Strange-but-True Facts from 2012-13 NBA Season
NBA fans have gotten their fair share of the amazing and the bizarre in the 2012-13 NBA season.
Between unprecedented individual performances, perplexing team play and downright inexplicable occurrences, this season has been nothing if not thought-provoking. Regardless of what team you root for, if you're a fan of the league, you've been rewarded with plenty of entertaining stories.
Choosing the top 10 fun facts from 2012-13 is the easy part. Trying to figure out which one is the most improbable is much more difficult.
10. Kobe Bryant's Freakishly High-Volume Shooting
Everyone expects Kobe Bryant to jack up a ton of shots, but it's interesting to see just how often he goes into full volume-scoring mode.
On Dec. 22, Bryant hit 16 of his 41 attempts from the field against the Golden State Warriors. That's the most shots any player has taken in a game this season, leading DeMar DeRozan by eight attempts.
Given some context, that feat is even more absurd.
DeRozan's mark puts him just as close to Bryant's 41-shot game as it does to a 25-shot performance of Kobe's, which is tied for 77th in the league. In fact, Bryant has topped 25 attempts on 11 occasions this season, good for a seventh of the league's most prolific shooting nights himself.
9. Surprisingly Unproductive Assist Leader
For now, Rajon Rondo is the league leader in assists with 11.1 per game. Since he is done for the season with a torn ACL, however, Rondo is not going to be qualified for the statistical leaderboard when the final tally is taken.
Working off of the numbers right now, that would mean Chris Paul would take over the mantle with 9.7 assists. That's just another accomplishment in Paul's sparkling season, though historically it is a somewhat dubious one.
If no one tops 10 assists per game, it would be the first time since 2003-04 that no NBA player averaged double-digit assists. In that season, Jason Kidd led the league with 9.2.
Kidd actually dished out the most assists without topping 10 two other times. Before that, you have to go all the way back to Johnny Moore in 1981-82 to find the last instance.
8. Chris Paul's Point Guard Prowess
Let's stick with Chris Paul for a second, because he's playing every facet of the point guard position as well as anyone ever has.
Paul is now on pace to lead the league in both assists and steals. With 2.56 per game, he holds a comfortable lead over Mike Conley for the most swipes, putting him in line for an exceptional achievement.
Since the league started recording steals in 1973-74, only three players in NBA history have led the league in both of these stats in the same season: Micheal Ray Richardson, John Stockton... and Chris Paul.
On top of that, Paul is the only one who has done so twice before. If he does so for a third time, it would only boost his Hall of Fame credentials.
7. Kevin Durant's 50-40-90
The numbers Kevin Durant is putting up this season are absolutely insane.
This season, Durant is currently shooting 51 percent from the field, 41 percent from three and 91 percent from the line. That stellar efficiency puts him in rarefied air.
Only five players in NBA history have ever qualified for the 50-40-90 Club: Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki.
Consider, though, that Durant is putting up these numbers while averaging 29.6 points per game. Only Bird has ever scored so much while shooting so well.
Durant could be in much worse company than that.
6. The Unlikely Rise of the Orlando Magic
To the surprise of no one, the Orlando Magic are 14-31 and woefully out of the playoff race. What's intriguing is how long they stayed in the picture for.
As of Dec. 19, the Magic's record stood at a mediocre yet competitive 12-13. Jacque Vaughn's squad was playing unselfish basketball at both ends of the court, causing a perplexed Zach Lowe of Grantland to examine Orlando's chances of making the postseason.
That was right when Glen Davis got hurt for the first time this season. Since then, the Magic have spiraled sharply down, dropping 18 of their next 20 games. To make matters worse, Davis might miss the remainder of the season with a broken foot, per John Denton of the team's web site.
Now the Magic are exactly who we thought they would be, but for an unexpectedly extended period, it appeared they could be something more.
5. Nikola Vucevic's Rebounding Outburst
More on the Magic, as Nikola Vucevic has been one of the most surprising players of the season.
On New Year's Eve, Vucevic absolutely owned the boards against the Miami Heat, pushing the defending champs to overtime as he scored 20 points and hauled in an outrageous 29 rebounds. That's good for the most rebounds anyone has recorded in a single game in the 2012-13 season.
Take a second to think about that accomplishment: Vucevic was collateral in the Dwight Howard trade, then broke one of Howard's franchise rebounding records two months into his tenure with the Magic.
And who is second in the league this season in rebounds in a game? You guessed it, Dwight Howard.
If you said back in August that Vucevic would be wiping Howard's name off the leaderboards, you'd either be a soothsayer or a liar. There is no in between.
4. Charlotte's Three-Point Allergy
No team is worse at playing the perimeter than the Charlotte Bobcats.
Charlotte has made 167 fewer treys than its opponents and attempted a ridiculous 346 fewer treys. In both categories, the margin between Charlotte and the 29th-ranked team is equal to the margin between that team and the team in the 19th spot.
You can tell just by observing that Charlotte has trouble with the three-point line. Only in the stats is it clear just how woeful the Bobcats are in that regard.
3. The California Standings Upheaval
No one could have imagined that the NBA's California teams would be playing like this.
For starters, even with their recent uptick in play, the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers sit 10th in the Western Conference with a 20-26 record. That puts them closer to the lowly Sacramento Kings (17-30) than their Staples Center neighbors, the Los Angeles Clippers (34-13)
What's more, the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors have suddenly decided to play defense. Mark Jackson has successfully passed on his hard-nosed mentality to the unexpectedly successful Dubs, while the Clippers boast the fifth-most efficient defense in the league thanks to, or perhaps in spite of, Vinny Del Negro.
Heading into this season, it would have been easy to predict an epic LA rivalry. Instead, the Clippers and Warriors have clashed, while the Lakers' King-like play has been as shocking as anything to happen this season.
2. Someone Thought the Mosquito Was a Good Mascot
As crazy as the Lakers' season is, it's not as ridiculous as the potential nickname changes for the New Orleans Hornets.
Per Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune:
"When teams may be looking at a possible name change, it is standard practice for the NBA league office to file trademark applications on the team's behalf," Bass said Wednesday evening. "We filed trademark applications for multiple possible team names for the New Orleans franchise."
The league's attorney in charge of intellectual property, Anil V. George, filed trademark paperwork regarding five possible nicknames: Pelicans, Rougarou, Mosquitos, Swamp Dogs and Bullsharks.
Of course, the franchise went with the most sensible of those names, picking the Louisiana state bird and most accessible mascot in the Pelicans.
That said, just think of what made the final cut as alternatives.
The bullshark is one of the lesser-known species of shark native to the Gulf of Mexico, while swamp dog is a nickname for alligators that is specific to the region. Rougarou would have been the least comprehensible name, drawing inspiration from a French-American iteration of the werewolf.
And then there's the mosquito. Someone almost named an NBA team the Mosquitos. There is nothing left to say.
1. The Shortest Indefinite Suspension of All Time
On Dec. 23, ESPN published an article with the following lede:
Just one day later, the worldwide leader filed follow-up news brief, beginning as such:
Only later did all the details came out. GM Geoff Petrie and coach Keith Smart both wanted to punish Cousins for his insubordination, but the Maloof brothers overrode them to get their star center back on the court.
But the fact remains that DeMarcus Cousins was suspended indefinitely for one game. Though there is no codified history of indefinite suspensions, it's pretty safe to say this is the shortest one in NBA history.
The only thing that even remotely make sense about this story is that it involves DeMarcus Cousins, because of course. Beyond that, the one-game indefinite suspension is essentially a lock for the title of strangest fact from the 2012-13 season.