Posts Tagged ‘bob cousy’

Russell Westbrook’s MVP Bid and History

March 5, 2015

I’m not going to write a big post about whether or not Russell Westbrook deserves the MVP award.  He certainly deserves consideration.  What I am going to write about is how unicorn – rare it is for two different players from the same team to win the MVP award in back to back years.

The last time it happened was 1957 and 1958 when Red Auerbach’s dynasty was still young.  Bob Cousy won his last MVP award in ’57, and Bill Russell won his first MVP award in ’58.

Even having two teammates win MVP while they are both still on the same team is extremely rare.  Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it.  Kareem won his 6th and final MVP award in 1980.  Magic won the first of his three MVPs in 1987 while Kareem was still a Laker.  Moses Malone and Julius Irving both won MVPs as 76ers, but Doc won his before Moses joined the team.

That’s the list.  Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant both won MVP awards, but Kobe’s came years after Shaq left the Lakers.

Really if Russell Westbrook wins the MVP award in this season, while he and Kevin Durant are both in their primes, it will be unprecedented.  Cousy stopped winning MVPs after Russell won his first because Bob was at the tail end of his career, and it was crystal clear that Bill Russell was the lynchpin of the team.  Kareem was well past his prime when Magic won his first.

Of course the reason that Furious Styles has a shot at MVP this year is because he has been a stat-machine on a winning team in the absence of Durant.  Had Shaq missed a little more time in 2003, maybe Kobe would have been a serious contender that year (though Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady both had insane seasons in ’03).  If LeBron had been out in 2011, maybe Dwyane Wade becomes an MVP candidate that year and James takes in 2012.  Basically you need two of top 5 players in the league on one team, and they need to trade off who is doing the heavy lifting from year to year, which won’t happen without something like an injury.

None of this is to say at this point that I think Westbrook is the 2015 MVP front runner.  Stephen Curry and James Harden are probably still the best bets with LeBron James coming on strong.  It’s just that Westbrook’s candidacy is remarkable in light of Durant’s award last season.


NBA Top 50 – MVP Shares

December 27, 2013

Rank Player MVP Shares
1 Michael Jordan* 8.138
2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* 6.203
3 Larry Bird* 5.693
4 LeBron James 5.387
5 Magic Johnson* 5.129
6 Bill Russell* 4.827
7 Shaquille O’Neal 4.38
8 Karl Malone* 4.296
9 Wilt Chamberlain* 4.269
10 Tim Duncan 4.261
11 Kobe Bryant 4.206
12 David Robinson* 3.123
13 Moses Malone* 2.873
14 Kevin Garnett 2.753
15 Bob Pettit* 2.628
16 Hakeem Olajuwon* 2.611
17 Oscar Robertson* 2.479
18 Charles Barkley* 2.438
19 Steve Nash 2.429
20 Jerry West* 2.09
21 Kevin Durant 2.019
22 Dirk Nowitzki 1.804
23 Elgin Baylor* 1.659
24 Allen Iverson 1.567
25 Bob McAdoo* 1.494
26 Patrick Ewing* 1.424
27 Chris Paul 1.423
28 Julius Erving* 1.407
29 Dave Cowens* 1.338
30 Dwight Howard 1.249
31 Willis Reed* 1.073
32 Derrick Rose 0.981
33 Alonzo Mourning 0.968
34 Jason Kidd 0.933
35 George Gervin* 0.911
36 Bob Cousy* 0.882
37 Tracy McGrady 0.855
38 Dominique Wilkins* 0.849
39 Gary Payton* 0.823
40 Dwyane Wade 0.793
41 Clyde Drexler* 0.778
42 Scottie Pippen* 0.716
43 Sidney Moncrief 0.695
44 Dolph Schayes* 0.69
45 Wes Unseld* 0.639
46 Bernard King* 0.625
47 Rick Barry* 0.592
48 Chris Webber 0.588
49 Elvin Hayes* 0.571
50 Grant Hill 0.52

A couple days ago, we put together a top 15 list using playoff success as our criteria for consideration and then boiling down using stats, titles, and awards. It was a stilted approach in that I set out to be as inclusive as possible in determining playoff success but then was totalitarian in crediting the awards.

