The Portland Trail Blazers edged out the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night by just two points. Coach Terry Stotts’ team won the possession battle by forcing two more turnovers than Denver. He can thank big man LaMarcus Aldridge for his team keeping the rock.
LMA became the first NBA player since Carmelo Anthony to take 30 shots while committing zero turnovers.
His ability to get a shot up before fumbling the ball away is a prime reason why he is a valuable piece of the Blazers. Aldridge’s career turnover rate of 8.2% is one of the three lowest of all-time.
Here is the complete list of games with 30+ FGA’s and Zero turns (since 2010):
Player Date Tm FGA TOV LaMarcus Aldridge 2014-12-02 POR W 30 0 Carmelo Anthony 2014-01-24 NYK W 35 0 Kevin Durant 2014-01-07 OKC L 34 0 LaMarcus Aldridge 2013-12-26 POR W 31 0 Kevin Durant 2013-01-14 OKC W 30 0
Over 53 minutes and nearly one-hundred shot attempts only Steven Adams would make a foul shot for the home team.
See KD has led the NBA in made free throws for five years straight. In addition Russ has been among the top-five league wide in each of his last three healthy seasons. Getting to the foul line and converting has been the primary advantage for OKC during their five year run of success.
Sans their stars the Thunder have become the first team in at least three decades to make fewer than two foul shots in an overtime game.
Team Date Tm Opp Result MP FGA FT FTA 2014-11-14 OKC DET L 89-96 (OT) 265 96 1 6 2014-02-08 MEM ATL W 79-76 240 90 1 1 2013-11-24 PHO ORL W 104-96 240 95 1 3 2012-01-14 TOR CHI L 64-77 240 86 1 7 2004-02-25 NJN MIN L 68-81 240 83 1 5 1996-01-09 TOR CHH L 91-92 240 84 0 3
Taking into account player performance over the last two NBA seasons here are five guys who are roughly as valuable as Carmelo Anthony. Numbers included are offense only so for the sake of this post defense is totally ignored.
These are players with similar shooting, rebounding, passing and ball control attributes to ‘Melo:
Adva Player ORB% AST% TOV% TS% Blake Griffin 8.2 19.5 12.3 .578 Kevin Love 9.0 19.6 10.2 .568 David Lee 8.7 14.0 13.0 .563 Carmelo Anthony 5.8 15.0 9.4 .561 Paul Millsap 7.9 15.3 12.6 .547 Tim Duncan 8.0 15.8 12.4 .545
Miami Heat center Chris Andersen has never started more than three games in an NBA season. Birdman has played in 69 playoff games coming off the bench in every one. In his entire career Anderson has started ten games. For a guy who has earned nearly $30 million dollars playing a dozen seasons in the NBA this is quite unique.
His career per 36 minute numbers are 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks with a 58% true shooting. Throw in the ring he won with Miami last season and we are looking at a really good career. Further, is it possible that Chris Andersen is the best sixth man in NBA history?
Thanks to Basketball-Reference.com we can attempt to answer this question. Using ‘win shares’ as an estimate of career value let’s start with players who have accumulated over 30 career win shares. This is a comprehensive list of nearly every substantial player in league history. There are 626 players (and counting) at this level of production.
Unfortunately, we don’t have solid ‘games started’ data before 1980. Of course most great players are starters so there are probably only a few key sixth men who were really good before the early ’80s. To be accurate we will just include players who were primarily coming off the bench after 1980 in this study.
A few notable points:
- Bobby Jones won the first sixth man of the year award in 1983 while playing for the NBA champion Philadelphia 76’ers.
- Boston Celtics forward Kevin McHale took home the award in each of the next two seasons.
- Only Detlef Schrempf and Ricky Pierce would ever win sixth man of the year multiple times after McHale.
- McHale, Schrempf and Pierce would start over 250 games in their NBA career’s.
Back to the study. Using 250 career games started as a cut-off we find forty-five players with 30+ win shares and less than 250 starts. This criteria yields us with Michael Cooper, Vinnie Johnson and Kyle Korver as the best ‘career’ sixth-men.
Korver is going to finish with well over 250 starts so we should exclude him. Cooper and Johnson are both great candidates for best of all-time. The Microwave won two titles with the Detroit Pistons while not starting any games in their playoff runs. He averaged 14 points/game off the bench in the ’89 playoffs for the Pistons.
Mike won at least three titles with the Lakers while not starting a game. In the ’87 playoffs he averaged 13 points, 5 assists in 29 minutes while shooting 49% from three and making almost two three’s per game. Plus Cooper played great defense against Larry Bird and Danny Ainge in the Lakers win in the NBA Finals. We are probably looking at the greatest single year performance for a sixth man right here.
On the note of career value, the only players who started fewer games than Michael Cooper but still compiled over 30 win shares are:
Looking at the career value (including the playoffs) of these six players it’s hard to choose against Kerr. Five championship rings and the career record for three-point percentage he’s got my vote.
Chris Andersen is probably the best minute-for-minute ‘career’ sixth man in NBA history. He just won’t have the longevity of Kerr.
So it depends on how you want to define your terms but the finalists for greatest career sixth man are Michael Cooper, Steve Kerr and Chris Andersen.
The odds of the top two NBA Draft picks both becoming hall-of-famers is next to zero (sorry Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker).
Going back fifty years there is only one NBA Draft where both the #1 and #2 overall picks turned into superstar, hall-of-fame level players.
Can you guess which draft that was?
It was in the 1990’s.
Can you guess the two players drafted?
They are both centers.
*cutoff for superstar was 40 career Win Shares and .14 WS/48 minutes