Sunday, 30 August 2015

Go Spurs Go!

(Thursday, 2 April 2015)

Saturday, 29 August 2015

My favourite NBA legends and John Starks

Just kidding about Starks. He is an NBA legend too, but mostly for the New York Knicks fans. I have never been their fan, but watching Starks was always memorable, mostly in a good way. He put all his heart in playing basketball and it was spectacular. Starks was a great dunker, but he was also a good 3-point shooter.

The video below is quite inspiring with a perfectly fitting song. At first I couldn't understand the main lyrics, so I spent some time searching for the song. I spare you the trouble – it's “Comin' from where I'm from” – from a song with exactly the same title by Anthony Hamilton.

Please notice Starks' awesome dunk over Horace Grant with Michael Jordan close by (from 1:36 in the video below - showed 3 times from different angles).

Below there are video highlights of my favourite two NBA legends, who stood out from the rest because of their passing ability.

The first one is Clyde Drexler, who was an incredible dunker, but also a great passer and defender. He finished his career with over 22000 points, over 6000 assists, over 6000 rebounds and over 2000 steals – the ONLY (!!!) NBA player to ever do it.

Plese notice Drexler's behind the back passes (from 2:33 in the video below).

The second one is the best NBA player ever, considering players' heights – John Stockton. He finished his career with over 15800 assists (over 3700 more than the second on the all-time list Jason Kidd!!!) and over 3200 steals (over 500 more than the second on the all-time list Jason Kidd!!!). Even though he is only 185 (6-1) tall, he still grabbed over 4000 rebounds and shot with 51.5 % from the field!!!

Please notice Stockton's very long perfect pass at 2:21 in the video below (showed twice almost from the same angle).

(Saturday, 6 September 2014)

Friday, 28 August 2015

Assisted (by John Stockton with Kerry L. Pickett)

What a beautiful book! If you like John Stockton as a basketball player then you must read it. My rating: 10/10

This book is a real autobiography, meaning that basketball is only one of many things John Stockton writes about. Of course his basketball career is always in the background, but he tries (successfully) to explain what other people and what other things helped him become the person he is. In turn it explains what made him such a great NBA player, but from this book you will NOT learn what a great player he was. There are only hints of his greatness, for example his Dream Team selection.

Stockton starts with his Hall of Fame induction, but it is clear that he doesn't want to brag about it. This first chapter is just an explanation what made him write his autobiography. To sum it up: during his Hall of Fame induction speech he was not able to even mention many people who deserved to be mentioned and Stockton felt bad about it. That's why the rest of the book is filled with names of all the people who were important to him throughout his life, on and off the court.

There are no basketball stats in the book. And there is no detailed description of his NBA career. There are only flashes of his memories, but they are both fun and insightful. Stockton describes some little know facts from his life, but he also gives his honest comments on some of our world's aspects. He isn't afraid to write even about a few things that are not quite “politically correct”. And he gets his point very well.

I must say that I have imagined young Stockton a little differently. From this book I have learned that he did some really stupid things, just like any one of us. And he was very lucky to get away unhurt. Well, maybe not quite unhurt – he had a silver tooth when he was young because he had lost the real one in a bike-jumping accident.

Stockton describes some memorable moments of his career, but he picks them the way he likes. Some of them are totally inconsequential for the reader, but important to Stockton. On the other hand he is very modest and writes about some things in a by-the-way kind of way. Not to brag, but to simply state a fact. Stockton omitted some of his personal achievements altogether – he doesn't even mention that he was named the 1993 All Star Game MVP (together with Karl Malone) or that he was the leader of the NBA in assists for so many years.

There are numerous black and white pictures throughout the book, but there are also 14 pages (right in the middle of the book) of a fine paper (clearly better than the rest) featuring many great-looking colour pictures. A very nice addition.

When I was reading this book I thought: “Oh man, what a great story! I have quote it. And this one, too. And this. And this. Damn it! I would have to quote half of the book! Wait… Would that be legal?” The main problem with quoting Stockton is the fact that he tells his stories in a very thoughtful way and it is impossible to quote a part of them without altering (losing) their meaning. Below there are some quotes to give you only a hint what the book is like.

    With my whole world seemingly at my side and the rest of the world tuning in, I listened to a brilliant acceptance speech by David Robinson. Friendly, confident, and seemingly completely at ease, he delivered a heartfelt and genuine oration without the aid of notes or a teleprompter. I was so impressed with David that I began to think of twenty ways I should change my own remarks. Sensing my distress, Nada tapped me on the hand, smiled, and whispered, “Yours is good. Just go ahead with it.” She helped me more with those few words than she will ever know.

    Mom and Dad were great at finding individual time for all of us kids but it was often in the flow of their workday. I think that is something that is missing in our modern culture: kids working with their parents. It was both enriching and fun, and provided time for some pretty good talks.

    I knew I had to tell Dad about this collision. I worried about it for hours. When he saw the damage, he managed a signature head scratch before asking if anyone was hurt. “No,” I replied. “Were you horsing around?” he asked. “No”, I echoed (not this time, anyway). “Well, the car is only a tool. Take it and get an estimate tomorrow,” he replied. I was surprised at his soothing and thoughtful response but shouldn't have been. Dad was at his best when things went badly. Even today, at eighty-four, he rallies when we need him the most.
    My relief was erased a month later when Mom and Dad informed me that due to the ticket and the accident I would have to pay for my own insurance. The premiums would reflect my recent driving record. I was going to have to mow a lot more lawns and shovel a lot more snow if I wanted mobility. My lack of protest might have surprised my folks. I think they expected some negotiation at least.

    Coach [Dan Fitzgerald] even talked when he drove. Everyone buckled up in his car, and it had nothing to do with the law. While driving, he would spend more time looking and gesturing to the backseat while delivering one of his gems than he did watching the road. I think Coach drove by Braille, listening for honks and relying on the rumble strips on the road's edge to stay in his lane.

    My contract was guaranteed for two years, but I felt certain it would be only a one-year hitch. I didn't doubt my own ability at that point but was convinced the Jazz would soon realize their mistake and send me packing. Everything was based from that point forward on that notion. I would save money and live sparsely so I had something to show from the whole experience. It was a mind-set that worked for me. I would practice and play as if there were no tomorrow. In this hunkered-down mentality, I was oddly comfortable and relaxed about the challenge. The way I saw it, I really had nothing to lose.

    Over the years I watched how Larry [Miller] treated his employees. He made it his business to know a little about each of his numerous workers. Getting to know them by more than their name was a priority. Striking up conversations with all employees within the organization without regard to their station was part of his method of operation. He made saying thank you a trademark. Larry treated people well even after he succeeded. I used to joke with him when he would take me out driving in his Shelby Cobra on mountain roads or at his race track: “It's good to be the king!” The beauty of Larry was that he shared the blessings he had with others. He was a good king.

    (…) Most of the comments I remember from Coach [Frank] Layden had more to do with how to be a good person than how to become a good basketball player, although the two roles often ran together. I frequently recall his sage advice to me at our first meeting: “Don't change who you are now that you've arrived.”

    Coach [Frank Layden] was hysterically funny yet serious about his work. He told jokes often as a method of making larger point about a game or life. He frequently spoke in public with a distinctive style. People would roll in the aisles at his self-deprecating deliveries such as “I have to hurry; they feed me every fifteen minutes,” a reference to his ample girth. Coach also had a special ability to use humor to relieve tension. One time when we were watching film from a previous game, the camera zoomed in on Coach's popped shirt button, which had exposed his belly. Because we were coming off a couple of losses, the tension in the room was palpable. Nobody wanted to show a reaction of any kind. From the back of the room, Frank bellowed, “I need a sign that says, 'Space available.'” We all busted our seams laughing. By the way we won the game that night.

(Monday, 6 April 2015)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Clyde The Glide: My Life in Basketball (by Clyde Drexler with Kerry Eggers)

What a unique book! If you are Clyde Drexler's fan it's perfect.
My rating: 10/10

This book, like the title says, is mostly about basketball. There are some parts about Drexler's private life, but they are in the background. The main part of the book is all about basketball.