The above list is the top 50 cumulative career percentage of MVP votes received. Essentially the voters have a 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place vote every year. If one player were to receive 100% of the 1st place votes, he still would not get all the MVP shares for that year, because the 2nd and 3rd place votes comprise part of the whole. Since the voting is rarely ever that one-sided, generally the actual award winner’s total share leaves a lot for the runners up to add to their total.

What’s nice about measuring with the shares rather than just giving an arbitrary credit for winning the award is that it credits guys who were consistently high in the running but may have lost out to others due to missed games or when two great players starred for the same team and split the vote. Shaq and Kobe are good examples of players who may have got in each other’s way when it came to actually winning the MVP but both consistently received large portions of the vote – they are 7th and 11th respectively even though they each only won a single MVP award.

The other good thing about using voting results as a measure of player greatness is that voters can approach the game from a more nuanced perspective than numbers. If we picked MVP by statistics each year, Wilt would have 10, and Russell would have very few. Something was happening to make voters break the 60s up into some votes for Wilt, some votes for Russell, and enough votes for Oscar to win one year. As I wasn’t around at that time, and heck even the people who were avid fans didn’t have great exposure to all the teams and players, the views of the voters are all the context that we really have to go on to help supplement the raw numbers.

A quick note on the limitations of stats: take a look at Michael Jordan’s season in 1992. His team won 67 games and absolutely dominated the league with a margin of victory of 10.44. Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant had their most efficient seasons. Obsessive basketball nerds like Bill Simmons (and me) consider 1992 to be the season where Jordan was at the peak of his basketball ability. It is also his worst statistical season in half a decade. His PER fell 4 points. His TS% dropped by 2.5. His free throw rate dropped by 4%. His ORtg fell by 4 points.

Basically all of his personal efficiency numbers tanked, and his team was better for it. Why? Well I was 13 at the time, and I don’t remember seeing him do anything all that different, but I’d guess it’s because he was giving up some of the isolation plays that led to his drives to the rim for easy scores and free throws in order to run the triangle and keep his teammates involved. Whatever happened, I don’t think MJ fell of a cliff at the age of 28, and his new play style worked to the tune of the best season any team had between the 1987 Lakers and the Bulls again in 1996.

So while Jordan’s box score stats indicated that this was the worst he’d played in half a decade and show a massive drop from 1991, his MVP shares actually went up by 1% from his previous MVP and by over 10% from his first MVP in 1988 (when he had the best season ever by PER standards). Granted, the metrics that I’m referring to didn’t exist back then, and the points, assists, and rebounds were still strong, so maybe that increase in MVP shares isn’t voters capturing nuances of Jordan’s game so much as voters responding to a dip in Barkley’s production and the absence of Magic Johnson. Still this is one subjective record of a player’s impact on his team and on the league that we have access to, and it dates all the way back to the late 1950s.

The weakness of using this measure is that MVP voting is not an exact science by any means. The criteria is ill-defined to the point of being almost useless. How is “value” defined for NBA players? Is it the player who personally accounts for the most wins on his team? If so then the best producer is probably that guy. Is it the player who takes a step back statistically to allow others to flourish? If so it’s probably the best player on the winningest team. It’s a very nebulous concept, and some players seem to get the lion’s share of credit that could be more evenly distributed. Take a look at Karl Malone sitting between Shaq and Wilt on the list. The asterisk next to his name is to indicate that he’s in the hall of fame, but it should be to indicate that 40% of his MVP shares belong to John Stockton, who incredibly does not make this list at all.

I stumbled across this list on, and thought it was worth sharing. It’s not a definitive ranking by any means, but it is a good snapshot of how great players have been perceived by award voters over the years and certainly has some merit as a tool to help add some context to the box score numbers.

Allen Iverson – The Underrated MVP?

August 27, 2013

We talkin’ ‘bout retirement? Retirement? Not the game. Not playing the game. We talkin’ ‘bout retirement.

Well no thanks. I don’t want to talk about Iverson officially retiring three years after the league decided to boycott him. I don’t want to talk about the Slam Magazine cover shoot or the racially charged incident in a bowling alley that made (unfairly) a good kid into an infamous young man. I don’t want to talk about A.I.’s impact on sports culture, cornrows, compression sleeves, baggy shorts, jewelry, or the NBA’s ridiculous dress code. I don’t even want to talk about practice.

Let’s talk about Allen Iverson, the shortest player ever to lead the league in scoring and / or win league MVP. I’m pretty sure. How short was Tiny? Or Cousy? Do I care? Do you? Nah. You don’t.

