Spooky Good – On This Day in the NBA

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Although this year the league started much earlier, most years have tipped off very near Halloween.  A player who plays especially well on Halloween may be conquering their own personal spooky demons and setting the stage for a scary good season.  Here are the GOAT performers on this day in the NBA – the eeriest day of the year!  I set the arbitrary minimums at 4 games played at 20+ points per game OR a 40+ point performance on Halloween Day.

Player # of Games Total Points Avg. Points Best Game
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 9 206 22.9 35
George Gervin 6 161 26.8 36
Adrian Dantley 5 159 31.8 50
Rudy Gay 6 152 25.3 40
Blake Griffin 6 147 24.5 39
Fred Brown 7 141 20.1 33
Lenny Wilkens 6 132 22 38
Chris Paul 6 129 21.5 42
Marques Johnson 5 127 25.4 33
Alex English 6 126 21 26
Cazzie Russell 6 126 21 32
Robert Parish 6 123 20.5 25
Dave Bing 5 121 24.2 29
Larry Kenon 5 115 23 31
Lou Hudson 5 110 22 31
Rashard Lewis 4 110 27.5 50
Larry Bird 5 108 21.6 29
Otis Birdsong 4 108 27 31
Kobe Bryant 5 108 21.6 30
John Havlicek 5 108 21.6 33
Tony Parker 5 107 21.4 24
Bob Boozer 5 106 21.2 28
Chet Walker 4 103 25.8 39
Allen Iverson 4 102 25.5 27
Gail Goodrich 4 102 25.5 38
John Long 5 102 20.4 32
Al Harrington 5 101 20.2 42
Steph Curry 3 96 32 53
Latrell Sprewell 3 60 20 45
Jerry Stackhouse 5 88 17.6 44
Moses Malone 3 91 30.3 42
Brandon Roy 2 68 34 42
Calvin Murphy 7 139 19.9 40
Bob Lanier 9 173 19.2 41

I think it is pretty clear that Adrian Dantley is the king of NBA Halloween, with 5 games played, averaged nearly 32 points per game, and this 50-point masterpiece of a game, in which he made 26 free throws!

Steph Curry is poised to take over the title if he can get a few more games under his belt.  Unfortunately the Warriors don’t play tonight.  Will someone else step up their game tonight?  We shall see!

Courtesy of Basketball Reference

What’s the definition of a slogfest? – On This Day in the NBA

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October 29, 2003.  The NBA defending champion San Antonio Spurs are kicking off the 2003-04 season, hoping to start a run at a possible repeat.  Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental, leads the way.  He is flanked by Manu Ginobili, one of the best foreign players ever, and Big Shot Robert Horry.

The Denver Nuggets have come into the season with high expectations.  Their terrible 02-03 season landed them a high draft pick and with it they chose future superstar Carmelo Anthony.  With Marcus Camby, Nene and Professor Andre Miller to guide Carmelo, the Nuggets are primed to make a run for the playoffs.

This is truly a great way to tip off, with established dominance against promising excitement.  The game starts off a little slow.  Carmelo misses his first NBA shot, at the rim, and loses the ball out of bounds.  At the other end, Tim Duncan makes a bad pass and turns the ball over.  This is effective foreshadowing.

Four and half minutes pass – and the score is 3-2.  The Nuggets are 1-11 in field goals.  The Spurs are only slightly better at 1-9.  The Big Fundamental already has three turnovers.

Then, suddenly, sparks of life!  The teams together make eight of their next thirteen shots!  The rust has fallen away!  After their long slumber, the basketball behemoths are ready to play!

Or…possibly…not.  The second quarter begins with eight straight missed shots.  The teams trade turnovers and bricks and stumble into halftime at 39-36, Denver.

Denver comes out and puts the pressure on in the 3rd quarter, pushing the lead to ten points before San Antonio manages to score.  The Spurs make four field goals in the third quarter.  We make it halfway through the 4th quarter before either team manages to pass 70 points.