Around half of the book was written by Clyde Drexler himself and the other half are quotes made by his family members, friends, coaches and teammates. All those quotes were gathered by Kerry Eggers who had come up with the idea of writing such a book about Drexler. In his introduction to the book he writes that he spoke with more than 60 people in the process. Here's an interesting part of the introduction:
    Many of his friends and teammates took the opportunity to deliver some verbal jabs. Clyde never flinched, never asked to have the anecdote removed or altered. He took it in good fun and with the affection that it was intended, and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it all.

The quotes in the book are mixed with Drexler's narration in a very thoughtful way, so they compliment each other as best as they can. But it is not obvious when you flip through the book without actually reading it. At first look I thought that the book could be a disappointment, but I was sooo wrong. It turned out that all those quotes are in fact even better than Drexler's parts, mostly because they praise Drexler so much.

Drexler himself stayed true to his character – a modest guy who doesn't want to brag about himself. I think it was hard for him to write about his own achievements because he was such a big star throughout his basketball career. He decided to take a matter-of-fact approach to write about himself, but his narration about everything else is great. I enjoyed especially the parts about Drexler's teammates and coaches from his best teams – the teams that made it to the NBA finals. You can feel his fondness and his great respect for all those people.

Clyde Drexler describes his basketball career in a pretty detailed way. There are his basic stats, his personal records, his awards, his team's regular seasons results and summaries of his team's every playoff series. Some years are described more thoroughly than others, but that is something obvious – every one of us has some favourite moments from his (or her) past.

It's fun to read so many good things about Drexler, but there are also some things that I was really surprised about, for example the fact that Drexler had a very strong character as a player.

Here are some quotes to give you an idea about the book:

    When the Cougars [University of Houston] were recruiting Michael [Young], they asked him who was the best player he played against. He said, “That's easy. The kid at Sterling.” They said another player's name. Michael said, “No, not him, Clyde Drexler.” They were shocked.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON: After practice [at University of Houston] I was invited to join the players at a pickup game, and there I got to see Clyde's skills. I was impressed with his competitiveness and the fact that his game was not just one-dimensional. He had a complete game – he ran the floor so well, his rebounding and scoring, and one of his specialties was his ability to make steals.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON: (…) I don't know how he did it, but he positioned himself so that every time a shot was blocked it went right into his hands. The ball goes up, everybody fights for it, it gets grabbed by somebody – that's Clyde. When a ball gets swatted away and somebody saves it – that's Clyde.

DENISE PINK [Clyde's sister]: (…) He could spontaneously dunk in a way that people had never seen. If I were to say: “OK, Clyde, count to three and do this dunk,” he couldn't do it. But put him in a game situation and he would always improvise and execute like no other. It was amazing.

    Coach Lewis [University of Houston] didn't want to stop practices too much to talk while you were playing. I thought that was pretty smart. I hated coaches who stopped things every couple of minutes. Let the players play while they are sweating and in a flow. When we were through, Coach Lewis would go to the chalkboard and talk about things. He would stop a scrimmage only if it were necessary. Unless you lose a tooth, keep playing. If one got knocked out, he might stop playing for a minute.

JIM NANTZ: Clyde was exceedingly polite and thoughtful. He was someone who, the minute you met him, you liked him.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON: (…) His jump shot was suspect because all they [NBA scouts] ever saw was him running the floor and jamming. He had a very good jump shot, but no one knew it because he dunked all the time.

STU INMAN: (…) The thing that came through from conversations with all of them [college coaches] was that Clyde was the glue on that team. (…) They said he did what he had to do to win a game. His ego never interfered with his will to win. When we brought him for a personal workout and an interview, he impressed everybody with his intelligence. He was a straight shooter, a no-nonsense guy, and he had his life together. I remember noting in our pre-draft material he was working at a bank in the summers, a job that related to the course of study he was involved in at the university.

STU INMAN: (…) Bruce [Ogilvie] called me after Clyde had taken the [psychology] test, and he asked me – it was meant as a joke – is there any way he could have gotten the answers ahead of time?

DARNELL VALENTINE: One day at practice [during Drexler's first NBA season] Clyde threw a behind-the-back pass. That wasn't a part of Jack Ramsay's philosophy about the game. In fact, that was the exact opposite of how Jack felt basketball should be played. Jack said something to Clyde about it. The very next play, Clyde came down and threw another behind-the-back pass. I mean, the rest of us all kind of looked at Clyde like, “Whoa.” Nobody dared to do that with the Doctor. But Clyde had enormous self-confidence, and most of the time could back it up, and I always admired that in him. He believed in himself so much, believed so much in his abilities, that he was not going to be denied.

KIKI VANDEWEGHE: (…) I can remember quite clearly talking to Jack [Ramsay], who had just traded what amounted to five players for me. I said, “Look, you need to play Clyde. He is the best player on this team.” Jack looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “I just traded five players for you, and you are telling me Clyde is a better player?”

BOB COOK: (…) He never had a physical complaint before a game, like a lot of guys would. “That's an excuse for failure,” he would say. He never played the injury card, and I always admired that.

DWIGHT JAYNES: (…) Mike [Schuler] told me, “I used to think Clyde was a tough guy to coach. By today's standards, he is a choir boy.”

TERRY PORTER: (…) He had his moments with the coaches, but on the floor, he always tried to encourage his teammates. The only player I played with who approached his greatness was Tim Duncan. Clyde was the best perimeter guy I ever played with, hands down.

    I worked hard every summer to stay in shape. I didn't work out on stationary machines. I ran and lifted weights and went to the gym and shot every day. I spent five, six, seven hours a day working out every summer. That is how I got better.

    Every day was a new adventure with that group. Danny [Ainge] hadn't received his contract extension, supposedly because management had run out of money on the rest of our deals. At Christmas, Danny bought boxes of chocolates for everybody and gave them out on the plane. He handed Petrie a box; when Geoff opened it, it was empty. “Sorry, I just ran out of chocolates,” Ainge told him. Everybody just roared. Petrie was good-natured about it. He had to admit it was funny.

KARL MALONE: If you were starting a team and looking for a two guard, you would choose Michael [Jordan]. The second one would be Clyde. There is no shame in that. That is just the way it was. Clyde was a remarkable player in all ways. I have a great deal of respect for him.

    The first time I got the ball [after his trade to the Houston Rockets], we were in our set offense, and all of a sudden, my guy left me to double-team Hakeem [Olajuwon]. I was thinking, “I'm not used to this. Defenders just don't leave me like this.” I had an open shot inside the key, looked around, and didn't know what to do. Hakeem had the biggest smile on his face. He said, “Shoot, Drex, shoot!” I traveled, and then I threw up an airball. I'll never forget that. At our next timeout, we went back to the huddle, and Rudy [Tomjanovich] was laughing. Hakeem said, “Drex, you are going to kill people playing on this team.”

    When I look back at my career, one of the most rewarding things has been my relationship with fans. It is always hard for me to imagine how a professional athlete wouldn't fully appreciate those people who are so supportive and, in reality, pay their salary. I have a problem with athletes who don't extend fans the simple courtesies of an autograph, a handshake or a smile. Those guys just don't get it. The fans have always been great to me.

(Sunday, 3 May 2015)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Admiral: The David Robinson Story (by Gregg Lewis and Deborah Shaw Lewis)

My rating: 9/10

This is a great book, but it may be divided into two separate parts and this is exactly how I will review it.

I. The David Robinson Story – the years 1966-1991.
This part starts from chapter 2 and it ends in the middle of chapter 13. It is around 80 pages long.

My rating: 10/10

There is a HUGE amount of interesting things about David Robinson. For example I didn't know that he was such an intelligent kid, but there is also a deeper story behind it. Before he was old enough to show his intelligence his parents were worried for whole three YEARS if his brain was OK – as a 6-month baby he got jammed between a bed and a wall in such a way that he was not able to breathe. When his mother found him he was already blue because of the lack of oxygen and he did not start breathing on his own even after she freed him. She saved his life by doing a CPR – she was a nurse and she knew the procedure, but doing something like this on her own little baby was a challenge. Nobody knew how long he had not been breathing, so nobody could tell if his brain was damaged or how much it was damaged.

