First, I love watching them. Second, that team will be legit difficult in the playoffs because their big men pass, and shoot from outside, and run the lanes, all like guards. The New Orleans point guard, Rajon Rondo, shoots like most other teams’ center. And, then there’s Jrue and E’Twaun on the perimeter, I mean...the whole thing’s just kind of crazy. They play inside out, literally. (Not their bodies, they’re not skeleton-skin people; I mean, their bigs, who are usually interior players, now drift to the outside as a regular part of their game.)
Anywho, readers of this space will know that I’m a big fan of Boogie & The Brow. I think Boogie is one of the five best players in the NBA right now, and The Brow is basically turning into him (they’re 27 and 24 years old, respectively, HOLY FUDGING SHEETS, BY THE WAY), so I love him, too. Plus, they’re my favorite CCR cover band.
Boogie is averaging 25.5 points per game this season on 47% shooting, with 12.6 boards, and 5.1 assists.
His sidekick, The Brow, is averaging 26.7 ppg on 56.6% shooting, 10.5, and 2.3.
The New Orleans Pelicans are currently 23-20 and in 6th place in the West. They’re fourth in points in the whole dadgum NBA (the Cavs are fifth).
So: Is scoring 20 points per game and getting at least 10 rebounds per game a good thing?
Let’s put on our basketballer detectorist’s helmets and investigate!
Boogie’s career numbers are 21.5 ppg and 11 rebounds, and the Brow’s are 22.8 and 10.2.
Only 59 basketballers have ever averaged 20 points, or more, in a single season in the NBA. (Only two basketballers have ever scored 3,000 points in a single season: Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. This is a record that LeBron will never be able to beat. Wilt scored FOUR THOUSAND POINTS in one season once. The point leader last season, Sergeant Westbrook, scored 2,558 points.)
Of those 59 elite scorers, only 17 of them also averaged at least 10 rebounds per game. I’ve listed them below, along with their assists per game.
- Wilt Chamberlain (30.1 points per game, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists)
- Elgin Baylor (27.4, 13.5, 4.3)
- Bob Pettit (26.4, 16.2, 3.0)
- Karl Malone (25.0, 10.1, 3.6)
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24.6, 11.2, 3.6)
- Larry Bird (24.3, 10.0, 6.3)
- Shaquille O’Neal (23.7, 10.9, 2.5)
- George Mikan (23.1, 13.4, 2.8)
- Charles Barkley (22.1, 11.7, 3.9)
- Hakeem Olajuwon (21.8, 11.1, 2.5)
- Boogie Cousins (21.5, 11.0, 3.2)
- David Robinson (21.1, 10.6, 2.5)
- Elvin Hayes (21.0, 12.5, 1.8)
- Billy Cunningham (20.8, 10.1, 4.0)
- Moses Malone (20.6, 12.2, 1.4)
- Walt Bellamy (20.1, 13.7, 2.4)
- Bob Lanier (20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists)
Anthony Davis has only played in 371 games so far (Boogie’s played in 529), but his career stat line of 22.8/10.2/1.8 would rank him as #8 in the list above, displacing Charles Barkley. Whoa.
You could make a serious argument that New Orleans currently employs two of the best big men who have ever played in the NBA. Boogie and the Brow also shoot from outside. This season Boogie is shooting 35% from three, and Anthony Davis is shooting 36%. Larry Legend, the best outside shooter from the above list, had a career 37.6 3PT%. So, both men score and rebound at historic levels, and they also shoot 3s at a comparable rate to Larry MFing Bird. (To throw out some positive kudos to the Minnie-aniacs [yuck], Karl-Anthony Towns, who would be bigger than God if he played for the Knicks, is averaging 20 and 12 with a 42 3PT%. He averaged 25 and 12 last season. Jimmy Butler is a good god damn basketball player. But, Big KAT is going to go to the Hall of Fame someday. Probably best to start feeding him the ball some more.)
IF the Pelicans lose in the playoffs (mmmmwhen), it will be due to their, how you say, un-defense (they suck but they have the same defensive rating as Milwaukee, so…), rather than their offense. It’s possible that this combination of bigs can score with Houston and Golden State, BUT WHO CARES IF YOU CAN’T GET STOPS.
You know who kicks the Pelicans ass? Minnesota does. The Twin Towers have lost to the Big KAT three times this year. And, it’s not just Towns and Butler. I’ll bet you anything plus a dinosaur that Ancient Taj Gibson has a damn thing to do with that damn thing.
One last damn thing: If Boogie and the Brow continue their current season lines of 25 and 12, and 26 and 10, respectively, they’d basically be two Karl Malones on the same team. That’s actually kind of terrifying when you think about the postseason.
Quick aside: Have you ever noticed that ex-players who become broadcasters always complain about current players taking plays off, or taking games off, or playing lazy, or making mental mistakes? And, it seems like the broadcaster is implying that they never gave anything less than 100% when they played? This is utter BS, obviously, but I guess it would be hard to just come out and publicly state, “Hell yeah, I didn’t play that game hard. I was hungover AND didn’t care in the first place.” I feel like only Jordan played every game as if his life depended on it. Everyone else takes plays/games/days off. So, let’s stop hating and expecting absolute perfection from players, okay? Who knows, maybe their favorite poet just passed from this mortal coil, or something, and you’re being an unsympathetic ponce for expecting them to play at a high level while they grieve in dactylic hexameter.
Let’s wrap this up revisiting an exercise we did earlier this year and look at the worst player in each round in a twelve team league. If we were going to draft a fantasy team right now, based only on ESPN basic player rankings, what kind of team would we get?
- (Twelfth overall) Kyrie Irving, 12.54 Player Rating
- (24th) Kristaps Porzingis, 10.04
- (36th) Darren Collison, 8.31
- (48th) Josh Richardson, 7.44
- (60th) Lauri Markkanen, 6.23
- (72nd) Myles Turner, 5.63
- (84th) Goran Dragic, 4.94
- (96th) Tyler Johnson, 4.30
- (108th) Caris Levert (!), 3.68
- (120th) Shabazz Napier, 2.98
That’s not bad! (Players still available, btw, are Brandon “2D” Ingram, Wayne Ellington, Andrew Wiggins, and Dwight Howard.) Kyrie and Kristaps is noice. And, Baron Markkanen and Caris really tie the room together.
The point is, don’t freak out when you draft, even if you’re going late. There’s value all over the place, every year, in every draft.