Highlights: A Dish Best Served Cold

For no good reason, I give you highlights more than a fortnight old: the NBA.com top ten plays from November 9, 2014. Behold:

Long-time readers (I know you’re out there) will be pleased to note the appearances of It Goes to XI favorites like the Manimal, Kenneth Faried (checking in at #7 after chasing down Wesley Matthews of the Blazers) and preferred eBay customer Mason Plumlee (earning the #2 spot for working the pick and roll with Deron Williams and introducing Aaron Gordon to the league).

For what it’s worth, Sixers rookie KJ McDaniels deserved better than #6 for that vicious rejection of Greivis Vasquez. McDaniels, a Clemson product, is an impressive shot blocker, ranking 33rd in the league per NBA.com with 1.2 blocks per game (while playing only 22.7 minutes per game). Not bad for a guy listed at 6’6″.

Leading the league in blocks per game this season is Anthony Davis at 3.5 per contest. This represents a marked improvement over last season, when Davis led the league at a mere 2.8 per. Should he continue his present pace for the entire season, however, Davis would not even crack the top 25 list for NBA shot-blocking seasons (on a per-game basis). In order to do that, Davis would have to beat the 3.72 blocks per game posted by Alonzo Mourning in the 1999-2000 season.

A look at that top 25 list is surprising in that four of the top 15 seasons belong to Mark Eaton of the Utah Jazz. In 1984-85, Eaton notched the best single-season average in NBA history, rejecting an unprecedented 5.56 shots per game; no one else has ever averaged more than five over a single season. (In fairness to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, blocks were not an official statistic until the 1973-74 season).

Eaton: the prototype?


Metric Yardstick

As NBA teams (and teams at all levels of basketball) develop and employ more and more advanced metrics, there is one measuring tool of coaching acumen that is perhaps overlooked: the number of good scoring chances that come on in-bounds plays. It seems to me to be one of the only fair ways to quantify the performance of a coach and his staff.

Much credit, then to Manhattan Jaspers head coach Steve Masiello. He (or a capable assistant) drew up this dandy, which allowed Manhattan to extend its game against UMass into overtime:

As an aside, it’s not clear to me how that dunk was named top play of the day on SportsCenter but failed to make it into the UMass highlight package:

Poor showing, UMass Athletics! (Nobody likes a sore winner).