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Category Archives: Casually Unique

Long NBA Winning Streaks That ALMOST Happened

By winning 27 straight games in 2013 Miami Heat not only reached a second place on list of the longest winning streak in NBA history but they also reminded everybody about the difficulty of Lakers’ remarkable feat of winning 33 games in a row and received insurmountable amount of media attention because they were so close.
While the answer may seem obvious, was it really the best opportunity to break the record?

This is a story about forgotten heroes: the longest winning streaks in the NBA that ALMOST happened but because of couple untimely points here and there they didn’t so very few remember them.

My approach to find them was pretty simple, using all-time NBA schedule and results from basketball-reference.com I tried to locate multiple winning streaks next to each other interrupted by some close losses. Because I had history in mind I ignored potential streaks shorter than 18 games [only 9 such streaks really did happen] and to make it somewhat realistic all losses during them had to be by single-digits.

Such searching pattern surprisingly came up with 90[!] potential winning streaks. Some of them were literally one basket away from happening while others needed more to change but would have broken the record!

So let’s break them down starting with the ones single game away… [list is sorted by potential streak’s length]
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Casually Unique

 

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NBA Players with Mid-Career Improvement in FT%

As a fan of unusual events I’m both excited and fascinated by the career of Tyson Chandler.
Let me explain why…

  • he was drafted second overall… yet he played less than 25 minutes in each of first three seasons.
    Obviously he came straight out from high-school which didn’t help but still it’s pretty unusual treatment of such high draft pick.

  • he changed teams 5 times which is already well above average and he is 29 years old.

  • his toe was the main reason for a rescinded trade which is a very rare event in itself
    [according to prosportstransactions.com there were only SEVEN of them!].

  • last year alone he was traded as a salary dump… and he was the key piece for a championship team.
    Quite a rollercoaster ride, huh? And I can’t count how many times it happened but I’m pretty sure that’s not a typical way to acquire one of the best players on championship team.

  • most importantly [at least for this post], he did something which most big guys [or maybe even all people] can only dream about: he learnt how to shoot free throws very late into his playing career!

    In his first 8 years Tyson Chandler attempted 1789 free throws and made 1071 of them for a 59.87% mark but in his ninth season he suddenly became 73+% shooter. And it wasn’t a fluke either, in all following seasons he made at least 73% of his freebies.

For the purpose of this post I’d like to focus on the last part and explore it: How often does such sudden improvement happen? Who did have the most impressive mid-career improvement in FT% in history?

Also you may not know this from this blog but I like playing basketball a lot and it’s the first topic which not only I can relate to personally but it also makes me appreciate it even more than just a curiosity because I feel like in terms of veteran’s basketball skills “you are who you are”.
Yet somehow at least one old dog learnt a new trick… maybe there is a light at the end of tunnel for all of us ;-)

OK, let’s start with basics, I downloaded a file from basketballreference.com with historical data and I compared FT% in every season after 5th [with minimum 150 free throw attempts] to Free Throw Percentage based on all combined makes and attempts at this point of player’s career. And here are the results…
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Casually Unique

 

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The Most Unique Feats in Week 2 of NBA 2011/12

You could be surprised how often rare stat-lines occur in the NBA and it’s a series designed to celebrate that fact. The rules are simple: it has to be something that happened less than 26 times during last 26 regular seasons [total of 58.686 team’s box scores]. Incidentally it’s a tribute to Basketball-Reference.com for great tools and an emphasis how badly underused is enormous database owned by Elias Sports Bureau.

I wrote about Week 1 here so it’s time for a second edition of Casually Unique.
It also will be the last one [more on that at the bottom].
Presenting special events in chronological order of days…

January 2, 2012

Ben Wallace flashed his unique skill-set

He collected 5 steals and scored 0 points in less than 20 minutes
which happened only 4 times in the last 26 regular seasons.
Reportedly he is going to retire after this season but he still got his instincts… at least in short stints ;-)

In the same game…

Dwight Howard catched a stealing fever with usual offensive fireworks

He scored 19 points even though he missed over 60% of his free throws but he stole ball 5 times.
Such combo happened in 13 games in the last 25 years.
How fitting that both aforementioned players won multiple awards for their defense…

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January 3, 2012

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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Casually Unique

 

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The Most Unique Feats in Week 1 of NBA 2011/12

You could be surprised how often rare stat-lines occur in the NBA and it’s a series designed to celebrate that fact. The rules are simple: it has to be something that happened less than 26 times during last 26 regular seasons [total of 58.686 team’s boxscores]. Incidentally it’s a tribute to Basketball-Reference.com for great tools and an emphasis how badly underused is enormous database owned by Elias Sports Bureau.

