The NBA playoffs begin this weekend. While most teams will depend on veteran players to lead them through the post-season, there are a few rookies who may have an impact on this year’s playoffs.
Of the 1o rookies who scored the most points in 2014-15, four will likely see action in the NBA playoffs: Nikola Mirotic (Chicago), Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn), Marcus Smart (Boston) and K.J. McDaniels (Houston). Mirotic scored 833 points in his first year in the league, second most among rookies (Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins led NBA rookies with 1,387 points). Bogdanovic scored 700, good enough for seventh most among rookies; Smart had 523 points, ninth among rookies, and McDaniels, who was traded mid-season to Houston, tallied 487 points, finishing 10th among first-year players.
An interesting side note is that Milwaukee’s prize rookie, Jabari Parker, injured after playing only 25 games in his rookie season, will not be in the Milwaukee line-up as they face the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. He scored 308 points in 25 games and probably would have reached the 1,000-point mark in his rookie season had he not been injured.
Over the past NBA seasons, there have been a few rookies who have made a significant impact in the playoffs. The most notable is probably Magic Johnson who helped lead the L.A. Lakers to the title in 1979-80 in his first year in the league. Here is a look at the NBA rookies who have scored the most points in the playoffs in their first season.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (352, Milwaukee, 1969-70)
Alvan Adams (341, Phoenix, 1975-76)
Elgin Baylor (331, Minneapolis Lakers, 1958-59)
George Mikan (303, Minneapolis Lakers, 1948-49)
Jack Sikma (301, Seattle, 1977-78)
Wilt Chamberlain (299, Philadelphia Warriors, 1959-60)
Magic Johnson (293, L.A. Lakers, 1979-80)
Jerry West (275, L.A. Lakers, 1960-61)
Jamaal Wilkes (255, Golden State Warriors, 1974-75)
Richard Dumas (251, Phoenix, 1992-93)
The following players scored between 200-249 points in the playoffs in their rookie season: Ricky Sobers David Robinson, Tom Meschery, Dwyane Wade, Dick Garrett, Tom Heinsohn, Manu Ginobili, Joe Fulks, Andrew Toney, Marques Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Anthony Roberts, Sam Cassell, Lou Hudson.
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Miami’s LeBron James missed out on a triple-double yesterday when he fell one assist short of accomplishing this feat; he had 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.
In the 2012 NBA playoffs, Boston’s Rajon Rondo is the only player to have a triple-double. He had 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists on May 4 in Game Two against the Hawks, and then had a second triple-double of the ’12 playoffs when he scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out 17 assists in the May 12th contest against the 76ers. With his triple-doubles, however, Rondo had six turnovers in the contest against the Hawks, and had seven turnovers in his game against the 76ers. The Celtics won both games.
Over the past 25 years of the NBA playoffs (1988-2012) only 11 players have had a triple-double with one or no turnovers. Ironically, Rondo was the last player to accomplish this feat. On April 26, 2009, Rondo had 25 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and only one turnover in a playoff loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Following are the players since 1988 who have had a triple-double with one of no turnovers in a playoff game.
Player, Team, (Date) Points-Rebounds-Assists… Turnovers
Dennis Johnson, Boston (5/6/88) 19-10-12… n0 turnovers
Fat Lever, Denver (5/14/88) 11-11-12… n0 turnovers
Charles Barkley, Philadelphia (4-27-91) 22-13-10… one turnover
Magic Johnson, LA Lakers (5/5/91) 21-10-17… n0 turnovers
Charles Barkley, Phoenix (6-16-93) 32-12-10 … one turnover
Baron Davis, Charlotte (4/27/02) 33-14-10… no turnovers
Jason Kidd, NJ Nets (4/28/05) 16-16-13… one turnover
Chris Paul, New Orleans (4/29/08) 24-11-15… n0 turnovers
LeBron James, Cleveland (5/2/08) 27-13-13… one turnover
Rajon Rondo, Boston (4/26/09) 25-11-11… one turnover
Note: Of the 11 instances listed above, seven of those players saw their team win that game.
If we move the criteria to a triple-double with two or fewer turnovers, the list would include 26 games. Here are the players who had the most triple-doubles with two or fewer turnovers in a playoff game from 1988-2012. The last player to accomplish this feat? LeBron James had 37 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and only two turnovers as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a playoff win against the Chicago Bulls on April 25, 2010.
