Statistical Anomaly DeAndre Jordan: 70 FG% 2nd-Best Ever, FT% 2nd-Worst Ever

The Los Angeles Clippers‘ DeAndre Jordan is putting together one of the most bizarre statistical seasons the NBA has ever seen.

We’ll start with his rebounding.  Jordan is leading the league with an average of 14.8 rebounds per game.  Since Dennis Rodman did it on a perennial basis from 1991-98, just two players have averaged at least 14.8 boards for an entire year.  Ben Wallace snagged 15.4 a night in 2002-03, and Kevin Love pulled down 15.2 per game in 2010-11.

Jordan is on pace to be just the third name on that list in the last 17 years.

In 20 games since the All-Star break, the Clippers’ center is averaging an astounding 17.6 rebounds per contest.

While Jordan’s rebounding alone is enough to make his 2014-15 season stand out, in his case it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, his free-throw shooting is historically bad.

In Boston on Sunday night, Jordan made three of 15 foul shots.  Via Elias Sports Bureau:

Yes, the Clippers cruised to a 119-106 win, but the Celtics made Los Angeles sweat for its win by fouling DeAndre Jordan five times in a span of less than 2 minutes. Jordan rewarded the strategy by missing eight free throws in the fourth quarter alone. Jordan shot 3-for-15 from the line for the game.

It was the second time this season that Jordan, who made only five of 17 free throws at Philadelphia in his previous game, missed at least 12 foul shots in each of two consecutive games. The only other players to do that even once in their NBA careers were Wilt Chamberlain (4 times) and Shaquille O’Neal (twice).

To clarify, only two other players in league history ever missed 12 or more foul shots in consecutive games, and Jordan has now done it twice this season.

Jordan’s 3-for-15 free-throw performance put him on another infamous list alongside O’Neal, Chamberlain and Chris Dudley: They are the only four players in the last 50 years to attempt at least 15 foul shots in a game and make three or fewer.

The 5-for-17 FT showing on March 27 also drew this rather uninspiring comparison between Jordan and Chamberlain:

Jordan is currently shooting 38.7 percent at the free-throw line, which ranks second-lowest of all time ahead of only Chamberlain’s 38 percent in 1967-68.

On the flip side, Jordan is also very close to accomplishing an extremely impressive feat matched only by Chamberlain (more on that shortly).

Despite his atrocious foul shooting, Jordan is making an astounding 71.1 percent of his field goal attempts.  His field goal percentage is nearly double his free-throw percentage–let that sink in for a moment.

Only three other players in NBA history have ever shot better than 60 percent from the field and worse than 50 percent at the foul line: O’Neal, Chamberlain and Andre Drummond.  In 2012-13, Jordan became the first player ever with an better-than-60 FG percentage and a worse-than-40 FT percentage.  This season he may well top that by finishing above-70 and sub-40.

However, Jordan’s .711 FG percentage is worthy of being celebrated strictly on its own merit.  Among qualified candidates, it’s well more than 100 points higher than second-place Amir Johnson’s .573.  But as spectacular as it is in comparison to the rest of the league this year, it also rivals the all-time best.

In 1972-73, Chamberlain shot 72.7 percent from the field.  It is the only season on record in which an NBA player posted a FG percentage over 70.  Forty-two years later, Jordan’s 2014-15 campaign is on the verge of being the second.

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