First thing’s first. Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan were better than Iverson the year he won his MVP award. No doubt. No debate. It is what it is. And guess what? That happens all the time. In the 1970s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the best player every year without question. He won the MVP “only” half the time. From 1988-1998 Michael Jordan was the best player every year he actually played. He won half the time. Since about 2008, LeBron James has been the best player every year. He has won 2/3rds of the time.

The best player does not always win the MVP. Sometimes the award goes to the player on a championship level team who has paid his dues over the years on non-contenders and deserves the recognition in the eyes of the voters (see Karl Malone). Sometimes it goes to the best player on the winningest team (see Charles Barkley). Sometimes it goes to the player on a contending team that the voters think is least replaceable, like Steve Nash in 2005 & 2006 or Derrick Rose in 2011.

Allen Iverson falls into this last category and is a pretty good match for Rose. They both played on defensively dominant, offensively challenged squads that led the East in wins. They both played an inefficient but highly productive brand of slashing, shoot-first lead guard basketball, exploiting quickness, explosiveness, and the offensive rebounding talent of their teammates to draw multiple defenders at the rim and turn bad shots into good possessions. Were either of them “worthy” MVP winners? Enough voters thought so to award them the title. In MVP voting, that’s all that counts.

The advanced statistics movement has made Iverson something of a whipping boy. Most of the ire for shooting lots of tough shots at a low True Shooting percentage has ironically been aimed at Kobe Bryant, who is a significantly better shooter, but Allen has taken his share of lumps too. Frankly, it’s a hard point to debate. Iverson is not a good shooter by NBA standards. He is a “volume scorer,” which has become a denigrating term over the years.

However, I think three crucial points fall in A.I.’s favor:

  1. Iverson’s super high usage kept the ball out of the hands of such scoring albatrosses as Eric Snow, George Lynch, and Theo Ratliff. Iverson was the only player on that 2001 76ers Finals team to play more than 1000 minutes and produce an offensive rating over 105. Some metrics like PER take usage into account and rate Iverson pretty highly. Others such as win share do not and rate him very low for his reputation. In any case it’s tough to deny that usage has its benefits even when the shooter is not the most efficient scorer.
  2. The 2005 change to the hand-check rule had a huge impact on players like Iverson. He had his best statistical season at age 30 in 2006. That is very odd for an undersized, ball-dominant guard (by contrast Isiah Thomas’s best statistical season came at age 23, and Kevin Johnson’s came at age 24). In the 2005-06 season, Iverson had his highest career PER (25.9) averaged 33 points (while taking a career-best 11.5 free throws) and 7.4 assists and shot his second highest TS% 54.3, not great but significantly better than his career average of 51.8 (the only season he shot better was 2008, age 32, while playing with Carmelo Anthony in Denver – but his usage dropped 9 points). Similarly Kobe, Wade, and LeBron made leaps in the 2006 season, as did other ball-dominant scoring wings whose efficiency improved with the enforcement of the perimeter touch foul. I have to believe that if he had been playing under this rule system his entire career, then Iverson’s peak would have come earlier and been more impressive.
  3. There is value in aggressiveness for the sake of aggressiveness in the NBA, and Allen Iverson was one of the most relentlessly aggressive players in the history of the game. He put pressure on the defense ALL the time. Think of Russell Westbrook. Now imagine there’s no Kevin Durant around to take the ball out of his hands. Now imagine he plays 43 minutes per game. Now consider the effect on a defense over time. He wears you out with simple aggression. That’s Iverson. In fact Iverson is the model for Westbrook and players like him. In the same way that you could say that Kobe, Wade, and LeBron would all be different players without the example of Michael Jordan to model their game on, I have every confidence that Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and every other hyper-aggressive, ball-dominant scoring point guard would be different players without the example set by A.I.

On the plus side of the statistical equation, Iverson led the league in scoring 4 times (and came in second one year with a 33 ppg average because Bryant went bonkers and averaged 35), minutes 7 times, steals 3 times, and usage 5 times. Only 2 players have ever averaged 33+ points and 7+ assists in the same seasons, Iverson and Tiny Archibald. Only 7 players have ever averaged 30+ points and 7+ assists for a season: Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Tiny Archibald, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Allen Iverson.

