2.12.2009

Amazing Numbers

I think about NBA statistics a lot. I love to think about them, and have since I was about 12.

The stock market? Forget it. My taxes? I'm hopeless. But NBA statistics? It's on.

Why this particular set of numbers should be the only one that appeals to me I do not know (aside from a love of basketball). Nonetheless, the number five search engine in my Firefox search window (after Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon (which is also useful for identifying editions, etc, and not just buying books, though I do that too) is Basketball-Reference.com, which along with its sister sites, is wonderfully comprehensive (for recent stats. Many of their records only go back to the 80's, so for the truly insane stuff (see Wilt's 55 rebound game) you have to look elsewhere).

Take for instance, the career of Michael Jordan. Yes, his scoring was amazing; he was a well above-average passer and rebounder; he also developed new skills, like three-point shooting, later in his career. All of this is de rigeur for even the casual NBA fan, as is the fact that his most remarkable season might have been in 1987-88, when he won not only MVP but Defensive Player of the Year as well.

But one number from that year totally hypes me up, and that is 131. Not 35.0 (Jordan's PPG), nor .535 (his unreal field-goal percentage), nor even 259 (his league leading steals total).

No, 131 is the number of BLOCKS a 6'6" Michael Jordan had that year, working out to an average of about 1.6 per game. Close to two blocks a game from your shooting guard (who also happens to be the best scorer/player in the league otherwise).

Unreal.

That is a revealing number, and those blocks are a big part of why Jordan has the Modern-PER record for that particular season at 31.7 (a number Lebron James is equaling through 51 games this year).

1 comment:

Rich said...

a lot of TEAMS don't get 55 rebounds in a game all the time! wilt's records are simply never going to be broken because too many people play basketball to the point that no one could ever be that physically dominant again (not even lebron...)