Playoff triple-doubles (1988-2012) with two or fewer turnovers, Player(s)
4: Jason Kidd
3: Kevin Garnett
2: Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Rajon Rondo
1: Baron Davis, Steve Francis, Dennis Johnson, Fat Lever, Chris Paul, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton, Chris Webber
Note: Teams were 17-9 in games where a player had a triple-double and two or fewer turnovers.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on the stats that go beyond the numbers.
Scan the list and you see names that are synonymous with greatness in the sport of basketball… Russell, Chamberlain, Baylor, West, Alcindor, Magic and Walton. Look a little closer at the same list and you discover names that you may or may not remember… Cleaves, Kotz, Hogue, Givens and Sheppard.
What all these players have in common is that they were selected as the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) is an NCAA men’s Final Four. We can see that an MOP was a step towards greatness for some and not so much for others. That’s the beauty of the NCAA tournament: greatness from the expected… and the unexpected. Who will be the MOP of this year’s tourney? A player destined for greatness in the NBA, or someone who will have their career moment this weekend?
Here’s a few stat lists regarding the MOPs. First, a look at those MOPs who went on to Hall of Fame professional careers (and those who were also MVP in an NBA Finals). Next is a look at those MOPs who played less than 20 games in the NBA. Finally, a quick review of the MOPs this century and where they are today in their careers.
Final Four MOPs that are in the Basketball Hall of Fame
Year(s) as Final Four MOP, Player
1945-46: Bob Kurland
1952: Clyde Lovellette
1954: Tom Gola
1955: Bill Russell
1957: Wilt Chamberlain (MVP of 1972 NBA Finals)
1958: Elgin Baylor
1959: Jerry West (MVP of 1969 NBA Finals)
1960-61: Jerry Lucas
1965: Bill Bradley
1967-69: Lew Alcindor (MVP of 1971 & 1985 NBA Finals)
1972-73: Bill Walton (MVP of 1977 NBA Finals)
1974: David Thompson
1979: Magic Johnson (MVP of 1980, 1982 & 1987 NBA Finals)
1981: Isiah Thomas (MVP of 1990 NBA Finals)
1982: James Worthy (MVP of 1988 NBA Finals)
1983: Hakeem Olajuwon (MVP of 1994 & 1995 NBA Finals)
1984: Patrick Ewing
Fewest NBA games by players who won a Final Four MOP award
NBA games, Player, Year of MOP
0: Bob Kurland, 1945, 1946 (Never played professionally, instead choosing to play AAU ball; is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame)
0: Irwin Dambrot, 1950 (Choose a career in dentistry instead of basketball)
0: B.H. Born, 1953 (Played AAU ball)
0: Anderson Hunt, 1990 (Played professionally overseas)
0: Donald Williams, 1993 (Played professionally overseas)
2: Keith Smart, 1987 (Has been the head coach of two NBA teams)
3: Hal Lear, 1956
5: Miles Simon, 1997
18: Jeff Shepppard, 1998 (Also played professionally in Italy)
So how have the MOPs from this century done in their professional careers? Here’s a quick update.
Kemba Walker, 2011, UConn: Averaging over 12 points and four assists as a point guard for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Kyle Singler, 2010, Duke: Playing for Real Madrid in Spain
Wayne Ellington, 2009, North Carolina: In his third season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Career average of over six points per game.
Mario Chalmers, 2008, Kansas: In his fourth season with the Miami Heat. Averaging just under 10 points per game this season.
Corey Brewer, 2007, Florida: In his fifth NBA season; currently with Denver. Career average of about nine points per game.
Joakim Noah, 2006, Florida: In his fifth season with the Bulls. Key member of the team who averages about 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Sean May, 2005, North Carolina: Played 119 games in the NBA. Currently playing in Italy.
Emeka Okafor, 2004, UConn: In his eighth NBA season. Currently with New Orleans. A double-digit scorer and rebounder.
Carmelo Anthony, 2003, Syracuse: Playing in his ninth NBA season. Has a career average of over 24 points per game.
Juan Dixon, 2002, Maryland: Played in 436 NBA games. Last played in the NBA in 2008-09. Playing professionally in Turkey.
Shane Battier, 2001, Duke: Has played in over 800 NBA games. A key free-agent signing for the Miami Heat this season.
Mateen Cleaves, 2000, Michigan State: Played in 167 NBA games in his career. Last played in the NBA in 2006.