Our Mission: We will redeem Shawn Bradley's legacy by proving to the world he was a GOOD NBA Center, not an all-time bust.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Bradley = Hibbert & Gasol When Playing 24+ Minutes

Roy Hibbert and Pau Gasol are good starting NBA big men.

So was Shawn Bradley when he played starter's minutes.

In the 437 career games in which Bradley played at least 24 minutes, he averaged 11.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and a dominant 3.6 blocks. These numbers are almost identical to the numbers Roy Hibbert and Pau Gasol put up during the 2012-13 season.

 Pau Gasol & Roy Hibbert 2012-13 Averages

Here is how Shawn Bradley's numbers compare to Gasol and Hibbert during the 437 career games when he played at least 24 minutes.

 Bradley was just as effective as the 2012-13 versions of Pau Gasol and Roy Hibbert when he played the same number of minutes.

Offensively, Shawn Bradley averaged just 1.2 points fewer games while actually shooting a slightly better percentage from the field (46.5% for Bradley, 46.0% for Gasol/Hibbert). Because Gasol is such a gifted passer, his 4.1 assists per game greatly exceed the more traditional center numbers from Hibbert (1.4) and Bradley (1.0).

Defensively, Bradley is clearly the best rim protector in the group when he played 24+ minutes. His 3.6 blocks per game are significantly higher than Hibbert (2.6) or Gasol (1.2). While Bradley is not remembered as a great rebounder, he was just as effective as Hibbert and Gasol on the boards.

So Why Didn't Bradley Play 24+ Minutes More Often?

Remember, these numbers reflect games in which Shawn Bradley played at least 24 minutes. Bradley hit this 24+ minute threshold in 437 of his 832 career games - or just over half of the time. So why didn't he play at least 24 minutes more often?

The answer is simple: He didn't fit the Dallas Maverick's up-tempo system during the last four years of his career (2001-02 through 2004-05).

The end of Bradley's career coincided with the emergence of the Steve Nash/Dirk Nowitzki/Michael Finley whirlwind Dallas offense. The Mavs finished first in points per game three times during the last four years of Bradley's career. Shawn Bradley in his thirties was not going to keep up with Nash, Nowitzki, and Finley in their primes.

So Bradley became a role player off the bench over the last four years of his career, averaging just 15.0 minutes in 277 games between 2001-02 and 2004-05. This is the primary reason behind Bradley eclipsing 24 minutes in just over half of his career games.

Gasol + Hibbert = Great

Back to the point at hand: When Shawn Bradley played starter's minutes, he was as productive as the 2012-13 versions of Pau Gasol and Roy Hibbert.

Remember, Pau Gasol is a four-time All-Star, including three straight appearances between 2009 and 2011. Roy Hibber was an All-Star in 2012. They are two of the NBA's best big men. When Shawn Bradley played the same number of minutes, his production was at the same level as Gasol and Hibbert.  

Pau Gasol and Roy Hibbert are great starters, no doubt.

When Bradley played starter's minutes, he was too, once again proving our point:

Shawn Bradley Was Good!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bradley & the Elite 900 PTS-600 REB-240 BLK Club

An innocent NBA player's reputation has been murdered.

You are a detective with the CSI:NBA squad and need to solve the crime. The only clue you have is a set of cryptic numbers: 900-600-240.

900-600-240.  900-600-240.

The numbers plague you, haunting your dreams. You scour basketball-reference looking for the meaning behind the digits. Then, one day, your investigation hits pay dirt. You break the case wide open.

The NBA player with the murdered reputation is Shawn Bradley.

The 900-600-240 represent the total points, rebounds, and blocks he posted in 1995-96 and 1996-97, making him one of just seven players in NBA history to surpass 900-600-240 more than once in his career.

Your investigation proves once and for all that Shawn Bradley Was Good!

The 900 Points - 600 Rebounds - 240 Blocks Club

Blocks became an official statistic in the 1973-74 season. Since then only a small number of players have posted 900+ points, 600+ rebounds, and 240+ blocks in multiple seasons:

1. David Robinson (7 times)
2. Hakeem Olajuwom (7 times)
3. Dikembe Mutombo (6 times)
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5 times)
5. Patrick Ewing (5 times)
6. Alonzo Mourning (2 times)
7. Shawn Bradley (2 times)

That's it. The list of players with multiple 900-600-240 seasons consists of Shawn Bradley and a group of current and future Hall of Famers.

Shut Out of the 900-600-240 Club

It's interesting to see who didn't (or hasn't) enter the multiple 900-600-240 club. 

Shaquille O'Neal did it once in 1992-93, which was the only season he exceeded 240 blocks in his career.

Shockingly, Dwight Howard has never totaled 240 blocks in a single season in his nine-year career. Tim Duncan has never blocked 240 shots in his 16 years in the NBA.

