We all know Oscar Robertson became the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double when he averaged 30.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 11.4 APG in 1961-62. Though he didn't have the benefit of first-class air travel, modern nutrition and training techniques, he did have the benefit of playing for a team that averaged an estimated 124.9 possessions per game, while playing over 44 minutes per game. Though I don't want to diminish the stamina required to perform at a high level at such a frenetic pace, the point stands that there were more opportunities for a player to accumulate counting stats in 1962 than there are in 2017, where the average game has about 96 possessions.
Still, even if we adjust statistics to a Per 100 Possessions basis, few have ever matched Oscar's production. Robertson averaged an estimated 26.7 Pts, 10.8 Reb & 9.9 Ast per 100 possessions in 1961-62. At Basketball-Reference, we have estimated per 100 possessions statistics for every player back to 1973-74 (when the advent of tracking of offensive rebounds, among other stats, made the estimates more reliable). From 1973-74 to 2015-16, a total of just four player seasons (by three players) matched The Big O's Per 100 Possession statistics. They were by do-it-all forwards Grant Hill & LeBron James (twice) and then Russell Westbrook, last season. But, now, the 2016-17 NBA season has TWO players doing that. Russell Westbrook, in his most ridiculous form yet, and James Harden, who has emerged as the perfect player for Mike D'Antoni's relentless attack. But it's not that these guys are matching Robertson's production. They're obliterating it.
And yet, saying that Westbrook is like a combination of peak Jordan's scoring with peak Malone's rebounding and peak Kidd's passing doesn't even do justice to how breathtaking his level of activity on the floor is.
As for Harden, the numbers aren't as eye-popping as Westbrook's, but his scoring and rebounding are roughly equivalent to peak LeBron James, except with 50% more assists thrown in. So, I guess that's pretty decent.
Tonight, the former teammates will square off for the 13th time in their regular-season careers, with each player owning six wins to this point. Harden is currently the overwhelming favorite to the win the MVP Award, but it's still early. Anyways, with their matchup tonight, we just wanted to take the opportunity to gawk at their absurd 2016-17 seasons.
If you're a baseball fan who got an Alexa-enabled device from Amazon for your holiday celebration of choice, I have some very good news. There's now an Alexa skill that will let her search Baseball-Reference for you!
Using the skill is quite easy. Just say "Alexa, enable Baseball Reference." Once you've done that, you can ask Alexa to look for leaders in a number of statistical categories and she'll look up the answer and tell you! In addition to a simple leader, you can also ask her to return a certain rank on the leaderboard (1-10) or list of top players (such as top two, top three, top four, etc.). You can also narrow it down to a year (1871 - present) or league (All of Baseball, National League or American League). Here's the full list of leaderboards that Alexa can search for you: Read the rest of this entry
Welcome to Play Index 101! This series of videos will teach you how to use the Sports Reference Play Index to research statistics and facts from sports history. This is Episode 1, all about the Season Finder:
I'd estimate that around 99% of the time, when someone comes to a Sports Reference site, they go to a player or team page and then log off. More advanced users may find their way to the frivolities pages, experiment with features like the Oracle of Baseball, or just spend several hours following link chains to various players and games.
While the Play Index is easy to use if you know your way around, it can seem daunting to a newcomer. We often get messages from people who are eager to learn how to use the Play Index, but don't quite know where to start. So, with that in mind, we're starting a new video series called Play Index 101! Read the rest of this entry
In the same way that the phrase that best summarized the 2015-16 season was "three-one lead," 2016-17 is shaping up to be the year of the triple-double. In general, the 2016-17 NBA season seems to be producing some absolutely insane stat lines, from Anthony Davis' early run of 40 and 50 point games to DeMar DeRozan's absurdly hot early start.
But one other thing that we've seen in the early part of this season is a ton of triple-doubles. Led by Russell Westbrook, who's threatening to make history by becoming the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double over the course of a full season, NBA players are contributing to more phases of the game than ever before, and the result has been a real delight for stat-nerds. Read the rest of this entry
With the college basketball season now up and running, we've added the 2016 RSCI Top 100 recruits to Basketball Reference. RSCI stands for Recruiting Services Consensus Index and can be seen here. It combines the rankings from various respected sources into one consensus ranking. It should be noted that this consensus can under-rank reclassifying players like Thon Maker or Jamal Murray since they're not always taken under consideration by all of the rankers.
This page contains links to college stats for this season's top freshmen (when applicable) so could come in handy if you're checking out 2017 NBA Draft prospects.
Historical RSCI rankings are available back to 1998, if you're curious about their predictive value.
This data is accessible via the "High School Season Honors" section of our NBA Awards menu.
On November 22, 1945, the Detroit Lions hosted the Cleveland Rams. Although there had been some professional football games on Thanksgiving in the 1920s and 30s, this marked the beginning of a new era and an impressive streak. For each of the next 71 years, the Lions would play on Thanksgiving. The Dallas Cowboys officially joined in the fun in 1966, as football joined turkey, naps, and contentious political arguments as a universally recognized Thanksgiving Day tradition. Read the rest of this entry
We recently added player salaries for the 1984-85 NBA season to player pages. This is a cool addition, because 1984-85 was the first season of the NBA salary cap. Please note that these totals, as all salary data, are unofficial. These salaries are also incomplete. We have data for 210 of the 320 players who played a game in the 1984-85 season. The highest-paid player for this season was Magic Johnson ($2.5M). Michael Jordan, a rookie at the time, made a $550K, which is just barely over the 2016-17 rookie minimum salary ($543,471).
This addition gives us salary data for most players all the way back to 1984-85. The two seasons we're missing are 1986-87 and 1989-90. If you have data for either of these seasons, and would like to share it, please let us know.
With the new triple-double leaderboard, you'll notice that LeBron James will pass Fat Lever for sole possession of 6th-most triple-doubles all-time with his next triple-double. But Russell Westbrook, on pace for 20 triple-doubles this season, is nipping at his heels.
There's not quite as much drama on the 50-Pt games leaderboard, where Wilt Chamberlain has as many as the next 7 players combined. LeBron James, with 10 50-pt games, is the only active player in the top 10, currently tied with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 7th place.
There have only been four officially recorded NBA quadruple-doubles, with one each by Nate Thurmond, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Alvin Robertson. This is because blocks and steals were not official statistics until 1973-74, the year after Chamberlain (who reportedly had multiple unofficial quadruple-doubles) retired from the NBA.