I was surprised that David Robinson was gifted not only towards basketball, but also many other things like mathematics, electronics or music. He actually chose to study at the Naval Academy in Annapolis for its educational standards, not basketball. Then in the middle of his studies, when it was already clear that he could end up in the NBA, he had to make a decision whether to stay in the Navy or change the college. The stakes were very high because by staying and then graduating from the Naval Academy he would then be required to serve in the Navy for FIVE years instead of playing in the NBA right away. Before he finished his studies it was clear that he would have to serve for only 2 years, but when he made his decision to stay in the Navy it was equally possible that it will be 5 years of service, not 2. Can you imagine any other person making such a decision?

II. The David Robinson Story – the years 1991-2012.
This part consists of chapter 1 (a kind of introduction), the second half of the chapter 13 and the remaining chapters of the book (from 14 to 20) – around 64 pages in total.

My rating: 8/10

Most people know that David Robinson was a truly good person, but I was surprised how much religious he became in the year 1991. And he was not afraid to speak about it in public. This spirited part of his life is emphasized in this part of the book. To me it was not really an issue, but I was somewhat disappointed that basketball was pushed too far into the background. There is most basic info about his NBA achievements and awards, but I was very annoyed that some things were described almost pathetically, for example the San Antonio Spurs' playoffs runs.

This part of the book is interesting for a whole different reason – it's remarkable how truly good a person David Robinson has become, being already an NBA star. Wow!

Please, notice that the things quoted in the chapter 1 are taken out of context and can be wrongly understood – not a good way to start a book. At first they seem like a wishful-thinking, but in later chapters it becomes clear why and in what circumstances David Robinson said such things.

Please, remember that David Robinson is not an example because of what he did as a very famous and rich person, but what values made him to do all those things. It's obvious that a normal person, with normal salary, would never be able to do some things David Robinson did.

Summing up:
The book is AWESOME for David Robinson's fans who are interested in his early years and for people, especially young people, who would like to read about a real superstar who values other things more than wealth and career.

Here are some quotes to give you an idea about the book:

    Soon David's intelligence began to create problems in the classroom. He would finish his work faster than any of the other children and got everything right. But once he was finished, he would distract the other children who were still working.

    One evening when David was five years old, Mr. Robinson had been playing piano with David next to him. Then Ambrose got up and walked into another room. A few moments later he was surprised to hear a familiar tune. David's parents walked in to see David at the piano playing the same song his father had just been playing.
    “David!” his father exclaimed. “How did you learn to play that song?”
    “I just watched you play, Dad” David explained.

    David liked VMI [the Virginia Military Institute] well enough. But he was practically awestruck when he came home from a weekend visit to the Naval Academy [in Annapolis]. “Wow, Mom!” he exclaimed. “The lab set up is better than any college I've visited. They have so much equipment I couldn't believe it. But I can't make up my mind.”

    The physical demands were also tough. To start with, all midshipmen were expected to swim one hundred meters – four lengths of the pool. David couldn't make it. So he was assigned to a swimming class where he had to swim for forty minutes at a time. He also had to dive off a tower thirty feet high. It would take him a while to conquer his fear and learn to make the dive without thinking.

    The classes themselves were tough – thermodynamics, navigation, advanced calculus, physics, computer science and technology, contemporary American literature, advanced computer programming, celestial navigation, advanced numerical analysis, computer data structures, partial differential equations, and economic geography. The homework load nearly overwhelmed him that first term. “Most days we had too much,” David says. “The rest of the time we had way too much.”

    But they quickly noticed how graceful and athletic he was. His roommate Hootie Leibert recalls a required three-week course in gymnastics. “David was so big I didn't think he could do it. But after the rest of us looked bad, he got up on the parallel bars and started making these fancy moves and doing all sorts of stuff. It only took him a week to do everything required to get an A in the course.

    That was it. David had made his decision. He had chosen academics over sports.
    David never anticipated the reaction. He was praised in speeches and editorials all over America for his character. People were more impressed than ever. Here was a young man who chose commitment, loyalty, learning, and national service over celebrity and wealth.

    Not only had David led the league in scoring in 1994, but he was also the NBA's top rebounder in 1991 and led the NBA in blocked shots in 1992. David and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only two players in NBA history to achieve this trifecta.

    (…) While other franchises plowed through difficult periods of dissension and it's-my-team lip-flapping, nary a word of jealousy between Robinson and Duncan ever became public, if, indeed, any was uttered at all.

    David is also motivated by gratitude and the realization that he has been tremendously blessed. “I've been given ridiculous favor. When you're in a position of influence, with access, you can be a voice. I like to say, 'If you have a strong voice, don't whisper.' ”

(Sunday, 3 April 2016)

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Videos of John Stockton

Below there are some videos of John Stockton that I found on Youtube. I wanted to post them together with this review: Assisted (by John Stockton with Kerry L. Pickett), but the post would be too long.

I wrote some things about Stockton here: My favourite NBA legends and John Starks, but I have to point out one more thing – John Stockton played for 19 seasons (exactly 1504 regular season games) and retired when he was 41 years old, finishing with CAREER averages of 10.5 assists and 13.1 points per game. That's a CAREER double-double average !!! From 1504 games !!! How awesome is that ?!?!?!

The second and third videos show Stockton in the game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals (Stockton's highlights and the whole game respectively). In the book Assisted Stockton himself describes his buzzer-beater in this game as his favourite moment in the NBA. But he “forgets” to mention that in this game he in fact scored 11 of the Utah Jazz's last 14 points. That's Stockton's modesty, again.

There is one thing I wonder about – when the game gets tied at 100 there are 22.4 seconds on the clock, but the next play starts with Utah Jazz having the ball again and there are only 2.8 seconds on the clock. Does anybody remember what happened in between these plays?

The last video shows the 1993 All Star Game. That game was a unique one, for many reasons. Most notably the game was quite tight and intense, for an ALL Star game, and the ending felt like a playoff game. John Stockton, together with Karl Malone, was named the game's MVP.

(Monday, 6 April 2015)

Monday, 24 August 2015

Videos of Clyde (The Glide) Drexler

Below there are some videos of Clyde Drexler that I found on Youtube. I wanted to post them together with this review: Clyde The Glide: My Life in Basketball (by Clyde Drexler with Kerry Eggers), but the post would be too long.

I wrote some things about Drexler here: My favourite NBA legends and John Starks, plese reade it first.

The second video shows Drexler's phenomenal dunk from his college times, when he was a member of the legendary Phi Slamma Jamma.

The third video is Drexler's TOP 20, kind of. My favourite play is numbered 18 - Drexler's finger-roll over David Robinson. Cool.

The next two videos show Drexler together with the Portland Trail Blazers. They were such a fun team: Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter, Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth and Clifford Robinson, among others.

The last two videos show Drexler teams' best seasons: 1991-92 (Portland Trail Blazers) and 1994-95 (Houston Rockets).

(Sunday, 3 May 2015)

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A picture of Mario Elie

I am currently reading a great autobiography book written by John Stockton with the assistance of Kerry L. Pickett, titled “Assisted”. I am going to review it in detail, but I need some time to do it. I have already searched Youtube to find some videos of Stockton to post them together with the review. In one of the videos I saw a picture that made me smile. I have to share it.

I am talking about the picture of Mario Elie looking at the Utah Jazz players celebrating John Stockton's 3-pointer at the buzzer that sent them to the 1997 NBA Finals. Elie's expression is ice-cold, but whoever remembers this player knows how ironic this picture is.

When I look at this picture I imagine Mario Elie's thoughts: “So, this is the feeling when somebody else makes a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer. Hmmm …”

Usually it was Elie who made such shots for the Houston Rockets, winning 2 NBA titles by the way. Three years later (in 1998) he signed with the San Antonio Spurs and was making cluch 3-pointers again, winning another NBA title. Please, notice the reaction of Gregg Popovich in the second video at 3:21.

(Monday, 30 March 2015)

Saturday, 22 August 2015

San Antonio Spurs are the NBA Champions! Again! Congratulations!

San Antonio Spurs are the NBA Champions! Again! Congratulations!

San Antonia Spurs has been my favourite NBA team for a very long time, mostly because of Tim Duncan – one of the best basketball players of all time. I have always liked Duncan for his calm and professionalism. Many people have called him boring, but winning an NBA Championship is not about excitement, but about getting the job done. And Duncan lead the Spurs to 5 NBA Championships! And to 16 regular seasons with at least 50 wins!

On the site:
I found a good comment made by Duncan himself: “If you show excitement, then you also may show disappointment or frustration. If your opponent picks up on this frustration, you are at a disadvantage.”

Here’s is a link to a very interesting, eye-opening article about Tim Duncan as a person:

Tim Duncan alone couldn’t have achieved so much without a significant help from his teammates, obviously. Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Patric Mills, Marco Belinelli, Matt Bonner, Aron Baynes, Jeff Ayres and Cory Joseph – they all did a great job this year. The best job, however, did Gregg Popovich, who was able to coach the San Antonio Spurs into a perfectly-working team. This is what basketball is all about: team play. Here’s a San Antonio Spurs 2014 tribute:

And here’s what a 37-year old guy from Argentina was able to do in the game 5 of the NBA 2014 finals:

Here’s why Kawhi Leonard was named NBA 2014 finals MVP.

Kawhi Leonard seems like another great franchise player for the San Antonio Spurs. When Duncan was drafted in 1997 the biggest such player was obviously David Robinson. But there was another player then who spent almost his entire NBA career with the Spurs – Sean Elliott. I just had to mention him, because he was the author of the Memorial Day Miracle. It happened in the game 2 of the 1999 Western Conference Finals, during the 1999 playoffs which ended with the first NBA Championship for the San Antonio Spurs. Elliott really pulled off a miracle then – he had to catch a very difficult inbound pass (almost intercepted by Stacey Augmon), keeping his right foot from stepping on a sideline (he placed the foot in a slightly unnatural angle), but it got him off balance and he had to dribble once not to be called for travelling, then he had to launch a 3-pointer still balancing over the sideline and keeping his heels from touching the line (he jumped using only the fronts of his feet) and he had to shoot the ball in a very high arc not to be blocked by Rasheed Wallace (who jumped VERY high, but was too far away). And the shot went in! A miracle!

Sean Elliott was a good shooter, but he was also known for his explosive style of play close to the basket. Please, take a look:

(Monday, 16 June 2014)

Friday, 21 August 2015

San Antonio Spurs Tribute - The Beautiful Game

When I search Youtube for some NBA videos I choose only movies with some good music. Today I found three videos that are AWESOME. I can't believe that I had not found them earlier. Well, maybe the very beginning of the second movie is not perfect, but its ending is definitely perfect.

(Saturday, 9 April 2016)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Ste-phen-omenon Curry

Stephen Curry is a phenomenon. I like that guy because to me basketball has always been all about shooting. Not dunking, but shooting. And he can shoot from VERY far.


(Wednesday, 10 February 2016)

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Happy 40th birthday Tim Duncan!

(Originally posted on Monday, 25 April 2016)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

I think it's over

(Originally posted on Friday, 20 May 2016)

This was the San Antonio Spurs' best regular season ever, but Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili had their worst personal playoffs numbers. I think neither of them will return for the next season. But it's OK – they did more than enough to make their fans happy.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Great song for a great tribute video!

(Originally posted on Friday, 22 July 2016)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

First baskets in the NBA by chosen players

What a cool video! I have to share it.

(Wednesday, 10 February 2016)

Saturday, 15 August 2015

This made my day

(Originally posted on Thursday, 5 May 2016)

I've always liked David Robinson and this GIF made my day.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Tim Duncan – the luckiest NBA center ever

(Originally posted on Wednesday, 10 August 2016)

Tim Duncan is one of my favourite NBA players ever, but I do NOT like it when he is called “the best power forward ever”.

Tim Duncan was very LUCKY to be drafted by the San Antonio Spurs – a team with a fantastic center David Robinson. I think that in most of the other teams Duncan would play at center, because it would be better for the team. While playing with David Robinson, it was not necessary.

Duncan was doubly lucky that he played with David Robinson - he didn't have to worry about the strongest opponents (centers), especially in defence, and he and Robinson had both easier time against most of the other teams because it's very hard to defend against two big men, especially as gifted as they were.

Robinson was smart enough to accept a different role in the franchise that was “his” in the whole previous decade. He focused on defence and let Duncan carry the San Antonio offensively, especially in clutch times – this was the only thing at which Tim Duncan was clearly better than David Robinson.

David Robinson did a great job playing as a secondary, yet tremendously gifted big man, next to Duncan, for whole FIVE years! Duncan won 2 NBA MVP awards in that time. And let's not forget that David Robinson was the NBA MVP himself (in 1995).

Overall I am against comparing players according to their nominal positions. The best players are the ones who can do whatever is needed to win games. Moreover the nominal position is the position at which a particular player starts a game, but much more important thing is how many minutes he plays at this position and how many minutes he plays at a different position.

During the 2003 playoffs David Robinson started at center, but played only 23.4 minutes per game. There was another nominal center Kevin Willis, but he played only 5.1 minutes a game. Tim Duncan started at power forward, but he played 42.5 minutes per game, so he played AT LEAST 14 minutes per game at center, not at power forward.

One could argue that a team can play without a center and that Duncan was power forward all the time. Well, I wouldn't agree with that because a power forward guarding a center is doing the center's job. And in offence if there is no center then the power forward has more possibilities to drive to the basket, so he is NOT a classic power forward either.

The most important reason I consider Tim Duncan as a ceter is the fact that since the 2006-2007 season Tim Duncan is listed as center! That's 10 seasons of his career!

Beside David Robinson there were also other great players in San Antonio when Tim Duncan started his career, most notably Sean Elliott who was the 3rd pick in the 1989 draft. Moreover Duncan played for a great coach – Gregg Popovitch. I think Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovitch enhanced each other's legacies significantly. Lastly the San Antonio Spurs organization, as a whole, was a dream come true to Duncan. He was very lucky to be drafted by such a great team. The luckiest NBA center ever!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Funny San Antonio Spurs GIFs and JPGs

(Originally posted on Saturday, 13 August 2016)

Here are some funny San Antonio Spurs GIFs and JPGs plus one extra non-Spurs funny GIF.

Friday, 7 August 2015

How to compare NBA players (final analysis)

(Originally posted on Thursday, 21 September 2017)

This is the newest and the best version of my analysis. Most of the values didn't change much, but now they suit my taste much more. And some parts of my analysis are more clear.

The values of all the statistics can be applied directly to any game as a cool way to verify their correctness – the difference between total values for the opposing teams should be a decent approximation of the actual differences between points scored.

My analysis is based on one CRUCIAL thing. All kinds of players (scorers, passers and rebounders) have to do their job to achieve, as a team, an average result. All of them. So, for example, we CANNOT credit a point guard for 2 points per 1 assist, because a scorer also had to do his job – there would be NO assist if the scorer missed a wide open shot or a dunk. And it works the other way round too – not all of the points should be credited to the actual scorers – basketball is a team sport after all. The question is how all the statistics should be compared to each other.


All the statistical data I used I found on this site:

At this point I would like to thank Mike from the above site who in 2016 answered my plea for more precise NBA draft data by explaining to me how I could gather the required data in a very easy way. Mike explained to me that I can “filter by draft year for searches in the player season finder and can set the search for career stats”, with this example:
It opened my eyes to new possibilities – gathering NBA stats with the help of the player finder (or the team finder) can be a real pleasure!

Thank You Mike!

My current analysis was based on data from the last 41 seasons (from 1976-77 to 2016-17). The main reason why I didn't gather the data from earlier seasons was that the year 1976 was the year when NBA merged with the ABA and the players from that draft were the first ones to play their whole career against all the best players in the world. The second reason was that the average NBA statistics in the early years were clearly worse than in modern times and I didn't want them to influence my calculations.

So I needed data from 41 seasons, but it turned out that I can get all the data with only one search!
The player season finder and the team season finder on this site are simply awesome!


The totals for the last 41 seasons for all the teams together are:
FG = 3,496,665
FGA = 7,542,376
2P = 3,110,450
2PA = 6,438,470
3P = 386,215
3PA = 1,103,906
FT = 1,767,847
FTA = 2,345,920
TRB = 3,838,537
AST = 2,076,126
STL = 731,470
BLK = 455,778
TOV = 1,424,801
PTS = 9,147,392

Based on the above totals I calculated also:
FG% = 0.464
2P% = 0.483
3P% = 0.350
FT% = 0.754
Average value of a field goal = (3,110,450 * 2 points + 386,215 * 3 points) / 3,496,665 = 2.110 points


I started with the value of a rebound and it turns out that it's a VERY solid foundation on which some other statistical values may be based.

When both teams shoot with higher percentage then the values of a rebound are higher and when both teams shoot with lower percentage then the values a rebound are lower. If both teams would miss all their shots then the value of a rebound would be ZERO!

I decided to start with the most extreme example – one team grabs EVERY rebound. To make the analysis easier I assumed that all the players have 2P% of 0.500 and they attempt only 2P shots. It goes like this:
1. Team-1 – a FG made – 2 points.
2. Team-2 – a FG made – 2 points.
3. Team-1 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (offensive) for Team-1.
4. Team-1 – a FG made – 2 points.
5. Team-2 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (defensive) for Team-1.
6. Team-1 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (offensive) for Team-1.

This is the whole sequence that is repeated a number of times in the whole game – the next 2 shots would be made (one shot by each team) starting with Team-1, exactly as it was at the start of the sequence.

The sums for the sequence are:
Team-1: 4 points and 3 rebounds (2 offensive and 1 defensive).
Team-2: 2 points and 0 rebounds.
Differences: 2 points and 3 rebounds.

The imprecise value of ONE rebound: 2/3

Calculating values for offensive and defensive rebounds gives different values in different examples BUT calculating a value for ANY rebound gives ALWAYS the same value! The value depends only on the assumed 2P%.

To show you that this is true I prepared another example. I assumed that all the players have 2P% of 0.500 and they attempt only 2P shots (similarly to the first example), but Team-2 grabs half of the possible defensive rebounds (and still no offensive rebounds at all). It goes like this:
1. Team-1 – a FG made – 2 points.
2. Team-2 – a FG made – 2 points.
3. Team-1 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (defensive) for Team-2.
4. Team-2 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (defensive) for Team-1.
5. Team-1 – a FG made – 2 points.
6. Team-2 – a FG made – 2 points.
7. Team-1 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (offensive) for Team-1.
8. Team-1 – a FG made – 2 points.
9. Team-2 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (defensive) for Team-1.
10. Team-1 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (defensive) for Team-2.
11. Team-2 – a FG made – 2 points.
12. Team-1 – a FG made – 2 points.
13. Team-2 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (defensive) for Team-1.
14. Team-1 – a FG missed – 1 rebound (offensive) for Team-1.

This is the whole sequence that is repeated a number of times in the whole game – the next 2 shots would be made (one shot by each team) starting with Team-1 AND after the next missed shot by Team-1 the ball would go to the Team-2, exactly as it was at the start of the sequence.

The sums for the sequence are:
Team-1: 8 points and 5 rebounds (2 offensive and 3 defensive).
Team-2: 6 points and 2 rebounds (defensive).
Differences: 2 points and 3 rebounds.

The imprecise value of ONE rebound: 2/3

As you can see the imprecise value of one rebound is the same as before. Some of the rebounds cancel each other out, but what is left explains the point difference perfectly. But the examples assumed that there were no 3-pointers and that the 2P% was 0.500. We have to take the FG% into account together with the average value of a field goal:
2/3 * (0.464/0.500) * (2.110/2) = 0.653

The value of ONE rebound (before fine-tuning) = 0.653


The examples above show one more VERY important thing – the sheer rebounding earns some extra points AND prevents the same number of points for the opposing team! It shows that half of the value of a rebound is offensive and half is defensive – when teams have equal number of rebounds their offensive and defensive values cancel each other out, but all the rebounds still have the same value.

Let's analyse a game were both teams shoot with the average FG% (0.464), attempt 102 average FG (of average value of 2.110 points) and grab all defensive rebounds:
Points scored by every ream: 102 * 0.464 * 2.110 = 99.862
Number of rebounds by every team: 102 * (1 – 0.464) = 54.672
Value of all rebounds: = 54.672 * 0.653 = 35.700
Offensive value of all rebounds: 35.700 / 2 = 17.850

It means that on average 17.850 points (out of 99.862 scored) were earned by sheer rebounding and that they are already credited to players with rebounds (within the value of rebounds of 0.653). In this example the precise % of points scored that should be credited to the players who grabbed rebounds is this:
17.850 / 99.862 = 0.179
It means that in this example only 82.1 % of all the points scored should be credited to the actual scorers! But other statistics (assists and steals) do influence scoring, so the value of a point scored is LESS than 0.821 point. The question is how much less. It will be described toward the end.


An assist means that after a pass there was a FGA that was successful. In the last 41 years there were:
FG = 3,496,665
FGA = 7,542,376
AST = 2,076,126

We can calculate FG and FGA without assists:
FG without an assist = 3,496,665 – 2,076,126 = 1,420,539
FGA without an assist = 7,542,376 – 2,076,126 = 5,466,250
FG% without an assist = 1,420,539 / 5,466,250 = 0.260

The average FG% for field goals without as assist was: 0.260. ONLY 0.260!!! What does it mean? It means that team-play is much better than individual-play. Pretty obvious, isn't it?

Individual play means that scorers can score all by themselves, although with very low FG%. So, an assists means that a shot was only MORE probable (1.000 – 0.260) = 0.740. But this added probability was thanks to team-play not to an assist alone.

Team-play means that passers and scorers complement each other. Even after a VERY good pass there would be NO assist if the scorer missed a wide open shot or a dunk (such a situation falls into the category of FG% without an assist). So the added probability of a field goal (with an assist) means that BOTH the passer and the scorer did their job.

Whose job is easier? On average the scorer's job is a little easier (the passer usually have to penetrate and/or create a scoring threat, so the scorer is more open), BUT good scorers make the point-guard's job easier too. A particular point-guard would have less assists when playing with weak scorers than when playing with good scorers. I assumed that 60.0 % of the credit for a field goal after an assist should go to the passer and 40.0 % of the credit should go to the scorer. This is very subjective, but I HAVE to make an assumption to be able to calculate things.

The last example for rebounds showed that 17.9% of the scored points should be credited to the players who grabbed rebounds, so the rest of the players have to split the remaining 82.1% of the scored points. We end up with this calculations:
0.740 * 0.600 * 2.110 * 0.821 = 0.769.

The value of ONE assist (before fine-tuning) = 0.769


A block stops a shot completely, so it negates the average value of a field-goal multiplied by FG% of non-blocked shots (a block is counted as a missed shot toward the shooter). In the last 41 years there were:
FG = 3,496,665
FGA = 7,542,376
BLK = 455,778

We can calculate FG% for non-blocked shots:
3,496,665 / (7,542,376 – 455,778) = 0.493

The average value of a field goal is 2.110, so the value of a block is 2.110 * 0.493 = 1.040. Blocks hardly any occur against 3-point shots, but a similar analysis for 2P-shots only gives the same value:
2P = 3,110,450
2PA = 6,438,470
BLK = 455,778
2P% for non-blocked shots:
3,110,450 / (6,438,470 – 455,778) = 0.520
value of a block = 2 * 0.520 = 1.040

The value of ONE block (before fine-tuning) = 1.040


A turnover means that there was no FGA at all, so the value of a turnover is based on the average value of a field-goal multiplied by FG%, but it is considered as a negative value:
-2.110 * 0.464 = -0.979

This value is lost by a turnover, however some turnovers transform into steals. The question is how much should we credit the stealer and how much should we punish the player who committed the turnover?

Once again I have to point out that all the players should do their job and their job is also to play defense. While playing defense they should be aware what is going on around them and they should steal weak passes. But there are some steals that should be fully credited to the stealer, because they played some VERY good defense. But how many such above-average steals are there?

I assume that 50.0 % of steals should be credited to the stealer (good defense) and 50.0 % should be “credited” to the player with the turnover (poor passing). Players with many turnovers are surely bad passers and players with many steals are usually very good defenders. It seems fair to split the responsibility 50-50 between them (for turnovers that result in steals).

But there are also turnovers without steals, so they should be fully “credited” to the player with the turnover. In the last 41 years there were:
TOV = 1,424,801
STL = 731,470
TOV with steals % = 731,470 / 1,424,801 = 0.513
TOV without steals % = (1,424,801 – 731,470) / 1,424,801 = 0.487
The offensive negative value of a turnover:
-0.979 * (0.513 * 0.500 + 0.487 * 1) = -0.728.

There is also defensive negative value of a turnover – a turnover not only harms offence, but it is also bad defensively. Some turnovers transform into steals that end with fast-breaks and some fast-breaks result in very easy points for the opposing team. It means that a steal improves the probability of a field goal. And half of the steals is the fault of players who committed turnovers.

There are no statistics about fast-breaks, so I have to make some assumptions:
3% of the steals ends with a wide-open dunk (FG% of 1.000)
7% of the steals ends with a superb position (FG% of 0.900)
12% of the steals ends with a very good position (FG% of 0.800)
18% of the steals ends with a good position (FG% of 0.700)
25% of the steals ends with a slightly advantageous position (FG% of 0.600)
35% of the steals ends without any kind of advantage (without any offensive bonus)

The defensive negative value of a turnover:
(-1)*0.5*2.110*(0.03*(1-0.464)+0.07*(0.9-0.464)+0.12*(0.8-0.464)+0.18*(0.7-0.464)+0.25*(0.6-0.464)) = -0.172

The value of ONE turnover (perfect value) = -0.900


We already analysed almost everything that is needed to calculate the value of a steal during the analysis of turnovers. The defensive value of a steal:
0.979 * 0.5 = 0.490

The offensive value of a steal connected with FG%:
0.5*2.110*(0.03*(1-0.464)+0.07*(0.9-0.464)+0.12*(0.8-0.464)+0.18*(0.7-0.464)+0.25*(0.6-0.464)) = 0.172

There is one more thing to analyse – the value of a steal connected with gaining the possession of the ball. The examples for rebounds showed that the sheer rebounding earns some extra points, so a steal should be valued similarly. The last example for rebounds showed that 17.9% of the scored points should be credited to the players who grabbed rebounds.

The offensive value of a steal connected with the change of possession of the ball:
0.179 * 2.110 * 0.464 = 0.175

The value of ONE steal (before fine-tuning) = 0.837


I don't value personal fouls. Why? Not every foul ends with a free throw and some of the fouls that end with free throws are GOOD because they were committed either on a weak FT shooter or to prevent easy points. And the offensive value of a FT (for the opposing team) is reflected in points scored (for the opposing team).

The value of ONE personal foul = 0


A free throw is the kind of shot that is ALWAYS wide-open (there is no defense at all) and this is why most of the credit should go for the actual scorer. Yes, some of the fouls occur during team-play, but many of them are committed early in the play and are the fault of the defender rather than the result of good team-play. Moreover some of fouls are tactical – toward the end of the game or against a weak free throw shooter. Finally we have to remember that maximally 82.1 % of all the points scored should be credited to the actual scorers. For these very reasons I credit 75.0% of all the points from free throws to the scorers (0.750 * 1)

The value of ONE free throw made (before fine-tuning) = 0.750


A 3-pointer on one hand is a more difficult shot (the shooter is farther away from the basket), but most of the 3-pointers are taken during team-play and the team-play on average has to be very good to provoke a wide-open 3-pointer. This is why I credit 70.0% of all the points from 3-pointers to the scorers (0.700 * 3).

The value of ONE 3-pointer made (before fine-tuning) = 2.100


A 2-pointer is definitely an easier shot that a 3-pointer, but a very good team practically guarantees a dunk (the scorers job is very easy then). This is why I credit 65.0% of all the points from 2-pointers to the scorers (0.650 * 2)

The value of ONE 2-pointer made (before fine-tuning) = 1.300


I have to point out some things about shooting percentages. The more I think about low-percentage high-volume scorers the less I am inclined to judge them harshly. Best scorers are guaranteed to be guarded more closely – they are the focus of the opposing team's defence. They actually make it easier for their teammates to score, even when they don't have many assists themselves.

Some high-percentages shooters who play a secondary role (attempt few shots per game) would NOT be able to maintain their high shooting percentage if they took much more shots per game. Scorers are called scorers not without a reason – scoring lots of points requires much more than a decent shooting percentage.

Weak shooters are simply punishing themselves by not scoring some points that better shooters would score. Punishing them more because of their poor shooting would be an overkill. On the other hand good shooters score more points than an average player, so they are rewarded in the box score anyway.

For the reasons above I am not going to calculate any values for shooting percentages. It would be problematic anyway because all my analysis was based on the assumption that every player does his job and shooters have an average shooting percentage. In other cases the value of other statistic would have to change. It's a problem impossible to solve, but values based on average numbers should on average give correct results.


Now I take the OFFENSIVE values calculated above (for 2P, 3P, FT, total rebounds, assists and steals) and calculate their overall value:
(2P) 3,110,450 * 1.300 + (3P) 386,215 * 2.100 + (FT) 1,767,847 * 0.750 + (TRB) 3,838,537 * 0.653 / 2 + (AST) 2,076,126 * 0.769 + (STL) 731,470 * 0.347 = 9,284,165.06

The actual number of scored points in the last 41 years was:
PTS = 9,147,392.00

The difference is 136,773.06, so the error was only 1,495% (0.01459).

To be honest I was glad that there was a small error because it allowed me to find a reason to fine-tune the too-precise values. At first I wanted the values to be easy to remember and rounded down most of them to 1 decimal place, but it felt unnatural. I corrected the fine-tuning and all the final values are rounded to 2 decimal places, but I had to tweak also the values for 2Ps, 3Ps and FTs. All the final values, except for turnovers, are not easy to remember, but the end result is as precise as it could be.

My FINAL (fine-tuned) values are:

2P = 1.26
3P = 2.07
FT = 0.75
TRB = 0.65
AST = 0.77
STL = 0.84
BLK = 1.04
TOV = -0.90

I credit 63.0% of all the points from 2-pointers to the scorers (0.630 * 2), 69.0% of all the points from 3-pointers to the scorers (0.690 * 3) and 75.0% of all the points from free throws to the scorers (0.750 * 1). The rest of the values are just rounded to 2 decimal places. The fine-tuned OFFENSIVE values for 2P, 3P, FT, total rebounds, assists and steals give the overall value of:
(2P) 3,110,450 * 1.26 + (3P) 386,215 * 2.07 + (FT) 1,767,847 * 0.75 + (TRB) 3,838,537 * 0.65 / 2 + (AST) 2,076,126 * 0.77 + (STL) 731,470 * 0.35 = 9,146,673.35

The actual number of scored points in the last 41 years was:
PTS = 9,147,392.00

The difference is -718,65, so the error was ONLY -0.008% (-0.000084) !!!

In an average (theoretical) game the defensive values of rebounds, steals and blocks and the negative value of turnovers are the same for each team. In a normal game all the values together should explained (more or less) the DIFFERENCE between points scored by opposing teams. However in games that are played much differently from an average game the results may become twisted and/or magnified.


To verify my values I used the following NBA games:
1) my favourite NBA game ever – the Memorial Day Miracle,
2) game 7 of the 2013 NBA finals,
3) game 5 of the 2016 NBA finals,
4) game 6 of the 2016 NBA finals,
5) game 7 of the 2016 NBA finals,
6) game 7 of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals,
7) game 5 of the 2017 NBA finals.

The box-scores for this games can be found here:

The numbers below mostly speak for themselves, but please remember that some games are played MUCH differently than the average game AND that the overall values contain also defensive values – it's only the DIFFERENCE between overall values that counts.

Game 1:
Teams: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs
Actual result: 85 – 86 [-1]
Overall values: 96.21 – 99.31 [-3.1]

Game 2:
Teams: San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat
Actual result: 88 – 95 [-7]
Overall values: 97.48 – 98.54 [-1.06]

Game 3:
Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors
Actual result: 112 – 97 [15]
Overall values: 116.44 – 106.82 [9.62]

Game 4:
Teams: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Actual result: 101 – 115 [-14]
Overall values: 100.83 – 133.34 [-32.51]
This is the only game where the approximation is weak.

Game 5:
Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors
Actual result: 93 – 89 [4]
Overall values: 108.70 – 104.34 [4.36]

Game 6:
Teams: Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics
Actual result: 105 – 115 [-10]
Overall values: 108.22 – 120.61 [-12.39]

Game 7:
Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors
Actual result: 120 – 129 [-9]
Overall values: 119.96 – 131.74 [-11.78]

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Comparing NBA MVPs

(Originally posted on Saturday, 23 September 2017)

This post will be updated after every NBA season.

This is the newest version of my comparison of the NBA MVPs. My calculations for the “MVP value” are based on the values of NBA statistics that I calculated here:
How to compare NBA players (final analysis)

The MVP value works two ways. On one hand it’s just another verification of the values of NBA statistics (most of the actual NBA MVPs have the highest MVP value too), but on the other hand it also points out some cases that can be considered controversial.

All the statistical data I used I found on this site:

I created my formula for the MVP value inspired by the data found on this site:

It's clear that I had to take into account also the number of wins achieved by particular teams. Obviously a player from the worst team will never win the MVP award. I made my calculations with the reference point of 60 wins in a season:

MVP value = overall value * (1 + (team wins – 60) / 60)

The formula means that for every 6 team wins above 60 a player from that team gets +10 % of his overall value and -10 % for every 6 team wins below 60.

As you can see I use total overall value, without calculating per-game overall value. Why? Because a player who was injured for some time was automatically less valuable to his team in that season – his team had to play some games without him. He was also less valuable to the league as a whole – he did not attract bigger attendance in the games he missed.

Moreover, if I were to make calculations based on per-game overall value then I would have to use another reference point showing minimum number of games that would make a player “eligible” to win the MVP award. I have no idea what such minimum number of games should be. Total values are objective in their own way (in a particular season).

To find the needed data I used the (awesome) player season finder and the (awesome) team season finder:

Obviously an MVP voting is not entirely based on personal statistics and team wins (even though in most cases it would be enough), so I will list top-3 players in each year (or more players if the actual MVP was outside the top-3).

The best players according to my values of basketball statistics and my MVP value formula are listed below. The official MVP is marked by an asterisk.

1. James Harden:    2265.3     (team wins: 55)
2. Stephen Curry:    2134.5     (team wins: 67)
3. Russell Westbrook*:    2107.2     (team wins: 47)

1. Stephen Curry*:    2700.1     (team wins: 73)
2. Draymond Green:    2071.6     (team wins: 73)
3. Russell Westbrook:    1976.4     (team wins: 55)

1. Stephen Curry*:    2136.4     (team wins: 67)
2. James Harden:    2012.5     (team wins: 56)
3. Chris Paul:    1783.0     (team wins: 56)

1. Kevin Durant*:    2335.7     (team wins: 59)
2. Blake Griffin:    1837.9     (team wins: 57)
3. LeBron James:    1797.8     (team wins: 54)

1. LeBron James*:    2359.5     (team wins: 66)
2. Kevin Durant:    2201.5     (team wins: 60)
3. Russell Westbrook:    1918.2     (team wins: 60)

1. Kevin Durant:    1657.1     (team wins: 47)
2. LeBron James*:    1620.7     (team wins: 46)
3. Russell Westbrook:    1379.4     (team wins: 47)

For this season I used a different reference point (48 games) because the season was shorter than usual (66 games). I used a similar proportion: 60/82=0.732 and 48/66=0.727. The shorter season explains why the MVP values are much lower.

1. LeBron James:    2046.9     (team wins: 58)
2. Derrick Rose*:    1989.2     (team wins: 62)
3. Dwyane Wade:    1784.0     (team wins: 58)

1. LeBron James*:    2367.3     (team wins: 61)
2. Dwight Howard:    1841.3     (team wins: 59)
3. Kevin Durant:    1826.2     (team wins: 50)

1. LeBron James*:    2631.1     (team wins: 66)
2. Kobe Bryant:    2169.0     (team wins: 65)
3. Dwight Howard:    1936.4     (team wins: 59)

1. Kobe Bryant*:    2069.1     (team wins: 57)
2. Chris Paul:    1907.5     (team wins: 56)
3. Amar'e Stoudemire:    1783.4     (team wins: 55)

1. Dirk Nowitzki*:    2111.2     (team wins: 67)
2. Tim Duncan:    1800.5     (team wins: 58)
3. Shawn Marion:    1719.3     (team wins: 61)

1. Dirk Nowitzki:    2081.5     (team wins: 60)
2. LeBron James:    1963.9     (team wins: 50)
3. Tim Duncan:    1882.3     (team wins: 63)
4. Shawn Marion:    1852.7     (team wins: 54)
5. Kobe Bryant:    1787.4     (team wins: 45)
6. Chauncey Billups:    1757.6     (team wins: 64)
7. Dwyane Wade:    1708.7     (team wins: 52)
8. Elton Brand:    1628.1     (team wins: 47)
9. Rasheed Wallace:    1524.4     (team wins: 64)
10. Steve Nash*:    1497.3     (team wins: 54)

It seems to me that Dirk Nowitzki should have won the MVP award that year (he was third in the voting behind LeBron James), so in total he should have won the award two times.

1. Amar'e Stoudemire:    2040.8     (team wins: 62)
2. Dirk Nowitzki:    2024.2     (team wins: 58)
3. Shawn Marion:    1961.2     (team wins: 62)
4. Dwyane Wade:    1766.6     (team wins: 59)
5. Shaquille O'Neal:    1737.8     (team wins: 59)
6. Tracy McGrady:    1687.5     (team wins: 51)
7. Kevin Garnett:    1684.1     (team wins: 44)
8. Tim Duncan:    1574.0     (team wins: 59)
9. LeBron James:    1568.3     (team wins: 42)
10. Steve Nash*:    1497.2     (team wins: 62)

It seems to me that Amar'e Stoudemire should have won the MVP award that year (he was only 9th in the voting).

1. Kevin Garnett*:    2366.7     (team wins: 58)
2. Jermaine O'Neal:    1783.5     (team wins: 61)
3. Tim Duncan:    1723.0     (team wins: 57)

1. Tim Duncan*:    2232.8     (team wins: 60)
2. Dirk Nowitzki:    2091.4     (team wins: 60)
3. Kevin Garnett:    2002.2     (team wins: 51)

1. Tim Duncan*:    2245.4     (team wins: 58)
2. Kobe Bryant:    1832.0     (team wins: 58)
3. Shaquille O'Neal:    1776.1     (team wins: 58)

1. Shaquille O'Neal:    2126.5     (team wins: 56)
2. Tim Duncan:    2005.2     (team wins: 58)
3. Chris Webber:    1825.8     (team wins: 55)
4. Allen Iverson*:    1738.8     (team wins: 56)

It seems to me that Shaquille O'Neal should have won the MVP award that year (he was third in the voting behind Tim Duncan), so in total he should have won the award two times.

1. Shaquille O'Neal*:    2833.6     (team wins: 67)
2. Karl Malone:    1891.7     (team wins: 55)
3. Kevin Garnett:    1777.7     (team wins: 50)

1. Tim Duncan:    1214.5     (team wins: 37)
2. Karl Malone*:    1169.8     (team wins: 37)
3. Shaquille O'Neal:    1071.7     (team wins: 31)

For this season I used a different reference point (37 games) because the season was shorter than usual (50 games). I used a similar proportion: 60/82=0.732 and 37/50=0.740. The shorter season explains why the MVP values are much lower.

1. Karl Malone:    2244.4     (team wins: 62)
2. Michael Jordan*:    2153.0     (team wins: 62)
3. Tim Duncan:    1816.0     (team wins: 56)

1. Michael Jordan:    2538.5     (team wins: 69)
2. Karl Malone*:    2372.0     (team wins: 64)
3. Scottie Pippen:    2051.8     (team wins: 69)

1. Michael Jordan*:    2756.0     (team wins: 72)
2. David Robinson:    2371.9     (team wins: 59)
3. Karl Malone:    1993.2     (team wins: 55)

Please notice that the MVP value of Shaquille O'Neal in 1999-2000 was the highest in the last 41 years, even higher than the MVP value of Michael Jordan in his 72-win season. But no matter what numbers other players had Michael Jordan was faaar above them just because of one thing: reverse layups! He could regularly score in situations where hardly any other player would ever succeed.

1. David Robinson*:    2497.4     (team wins: 62)
2. Shaquille O'Neal:    2223.8     (team wins: 57)
3. Karl Malone:    2211.7     (team wins: 60)

1. David Robinson:    2383.4     (team wins: 55)
2. Hakeem Olajuwon*:    2356.9     (team wins: 58)
3. Shaquille O'Neal:    2087.7     (team wins: 50)

1. Hakeem Olajuwon:    2351.8     (team wins: 55)
2. Michael Jordan:    2284.0     (team wins: 57)
3. Charles Barkley*:    2229.0     (team wins: 62)

1. Michael Jordan*:    2610.6     (team wins: 67)
2. Scottie Pippen:    2205.7     (team wins: 67)
3. Karl Malone:    2025.5     (team wins: 55)

1. Michael Jordan*:    2500.6     (team wins: 61)
2. David Robinson:    2238.9     (team wins: 55)
3. Karl Malone:    2121.5     (team wins: 54)

1. Michael Jordan:    2395.7     (team wins: 55)
2. Magic Johnson*:    2229.0     (team wins: 63)
3. David Robinson:    2156.7     (team wins: 56)

1. Michael Jordan:    2093.1     (team wins: 47)
2. Magic Johnson*:    2066.6     (team wins: 57)
3. Karl Malone:    1879.3     (team wins: 51)

1. Michael Jordan*:    2239.3     (team wins: 50)
2. Larry Bird:    2175.3     (team wins: 57)
3. Clyde Drexler:    1902.6     (team wins: 53)

1. Magic Johnson*:    2417.5     (team wins: 65)
2. Larry Bird:    2186.0     (team wins: 59)
3. Kevin McHale:    1965.0     (team wins: 59)

1. Larry Bird*:    2574.3     (team wins: 67)
2. Magic Johnson:    1799.4     (team wins: 62)
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:    1796.3     (team wins: 62)

1. Larry Bird*:    2569.9     (team wins: 63)
2. Moses Malone:    1941.4     (team wins: 58)
3. Magic Johnson:    1896.3     (team wins: 62)

1. Larry Bird*:    2219.0     (team wins: 62)
2. Robert Parish:    1711.0     (team wins: 62)
3. Isiah Thomas:    1631.3     (team wins: 49)

1. Moses Malone*:    2305.7     (team wins: 65)
2. Larry Bird:    1981.1     (team wins: 56)
3. Magic Johnson:    1817.3     (team wins: 58)

1. Larry Bird:    2099.1     (team wins: 63)
2. Julius Erving:    1924.1     (team wins: 58)
3. Moses Malone*:    1896.7     (team wins: 46)

1. Julius Erving*:    2155.9     (team wins: 62)
2. Larry Bird:    2070.9     (team wins: 62)
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:    1958.7     (team wins: 54)

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar*:    2278.6     (team wins: 60)
2. Julius Erving:    2020.4     (team wins: 59)
3. Larry Bird:    1955.2     (team wins: 61)

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:    1862.4     (team wins: 47)
2. Moses Malone*:    1801.6     (team wins: 47)
3. Elvin Hayes:    1776.8     (team wins: 54)

1. George Gervin:    1668.7     (team wins: 52)
2. Bob McAdoo:    1556.0     (team wins: 43)
3. David Thompson:    1538.2     (team wins: 48)
4. George McGinnis:    1525.7     (team wins: 55)
5. Dan Issel:    1454.8     (team wins: 48)
6. Larry Kenon:    1443.7     (team wins: 52)
7. Bill Walton*:    1402.8     (team wins: 58)

Bill Walton had played very well until he suffered a season-ending injury. Most importantly his team's record was 48-10 with him and 10-14 without him. His team's overall record (58-24) was the best in the league and the next team's record was 55-27. It seems that Walton's team would have had 68 wins if he had stayed healthy. But he was NOT healthy in 24 games in that season! I think that we should not value players by “what-ifs”. For example Kevin Durant would have had the highest MVP value in the 2016-2017 season (2421.6) if he hadn't been injured and nobody really cares about it! As I wrote before, total values are objective in their own way (in a particular season). It seems to me that George Gervin should have won the MVP award in that season (he was second in the voting).

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar*:    2395.0     (team wins: 53)
2. Elvin Hayes:    1893.2     (team wins: 48)
3. George McGinnis:    1757.9     (team wins: 50)

I counted how many times in the last 41 years a particular player was among the top-3 players according to the MVP value:

1. Michael Jordan:    9     (5 MVP awards)
2. Larry Bird:    9     (3 MVP awards)
3. Karl Malone:    9     (2 MVP awards)
4. Tim Duncan:    8     (2 MVP awards)
5. LeBron James:    7     (4 MVP awards)
6. Magic Johnson:    6     (3 MVP awards)
7. Shaquille O'Neal:    6     (1 MVP award)
8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:    5     (2 MVP awards)
9. David Robinson:    5     (1 MVP award)
10. Moses Malone:    4     (3 MVP awards)
11. Dirk Nowitzki:    4     (1 MVP award)
12. Kevin Durant:    4     (1 MVP award)
13. Russell Westbrook:    4     (1 MVP award)
14. Stephen Curry:    3     (2 MVP awards)
15. Julius Erving:    3     (1 MVP award)
16. Kevin Garnett:    3     (1 MVP award)
17. Kobe Bryant:    3     (1 MVP award)
18. Hakeem Olajuwon:    2     (1 MVP award)
19. Amar'e Stoudemire:    2     (0 MVP awards)
20. Chris Paul:    2     (0 MVP awards)
21. Dwight Howard:    2     (0 MVP awards)
22. Elvin Hayes:    2     (0 MVP awards)
23. James Harden:    2     (0 MVP awards)
24. Scottie Pippen:    2     (0 MVP awards)
25. Shawn Marion:    2     (0 MVP awards)
26. Charles Barkley:    1     (1 MVP award)
27. Derrick Rose:    1     (1 MVP award)
28. Blake Griffin:    1     (0 MVP awards)
29. Bob McAdoo:    1     (0 MVP awards)
30. Chris Webber:    1     (0 MVP awards)
31. Clyde Drexler:    1     (0 MVP awards)
32. David Thompson:    1     (0 MVP awards)
33. Draymond Green:    1     (0 MVP awards)
34. Dwyane Wade:    1     (0 MVP awards)
35. George Gervin:    1     (0 MVP awards)
36. George McGinnis:    1     (0 MVP awards)
37. Isiah Thomas:    1     (0 MVP awards)
38. Jermaine O'Neal:    1     (0 MVP awards)
39. Kevin McHale:    1     (0 MVP awards)
40. Robert Parish:    1     (0 MVP awards)