NBA Stat Central #5: Records Not Meant To Be Broken
Welcome to NBA Stat Central, where we take a deeper look into NBA statistics for the 2012-13 season and many before. Each Friday we go with a different theme, so come back every week to see something new.
This week, our theme is entitled “Records Not Meant To Be Broken.” We’re going to look at some NBA records that will stand the test of time.
One of the most hallowed records in basketball is the 100-point game that Wilt Chamberlain posted back in 1962. We’re not going to put that one on the list because I truly believe someone will get hot, as Kobe Bryant did in his 81-point game.
Bryant missed 18 shots in that game. There could definitely be a game that goes into a few overtimes when a player is hot and I believe at some point that record will be broken. Let’s get to the unbreakable ones.
We’re going to look at only the 1979-80 season until today (the three-point era), because the game was so different before then. Let’s take a look at Wilt Chamberlain to show why the game was so different.
Wilt Chamberlain’s Points Per Game, Free-Throw Attempts, Field Goal Attempts And Minutes Played Per Game In A Season
The holy grail of basketball seasons was the 1961-62 season posted by Wilt Chamberlain. He set two records that will never be broken with an average of 50.4 points per game and a ridiculous 48.5 minutes played per game.
Consider that a regulation basketball game lasts 48 minutes. That means he played just about every single minute of basketball, including overtime games. It’s amazing, and it will never even be approached again.
Chamberlain played in a different era, and it showed with his 1363 free-throw attempts. No other player has gone over 1000 free-throw attempts in a game. Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan each came close once, with 972.
His field goal attempts were also off the charts, with 3159 attempts. In Michael Jordan’s most prolific shooting season, he took just 2279. Those records are never, EVER coming down.
And now, the modern records that won’t be broken.
George McCloud‘s Three-Point Attempts In A Season
The three-point shot isn’t dying, but it’s definitely changing. The league isn’t taking as many threes and players are being held to a higher standard. McCloud’s 1995-96 season saw him attempt 678 threes, which is a ton of shots.
For reference, the 2011-12 New Orleans Hornets took 777 as a team and the leader in the league, Ryan Anderson, took just 422. Nobody has eclipsed 600 attempts in seven years.
This record has stood since the 1985-86 season, and remains the only time a player has gone over 300 steals. Defenses have changed and since the game is much less physical, players aren’t allowed to make the kind of contact needed to get this many steals.
Steal totals in general have gone down steadily over the last 20 years, with Chris Paul (217 in 2007-08 and 216 in 2008-09) and Allen Iverson (225 in 2002-03) as the only players to go over 200 steals in a season since 1996-97.
Mark Eaton‘s Blocks In A Season
We’ve seen some dominant shot blockers in the NBA, but Mark Eaton’s 1984-85 season stands the test of time. He blocked 456 shots, good for 5.6 blocks per game.
Eaton was a 7’4″ beast who was one of the most underrated shot blockers in NBA history. No player has even come close to this one, as Theo Ratliff is the only player in the last 17 years to even crack 300 blocks. No player besides Eaton in recorded history has gone over 400.
Dale Ellis‘ Minutes Played In A Game
Back on November 9th, 1989, Ellis and the Seattle SuperSonics lost 155-154 to the Milwaukee Bucks in a five-overtime game. These rarities only come along so often, and playing 69 minutes in one game illustrates the difference between yesterday and today’s game.
Dana Barros and Avery Johnson played just four minutes each in this game, and considering it was just the fourth game of the season, I can’t see the record ever being eclipsed.
Ellis scored 53 points on 18-for-39 shooting, with seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.
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I wear many hats. I will become a father for the first time in July 2013. My work career started as an umpire, evolved to a blackjack dealer and has settled as a sportswriter. You could say I'm used to getting yelled at. I love me some Minnesota Timberwolves but currently call Phoenix home. I'm an eight handicap and a terrible leaper.