I covered the opening day so technically it won’t be a week 1 but next 7 days… but still it should be fun ;-)
In chronological order of days…

December 26, 2011

Ed Davis made a very efficient case for more playing time

He made all 7 of his field goal attempts and collected 7 rebounds in only 18 minutes
which happened for the second time since 1986.
It’s early but for me he seems to be a strong contender to join this year’s strangest rotation decisions list.

Boris Diaw had an unusual near triple-double

He finished with 11 Rebounds, 9 Points and 9 Assists which has only been matched 4 times.
In a related note Bobcats may be the best test case in a while for a measure of replacement level in the NBA standings. They look just terrible and I’m not sure that good NBDL team couldn’t be better.

Pacers won a game by 12 points against Pistons despite terrible shooting

They hit less than 37% of shots from the field and they shot worse from the line by 5%
which happened 6 times in the last 25 years.
I’m not sure that lockout should be blamed but there seems to be a lot of funky shooting games.
I may have to explore this topic later.

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December 27, 2011

Zaza Pachulia destroyed Nets’ bench contributing to a blowout win

His stat line of FG% >= 0.625, 8 Offensive Rebounds and 13 Points in 21 Minutes
was a 3rd time it happened in the last 26 regular seasons.
Although I think it tells us way more about Nets’ roster than Zaza’s superpowers ;-)

Mario Chalmers again joined a group with the most unique boxscore feats

He became the first player since 1986 to collect 6 turnovers and 5 Steals in less than 20 Minutes Played!
Also he became the first player to show up in both of my unique posts for a current season ;-) But more importantly thanks to him and Cole Heat’s point guard situation looks much better than last year, doesn’t it?

Kevin Love flashed his unique abilities

He had 19 Free Throws Made and 20 Total Rebounds which never happened in used timeframe!
Most top rebounders can’t shoot free throws and most top free throw shooters can’t grab 20 rebounds… and he did it in a single game!

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December 28, 2011

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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Casually Unique

 

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What was Unique on Opening Day of NBA Season?

You could be surprised how often unique stat-lines occur in the NBA and it’s a series designed to celebrate that fact. The rules are simple: it has to be something that happened less than 26 times during last 26 regular seasons [for a total of 58.686 team’s boxscores]. Incidentally it’s a tribute to Basketball-Reference.com for great tools and an emphasis how badly underused is enormous database owned by Elias Sports Bureau.

NBA games are back!
Which means Casually Unique series can not only live again thanks to new batch of numbers every day but it can also thrive from constant stream of sneaky uniqueness.

There will be some changes to the format though, I’ll post it only once per week [Sunday or Monday] with some kind of “best of the week” theme and the rest unique stat-lines I’ll just tweet @Exploring_NBA.
Also I’ll try to include more rare individual accomplishments and personal gems.

But back to the point…
What was Unique on the Opening Day of 2011/12 NBA Season?

Rajon Rondo reminded everyone why he shouldn’t be traded cheaply

He finished with 31 Points, 13 Assists and 5 Steals which happened only 16 times in the last 25 years.
Unsurprisingly Doc Rivers really liked that performance

“This is the Rondo we want,” Rivers said after the game. “This is what we talked about last year. Getting to the free-throw line. Taking the shots when they’re open. I thought he was the aggressor in the game. I don’t know if [he] can do that every night, but overall, that’s the Rondo that we want. It was terrific.”

Shouldn’t they like Rondo also in the offseason? ;-)

Tyson Chandler had a really weird debut for NY Knicks

His stat line of 3 Rebounds and 6 Blocks in 36 Minutes Played has only been matched 8 times.
It was also his career low for rebounds in games in which he played so many minutes!
But hey, they won a game so clearly it means he is a winner ;-)

Mario Chalmers contributed to Heat’s convincing win in a sneaky way

He had 4 Steals, 4 Assists and only 1 Field Goal Attempt which happened only 14 times since 1985-86.
Interestingly only 3 of those games were losses so such small contribution shouldn’t be overlooked?

Ryan Anderson shined in extended minutes

Finally unleashed! He collected 25 Points, 10 Rebounds, 2 Steals, 6 3-Pt Field Goals and made all of his Free Throws which happened only 11 times in available database. He was also the youngest of the aforementioned group which is just another remainder that Glen Davis’ contract can’t be a good move…

Even though Thunder started very well their quest for championship…

Kevin Durant had a career-low in one category

He shot 6/11 from the free throw line which became his worst percentage with so many attempts.
For a career 88% shooter that was an unique way to start a season, no?

Fans watching this game witnessed another shooting extreme… but surprisingly Redick’s stat-line of zero field goals made and a perfect accuracy from the free throw line on 8 attempts wasn’t as unique as you might have expected: it happened 38 times in the last 26 RS with maximum of 15 points scored that way.