Iverson is also one of only four players ever to average 30+% usage, 30+% assist rate, and under 11% turnover rate in the same season. The other players on the list are Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady, and LeBron James. Not bad. A combined 60% usage and assist rate indicates, if nothing else, that a player has the ball A LOT, and to control so many possessions with only 11% turnover rate is outstanding possession maintenance.

And, and, and there’s something to be said for any player who can ALWAYS get a shot off. I know we’ve been led to despise conscienceless chuckers, but some days they do get hot. It’s unpredictable. You wouldn’t necessarily want to try to build a champion around it. But when a guy like A.I. starts hitting those contorted, herky-jerk pull-ups and floaters, it’s like the crane kick in Karate Kid. No can defend. Watch game 1 of the 2001 Finals. Allen Iverson single-handedly takes an undefeated post-season away from the most dominant playoff team of all time (with Shaq and Kobe both playing out of their minds). Why? Because you can’t keep him from taking shots, bad shots maybe, but shots. When he’s hitting him, there’s no scheme or individual who ever had any real success slowing him down. Or watch the All-Star game when he and Marbury led a titanic 4th quarter comeback to defeat a much more dominant West squad. Nobody but nobody could stay in front of him. And the West had Kobe and Jason Kidd and the Glove Gary Payton to throw at him (1 Defensive Player of the Year and about 318 All-Defensive teams between those three).

More than anything what I’ll remember about A.I. is what happened on those nights when he had it going, and no one and nothing could slow him down. He’d get this sort of pained, locked-in expression on his face, like he couldn’t get the ball back fast enough to break down the next defender and get up the next ridiculous shot. He’d get up on his man and start pressuring the ball and break out ahead of the defense in transition every time an opposing guard took a jump shot. In the half court he’d set up on the left wing and get a flow with the ball. Nobody before or since has used the dribble as a weapon the way A.I. did. He would be at the left elbow extended, feinting a drive, dipping the shoulders, rocking this way and that, lulling the defender, and then BANG he’s streaking into the lane driving to his right at breakneck speed, and his defender lunges backward, and the help defense shifts to paint, and then PSYCHE it’s a crossover, he’s really going left for a that floating pull up j at the elbow. He had the ball on a string and the defense on roller skates, and it was a joy and a privilege to watch him do his thing.

All-NBA All-Decade Teams

July 24, 2013

I was looking over the historical All-NBA teams and noticed several surprising facts. Did you know that Kobe Bryant is tied with Kareem for the most total All-NBA teams made for a career at 15 and is tied with Karl Malone for the most times on the 1st team at 11? That’s amazing longevity. No other guard has more than 12 career All-NBA teams (Cousy and West both have 12). Only 9 players have double figure All-NBA 1st team appearances: Malone, Bryant, Cousy, West, Baylor, Pettit, Jordan, Kareem, and Duncan. The most consecutive All-NBA first teams earned is by Karl Malone with 11 (every year from ’89 to ’99). Several players won the MVP in years that they did not make the All-NBA 1st team for their position including Bill Russell on multiple occasions. The player with the most All-NBA team selections who never made an All-NBA 1st team is Hal Greer who was selected to 7 All-NBA 2nd teams, which shows the dominance of Oscar and West in the ’60s. The only player to make multiple All-NBA 1st teams no All-NBA 2nd or 3rd teams in Elgin Baylor with 10 first team appearances. A surprisingly high number of players who only made 1 All-NBA team in their careers made the 1st team that year including Kevin McHale (shocking!), Latrell Sprewell, Truck Robinson, Gail Goodrich, Earl Monroe, and Derrick Rose and Wes Unseld who each won the MVP that same year.

Below are All-NBA All-Decade teams taken from the players who best represented each decade’s All-NBA list. Note – I went exactly by the numbers and took 2 PGs, 4 Wings (Sg-Sf) and 4 Bigs (Pf-C) from each decade. In a fairytale fantasy series played out between the various eras, I think I’d mix the teams differently. Some of the them are light on shooters or ball-handlers depending on the decade. It does show what the voters tended to value most though.


P – Oscar Robertson
P – Bob Cousy
W – Jerry West
W – Elgin Baylor
W – Hal Greer
W – Bill Sharman
B – Bill Russell
B – Wilt Chamberlain
B – Bob Pettit
B – Jerry Lucas

I like this group. I could see an 8 man playoff rotation of Big O, Cous, West, Elgin, Greer, Russ, Wilt, and Pettit competing with absolutely anyone. They would want to play uptempo and pressure on defense relying on two of the great basket protectors of all time to erase mistakes. They ought to own the glass and could rely on Oscar and West in clutch situations.


