Uncommon Sense

January 5, 2023

Wow, a 71 Point Game!

Filed under: History,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 10:35 am
Tags: , ,

In an overtime game day before yesterday, Devin Mitchell of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers became the seventh player admitted into the 70-point club, previously only accomplished by Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor, and David Robinson and now Booker, with the last six having done the feat once. Chamberlain did it six times!

Booker’s 71 points included 7 three-point shots which didn’t exist in Wilt’s era, so his 71 point effort would have been 64 points under the rules that Wilt played under.

Now some argue that the “bonus” point for a three-pointer is because the shot is more difficult to make. The current NBA 3-pt make percentage is 35.7%, while the 2-pt make percentage is around 53%. The longer shot is about 50% “harder” to make, by those statistics, and is given a 50% bonus in score. That seems reasonable, but you need to think again. Because the 3-pt shot is actually overvalued, NBA rosters have been beefed up to include more “wing players,” lengthy guards and forwards who can shoot three-point shots which has devalued large, shot blocking centers.

For example, the current leader in rebounds per game in the NBA is at 12.4 total rebounds (offensive and defensive). (Hit 15 and you are a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.) Bill Russell, blessed be his name, retired with 22.5 rebounds per game for his entire career! Wilt retired having 22.9 rebounds per game. Blocks were not an official stat when Bill and Wilt played but apparently there are block stats for 112 games Wilt played in and he averaged 8.8 blocks per game. (Wilt was at the end of his career at that point.) The current NBA career record is 5.5 blocks per game. And, if that isn’t enough, Chamberlain, at one point a Philadelphia 76er, dropped 53 points, 32 rebounds, 14 assists, 24 blocks, and 11 steals in a game against the LA Lakers. In one game—24 blocks!

Players who decided to go for a layup, considered an almost unmissable shot, were often met by shot blockers like Wilt and Bill (Bill had 8.1 blocks per game, estimated). I have no way of determining the 2-pt shot make percentage back in those days, but it probably was not as high as it is now.

Addendum
Sports commentators are all aglow about there having been 14 games so far in this NBA season in which a player scored 50 or more points! Fourteen! That’s a record! Uh, but one might also want to note that Wilt Chamberlain scored 50 or more points 44 times . . . in the 1962 season.

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