By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published April 18, 2016
There it goes! Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ revered record of 72 wins and 10 losses, for the best record and most wins in an 82-game NBA regular season is kaput. Emboss Steph Curry and the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors as the new regular season kings with a record 73 wins and 9 losses.
Steph and the fire-breathing Warriors have redefined the NBA with their style of play and have established exceptional regular season numbers. This presented us with ten interesting facts we’d like to share.
1. Steph is one of only three players to have a 50-45-90 shooting season in NBA history.
In terms of shooting production and efficiency, Steph had arguably the greatest season in NBA history. He shot 50.4 percent from the field this season, the highest of his career; 45.4 percent from the 3-point line, just shy of a career season-best; and a howling 90.8 percent from the free throw line. Actually, only three players have shot better than 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from beyond the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free throw line in a single-season. The other two are two-time MVP and Warriors’ current player development consultant, Steve Nash (2007-08), and you’ve guessed it, Warriors’ current coach, Steve Kerr, during that record breaking 1995-96 season for the Chicago Bulls.
Interestingly, if we combine Nash and Kerr’s points totals for those 50-45-90 seasons, they dwarf in comparison to Steph’s 30.1 points per game production this season.
2. Curry’s team is the best single-season 3-point shooting team, but that team is not the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors, known to be an exceptional 3-point shooting team, have made and attempted the most three pointers of any team in an NBA regular season, 1077 three-pointers made of 2592 attempts at a remarkable 41.6 percent. However, they have to resort to second-best in terms of single-season 3-point shooting percentage. The 1996-97 Charlotte Hornets team scored 591 of 1382 attempted threes at a prodigious 42.8 percent, still the best in NBA history. Interestingly, that Hornets team had some ultra-sharp 3-point shooters such as Glen Rice and another Curry, you’ve guessed it, Steph’s dad, Dell Curry.
3. Steph has been the most efficient 30-point-per-game scorer in NBA history
For this season, Steph averaged 30.1 points per game in just 34.2 minutes per game. This made him the first player in NBA history to average more than 30 points per game in a single-season while playing less than 35 minutes per game. Talk about relentless scoring efficiency.
4. Warriors are the best 2-point shooting team this season.
As implied earlier, the Warriors are the NBA-best 3-point shooting team this season at 41.6 percent and actually, the only team shooting over 38 percent from downtown. Hence, going into the playoffs, teams will try to run Steph and the Warriors off the 3-point line and turn them into a 2-point shooting team. They do so at their own peril, since, the Warriors are also the best 2-point shooting team in the NBA this season at 52.8 percent. Good luck to opposing teams who will try to make them one dimensional with this catch-22.
5. Since the introduction of NBA 3-point shot, only two players have had better overall seasons than Steph. Guess which two players?
In terms of overall player efficiency ranking (PER), on both the offensive and defensive end, including all statistical pluses and minuses, Steph is having the fifth-best season in the past 37 years and only two players have had better overall seasons. Offensively and defensively combined, Michael Jordan (1987-88, 1990-91) and LeBron James (2008-09, 2012-13) have had marginally better seasons than Steph when compared to the average NBA player for those seasons.
6. Warriors’ defense is just as good as their offense.
The Warriors are known for their explosive offense and lethal threes. So, it’s unsurprising that they are the number one ranked offensive team this season. However, almost equally, the Warriors are the fourth-best defensive team in the league this year. The Warriors rank first in the NBA in net FG, net 2-point and net 3-point percentages. Henceforth, combined, they are the best at scoring against teams and at the same time, preventing teams from scoring.
7. It took Jordan 761 games to score the same number of 3-pointers Steph scored in 79 games this season.
Over a career spanning 15 seasons and 1072 regular season games, Michael Jordan scored 581 three-pointers. On the other hand, in just one season comprising 79 games, Steph has scored 402 three-pointers. It took Jordan his first 761 games to score the same amount Steph scored this season. Taking out Jordan’s 1995-96 and 1996-97 season totals, Steph scored more 3-pointers this season than Jordan did in 13 of his 15 seasons combined. Mindboggling, isn’t it?
8. Warriors are the first team in history to conquer the Grinch of back-to-back games
The Warriors played the most back-to-back games this season, 20, with a record of 18-2 in the second of those back-to-back games. Additionally, they are the first team in NBA history to not lose consecutive games. They are also the first team in NBA history to not lose two games or more against the same team during the season.
9. Steph is one of only five players to win the scoring title in college and the NBA. Forget Jordan, Magic, Bird, Wilt or Kareem.
Interestingly, this season, Steph led all NBA players in scoring with 30.1 points per game. Similarly, during the 2008-09 college season, Steph led all NCAA college players in scoring with 28.6 points per game. In winning his first NBA scoring title this year, Steph has achieved something neither Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain nor Larry Bird ever did in their storied college and NBA careers combined: win the scoring title at both the college and the NBA level. Four other players achieved this feat: George Mikan, Paul Arizin, Rick Barry and Pete Maravich, all Hall of Famers.
10. The Warriors have lost only two games against the top-10 NBA teams this season.
As the NBA playoffs begin with the best teams on display and all trying to trounce the Warriors in a series, please make note of this amazing fact: the Warriors have a record of 21-2 against the top-10 NBA teams this season. Can any of these elite teams stop the Warrior’s march to destiny by beating them four times in a seven-game playoff series?
That question and more will be answered soon. In the end, all these bizarre facts about Steph and Warriors’ amazing season and efficiency will be meaningless if the Warriors don’t win the 2015-16 NBA championship. The 1971-72 Lakers won the NBA Championship after setting the single-season wins record 69-13. Jordan and his 1995-96 Bulls did the same. Steph and the 2015-16 Warriors have no choice but to maintain the trend. No pressure, right?
Until next time…
From the “Lies & Statistics” column in the Western Mirror (Published April 18, 2016)
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