Data Dimes: Warriors not the only ones on historic pace this NBA season
In the midst of a record-setting 33–2 start, the Golden State Warriors are keeping pace to challenge the legendary 72-win Bulls from 1995–96. The scorching–hot Dubs gather headlines and generate hype, but there are many individual pace setters flirting with record-setting marks of their own.
With more than two months of regular season play in the books, fans can now gander at the landscape of the league with enough sample size to glean meaningful insights. So for this week’s iteration of Data Dimes, the PointAfter team found three guys posting stats that would put them in elite (or infamous) company if maintained through Game 82.
Note: All stats referenced in this article are accurate as of Jan. 6, prior to games played.
Ben Leibowitz is a writer for PointAfter, a sports data aggregation and visualization website that’s part of the Graphiq network.
Through more than two months of regular season play, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has converted a whopping 72.7% of his field goals. That’s more than 10 percentage points better than second-place Dwight Howard (61.7%).
If sustained throughout the remainder of the campaign, that mark would tie the all-time field goal percentage record set by Wilt Chamberlain back in 1972–73. It would also be just the third season in league history in which a qualified player made at least 70% of his field goals: joining the aforementioned Chamberlain, and Jordan last year.
And while Jordan, a former second-round pick, is nowhere near the basketball talent Chamberlain was, he knows what he does well. His offensive game remains raw and unpolished even into his eighth year, so he’s stayed within his comfort zone throughout 2015–16: right at the bucket.
It’s a true rarity for Jordan to attempt shots outside of the restricted area. In fact, the Texas A&M product takes 88.3% of his shots inside three feet of the hoop, according to Basketball Reference. Jordan also leads the league with 112 dunk attempts—104 of which he’s cleared through the nylon—per NBAsavant.com.
Despite not boasting a well-rounded offensive repertoire, Jordan is flirting with history. By sticking to what he does best, he’s been cashing in an incredible majority of his attempts. Tying or even surpassing Chamberlain’s mark looks like a real possibility now, but there’s plenty of season left.
While Jordan attempts to march into the history books on the strength of his thunderous dunks, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry makes his scoring prowess felt from every nook and cranny of the hardwood.
The reigning MVP has upped his numbers nearly across the board, and he remains in the hunt for his first ever 50–40–90 season despite dealing with a shin injury of late.
Amazingly, the sharpshooter has never sunk fewer than 42% of his threes in a season. Conversely, this would be the first time he’s ever made at least half of his shots overall. If the 27-year-old maintains this pace, he’ll join six others who have accomplished a 50–40–90 campaign.
Two-time MVP Steve Nash leads the way with four 50–40–90 seasons (including three straight). Larry Bird did it twice in back-to-back years. Everyone else has only one such campaign to their name, and Curry is aiming to join them.
It seems inevitable that a shooter as ludicrously talented as Curry will make it into the 50–40–90 club at some point in his career. Even if the shin injury holds him back and prevents him from doing so in 2016, it would be surprising if Curry doesn’t get in at some point. Of course, one area where Curry continues to dominate unlike any player past or present is beyond the arc.
He set the record for most three-pointers made in a season back in 2012–13 with 272 makes—edging out Ray Allen’s record of 269 triples set back in 2005–06. Curry then broke his own record last season with 286 three-point baskets. So far this year, even having missed two games and most of a third due to the leg ailment, the Davidson product is on pace to shatter his mark from a season ago.
Projected to make approximately 363 attempts from downtown, Curry would beat last year’s mark by nearly 80 threes. The volume he’s meshing with his efficiency is nothing short of masterful.
Andre Drummond’s glass-cleaning prowess in 2015–16 is in the same class as a shortlist of NBA legends … and Windex brand.
By leading the league at an even 16 rebounds per game, the 22-year-old (let that sink in) is on pace to become the first player since Dennis Rodman in 1996–97 to average at least 16 boards per contest.
Being in the same rebounding realm as “The Worm” is elite company as is, but the stat gets even wilder. In the history of the NBA, there have been 71 seasons cobbled together by a combined 15 players in which they averaged at least 16 rebounds per game. Every single one of those 15 guys is in the Hall of Fame: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Walt Bellamy, Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Moses Malone, Jerry Lucas, Dave Cowens, Wes Unseld, Dolph Schayes, Nate Thurmond, Elvin Hayes, Maurice Stokes and Rodman.
A five-rebound performance in a win over the Boston Celtics Wednesday night will drop Drummond below that 16-rebound threshold, so he’ll need to climb back up—preferably via some 20-rebound outings, of which he has seven already.
However, if history is any indication, Drummond’s career will be headed toward the Hall of Fame should he pull it off.
Now that we’ve hinted Drummond will one day be in the Hall of Fame based on historical comparison, it’s time to knock the youngster down a peg. By converting a grisly 36.5% of his free throws, Drummond is pacing to lay claim to the single worst free throw shooting season ever.
Drummond flirted with the nefarious mark last season, but his 38.9% shooting from the charity stripe was a fraction of a percent better than Chamberlain’s all-time worst mark of an even 38%. The face of Detroit’s franchise is now in line to fall comfortably short of The Big Dipper’s already atrocious percentage.
Drummond is simultaneously setting a torrid rebounding pace and stinking like sulfur at the charity stripe. But even the worst free throw shooter in the NBA managed to knock down two when it mattered.