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Tuesday Bullets

  • Wow. Wow. Wow. 40.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 10 assists per game. According to Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference, that's what LeBron James would be averaging if he played at the same pace (possessions per 48 minutes) that Oscar Robertson did in 1962 when he became the only person ever to average a triple double. Paine writes: "1962, if you recall, was not only the year Oscar averaged a triple-double, but also the season Wilt Chamberlain did all sorts of ludicrous things, like scoring 100 points in a game and averaging 50.4 per. He also averaged 26 rebounds a night; Bill Russell averaged 24. The stat-stuffing that went on that year truly boggles the mind. ... Okay, so you've all seen Wilt and Oscar's numbers from 1962, but have you ever sat down and looked at the league averages that year? In '62, the average team took 107.7 shots per game. By comparison, this year the average team takes 80.2 FGA/G. If we use a regression to estimate turnovers & offensive rebounds, the league pace factor for 1962 was 125.5 possessions/48 minutes, whereas this year it's 91.7. Oscar's Royals averaged 124.7 poss/48, while Wilt's Warriors put up a staggering 129.7 (the highest mark in the league). On the other hand, the 2009 Cavs are averaging a mere 89.2 poss/48. It turns out that the simplest explanation for the crazy statistical feats of 1961-62 (and the early sixties in general) is just that the league was playing at a much faster tempo in those days, with more possessions affording players more opportunities to amass gaudy counting statistics. Let's say LeBron '09 could switch paces (note that I didn't say "places”, which is another argument entirely) with Oscar '62 ... That means we would have to scale down the Big O's per-game numbers by multiplying them by .715, giving Robertson a far more reasonable line of 22.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, & 8.1 APG -- which are still really good numbers, to be sure, but not as crazy as they looked at the breakneck pace of '62. By contrast, we have to multiply LBJ's stats by a factor of 1.4 if we want to see what they would look like if he played at a 1962-style pace. The results: 40.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG, & 10.0 APG!! As you can see, those 35.5 extra possessions per game really make a huge difference when comparing the two players' stats. So, no, LeBron probably will never average an Oscar-esque triple-double in today's NBA ... but it's more a consequence of the league's pace than any failing on his part. Just like we wouldn't say a .400 hitter in the 1894 NL (league BA: .309) was as impressive as Ted Williams hitting .406 in the 1941 AL (league BA: .266), basketball fans should keep in mind that the league's pace factor has gone down steadily since its inception, and with those fewer possessions come fewer chances to put up monster stat totals. This isn't meant to denigrate Oscar and Wilt in any way, but it does mean that their eye-popping stats from back then are, in reality, not quite as impressive as they appear at first glance."

  • Astoundingly good re-edit of highlights from last night's Nets vs. Sixers game.

  • You know sports fans think it's funny to clown around behind people doing live TV broadcasts? Derek Fisher thinks that, too.

  • A while ago there was talk on TrueHoop of Dwight Howard vs. Chris Paul. Who would you rather have? Paul is better at essentially everything, but Howard has just about the best body imaginable. Consider that while Paul can do whatever he wants on the basketball court, players his size tend to have shorter windows of productivity (without athleticism, they can't help as much). Also factor in that big men tend to mature as players at older ages -- we haven't yet seen the full Dwight Howard. And consider that for most of their careers, the NBA's two best big men -- Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal -- have essentially taken turns winning titles, while all the smaller stars have looked on. You can make a case that barring Michael Jordan, or a Pistons-like fluke, you have to have a dominant big man to win a title. This conversation is something like the Greg Oden vs. Kevin Durant debate. Which spawns, for me, the question: When they are all retired, who will have won more titles: Dwight Howard and Greg Oden (combined) or Kevin Durant and Chris Paul (combined)?

  • Video updates on the Austin Carr drinking game.

  • TrueHoop reader Matt with a memory of super fandom from Bridlemile Elementary school in Portland: "In our peak, with the Rip City Rhapsody song, I remember one of our elementary school teachers would put it on weekly, and have all of us little kids run around the hall ways dancing around ... that is Blazermania I have to say! I can say with confidence, there are only a handful of us who have danced during the middle of school to a song that was sang by our childhood sports idols!" UPDATE e-mail from an anonymous TrueHoop reader: "After reading Matt's account of dancing around to Rip City Rhapsody, I thought, that's nothing. For our sixth grade spring musical recital at Fir Grove Elementary in Beaverton in 1991, we sang the usual fare (i.e. "This Land is Your Land"), the slightly creepy ("Every Breath You Take" by The Police), and as our grand finale, a rousing rendition of Rip City Rhapsody. My best friend chickened out of his part, so I had to perform the first three verses -- to this date, the full extent of my rapping career. When we finished, the entire auditorium of parents was on their feet chanting 'Beat L.A.!' Which, of course, the Blazers failed to do."

  • Niall Doherty of Hornets247 watches the Kings lose to the Hornets, and says what a lot of people will say over the next couple of months: "I'll take Nocioni on my team any day." That was the Kings' gambit. In the middle of budget slashing, they kept that one big contract, gambling it would hold value.

  • A peek into Vinny Del Negro's playbook.

  • Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune: "Every time I see Marvin Williams, I also ask just what Atlanta was thinking drafting him ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul."

  • "Thanks a lot, coach." A reporter, miffed at coach Jim O'Brien who not in much of a mood to take questions after the Pacers' loss to Nate Robinson and the Knicks.

  • The Clippers were behind double-digits at some point or another in 13 straight quarters. Wow. That's like eating nothing but cardboard for 13 straight meals.