Finally…

The most unique stat-line of the opening day… DeAndre Jordan delivered greatness on one end of the court and the opposite on the other end

He blocked 8 shots… and hit below 35% of his 12 free throws… which never happened in used timeframe!
Congratulations!
Judging by his career statistics – FT=41,2% and 2,4 blocks per 36 minutes we could see it again soon ;-)

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Casually Unique

 

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Talking about a very mixed yet memorable legacy…

Not David Stern’s or Billy Hunter’s or anyone else’s involved in the ongoing CBA chess match but still I feel like after yesterday’s quite heavy brainstorming I should balance it out with something short and [hopefully] sweet.
Actually it will be the first non-boxscore post from a category Casually Unique

Let’s start with the most current point: isn’t it interesting that Arenas’ career arc had an impact on creating TWO changes in the NBA’s rules… and they were on a totally opposite side of problems?

He started as an underpaid steal found in a second round by Warriors [hence the “Gilbert Arenas” provision – in short, team which drafted him technically couldn’t match an offer he had received – for more details read question 38 in a great CBA FAQ by Larry Coon] and he will finish his career as one of the poster boys for badly overpaid contract which could cripple team’s future [hence the new amnesty clause]. Obviously both of those changes would have happened sooner or later without Arenas but, unofficially, both could be named after him.

And if you look at it closer Arenas has an interesting and unique career

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On one hand he had a short window where he was a star in terms of popularity and production [2004-2007] which is a huge accomplishment for anybody let alone a 2nd round pick. In fact, he has 3rd most points scored per game out of every players drafted outside the first round in the history on the league [with other two being George Gervin and Alex English who obviously were drafted in an era when 2nd round pick meant something else] AND 14-th most assists per game from the same group of not 1st rounders.

On the other hand Arenas has a very good chance to become the worst 100+M$ NBA contract ever, at least in terms of production during that contract. Because to date he collected a total of 3.2 win shares [an equivalent of one below average season!] while his closest competitor is another overpaid shooting guard with serious knee problems – Allan Houston with 15.7. So it’s a long way to go for Arenas when he was barely over zero last year… or even below it depending on your source.

Also his style of play created an unmatched mix of stats:

One could easily argue that both of aforementioned statistical accomplishments were a result of his selfishness and hurt his team… but then you could be interested how he was able to pull that off over 500+ games?

Finally, don’t forget that he brought serious firepower not only to the court but also to the locker room which resulted in the longest non-drug non-violent suspension ever! I wrote “non-violent” because even though it was about a gun the punishment was purely based on a perception and some obscure rules rather than on any actual damage to him or anybody else.

In all, thank you Gilbert for a colorful career with a surprisingly lasting effect! ;-)

And just out of curiosity… how would you grade his career, as a failure or as a success?

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Casually Unique

 

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What was unique in Game 4 and 5 of NBA Finals?

Since I started analysing box scores regularly for FB in 2004 I was surprised how often unique stat-lines occurred and it’s a series designed to celebrate that fact. The rules are simple: it has to be something that never happened in the last 20 playoffs [over 1500 games] and less than 25 times during last 25 regular season games [there were over 55000]. Incidentally it’s a tribute to Basketball-Reference.com for great tools.

In Game 5 of NBA Finals http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201106090DAL.html
Miami lost even though they shot very well [FG%>51%, 3P%=40%, FT%>80%] and had 25 assists.
It happened 71 times in the playoffs since 1991 but only 4 of them to a team which lost a game!

The reason for such result was very simple, Mavs shot ever better!
Dallas was smoking hot with FG%>56,5%, 13 threes and 3P%>68%.
It happened 14 times in the last 25 regular seasons… but that was probably the best timing of all of them ;-)

Also ‘Jet’ finally showed up and he did it with a bang:
Jason Terry had 21 points, 3 threes, 4 rebounds, 6 assists AS A RESERVE in 30 minutes.
It happened 15 times during last 25 RS and now his tattoo with a championship trophy is slightly less disturbing and questionable ;-)

Surprisingly LeBron James’ triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists was not as unique as you may think: it happened 46 other times in the playoffs since 1991 although only of 7 them happened in June…

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Meanwhile in Game 4 of NBA Finals http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201106070DAL.html
Mavs found themselves on a very unusual side of coin AGAIN:
Dallas won even though they had FG%<40%, 3P%<22% and only 13 assists.
It happened 56 times in the playoffs since 1991 but only 6 of them to a team which won a game!

In other unique news from this game…
LeBron James was like Scottie Pippen with 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 0 threes and 8 points although in this game he probably would like to be more similar to Jordan…

Jason Kidd with 3 assists, 3 steals and 0 points in over 38 minutes played… was pretty much himself ;-)

Surprisingly Tyson Chandler’s explosion with 16 rebounds [9 offensive] and 0 turnovers was not as unique as you may think: it happened 5 other times in the playoffs since 1991
Obviously Ben Wallace and Dennis Rodman ruined that kind of trivia ;-)

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Casually Unique

 

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