Spectators grow old and pass away in their seats.  Old growth forests take over the concession areas.  Civilizations rise and fall, eons pass away and still, still the shots will not fall.

Finally, three seconds remain and Tim Duncan puts in one final, meaningless shot to bring the score to 80-72, Denver on top.  The dust clears to reveal the teams combining to shoot just under 28% from the field, the worst combined shooting performance since the 1983-84 season.

Carmelo goes 4-15 in his debut.  Voshon Lenard adds 3-14, and Cherry Picker favorite Earl Boykins shoots 5-13.  For the Spurs, Tim Duncan ends at 7-22, Ginobili shoots 4-12, and Rasho Nesterovic goes a magnificent 1-11.

Only Ron Mercer manages to clear 50% shooting, dropping in 7 of 13 shots for 14 points.  He alone walks out of the arena with his head still held high. David Stern convenes a meeting, and against his better judgement, decides to let San Antonio keep their championship trophy.

Courtesy of Basketball Reference

NBA Freshmen 15

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Last year didn’t have one single rookie that stood head and shoulders above the rest.  Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon was great, but there were a lot of other rookies doing good things.  Here are five different top threes of NBA Freshmen from last year.  I’m including anyone who played at least 200 minutes (So apologies to any big Cheick Diallo fans, as he only played 199 minutes last year, according to Basketball Reference).

Hopefully you’ll find your favorite rookie below – and some hope that he will take this top three rating of NBA freshmen and continue to improve!

Offensive Rebounding Percentage

Defensive Rating

Assists per 100 possessions

  • Tyler Ulis (Suns) – 9.6 assists
  • Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks) – 8.1 assists
  • Wade Baldwin (Grizzlies) – 7.8 assists

True Shooting Percentage

Defensive Win Shares

*BONUS – Games Played

Way Over Time

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When a hard-fought basketball game comes down to five minutes of overtime, you usually assume the game is going to continue to be hard-fought. The teams have been equal up to this point – why wouldn’t it continue?

But, of course, that doesn’t always happen. In the history of the NBA, there have been four games in which one team outscored the other by 15 points or more in the five-minute overtime session.

Boston Celtics @ San Francisco Warriors (Jan. 2, 1963)

The 62-63 Boston Celtics were in the middle of the most dominant run in NBA history, headed toward their 5th of eight straight NBA championships.  The San Francisco Warriors were in the middle of their first season since moving from Philadelphia, and having a bad time of it, mainly because they lost their second best scorer, Paul Arizin, because he chose to retire rather than move to San Francisco with the team.

But on this day the two teams were equal for four quarters, as they came into overtime locked at 114 each.  Maybe the Celtics were toying with Wilt Chamberlain and the Warriors?  Or maybe they just got their second wind.  Either way the overtime was a blowout, with the Celtics coming out on top 135-120.

Dallas Mavericks @ Los Angeles Lakers (Dec. 12, 1990)

L.A. is never an easy place to play, especially when you are playing against a team that includes Magic Johnson and James Worthy (plus a very young Vlade Divac!) So the Mavericks must have felt pretty good about making it to overtime, tied at 89.

They probably didn’t expect to go into overtime and demolish the Lakers on their home court, scoring an incredible 23 points in the extra session to finish the game 112-97.  Hopefully they savored the feeling of the win.  It would be the last time the Mavericks won a Lakers game in L.A. for exactly 13 years – until they beat the Kobe / Shaq Lakers on Dec. 12, 2003.

New Jersey Nets @ Milwaukee Bucks (Dec. 4, 1977)

The 77-78 Nets were a bad basketball team – really bad.  They came into this game sporting a record of 3-19.  But a trade the month before had brought in Kevin Porter and Howard Porter (no relation), and on this day at least, that made all the difference.  Kevin Porter went wild in this game, scoring 40 points and leading the Nets to a 116-116 tie at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately for the hapless Nets, Porter’s magic must have all run out, as they went on to only score two points in their extra time, losing the game 134-118. The Nets would, later in the year, have a 15-game losing streak. It wasn’t the best time to be a Nets fan.