P – Walt Frazier
P – Tiny Archibald
W – Julius Erving
W – John Havlicek
W – Rick Barry
W – Billy Cunningham
B – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
B – Elvin Hayes
B – Spencer Hayward
B – Willis Reed

This is one of those groups that comes out a little uneven because all the wings are forwards, but Hondo and Barry both played enough guard to get by as the secondary ball handlers, and Clyde’s big enough to defend the two in a double PG lineup with Tiny. This team’s got everything. Great guard play, great athleticism, great shooting, and the most unstoppable post player this side of Shaq.


P – Magic Johnson
P – Isiah Thomas
W – Larry Bird
W – George Gervin
W – Dominique Wilkins
W – Sydney Moncrief
B – Moses Malone
B – Robert Parish
B – Terry Cummings
B – Kevin McHale

The ’80s cupboard was a little bit emptied by my need to assign the ’84 draft class to the ’90s team, so they missed out on three of the 5 best players of the decade in Jordan, Hakeem, and Barkley. That said, this group would still hold its own with any other – a sure sign that the talent was brimming over back in the day. It’s a great breakdown of all the skills you’d want on the court with a great ability to run mixed lineups with Magic or Larry at the 4. As with any team with Magic Johnson on it, the gameplan is “give the ball to Magic and fill the lanes.”


P – John Stockton
P – Gary Payton
W – Michael Jordan
W – Scottie Pippen
W – Clyde Drexler
W – Grant Hill
B – Hakeem Olajuwon
B – Karl Malone
B – Charles Barkley
B – David Robinson

Size? Check. Athleticism? Check. Defense? Double check! Playmaking? Check. Shooting? Well, shooting could be an issue. I love the versatility of this team. You could run out a Riley style slugfest group built around Hakeem, David, Scottie, MJ, and Glove and just dare the other team to try to score. Sure you’d be reliant on Michael and Hakeem turning nothing into something on offense, but that’s why you’ve got Michael and Hakeem. You could play crazy up and down ball with what might be the best team speed of any of the decades. You could go Phil Jackson big guard crazy and bench both PGs or give the team to Jerry Sloan and watch the Stockton / Malone magic ensue. Or you could just tell them to pretend it’s the 1992 Olympics since most of the Dream Team is here.


P – Steve Nash
P – Jason Kidd
W – Kobe Bryant
W – Tracy McGrady
W – Allen Iverson
W – Paul Pierce
B – Shaquille O’Neal
B – Tim Duncan
B – Dirk Nowitzki
B – Kevin Garnett

Like the ’80s this group is missing a lot talent that got assigned to the 2010 squad in the form of LeBron, Wade, and Melo from the 2003 draft, but also like the ’80s team, there’s still talent to spare. Probably the best group of bigs in the pool with Snaq Daddy, Timmy!, Dirk, and KG providing the mad combo of offense, defense, and Germanic heritage. Like the ’90s squad they are a little short on shooters, but they make up for it in skill and intensity. This is just a great amalgam of talent that could do anything it wants to. 7 second or less, triangle all day, any of Pops stuff, Docs stuff, inside-out, drive and kick, defensive clusterfudge, whatever you want. They could even go huge with TMac playing point forward, Kobe defending point guards, KG defending 3s, and Dirk spacing the floor, with Tim or Diesel holding down the paint.


P – Chris Paul
P – Russell Westbrook
W – LeBron James
W – Kevin Durant
W – Dwyane Wade
W – Carmelo Anthony
B – Dwight Howard
B – Blake Griffin
B – Kevin Love
B – Marc Gasol

This team is sort of a project in the works kind of a unit. I promise Bron and KD are correct. Everyone else is sort of suspect at this point. It’s a nice mix that would probably be better off playing to this era’s strengths and going small most of the time to maximize the amount of time its best player are in the game together. I think the easiest way to get a good offense out of them would be to give the ball to Chris Paul and let him run pick and pop with Durant until the other team goes home in tears. If that fails there’s always LeBron in the mid-post. This unit’s best quality would be the ability of just about everyone on the floor to put the pressure on and attack, attack, attack. Defensively they are solid all over with special standouts in James, Dwight, and Gasol the Lesser to really make it tough. This will probably be a much different group by 2019.

