One of the NBA’s most under-rated players passed away on February 28, Anthony Mason. An all-star in 2001, Mason spent 13 years in the league with six different teams. He was 48.
A third-round draft choice out of Tennessee State, he is probably best known for his five years as a New York Knick.
Following are a few stats you may not know about Mason.
1. Mason is one of 20 NBA players who played more than 2,000 minutes in a season without starting a game in that year. Mason did it twice: 1991-92 and 1992-93. He is one of only four players to accomplish this feat multiple times (the others were Jamal Crawford and Dell Curry, three times each, and J.R. Smith, twice). Mason is one of only two players in NBA history to play over 2,100 minutes in a season without starting a game; Mason did it twice, Crawford three times.
2. In the first six years of his career, Mason started only 23 of the 337 he played (just under seven percent). In the final seven years of his career, Mason played 545 games, starting 536 of them (over 98 percent).
3. Mason was presented the NBA’s Sixth Man Award after the 1994-95 season. The following year he led the NBA in minutes played with 3,457 as a member of the New York Knicks. He started all 82 games that year for the Knicks.
4. J.R. Smith holds the NBA record for most minutes played in a season without starting a game with 2,678 in 2012-13. Mason is second on that list with 2,482 (he did that in 1992-93). Mason also has the eighth-most minutes in this category with 2,198 in 1991-92.
5. Mason’s career numbers include 9,656 points scored, 7,279 rebounds and 2,963 assists. He is one of 39 NBA players to have 9,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 2,500 assists in a career. Of those 39, 19 are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
6. Mason played 882 games in his NBA career. He is one of only 14 NBA players to have 9,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 2,500 assists in a career with less than 1,000 games played. Of the 14, nine are in the Hall of Fame. The other four not in the Hall: Pau Gasol (he will likely pass the 1,000-game mark in his career), Lamar Odom, Chris Webber and Bill Bridges.
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There’s a good chance the Heat will be one of the teams at the end of the season challenging for the title, but what about a team or two to keep an eye on for this season? Here’s a look at the teams that made the biggest improvement in winning percentage last season (and those who dropped the most).
Biggest gainers last year
1. Brookyn Nets +.265 (from .333 in 2011-12 to .598 last season)
2. Golden State Warriors +. 225 (from .348 in 2011-12 to .573 last season)
3. Charlotte Bobcats +.150 (from .106 in 2011-12 to .256 last season)
4. Denver Nuggets +. 119 (from .576 in 2011-12 to .695 last season)
3. New York Knicks + .114 (from 545 in 2011-12 to .659 last season)
Biggest drops in winning percentage
1. Orlando Magic -.317 (from .561 in 2011-12 to .244 last season)
2. Chicago Bulls -.209 (from ,758 in 2011-12 to .549 last season)
3. Phoenix Suns -.195 (from .500 in 2011-12 to .305 last season)
4. Philadelphia -.115 (from .530 in 2011-12 to .415 last season)
5. Boston Celtics -.085 (from .591 in 2011-12 to .506 last season)
While the Nets had the biggest gain in winning percentage last season, two teams increased their winning percentage for the fifth straight season last year. The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder each increased their winning percentage again last year over 2011-12, giving them five straight seasons of an improved winning percentage. For the Grizzlies, they have gone from a .286 winning percentage in 2007-08 to .293, .488, .561, .621 and .683 last season. The Thunder have gone from .244 in 2007-08 to .280, .610, .671, .712 and .732 last season. The Los Angeles Clippers improved their winning percentage last year for the fourth straight season, while the Nets and Knicks last year improved their winning percentage for a third straight year.
Last season the Dallas Mavericks were the only NBA team to finish the season at .500 (they were 41-41). Sixteen teams were above .500 and 13 teams were below the .500 mark for the season. For the San Antonio Spurs, their winning percentage of .707 last year gave them 16 consecutive years with a record above .500, longest streak in the NBA. They are followed by Denver (10 straight seasons above .500), Los Angeles Lakers (8), Houston (7), Boston (6) and Atlanta and Miami with five.
In the sub.500 category, the Minnesota Timberwolves were only 31-51 last season (a winning percentage of .378) It was the eighth straight year under .500 for the ‘Wolves, longest current streak in the league. They are followed by Sacramento (7) and Detroit, Toronto and Washington each with five straight sub .500 seasons.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks will be making his debut as an NBA Finals coach when the series starts on Tuesday. Brooks was, however, a player the 1994 Houston Rockets who won the title over the New York Knicks. Brooks, who averaged 5.2 PPG in 73 games in the 1993-94 regular season, did not play in that finals series. He did play in five playoff games in ’94 scoring 11 points.
As a head coach, Brooks becomes the 54th coach to make his debut in the NBA Finals. What is not certain is will he be facing a coach who has already won a title (Doc Rivers with the Celtics in 2008) or a coach who has been to the Finals but has not won a championship (Erik Spoelstra with the Heat last year)?
If past history is any indication, Brooks may want to face Miami and Spoelstra: In 22 title series, a coach making his NBA Finals debut has faced off against a coach who has won a title. The team with the coach that has won the title has won 18 of those series. When a first-year finals coach has faced a coach who has been to the finals but has not won the title, the first-year coach’s team has won three times and lost twice.
Here’s a look at the coaching match-ups for the NBA Finals in the 65-year history of the league:
A first-year NBA Finals coach vs. a first-year NBA Finals coach: 13 times
A coach who has won a NBA title vs. a first-year NBA Finals coach: 22 times (the team with the coach who had previously won an NBA championship won 18 of those 22).
