Nikola Vucevic's 29 rebound game on December 31st caused a lot of jaws to drop
Unpredictability—it's what draws us to sports in the first place. The fact that, on any given night, we may see something that we've never seen before and will never see again.
Whether it be an underdog pulling off an upset, or an individual performance that leaves us breathless, sports have the ability to shock us in a way that most entertainment cannot. In a world full of "reality" TV, sports are still the undisputed king.
The 2012-13 NBA season has been no different, as we've seen the Los Angeles Lakers unprecedented failure, falling from preseason favorites to win the Western Conference to fighting for their playoff lives.
We've also seen an unexpected playoff run by the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Celtics play better after a season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo, and the New York Knicks roar back to contender status after over a decade of ineptitude.
It's been fun.
This NBA season has also given us unexpected individual performances. Players that have gone above and beyond (or sometimes under and below) our expectations to such an extreme during a game that their stat lines leave us double and triple checking the box scores.
As the NBA's regular season winds down, let's take a look at the seven craziest stat lines that no one saw coming.
Shavlik Randolph joined a very exclusive club on April 5th against Cleveland
Shavlik Randolph, Boston Celtics
April 5, 2013
16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 personal fouls, 13 minutes played
When the Celtics signed Shavlik Randolph on March 1, very little was expected of him. He was thought to be bench fodder, a warm body signed to a 10-day contract just to help fill an injury depleted roster.
Instead, Randolph has forced his way into Doc Rivers rotation, averaging five points and 4.7 rebounds per game over 13 minutes of action, solid rate numbers that have helped the Celtics stay afloat despite a rash of injuries.
Despite playing barely a quarter's worth of action, Randolph managed to score a career high 16 points, grab seven rebounds, and foul out of the game.
Just how rare is this stat line? According to basketball reference's "play index", since 1985, only one other player has gone for 16-plus points, 7-plus rebounds and fouled out of a game in 13 minutes or less of action. That would be one Pete Verhoeven, as a member of the 1985-86 Golden State Warriors.
On March 16 Spencer Hawes nearly joined one of the most exclusive clubs in sports
Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers
March 16, 2013
18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 blocks
The quadruple-double club just may be the most exclusive club in the NBA.
Since the NBA started keeping track of steals and blocks in 1973, only four players have accomplished the feat: Nate Thurmond in 1974, Alvin Robertson in 1986, Hakeem Olajuwon in 1990 and David Robinson in 1994.
Hawes is a good player having a solid season, but nothing could have prepared us for the monster stat line he was about to put up.
In the game, the sixth-year center from Washington doubled his rebounding average while quadrupling both his assist and block averages as the Sixers knocked off a much better Pacers team.
Reggie Evans exploded for 22 points and 26 boards on March 27
Reggie Evans, Brooklyn Nets
March 27, 2013
22 points, 26 rebounds, 3 assists
Reggie Evans has always had a knack for rebounding.
In fact, if Evans had enough minutes played (he's currently 1,230 minutes shy of qualifying) his career rebounding percentage would rank as the second best in NBA history (he grabs 21.8 percent of all available rebounds while he's on the floor), behind only Dennis Rodman.
What was surprising was that Evans not only set a career high in boards, but he also scored a career-high 22 points in the same game.
In 741 career games played (including playoffs), Evans has scored over 20 points just three times (0.4 percent of his games), and grabbed over 20 rebounds just 12 times (1.6 percent), yet he was able to accomplish both feats in the same game against the Blazers.
Evans is the only NBA player to put up at least 22 points and 26 rebounds in the same game this season—not bad for an 11-year veteran playing for his sixth team.
This just about sums up Jrue Holiday's April 3rd performance
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
April 3, 2013
5 points, 2-24 FG, 0-5 3 PT FG, 3 turnovers
There are only two NBA players currently ranked in the top five in assists and top 20 in scoring for the 2012-13 season. One is the Brooklyn Nets perennial All-Star Deron Williams, and the other is Philadelphia 76ers breakout performer Jrue Holiday.
Holiday is currently averaging career highs in minutes (38.4), points (18.1), assists (8.5), rebounds (4.3) and steals (1.7). When the NBA's "Most Improved Player" award is announced next month, there is a very strong chance Holiday's name will be read.
Despite all the positive aspects of Holiday's breakout season, there is also an ugly truth. Just one week ago the fourth-year pro turned in the worst individual shooting performance of the past 30 years.