NBA Stars of 1960s Pace Adjusted Stats

September 13, 2012

Why we always gotta be in black and white?

We all know the names of the best players from the 1960s, giants of the game who broke trails for the rest of the league. From Bob Cousy, the original fastbreak point guard to Elgin Baylor, the prototype for the slashing wing, the game we know took form under their guidance. Film is sparse, and those of us too young to have listened to Johnny Most rely heavily on the stories of people who were there to provide profiles of who these players were on the court.

Statistical reference is useful but difficult to interpret. The game was played at a breakneck pace, and per game stats were very high while shooting percentages were woefully low. To that end I’ve undertaken a brutal (for me) endeavor to modernize the box score stats of the very best players from 1960-69 by factoring pace, effective field goal percentage differential, and rebound rate.

Please examine this modernized stat sheet for the 6 absolute statistical titans of their day:

Wilt Chamberlain – Wilt suffered the most extreme drop off because in addition to the pace adjustment, I had to adjust his minutes from over 46 per game to a more realistic (in modern terms) 40 per game. Nevertheless, his stats are still phenomenal. His 2003-12 paced stats come to 27 Pts on 58.8% shooting, 12 Rbds, and 4 Blks far better than any actual center playing today.

Bill Russell – Russell also had a minute correction to accompany his pace reduction. Overall he fell to 12 Pts on 48.8% shooting, 12 Rbds, 2 Stls, and 4 Blks. DPoY numbers but probably not on the MVP list. Obviously stats can’t capture all the intangibles that an 11 time champion who never lost a game 7 brings to the table, so we’ll just let this one go.

Oscar Robertson – Big O was the biggest surprise for me in this exercise. Russell came out a dominant defensive big man. Wilt is right on par with a young Shaquille. The pace adjustment brought Oscar’s rebounds and assists down pretty harshly, and he transformed from a point guard to a scoring wing with a great all-around game. His closest comparison turned out to be high usage, high assist rate wing Dwyane Wade.

Elgin Baylor – Elgin was another that surprised me. The volume of available rebounds in the ’60s was dramatically higher than it is today. Elgin’s actual rebounds were on par with Charles Barkley, and that’s who I expected to use as the primary comparison. After the pace adjustment, Baylor’s best comparisons were actually Dominique Wilkins and Dr. J. Not necessarily worse but different than Charles.

Bob Pettit
– I actually called the comparison on Pettit before I even looked. Part of the reason was that Pettit’s age range was shorter than the others, and I knew who I would have to work with in the 27-32 years old range. Patrick Ewing is the guy. A moderately efficient high scoring big man who didn’t pass much and rebounded well but not at an absolutely elite Russell / Wilt level. Defensively I went with the more mobile but less block-happy Kevin McHale.

Jerry West – Here’s another guard whose rebounds and assists were nerfed pretty badly in the era conversion. Since this pre-dates the ’70s when West became the primary distributor for his team, that brought the assists down to pure shooting guard levels. Because his adjusted effective shooting percentage is so high, Jerry’s best comparables are three point specialist guards. Ray Allen in particular matches pretty well at the same ages. Because of West’s reputation as a great defender, I minute adjusted Manu Ginobili, whose defensive stat rate playing on the Spurs are tremendous.

Wilt should have worn his Bombatta head-dress in games.

I was able to calculate adjusted assists, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, total rebounds, and modernized effective field goal percentage using the available box score data. Defensive stats, offensive rebounds, and turnovers I calculated based on the rates of similar players from more modern times (I used Shaq’s offensive rebounds and turnovers and David Robinson’s blocks and steals rates in estimating Wilt’s numbers).

I could not fabricate three point field goals made and attempted, three point shooting percentage, or adjusted field goal percentage. There’s just not any data to go on. I could have estimated based on similar players from today, but unlike blocks and steals which we can guess from size / athleticism / reputation, we just don’t know how a player like West or Oscar would adjust his game to factor in the three point shot. Players did in fact steal the ball and block shots. They did not shoot three pointers strategically. The additional benefit did not yet exist.

As always, all stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

If people enjoy these era adjusted figures and comparisons please let me know, and I’ll work on the top 6 players from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Or let me know who you’d like to see updated, and I’ll do a group of requested players for our 2.5 readers.

For a more comprehensive approach to era adjustment that accounts better for league assist and rebound rates, check out this great rantland post.