NBA Stat Central #15: Historical Comparison

On this week’s NBA Stat Central, we’re going to take a look at the 2012-13 leaders to see how they stack up in a historical context. Without some sort of comparison, it’s difficult to put into perspective just how good of a season some of these guys are having.

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Let’s get into our first category! Keep in mind as the game has changed so much over the years, so have the stats. Wilt Chamberlain dominated in ways others never did. For that reason, we’re going to consider only the 1979-80 season until today (the three-point era).

Each category will have the best season since 1979-80, along with the 2012-13 season and their rank during that time.

Points Per Game

1986-87 – Michael Jordan – 37.1

2012-13 – Kevin Durant – 29.6 (41st)

Scoring as individuals has taken a tumble in recent years. Nobody has averaged over 32.1 points per game since Jordan in the 1992-93 season. As good of scorers as these guys are today, they just don’t get the usage rate that the other guys did.

Rebounds Per Game

1991-92 – Dennis Rodman – 18.7

2012-13 – Dwight Howard – 12.0 (105th)

What a remarkable falloff from Rodman’s amazing year to Howard this year. We must remember that Rodman was also a specialist, in the same way that Ben Wallace was. He wasn’t expected to do much else. Couldn’t someone like Kevin Love get that many rebounds if that’s all he was expected to do?

Assists Per Game

1989-90 – John Stockton – 14.5

2012-13 – Rajon Rondo – 11.1 (30th)

It doesn’t hurt to play next to one of the best power forwards in the history of basketball in Karl Malone. Stockton holds five of the top six spots on this list. It’s even more amazing when you consider how often Malone would go to the free-throw line and the fact that Stockton averaged 17.2 points per game that year!

Steals Per Game

1985-86 – Alvin Robertson – 3.7

2012-13 – Chris Paul – 2.6 (53rd)

We can blame rule changes to some extent on this one. Hand-checking and physical play really helped guys like Robertson. He was so strong that he could muscle up a player, whereas today he’d end up fouling out of games for playing with too much contact.

Blocks Per Game

1984-85 – Mark Eaton – 5.6

2012-13 Larry Sanders – 3.15 (65th)

The evolution of the center and power forward position is to blame for this one. Consider back in the 80’s, when the typical center was a slow big man who lumbered up and down the floor slower than a tectonic plate. Defensively, you could plant in the lane and would always be able to help. Also, again, the physical play that resulted in blocks then, results in fouls now.

Player Efficiency Rating

2008-09 – LeBron James – 31.7

2012-13 – LeBron James – 30.3 (12th)

James is on a remarkable streak. He’s led the NBA in efficiency in five consecutive years, and he’s on top again this year. It’s this stat that leads many to believe James is the best player in the game and he’s having the best stretch of any player to ever play. The top seven spots on this list are James and Jordan. It’s hard to argue.

True Shooting Percentage

2011-12 – Tyson Chandler – 70.8%

2012-13 – Tyson Chandler – 69.7% (4th)

True shooting is somewhat of a fickle stat. For centers that aren’t counted on to be an offensive threat, it’s easier for them to hang around near the paint waiting for lobs or putbacks. Chandler does both of those things very well. A look at his shooting chart elicits a chuckle, as he took just 10 shots (1-for-10) outside of nine feet in 2011-12.

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NBA Stat Central
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