I hope you folks don’t mind a random post from a long-time Brew Hoop reader, first-time poster. I’ve been thinking about this one for a while, and as we sit here killing time for the playoffs to start in earnest, it seemed like as good a time as any.
TL;DR – I propose a new statistical term: any time a player records more points than minutes played, they have scored "a freak".
A ways back, in the before times, I was messing around on basketball-reference. This was about halfway through the 2019-20 season, when the site still let you access all the stats for free. Giannis had just put up 30+ points in only 20-some minutes yet again, and I got to wondering how common that is, historically. Like, how many players every finished a season with more points than minutes?
I asked b-ref how many seasons did a player score at least 36 points per 36 minutes (minimum 200 minutes played). It’s just one. Wilt Chamberlain, the greatest scorer in the history of the game, and he did it just once, in the greatest offensive season ever, the one in which he averaged 50 points per game and scored 100 in one of them.
I lowered the parameters to 35 points per 36 minutes, and it blew my mind. There was the aforementioned singular season from Wilt – the one that almost broke the game of basketball – plus the current season from Giannis, plus the current season from Harden. And no one else, ever. Halfway through the season, Giannis and Harden were on pace to do something no one in the NBA had done since Kennedy was President. (They fell off the pace in the second half of the season, but still both finished in the top 10 seasons of all time in points per 36 minutes).
I kept lowering the parameters, and even down at 31 points per 36 minutes, you’ve got a handful of fluky sub-1000-minute seasons, a handful of great but not dominant seasons from modern usage gods like Russell Westbrook, and then some of the greatest offensive seasons in league history (including two from the criminally underrated/forgotten George Gervin). You have to get down below 30 points per 36 minutes before you reach territory that the league routinely sees from multiple players in a season, historically.
Which is all to say that when you see a guy put up 35 points in 28 minutes, you are seeing something special. I got to thinking, if we can celebrate well-rounded offensive games with the triple-double, why not something for the unstoppable drive artists and hot-hand shooters?
And thus, I propose: whenever a player finishes a game with more points than minutes played, he has scored "a freak".*
(I realize we could just as easily call it "a beard", but which of the following sound bites can you more easily see Charles Barkley delivering: "Beal comes into tonight riding a three-game freak streak.", or, "Beal comes into the game looking for his fourth straight beard.")
*A freak of less than 20 points is called a minifreak.**
**A freak that is also a triple-double is called a superfreak.***
***I have no idea what to call Bryn Forbes’ 30-0-0-0-1 line in 29 minutes a few weeks ago.