
Harden became the 15th player in NBA history to have two games or more games with 50 or more points scored where his team lost that game. It appears that having it happen twice in a span of three days is likely the shortest time in between such games in league history. Wilt Chamberlain had it happen to him twice in the span of four days in 1964; in fact, Wilt had three games where he scored 50 or more points and his team lost each game in a span of two weeks in that ’64 campaign.
Here are the players who have the most regular season games with 50+ points in a loss (Stats, cultivated from basketball-reference.com, go back to the 1963-64 season.)
8: Michael Jordan
7: Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain
5: Allen Iverson
4: Bernard King
3: Bob McAdoo, Dominique Wilkins
2: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tiny Archibald, Adrian Dantley, James Harden, LeBron James, Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Redd, Russell Westbrook
Stats on Tapp
Russell Westbrook on pace for rare 30-10 season
When Kevin Durant decided to take his formidable skills to the Golden State Warriors, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Russell Westbrook would be the focal point of the Oklahoma City Thunder team (and its offense). As the 2016-17 NBA season pushes past the first quarter mark, Westbrook is certainly carrying the Thunder. He is averaging 31 points and 11.3 assists per game, good enough for second place in both stats categories in the league.
Only two players in NBA history have averaged 30 or more points and 10 or more assists per game for a season: Tiny Archibald was the last to do it in the 1972-73 season when he tallied 34 points per game with 11.4 assists for Kansas City-Omaha. Prior to that, Oscar Robertson did it five times… in 1961-62, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1965-66 and 1966-67.
In addition to Archibald and Robertson getting 30-10 in a season, there have been seven times when a player averaged 30 or more points per game and seven or more assists per game in a season. Those players:
Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati, 1960-61: 30.5/9.7
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1988-89: 32.5/8.0
Dwyane Wade, Miami, 2008-09: 30.2/7.5
LeBron James, Cleveland, 2007-08: 30.0/7.2
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia, 2005-06: 33.0/7.4
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia, 2004-05: 30.7/7.9
Jerry West, L.A. Lakers, 1969-70: 31.2/7.5
Houston’s James Harden is averaging 28.3 points per game and 11.8 assists per contest, leading the league in assists and placing him fourth in scoring. If we look at the players who have averaged 25 points per games and 10 assists per game in a season, Archibald and Robertson make the list with their 30-10 seasons. In addition, Westbrook would join the group if he stays on pace, as would Harden. The only other player who has reached 25-10 in a season is Michael Adams. In the 1990-91 season with the Denver Nuggets, Adams averaged 26.5 points per game and 10.5 assist per game.
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When was the last time your NBA team had a player average 25 points in a season?
Last season there were three NBA players who averaged 25 or more points per game (minimum of 50 games played to qualify): LeBron James (Cleveland Cavs), James Harden (Houston Rockets) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder). Only three players averaging 25 points-plus in a season was the fewest number of players since 2004 when only one player averaged 25 points in a season. Since 2000, there have been 95 players who have averaged 25 or more points in a season, an average of just under six per year.
For the Cavs, it was the first time since 2009-10 that a player averaged 25; ironically, it was James who did it that season in his previous stint with the club. For the Rockets, last year was Harden’s third consecutive season averaging 25 points or more. For the Thunder, they have now had a player average 25 points in a season in seven straight years; last year was Westbrook, the previous six seasons was Kevin Durant.
Two franchises, New Orleans and Memphis, have never had a player average 25 points a game in a season. In addition, there are three franchises that have not had one of their players reach the 25.0/points per game mark this century.
Here’s a look at the last time each NBA franchise had a player average 25 or more points per game in a season (the year listed is the when that season ended; 1998 means the 1997-98 NBA season).
Never: Memphis, New Orleans
1980: L.A. Clippers (World B. Free)
1982 Portland (Clyde Drexler)
1997: Charlotte (Glen Rice)
2000: Utah (Karl Malone)
2001: Detroit (Jerry Stackhouse), Sacramento (Chris Webber), Toronto (Vince Carter)
2002: San Antonio (Tim Duncan)
2004: Orlando (Tracy McGrady)
2006: Boston (Paul Pierce), Philadelphia (Allen Iverson)
2007: Atlanta (Joe Johnson), Brooklyn (Vince Carter), Milwaukee (Michael Redd), Washington (Gilbert Arenas)
2008: Phoenix (Amar’e Stoudemire)
2009: Indiana (Danny Granger)
2010: Dallas (Dirk Nowitzki), Golden State (Monta Ellis)
2011: Chicago (Derrick Rose), Denver (Carmelo Anthony)
2013: L.A. Lakers (Kobe Bryant)
2014: Miami (LeBron James), Minnesota (Kevin Love), N.Y. Knicks (Carmelo Anthony)
2015: Cleveland (LeBron James), Houston (James Harden), Oklahoma City (Russell Westbrook)
Last season four players fell just a couple of points short of averaging 25 points per game. The four players that averaged 23 points per game but fell short of the 25-point mark were: Anthony Davis (24.4, New Orleans), DeMarcus Cousins (24.1, Sacramento), Stephen Curry (23.8, Golden State) and LaMarcus Aldridge (23.4, Portland).
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Greatest NBA playoff ‘pure shooters’ in the three-point era
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Your team is down by one and has the ball with 10 seconds left. Who do you want to take the last shot?
Your team is up by two with five seconds remaining. Who do you want to get fouled and sink two free throws to ice the game?
Your team is down by three and needs a three-pointer to tie. Who do you want to shoot the three?
One final question: Who would you rate as the greatest “pure shooters” in the NBA playoffs during the three-point era?
I know, a lot of questions to answer. But here’s a little help. To try to answer the last question of the greatest “pure shooters” in the NBA playoffs in the three-point era, I established a few guidelines. First, a player had to have played in 40 or more playoff games in his career. Secondly, to qualify for the best “pure shooter” label, a player had to have a career playoff shooting percentage of .450 in field goals, .300 in three-point attempts, and a .850 free throw percentage.
Here are the players who qualified for the list (minimum of 40 shots attempted in each category to qualify)
Player, playoff games, FG pct/3-pt pct/FT pct
Larry Bird, 164, .472/.321/.890
Jeff Hornacek, 140, .470/.433/.886
Dirk Nowitzki, 128, .463/.380/.893
John Paxson, 119, .494/.369/.867
Steve Nash, 118, .473/.409/.899
Ray Allen, 113, .453/.415/.893
Joe Dumars, 112, .462/.358/.855
Ricky Pierce, 97, .466/.355/.866
Antonio Daniels, 80/.461/.353/.863
Hersey Hawkins, 74, .455/.396/.907
Chris Mullin, 71, .495/.409/.859
Kiki Vandeweghe, 68, .510/.345/.907
Mark Price, 47, .464/.337/.944
If we use these same criteria for this year’s playoffs, and drop the minimum attempts to 10, we have only two players who qualify as the best “pure shooters” in this year’s playoffs. They are:
Chris Paul, 5 games, .469/.389/.882
James Harden, 4 games, .500/.462/.871
What do you think?
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