Swatting 240 shots in a single season is a big deal. Bradley accomplished the feat three times, the final season being 1996-97. Since then only six players have blocked 240+ shots in a season: Mutombo (three times), Theo Ratliff (three), Ben Wallace (twice), Serge Ibaka (twice), Marcus Camby (once), and Mourning (once).

Coupling blocks with points and rebounds illustrates Bradley's versatility.

Ben Wallace could block shots and rebound, but he couldn't score, topping out at just 773 points in 2003-04.

Marcus Camby was a solid scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker, but he couldn't stay healthy enough to ever surpass the 900-600-240 threshold. Camby scored over 900 points just once - as a rookie - and blocked more than 240 shots just once as well. 

Theo Ratliff led the NBA in blocks per game three times in his 16-year career, but never came close to scoring 900 points in a season. He also exceeded 600 rebounds only two times in his career.

900 + 600 + 240 = GOOD!

As your CSI:NBA investigation revealed, it takes a solid player to register 900 points, 600 rebounds, and 240 blocks in a single season.

It takes a special player to do it more than once.

Shawn Bradley is one of only seven players to join the 900-600-240 club on multiple occasions. As your investigation comes to a close, the evidence points to just one logical conclusion:

Shawn Bradley Was Good!

'97-'03: Bradley's 17.2 PER is 11th Among NBA Bigs

How do you compare apples to apples?

With fruit, you consult Granny Smith. With NBA players, you consult John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating (PER)

When looking at Shawn Bradley's career through the context of PER, he was clearly an above average center.

PER is the best advanced metric to measure a player's overall per-minute productivity as it incorporates all of a player's accomplishments, including the positives like points and rebounds and the negatives like missed shots and turnovers. PER is standardized so that the league average is 15.0.

In the seven seasons between 1996-97 and 2002-03, Shawn Bradley's 17.2 PER was 11th best among NBA centers:

Highest PER - NBA Centers 1997-2003*
1. Shaquille O'Neal - 29.6
2. David Robinson - 23.5
3. Alonzo Mourning - 22.7
4. Arvydas Sabonis - 20.5
5. Hakeem Olajuwon - 20.4
6. Brad Miller - 19.0
7. Dikembe Mutombo - 18.2
8. Marcus Camby - 18.0
9. Patrick Ewing - 18.0
10. Vlade Divac - 17.6
11. Shawn Bradley - 17.2

(*Min. 271 games played, representing half of all games between 1997 and 2003, including the 50-game 1999 season.) 

That's right. For seven full seasons, Shawn Bradley's Player Efficiency Rating was within one point of solid centers like Vlade Divac, Patrick Ewing, Marcus Camby, and Dikembe Mutomto.  

Between 1997 and 2003, Shawn Bradley was a good center as measured by PER.

Bradley's Longevity + Career PER is Top-30 All-Time Among Centers

But Shawn Bradley's above-average PER was not only limited to his solid seven-year run between 1997 and 2003. In his 12-year career, Bradley played 832 games while retiring with a career PER of 16.0. 

Getting above-average production (16+ PER) from the center position over the long term (800+ games) is rare in the NBA.

In fact, fewer than 30 centers in NBA history have joined Shawn Bradley in recording at least 800 career games while retiring with a career PER of 16.0 or higher. Most of them are (or will be) in the Hall of Fame:

Centers with 800+ Games and 16.0+ PER
Legends (17): Shaq, D-Rob, Wilt, Kareem, Hakeem, Moses Malone, Bob Lanier, Mourning, Ewing, Bob McAdoo, Artis Gilmore, Walt Bellamy, Robert Parish, Bill Russell, Mutombo, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld.
All-Stars (8): Ilgauskas, Alvan Adams, Rik Smits, Vlade Divac, Brad Miller, Jack Sikma, Redd Kerr, Bill Laimbeer.
Others (3): Marcus Camby, Mike Gminski, Shawn Bradley.

When looking at PER - basketball's best productivity metric - Shawn Bradley was clearly a solid center. During his prime (1997-2003), Bradley nearly cracked the list of the NBA's Top-10 centers. Over the span of his 12-year career, he registered numbers (800+ games, 16+ PER) that fewer than 30 centers have ever replicated.

No, Shawn Bradley was not a Hall of Famer.

But when looking strictly at PER, this much is abundantly clear:

Shawn Bradley Was Good!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

'95-'01: Bradley Among NBA's Top-20 in PTS & REBS

As we've already chronicled, Shawn Bradley is the most efficient shot blocker in NBA history.

But he wasn't a one-trick pony, you know, like Gus, the field goal kicking mule in the 1976 Disney movie. I mean, all Gus could do was split the uprights. He couldn't pass. Couldn't block. Couldn't drop back and defend in a Cover 2.

Shawn Bradley wasn't Gus. There was more to his game that just blocking shots.

After an injury-shortened rookie season in 1993-94, the 7'6" big man spent the next seven years as one of the NBA's Top-20 scoring/rebounding combo players.

The 5,000 Point - 3,900 Rebound Club: 1995-2001

In the seven seasons between 1995 and 2001, Shawn Bradley scored 5,060 points and grabbed 3,923 rebounds. This puts Bradley in elite company as only 17 other players scored more than 5,000 points with 3,900 rebounds during that time period.

That's right, Shawn Bradley was a Top-20 points/rebounds combo player over a seven year period!

Take a look at the other players to join Bradley in the 5,000/3,900 Club. They can be lumped into three general groups: All-Time Greats, All-Stars, and Solid Contributors

All-Time Greats: Shaq, D-Rob, Hakeem, Ewing, Karl Malone, Mutombo, KG, Mourning, C-Webb
All-Stars: Vin Baker, Shawn Kemp, Vlade Divac, Kevin Willis, Horace Grant, Anthony Mason
Solid Contributors: Shawn Bradley, Clarence Weatherspoon, P.J Brown

That's it. That's the list. Those are the only players to go for 5,000/3,900 between 1995 and 2001.

A Solid Seven Seasons

Shawn Bradley was part of a select group of Hall-of-Famers, All-Stars, and solid NBA players for more than half of his 12-year NBA career. 

No, Shawn Bradley wasn't an all-time great. He wasn't an All-Star. But for seven straight seasons, Shawn Bradley was a solid scoring/rebounding combo player.

Yes, it's true - Shawn Bradley Was Good!

Bradley is Most Efficient Shot Blocker in NBA History!

Let's get right to the point:

Shawn Bradley is the most efficient shot blocker in NBA history!

The advanced metric of Block Percentage estimates the percentage of opponent two-point field goal attempts blocked by a player while he was on the floor. Shawn Bradley has the highest Block Percentage in NBA History.

All-Time NBA Block % Leaders (as of 10/24/2013)
1. Shawn Bradley - 7.83%
2. Theo Ratliff - 7.19%
3. Mark Eaton - 6.92%
4. Alonzo Mourning - 6.57%
5. Dikembe Mutombo - 6.28%

In other words, no player in NBA history blocked more shots while he was on the floor than Shawn Bradley.

Bradley is to shot blocking what Michael Jordan is to scoring (highest points per 36 minutes), Dennis Rodman is to rebounding (highest Rebound %), and John Stockton is to assists (highest Assists %).

Jordan. Rodman. Stockton. Shawn Bradley!

No player in NBA history protected the rim more effectively than the former BYU big man. Nobody. Ever!

Our mission here is to prove that Shawn Bradley Was Good! When looking at his career as a whole, this statement is 100% accurate. But when it comes to Bradley's shot blocking, it grossly understates just how dominant he was.

Forget about Bradley being good.

When it came to blocking shots, Shawn Bradley was the greatest of all time.

Our Mission: Proving Shawn Bradley Was Good!

The earth is the center of the universe!

The world is flat!

Shawn Bradley was a bust!

Incorrect statements repeated long enough begin to sound true to the uninformed masses. Fortunately for the rest of us, history has produced a small number of intelligent, brave souls like Copernicus and Columbus to disprove incorrect conventional wisdom.

If Copernicus or Columbus were alive today to write a sports blog, it would undoubtedly be this one, definitively proving to the unbelievers that Shawn Bradley Was Good!

The notion Shawn Bradley was a bust has persisted for twenty years now. ESPN's Bill Simmons has referred to Bradley as a "colossal bust" a "dunking test dummy", and lumped Bradley's career in with those of Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic.

Simmons isn't along in loudly and repeatedly declaring the world is flat (er, Bradley is a bust). Sports Illustrated listed Shawn Bradley among the all-time draft day busts. So did the New York Daily News. So did Fox Sports. Bleacher Report did too.

The earth is the center of the universe! The world is flat! Shawn Bradley was a bust!

No, he wasn't.

Our mission at Shawn Bradley Was Good! is to prove exactly what our name declares, that Shawn Bradley was a good NBA center.

But we are also realistic. We are not claiming Bradley was an All-Star. We are not alleging he had a great NBA career. We are not trying to justify Bradley being the No. 2 overall selection in the 1993 NBA Draft. Rather, our mission is to simply but boldly share the objective truth that Shawn Bradley had a productive 12-year NBA career. Bradley was neither an All-Star nor a bust. He was simply good, and that's the point.

The sun is the center of the universe.

The earth is round.

And Shawn Bradley Was Good!