Sometimes a player that you wouldn’t expect steps up in limited time and shows a hint of what could be. Here are some examples from the last 25 years of players making the most of the time they had on the court.
Michael Phelps – October 29, 1985 – Seattle @ Houston
No, it’s not the Michael Phelps you think. This Michael Phelps only played 130 games in the NBA over three seasons, and had a total of 71 NBA steals. Somehow, SIX of those steals came in a nine minute span in the second game of his career vs. Houston. Maybe for that game only he got to use the long arms of the swimmer Michael Phelps…
Chuck Nevitt – March 31, 1985 – LA Lakers vs. Phoenix
Chuck played in just 155 games in the NBA, averaging about 5 minutes per game. But these were the most effective five minutes of his career – by far! Standing at 7’5″, Chuck was the 12th man on a Lakers team with Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But this day he got into the game during garbage time, and made old Kareem proud, blocking five shots in just five minutes of play.
Lionel Hollins – February 29, 1984 – Detroit vs. Washington
Hollins was a solid point guard in the NBA for a lot of years, even making an all-star game at one point. But by the 1983-84 season, his career was winding down. He only averaged about 7 mpg for Detroit, coming off the bench behind Isiah Thomas and Vinnie Johnson. But on Leap Day, Hollins took a leap back in time to his prime. In just 12 minutes of playing time, Hollins doled out 12 assists, contributing to a 137-106 blowout of the Washington Bullets. It was a Leap Day miracle!
Bob McAdoo – March 17, 1984 – LA Lakers @ Houston
I’m not sure why all of these crazy stats happened in 1984 and 1985, but whatever was going on, all-time great Bob McAdoo wanted to get in on it. He didn’t play many minutes for the star-studded Lakers that year, but, at least in this game, he definitely made the most of his time. In just five minutes of work, McAdoo took 13 shots! He made four, and ended the game with 10 points. Must have been a St. Patrick’s Day luck of the Irish thing for old McAdoo.
Henry James – April 15, 1997 – Atlanta vs. New Jersey
In the 1996-97 season, James averaged 6.7 points in 18 minutes per game for the Hawks. However, on this particular day, James decided to play out of his mind. In only 10 minutes on the court, Henry James made 7 of 9 three pointers and three free throws, for a total of 24 points. He also tossed in a couple of rebounds and an assist for good measure. This is the kind of efficiency coaches only dream of their players having. His usage for the game was over 55%, and his offensive rating? An out-of-this-world 192.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference