Bball Analytics FUN FACTS by Henry Yeh

Just scrolling through Henry’s archive of blog posts he just reminded me that as experts and numbers people we also need to have fun.

Here is a re-share to a post he placed with testament to that:

I have always been fascinated by various different numbers which explains my passion for analytics and further apply it to basketball because I believe often times it all comes down to the subtle, small things that prove to have the biggest impact on the games. Still till this day, I am a little bit upset how “deflection” is not a legitimate key category. The debate on the nature of its ambiguity can go on forever and we will just leave the discussion here… for now.

As George H. Gallup, a renowned statistician and pioneer in survey sampling put it, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” I guess this serves the true purpose of analytics and gives birth to applying big data onto sports.

Besides collecting intriguing statistics, I am also a huge fan of fun facts and learning different miscellaneous information about basketball. Below is a list of  memorable information that I compiled. Enjoy!

MIDDLE NAMES!

Just like me, a lot of people go by their middle names —  and athletes are no exceptions!

  1. The Grant brothers. Former Washington Bullets’ popular star, Harvey Grant has three children, and they are all budding stars — with Jerami and Jerian currently in the NBA and Jerai playing overseas. Interestingly, all three brothers go by their middle names. Their full names are Houston Jerami, Holdyn Jerian, and Harvey Jerian.
  2. Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. These two players will be forever linked together because the Portland Trailblazers infamously chose Oden over Durant… and the rest is history. However, besides the 2007 Draft and the different career trajectory the two have had, both Oden and Durant also share something interesting in common as they both have the same middle name in Wayne. Their full names are Gregory Wayne Oden and Kevin Wayne Durant.
  3. Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson. Both Kerr and Jackson are successful in the NBA as they both have a combined of 19 NBA championships. Together, they won three-peat from 1996 to 1998. Besides the championships and glory they both share on the court, they also share the same middle name, Douglas. Their full names are Stephen Douglas Kerr and Philip Douglas Jackson.
  4. Jamal Crawford and Aaron Brooks. Do you know Jamal Crawford goes by his middle name and Aaron Brooks goes by his first name? Their first and middle names are interestingly identical as their full names are Aaron Jamal Crawford and Aaron Jamal Brooks.
  5. Joel Przybilla and Joel Anthony. The two players are known for their aggressive defense. Their similar playing style may be a predetermined reason why their names even go together as Joel Przybilla’s full name is Joel Anthony Przybilla.

FUN NAMES!

  1. Michael Jordan. When asked which name he would prefer to be announced during the player introduction, Michael Jordan, who was a freshman at North Carolina, said he didn’t care. So the announcer announced Michael Jordan as “Mike” Jordan. Of course, this was later changed as “Michael Jordan” is a better name to be remembered and said by the people and the public. Below is a screenshot of “Mike” Jordan’s first game as a true freshman back in his days at North Carolina. Note even the TV broadcast had his name as “Mike” Jordan. The screenshot is taken from uploader OldSkoolBasketball‘s Youtube video. The full video can be viewed here. Jordan’s introduction was at the 0:45  mark.bball176.PNG
  2. Thon Maker. Maker comes from an athletic family as all his brothers and parents are extremely tall. Maker has two brothers and one of them also plays basketball and is a top recruit of the 2017 Class. Maker’s second brother, is currently a professional footballer at South Melbourne FC and his name is Maker, so his full name is Maker Maker. Thon Maker has a cousin who is also a professional footballer for the Sydney Swans and his name is Aliir Aliir.
  3. Dikembe Mutombo. Mutombo is often one of the most memorable and popular players in the NBA — both by his finger wagging after each shot blocks on the court and his humanitarian works outside of basketball. However, Mutombo has a name that is neither memorable nor popular. His full name is Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo. We just commonly just refer him as Dikembe Mutombo.

MINORITIES IN THE NBA!

  1. Bobby Croft. Almost one fourth of today’s NBA are from international countries. Croft was the first ever international player to compete in the ABA. He made his debut on October 15, 1970 for the Texas Chaparrals. He later played for the Kentucky Colonels in that same season. He only played one season in the ABA but his legacy carried on as he became the vanguard who opened the door for more international players to follow. Before the ABA, Croft played basketball at Hill Park Secondary School in Hamilton, Canada and the University of Tennessee before being drafted as the fourth pick in the 18th round by the Boston Celtics in 1970. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 62 games in 1970-71.

    (left to right, Croft and Misaka)

  2. Wataru Misaka. Before Chuck Cooper, Earl Lloyd, and Nat Clifton, there was Misaka. A Japanese American, Wat, as he preferred to be called, was the first non-caucasian player to compete in the BAA. Born and raised in Ogden, Utah, Misaka played three games for the New York Knicks in  1947. Before playing professionally, Misaka played college basketball for Weber State  (1941-43)and the University of Utah (1943-44; 1946-47). His collegiate career was interrupted by the second world war and he was drafted to the military where he rose to the rank of staff sergeant. He had a successful collegiate career as he led his team to win 1944 NCAA Champion and 1947 NIT Champion. He was later inducted to Utah Sports Hall of Fame.
  3. Petur Gudmundsson. Also known as the “Iceman,” Gudmundsson was the first and only Icelandic player to compete in the NBA. Gudmundsson spent four years in the NBA and averaged 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 150 NBA contests. As someone who admires the shared value and cultural evolution of Iceland, I just have to include Gudmundsson on this list.

COLLEGE ANOMALIES!

  1. Troy State 258 – DeVry Institute 141. This is the highest scoring game in college basketball history occured on January 12, 1992. Not only did Troy State become the first school to exceed the 200-point mark, it also attempted 190 shots — or one in every 12.6 seconds!
  2. Southern 116 – Champion Baptist 12. This is a game played on December 30, 2013, between two Christian colleges. Southern won the game by opening the game with a 44-0 run. Champion Baptist only made three baskets on that game and missed 41 shots.
  3. Jack Taylor. Taylor scored 138 points on November 20, 2012. He was 52-106 overall and 27-71 from the 3-point territory. He also converted seven out of ten free throws and went on to set a scoring record in college basketball. That night, he also set several other NCAA records in most points scored in a half (80), most field goals made in a game (52), most field goals attempted in a game (180), most 3-point field goals made in a game (27), and most 3-point field goal attempted in a game (71).bball189
  4. Max Hooper. Hooper is a very special player because he only shoots 3-point field goals. In his college career Hooper has only attempted 11  2-point field goals and made six, and the rest were all 3-point attempts. His 2-point field goal attempts only accounted for 2.2% of his shots! What’s more fascinating is Hooper did not attempt a single 2-point shot in 35 games in his senior season with Oakland University — and that’s an NCAA record!bball179
  5. bball186(this stat is provided by Sports-Reference.com. Click here for the full stat)
  6. Swen Nater. Nater is a former Dutch professional basketball player and he competed for John Wooden’s UCLA squad and captured two NCAA champions in 1972 and 1973. Nater played four years in the ABA and the NBA in four different stints. He was drafted three times — first by the Miami Flordians in the 1972 ABA Draft, then later in that same summer by the Virginia Squires in the 1972 ABA Dispersal Draft because the Floridians folded, and then finally by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1973 Draft as the 16th overall pick. Interestingly, Nater became the one and only NBA player who played in the NCAA without ever starting a single college basketball game.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING!

  1. Anderson Varejao, Eric Snow, and Erick Dampier. Something is always not right whenever these three players put on an NBA uniform. For Eric Snow, he was with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1996, the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001, and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. All three times his teams would go on to lose in the NBA Finals. And for Anderson Varejao and Erick Dampier, they both were on the losing ends of a pair of NBA Finals rematch. Varejao was with the Cavaliers when they lost to the Golden State Warriors in 2015, and Varejao’s Warriors lost to the Cavaliers in the Finals in 2016. Similarly and unfortunately, Dampier was with the Mavericks when they lost to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals and five years later Dampier made it to the NBA Finals again — that time as a member of the Heat but lost to the Dallas Mavericks. Not to mention Varejao was also with Eric Snow when the Cavaliers lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals. Timing is everything!

    (clockwise from top left: Varejao, Snow, and Dampier)

  2. Robert Horry and John Salley. When speaking about timing, there are Horry and Salley. Horry is a seven-time NBA Champion (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2007) and has never lost in a Finals series; each of his team that made it to the Finals went on to capture the champion. And Salley, a four-time NBA Champion (1989, 1990, 1996, and 2000) became the first NBA player to win championship in three different decades.
  3. Robert Horry and Steve Kerr. Speaking of good timing, Horry and Kerr’s timing couldn’t been any better. The two popular reserves and clutch shooters alternated NBA Championships for a decade. The two players never played together but either Horry or Kerr was on the roster of the winning NBA Finals teams from 1993-1994 to 2002-03. Horry’s teams won the NBA Finals in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 while Kerr’s teams won the NBA Finals in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2003. Interestingly, each player won three titles with Phil Jackson.bball198.PNG
  4. Elgin Baylor. We talked about bad timing and good timing. Now this is the worst timing! Baylor was a scoring juggernaut and arguably one of the best undersized small forwards in the NBA. He spent his entire 14 years with the Los Angeles Lakers and racked up 2,3149 points. However, he made it to the NBA Finals eight times and lost all eight times. Baylor, at the age of 37 and battling injuries, played nine games into the 1971-72 season before announcing his retirement. His last NBA game was a loss against the Golden State Warriors on October 31, 1971. The timing of his retirement marked two missed great feats for Baylor. First, the Lakers’ next game after Baylor’s retirement was the first of an NBA record 33 consecutive wins. Second, that same season, the Lakers won the NBA Championship.
  5. Most losses in NBA championships as a player. Speaking of losing out in NBA Finals, this is a list of NBA players who have lost more than four NBA Finals. Only James, Zaslofsy, and Ainge are the players who didn’t play for the Lakers in the 1960s. This information is elicited from Quora.
    W-L record — Player name — Championship year (* = won)
    0-8 — Elgin Baylor — 59, 62, 63, 65, 66, 68, 69, 70
    1-8 — Jerry West — 62, 63, 65, 66, 68, 69, 70, 72*, 73
    0-5 — Larry Foust — 55, 56, 59, 60, 61
    0-4 — Max Zaslofsky — 47, 51, 52, 55
    0-4 — Rudy LaRusso — 62, 63, 65, 66
    0-4 — Steve Mix — 77, 80, 82, 83
    1-4 — Keith Erickson — 69, 70, 72*, 73, 76
    2-4 — Wilt Chamberlain — 64, 67*, 69, 70, 72*, 73
    2-4 — Mel Counts — 65*, 66*, 68, 69, 70, 73
    2-4 — Danny Ainge — 84*, 85, 86*, 87, 92, 93
    3-4 — LeBron James — 07, 11, 12*, 13*, 14, 15, 16*
    5-4 — Magic Johnson — 80*, 82*, 83, 84, 85*, 87*, 88*, 89, 91
    6-4 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — 71*, 74, 80*, 82*, 83, 84, 85*, 87*, 88*, 89

INTERESTING NBA CAREERS

  1. JamesOn Curry. Curry owns the shortest NBA career ever. There are plenty of players who only played in one NBA game but Curry’s NBA experience was definitely an interesting one as he only played in 3.9 seconds — and that is how long his NBA career was. Curry, the 51st overall pick in the 2007 Draft, suited up for the Los Angeles Clippers on January 25, 2010 in an away game against the Boston Celtics. He registered no stats and was released the next day.bball187
  2. Lawrence Frank. Frank has coached in the NBA on parts of nine seasons and won 276 games. As amusing as it may sound, Frank never played high school or college basketball because he was too short. However, determination always pays off as he started his basketball career by becoming a student manager under Bob Knight and was a part of the two NCAA championship squads during his four years managing the Hoosiers’ basketball program. Frank later became an assistant coach at Marquette University shortly after graduating before making his way to the NBA. Despite his unconventional path to becoming an NBA head coach, Frank is perhaps best known as starting and finishing his coaching tenure with a team with a double digit winning and losing streaks. Frank became the interim head coach for the New Jersey Nets in January 2004 after the Byron Scott was fired and he went on and won 13 games straight and set a record for most consecutive wins by a rookie NBA coach (the record was later broken by Luke Walton in 2015). Six years later, Frank was fired after starting the season with an 0-16 record.
  3. Manute Bol. Bol was a formidable shotblocker as he accumulated 2,086 blocks — good for 15th spot in the all-time blocks leaders. Interestingly, Bol also happened to be the only NBA player who has more blocks than points scored. Bol averaged 2.6 points and 3.3 blocks per game in 624 games in his 12-year NBA career.
  4. Chuck Nevitt. Nevitt is a 7’5 center who won an NBA Champion in 1985 and is the tallest NBA player to win an NBA title. However, he’s also the least used player in the league. Nevitt spent nine years in the NBA but he only appeared in 155 games and played in 826 minutes out of a possible 738 games and 35,424 minutes. Nevitt’s 826 minutes roughly equate to just a little more than 17 complete NBA games.
  5. Walt Bellamy. Bellamy holds the record for most NBA games in a regular season. Bellamy started out the 1968-69 season on the New York Knicks before being traded to the Detroit Pistons for Dave DeBusschere in December 1968. That time, the Pistons had played six fewer games than the Knicks and Bellamy went on and played all of Pistons’ 53 remaining games. That year Bellamy averaged 17.4 points and 12.5 rebounds and appeared in 88 regular season games — an NBA record that still stands today.
  6. Dale Ellis. On November 9, 1989, the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the Seattle SuperSonics 155-154 after four quarters and five overtime periods. The SuperSonics’ Dale Ellis played all but four minutes in the game as he was on the court for 69 minutes — an NBA record that still prevails. And Xavier McDaniel was also there that night fighting along with his teammate Ellis for all but one minute. McDaniel was just one minute shy of the record with “only” 68 minutes on the court. Incidentally, both Ellis and McDaniel also set an NBA record together by becoming the duo that logged in the most combined minutes of 137 in a single game.
  7. Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain is known for his all-around game and scoring prowess but few paid attention to his endurance. Averaging 45.8 minutes per game over 1,045 NBA games in his career, Chamberlain was the quintessential prototype of unprecedented strength and fortitude by dominating every game on a nightly basis. The 1961-62 season was the archetypal paradigm that marked the apex of Chamberlain’s domination in basketball as he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds to go along with 48.5 minutes per ball game. The rule remained the same back then as there were 48 minutes in each NBA game and Chamberlain was just so good that he played almost every minute of each game, including the overtime periods, which gave him an average of more than 48 minutes per game!

— J.H. Yeh


Picture Refernces

Chappell, Bill. “Pro Basketball’s First Asian-American Player Looks at Lin, And Applauds”. NPR.Org. February 14, 2012. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/02/15/146888834/pro-basketballs-first-asian-american-player-looks-at-lin-and-applauds

Gaither, Steven J. “Warriors Add Cavaliers Castaway Anderson Varejao to Ranks”. Sporting News. February 21, 2016. http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/news/anderson-varejao-inks-deal-with-golden-state-warriors/r9idhe7r0yi31gfdrhkezm5my.

Miami Heat. NBA. http://www.nba.com/heat/roster/heat_player_erick_dampier_1011.html/

Reilly, Rick. “Not Always Taylor Made”. ESPN. November 21, 2013. http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/10009589/jack-taylor-grinnell-basketball

Kyle, David L. “Cavaliers Announce Medically  Necessary Release of Eric Snow”. Cleveland Cavaliers. April 5, 2009. http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/news/snow_released_090405.html

Katz, Andy. “Oklahoma State’s Curry to Forego Senior Season, Remain in NBA Draft”. ESPN. June 18, 2007. http://www.espn.com/nba/draft2007/news/story?id=2907533

Eisenberg, Jeff. “Why Oakland’s Max Hooper has shot Nothing but Threes This Season”. Yahoo!. January 15, 2016. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/why-oakland-s-max-hooper-has-shot-nothing-but-threes-this-season-182446578.html

M.A. Clark & Sons Funeral Home. “Croft Bob”. Life News. March 25, 2014. http://www.lifenews.ca/announcement/4429084-croft-bob

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