Portland Trailblazers @ Houston Rockets (Jan. 22, 1983)

Similar to the Nets, the Houston Rockets came into this game at a bad point in their history, with a record of just 6-34.  But they fought hard, with the trio of Allen Leavell, James Bailey and Calvin Murphy all scoring over 20 points, and made it to overtime with the score even at 96.

That’s when it all fell apart, as the Rockets failed to score even a single point in overtime.  The Trailblazers, for their part, scored 17 points and cruised to the win, 113-96.  It’s hard to feel too bad for the Rockets, though, as the next two drafts brought in Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon.  Not a bad tradeoff.

Every Earl Boykins block ever

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(Note: This post was originally posted on August 3, but since I just got syndicated by Basketball Reference and this post was too far back, I wanted to bring it up to the front.)

A post about career lows in blocks per game led me to discover that 5-3 mighty mite legend Muggsy Bogues blocked 39 shots in his long and productive career.  This stirred something within me and I wanted to look at all of them.  Sadly – all of Muggsy’s blocks came before the advent of play-by-play data, which means it is very difficult to figure out who was the recipient of the block!  Searching “Muggsy Bogues Blocks” just brings up a million repeats of that one time he blocked Patrick Ewing.  So instead I looked for a similar, more recent player.  Enter Earl Boykins. Listed on Basketball Reference at 5 feet 5 inches and a svelte 135 pounds, Earl had 34 blocks in his career and we are going to look at them ALL.  This is every Earl Boykins block ever.
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George McGinnis – Big Mac

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The Basketball Hall of Fame inducted a new class last Friday, and as usual, it was a mixed bag of names you’ve heard, coaches and players from non-NBA leagues, and basketball pioneers.

One of the names that you might have recognized but not known much about was George McGinnis.  Known as Big Mac or Baby Bull, McGinnis was one of the best players of the 70s.  Coming in at 6’8″ and about 235 pounds (roughly the same size as LeBron James), McGinnis was a powerhouse in both scoring and rebounding, and excelled both in the ABA and NBA, including a shared MVP with Dr. J in 1975.

Let’s break down some key stats on Big Mac.  McGinnis was great right out of the chute, making the All-Rookie first team, and then making All-League first or second team for the next five years straight.

But 1974-75 was the year he really stepped up his game. He averaged nearly 30 points a game, 14 rebounds, and almost doubled his previous best to average 6.3 assists per game (which was 3rd in the ABA that year)!  Let’s take a look at the list of NBA/ABA players who have averaged 29/14/6 in a season.

  • George McGinnis

That’s it – there’s no one else.  In fact, if you drop it all the way down to 25/12/5, the list still only has five additional players: Charles Barkley, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  That is some rarified company.

McGinnis will forever sit atop the ABA’s career usage list, along with being 3rd in Box Score Plus/Minus, and 4th in VORP.  And though he didn’t win any more scoring titles, McGinnis was still great once he moved over to the NBA, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a game for his first four years.

His career wasn’t extremely long – he played 11 years combined between the ABA and NBA and was finished at the relatively young age of 31.  But, as they say, only the good retire young, and George was definitely one of the good ones.

Quick Hits – Streaking

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All stats below are from the 2016-17 season, requiring at least 10 minutes played per game (courtesy of Basketball Reference)

Longest double-double streak:

Longest streak of not missing a free throw (and taking at least one)

Longest streak of 50%+ shooting (with at least six shots attempted)

Longest streak of making a three-pointer

T.R. Dunn – Usage Master

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During the Big Three run of the Miami Heat, they had three players who all did great things with the ball in their hand.  So their center, Joel Anthony, didn’t have to do a whole lot of ball handling.  His main concerns were rebounding and defense.  As a result, in 2011-2012, he had one of the lowest usage rates of any qualifying season ever.

But what if I told you there was a player who had FIVE qualifying seasons that were even lower!  Enter Theodore Roosevelt Dunn – the Usage Master.