A first-year NBA finals coach vs. a coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title: Five times (The first-year NBA finals coach has won three of the five)
A coach who has won an NBA title vs. a coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title: 17 times (The coach who had won a title won 10 of the 17 series).
A coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title vs. a coach who has been to the NBA Finals but has not won a title: 0 times.
Two coaches who have each won an NBA title: Eight times.
In looking at the coaching matchups over the past 20 years, 12 of the 20 title series have seen a first-year coach in the NBA Finals face-off against a coach who has previously won a championship. The coach with the title has won 10 of those 12 series. In fact, of the last 21 NB A Finals series, the team with a coach who had previously won the title has won 16 of those 21 series.
If Brooks and the Thunder win the title against the Celtics, Brooks would become the fifth first-year NBA Finals coach to defeat a coach who had won a title. They four who have accomplished this feat:
1948: Buddy Jeannette, first-year in NBA Finals with Baltimore, defeated Eddie Gottlieb and Philadelphia.
1974: Tom Heinsohn, first-year in NBA Finals with Boston, defeated Larry Costello and Milwaukee.
1994: Rudy Tomjanovich, first-year in NBA Finals with Houston, defeated Pat Riley and the New York Knicks.
2008: Doc Rivers, first-year in NBA Finals with Boston, defeated Phil Jackson and the L.A. Lakers.
Twenty different coaches have won the NBA championship in their first year in the finals. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle accomplished this last year in his first year coaching in the NBA Finals. In the last 25 years, five coaches won the NBA title in their first year coaching in the championship series: Carlisle (2011), Rivers (2008), Greeg Popovich (1999), Tomjanovich (1994) and Phil Jackson (1991).
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers
The Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers exorcised some serious NBA playoff demons with their first-round series wins in this year’s playoffs. The 76ers had not won a playoff series since 2003 when they defeated the New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. For the Pacers, their last playoff series win was in 2005. The Clippers last won a playoff series in 2006 when they ousted the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
Here’s a look at which teams now have the longest droughts for winning a playoff series.
Last year they won a playoff series, team(s)
2000: New York Knicks, Portland
2001: Milwaukee, Toronto
2004: Minnesota, Sacramento
2005: Charlotte (the Bobcats have not won a playoff series since they entered the NBA in 2004-05)
2007: Golden State, New Jersey Nets
2008: Detroit, New Orleans
2009: Denver, Houston
2010: Cleveland, Orlando, Phoenix, Utah
2011: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Memphis
Of the eight remaining teams in the playoffs, here’s a look at the last time they advanced to the conference finals, the last year they played in the NBA finals, and the last year they won an NBA title.
Team, last year in conference finals, last year in NBA finals, last NBA title
Boston: 2010… 2010… 2008
Indiana: 2004… 2000… Never
Los Angeles Clippers: Never… Never… Never
Los Angeles Lakers: 2010… 2010… 2010
Miami: 2011… 2011… 2006
Oklahoma City: 2011… 1996 (as Seattle)… 1979 (as Seattle)
Philadelphia: 2001… 2001… 1983
San Antonio: 2008… 2008… 2007
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
The first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs tip-off with four games today and four tomorrow. The San Antonio Spurs will be playing in their 15th consecutive NBA playoffs, the longest active streak in the league. Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks hold the second spot in that category; they are playing in their 12th straight playoffs.
Starting with the 2003 playoffs, the NBA went to a seven-games series in the first round instead of the previous five-game first round series. As you might expect, the Spurs have won the most first round games since 2003 with 31. They are followed by the Los Angeles Lakers with 28 and the Mavs with 26.
Since 2003, the Spurs have won seven of the nine first round series they have played. The Lakers have won six of the eight first round series they have played. One of the surprises is that the Detroit Pistons have won six of the seven first round series they have played in since 2003.
Two teams, the New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats, have not won a first round game since 2003. In fact, the Bobcats have never won a playoff game since they came into the league in 2004-05. The Knicks has not won a playoff game since 2001; they lost three games to two in the first round of the ’01 playoffs to the Toronto Raptors. (Note the Cleveland Cavaliers have the best first round winning percentage since 2003 with a 20-5 record, a .800 winning percentage.)
Here’s a look at how well each team has done in the first round of the NBA playoffs since 2003.
Team, First Round Games W/L Record (2003-11), Winning Pct.
San Antonio 31-17 .646
Los Angeles Lakers 28-16 .636
Dallas 26-25 .510
Detroit 24-12 .667
Boston 23-17 .575
Cleveland 20-5 .800
Miami 20-18 .526
Phoenix 19-14 .576
Orlando 17-15 .531
New Jersey 16-10 .615
Chicago 16-17 .485
Atlanta 15-12 .556
Utah 14-15 .483
Indiana 13-15 .464
Houston 13-18 .419
New Orleans Hornets 12-17 .414
Sacramento 11-10 .524
Denver 11-29 .275
Oklahoma City 10-6 .625
Philadelphia 10-18 .357
Portland 9-16 .360
Washington 8-14 .364
Milwaukee 7-16 .304
Minnesota 6-5 .545
Los Angeles Clippers 4-1 .800
Golden State 4-2 .667
Memphis 4-14 .222
Toronto 3-8 .273
New York 0-8 .000
Charlotte 0-4 .000
Did you know? The Boston Celtics and the Lakers are the only teams to have won a first round series in each of the past four seasons. The Atlanta Hawks have won a first round series in each of the last three playoffs.