On April 3 in Charlotte, Holiday shot the ball 24 times from the field and hit two shots.
According to the "play index," Holiday is the only player since the 1985-86 season to shoot that many times, and only hit two. While Holiday was ice cold from three-point range (0-for-5), he was also unable to hit anything from in close, shooting a staggering 1-for-9 from within 5 feet of the basket.
Holiday's performance also helped the Bobcats erase a 16-point deficit and stun the Sixers. The loss also pushed Philadelphia to the brink of playoff extinction (which would come just two days later).
Stephen Curry scored 54 points back on Feb. 25 at MSG
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Feb. 25, 2013
54 points, 18-of-28 FG, 11-of-13 3PT FG, 7-of-7 FT, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals
For as long as the building has stood, Madison Square Garden has brought out the best in the New York Knicks' opponents.
From Michael Jordan's infamous "Double Nickel" following his return to basketball, to Reggie Miller's "8 points in 9 seconds" back in the 1995 playoffs and finally Kobe Bryant's MSG-record 61 points in February, 2009.
MSG had seen it all, or so we thought.
Curry scored an NBA season-high 54 points, and needed just 28 shots to do it. He went completely unconscious from three-point range, drilling 11-of-13 shots he took from long range.
In the process, he became the first player since 1985-86 to score 54 points, dish out seven assists, grab six rebounds and come up with three steals in the same game.
He also became just the fifth player in NBA history to knock down 11 threes in a game (Deron Williams has since become the sixth), and of the 384 players in league history to attempt 13 or more threes in a game. His absurd 84.6 percent success rate from deep against the Knicks is the best of them all.
The Knicks went on to win the game, but the "Steph Curry Game" will be remembered as long as Madison Square Garden is standing.
Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and 29 rebounds on New Year's Eve
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Dec. 31, 2012
20 points, 29 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
When the Orlando Magic finally dealt Dwight Howard this summer in a monster four-team trade, many folks in the media scoffed at their return. After all, Orlando had just dealt the best big man in the game for guard Arron Afflalo, rookie Maurice Harkless and big man Nikola Vucevic, a pu-pu platter of sorts.
Some considered the return embarrassing.
Eight months later many of those same pundits are announcing Orlando as the winner of the trade.
For starters Howard has been banged up for the Lakers, averaging his fewest points since the 2005-06 season and thus far refusing to sign a long-term extension.
Andrew Bynum, who went from Los Angeles to Philadelphia in the deal, ended up missing the entire season due to his ongoing knee issues.
And then there is Vucevic. Coming off a solid but unspectacular rookie season for the Sixers (5.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15 minutes per game), the second-year center was considered a project.
Instead, he has become one of the best young big men in basketball, averaging 12.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1 block per game for Orlando as they begin to rebuild.
Oh and those 29 rebounds? Well they are the most by any NBA player this season; three more than Howard's best effort, and 29 more than Bynum has grabbed for Vucevic's old team in Philadelphia.
Lebron James' performance on Feb. 26th was one of the best in NBA history
LeBron James, Miami Heat
Feb. 26, 2013
40 points, 16 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
LeBron James is unspeakably good at basketball. Therefore, it may be surprising to see his performance top the list of "Crazy NBA Stat Lines No One Could Have Predicted." But that's until you take a closer look at just how insane his Feb. 26 performance against the Sacramento Kings was.
LeBron scored 40 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the lowly Kings, numbers that by themselves are very impressive. After all, only 11 players reached both of those numbers in a game in 2012-13.
He also dished out 16 assists, a number that was reached just 19 times this season, the other 18 times by pure point guards (Jose Calderon five times, Rajon Rondo four times, Goran Dragic, Chris Paul and Brandon Jennings twice, Greivis Vasquez, John Wall and Brian Roberts once).
Now what happens when you put all of the numbers together? Pretty simple: NBA history.
Again using the "play index," no player since since 1985-86 had gone for 40 or more points, 16 or more assists and 8 or more rebounds in the same game—until LeBron did it. In fact, only three other players have accomplished just the points and assists totals—the last being Kevin Johnson in 1994.
Surprisingly the Heat needed just about every point, assist and rebound that James could give them as the Kings pushed Miami into overtime before order was restored to the universe and the Heat pulled away for the win.
LeBron also shot 61 percent from the field in the win, the 14th straight game he hit at least half of his shots.
While we've come to expect greatness from the best basketball player on the planet, his play against the Kings proves that even the brightest of stars can catch us off balance with a historic performance.