T.R. Dunn played 14 seasons in the NBA. He was a solid role player in nearly 1000 games, for both Portland and Denver (as well as a quick stint with Phoenix).  But he wasn’t the type of player to stand out too much – or be too flashy.  But he was the type of player that you LOVE to have on your team. Dunn knew what he was in the NBA, and played his part very well.

Dunn made the All-NBA Defensive 2nd team three years in a row.  He’s currently 65th all-time in NBA career steals.  And he was a great rebounder.  Of players 6’4″ or shorter, he’s third all-time in rebounding percentage, behind only Russell Westbrook and Fat Lever.  This was a man who knew how to contribute to his team without the ball in his hands – an indispensable piece on any team that wants to win.

And when your team has such scorers as Alex English, David Thompson, Dan Issel and Kiki Vandeweghe, having a player like T.R. Dunn is key to success.  On the Denver Nuggets all-time lists, Dunn is still 4th in games played, 2nd in steals and 10th in rebounds.

Since retiring from the NBA, Dunn has been an assistant coach for four different NBA teams and also ran his own basketball academy.  I think graduates from the Dunn Basketball Academy are going to be the sort of player you want on your team.

Playing in The Upside Down

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Even good players have terrible games, forever etched in the Hall of Shame for all to see.  So with the caveat that an NBA player’s worst game is one million times better than my best pickup game – let’s take a look at some of these most terrible games.

We’re gonna use Game Score for this – it is a simple box score conglomeration stat created by John Hollinger that attempts to weight the various stats and come up with one number to explain how good the game was.  Here are the exact details:  PTS + 0.4 * FG – 0.7 * FGA – 0.4*(FTA – FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 *AST + 0.7 * BLK – 0.4 * PF – TOV)

For reference, the greatest games by Game Score are Michael Jordan‘s 69-point game, Kobe Bryant‘s 81-point game, and a hyper-efficient 61-point game from Karl Malone.

Only three games since 1983 have scored lower than negative ten in Game Score. Here they are.

Thurl Bailey – November 15, 1986 – Utah vs. Denver (-10.4)

“Big T” Bailey was a solid contributor to the Utah Jazz for many many years.  He had a beautiful, high-arcing shot that Hot Rod Hundley liked to refer to as a “rainbow jumper”.  But when the shots don’t go down they just don’t, and on this day Big T couldn’t get anything going.  Though he did grab 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, the good parts were negated by five turnovers and a miserable 2 for 20 shooting day.

Delaney Rudd – November 2, 1990 – Utah vs. Phoenix (-10.8)

Another Jazzman, Rudd backed up John Stockton competently for a few years.  But in this game, he managed to cause a lot of problems in only nine minutes of play.  He just couldn’t seem to keep his hands on the ball.  And when the smoke cleared, Rudd had six turnovers, five personal fouls, four missed shots, and a dead partridge in a rotten pear tree.

David Wesley – April 12, 2001 – Charlotte vs. New Jersey (-11.7)

Wesley played 14 seasons in the NBA, amassing nearly 1000 games.  Hopefully, he has been able to block this one out of his memory.  As far as good parts, Wesley did grab two steals in the game.  But those were easily overshadowed by the four turnovers and 13 shots without making a single one!  He missed four shots in the 1st quarter, but that didn’t bring him down, in fact, he kept shooting into the 4th quarter – probably just trying to keep from having a full goose egg in the points column.

My Precious Logo

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It’s difficult to say what exactly drives the creative process.  No one really knows exactly what goes on in the brain when an idea is born.  And it’s nearly impossible to define what “genius” is, or how “genius” works.  But I know it when I see it.

Someone, somewhere, at some point came up with the idea to create a shirt with Gollum in place of Jerry West as The Logo.  You’re either going to hate this or you’re going to love it – but it’s going to make you feel something.  And isn’t that what genius is all about?

There’s a metaphor in here somewhere about Kevin Durant and rings.

This shirt comes in sizes from small to 3XL, and has a men’s cut and a women’s cut.