Saturday, October 23, 2021

Top 100 NBA Players: #8 - Bill Russell


Bill Russell

Teams

Boston Celtics - 1956-69


Playoffs

Appearances - 13 (1957,1958,1959,1960,1961,1962,1963,1964,1965,1966,1967,1968,1969)

Conference Finals - 13 (1957,1958,1959,1960,1961,1962,1963,1964,1965,1966,1967,1968,1969)

NBA Finals - 12 (1957,1958,1959,1960,1961,1962,1963,1964,1965,1966,1968,1969)

Championships - 11 (1957,1959,1960,1961,1962,1963,1964,1965,1966,1968,1969)


Awards and Honors

Rookie of the Year - 1957

MVP - 5 (1958,1961,1962,1963,1965)

Finals MVP - 0 (1960,1961,1962,1963,1964,1965,1966,1969)

All-NBA First Team - 3 (1958,1959,1960,1961,1963,1964,1965,1966,1967)

All-NBA Second Team - 8 (1957,1958,1960,1961,1962,1963,1964,1966,1967,1968,1969)

Hall of Fame - 1975

*(actual in bold, deserved in italics)


All-Time Ranks

Total Rebounds - #2

Rebounds Per Game - #2


League Leads

Total Rebounds (#1-1958,1959,1964,1965, #2-1960,1961,1962,1963,1966,1967, #3-1968,1969, #4-1957)

Rebounds Per Game (#1-1957,1958,1959,1964,1965, #2-1960,1961,1962,1963,1966, #3-1967,1968,1969)

Field Goal Percentage (#2-1959, #3-1958, #4-1960, #5-1957)

Total Assists (#4-1967, #5-1965)

Assists Per Game (#5-1965)


In 3 seasons at the University of San Francisco, Bill Russell averaged 20.7 points and 20.3 rebounds and led the Dons to back-to-back championships, leading the St. Louis Hawks to draft him #2 overall, then trade him to the Celtics for Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley.

Russell was a member of the 1956 Olympic team that played in Melbourne, Australia, and the games took place in November and December to line up with summer in the southern hemisphere, causing Russell to miss the start of his rookie season. After winning a gold medal while leading the United States in scoring, he finally arrived in Boston in late December.

As a rookie, Russell led the league in rebounding, averaging 19.6 per game to go with 14.7 points, but lost out on the Rookie of the Year award to teammate Tom Heinsohn, which caused a difficult relationship between the two. Russell helped Bob Cousy lead the Celtics to the Finals for the first time in their history, where they beat the Hawks in 7 games in a double-overtime thriller.

The next year, Russell again led the league in rebounding, this time with 22.7 per game, and raised his scoring to 16.6. Russell was named the league's MVP, but was strangely only voted to the All-NBA Second Team. He helped lead the Celtics back to the Finals, but he injured his foot in Game 3 of the team's rematch with the Hawks, missing the next 2 games before attempting a comeback in Game 6, which they lost.

Russell was just as great the next year, winning his third straight rebounding title, and the Celtics reached the Finals for the third year in a row, and they made up for the disappointment of the year before, sweeping the Lakers in the Finals to take home their second championship.

Wilt Chamberlain made his debut the next year, and Russell averaged 18.2 points and 24.0 rebounds, but did not win the rebounding title. He set a league record that year with 51 rebounds in a single game, but Chamberlain broke that the next year by grabbing 55, and those 2 performances are still the 2 highest in history. Boston met the Hawks in the Finals for the third time, and Russell scored 22 points with 35 rebounds in Game 7 to give Boston the victory. The Finals MVP award did not exist yet, but I believe that this performance would have earned Russell his first of 8 in his career.

After a relatively easy championship the next year over the Lakers, the big news of the 1961-62 season was Wilt averaging 50 points per game, but Boston became the first team ever to win 60 games, and Russell was named the MVP again as a result. They beat Wilt and the Warriors in the Conference Finals, then went to 7 games against the Lakers in the Finals, with Russell putting up 30 points and 40 rebounds in the deciding final game.

Cousy retired after that season, but that didn't change anything for the Celtics, with Russell winning his 4th MVP and the Celtics winning their 6th championship in 7 seasons with another win over the Lakers in the Finals. In 1964, Russell averaged a career high 24.7 rebounds per game, beating Chamberlain for the rebounding title for the first time, then beat Chamberlain and the San Francisco Warriors in the Finals in 5 games.

Russell won his 5th MVP the next year after the Celtics broke their own record with 62 wins, with Russell winning his 5th rebounding title as well with 24.1 per game. The beat Wilt and his new team, the 76ers, in a tough 7-game Conference Finals, then beat the Lakers in the Finals in 5 games to win their 7th title in a row.

His numbers dipped a bit the next year, down to 12.9 points and 22.8 rebounds, but he led the Celtics to the Finals for the 10th year in a row. They faced the Lakers yet again, and the series went the full 7 games, with Russell finishing off the final game with 25 points and 32 rebounds to win his 9th championship.

Coach Red Auerbach retired after that season, and Russell was named the team's new coach while still playing as well. He averaged 13.3 points and 21.0 rebounds that year, but the 76ers set a new record with 68 wins that year, then knocked off the Celtics in the Conference Finals, marking the only time in Russell's career that he wouldn't reach the Finals, and the only time he lost in the playoffs without being injured.

By this time, John Havlicek had become the Celtics best player, but Russell still played a big role, and they were able to bounce back and reach the Finals again in 1968. The faced the Lakers once again, and beat them in 6 games, winning a 10th championship for Russell, with 5 coming against the Lakers.

Russell came back for one last season, averaging 9.9 points and 19.3 rebounds, still good for #3 in the league, which was the 13th year in a row he had been in the top 3. The team struggled, barely making the playoffs, but pulled off a couple of upsets in the playoffs to reach the Finals again, where they beat the Lakers in 7 games for a final championship. After the game, Russell walked away from the game, not even attending the championship parade, and announced his retirement in Sports Illustrated, leaving the Celtics without a starting center or a coach.

Russell is the greatest champion in the history of sports. He won 2 championships in high school, 2 in college, 1 in the Olympics, and 11 in the NBA. He led the NBA in rebounding 5 times, finished in the top 3 in all 13 of his seasons, and is #2 on the all-time list for total rebounds and rebounds per game. He was well-known as a great shot-blocker, but they weren't recorded during his career, so there is no telling how much that could have helped him in these rankings, but even with the numbers that are available, he is definitely one of the greatest to ever play the game.




NBA Predictions - 23 Oct

Upset picks are in italics.

Atlanta at Cleveland - Hawks by 19.5

Miami at Indiana - Heat by 12

Dallas at Toronto - Raptors by 14

Detroit at Chicago - Bulls by 13

New Orleans at Minnesota - Timberwolves by 9

Milwaukee at San Antonio - Spurs by 5

Phoenix at Portland - Suns by 2.5

Memphis at LA Clippers - Clippers by 4


Results

NBA: 6-4 (.600) 17-9 overall (.654)

Upsets: 0-2 (.000)

Friday, October 22, 2021

Top 100 NBA Players: #9 - Kobe Bryant


Kobe Bryant

Teams

Los Angeles Lakers - 1996-16


Playoffs

Appearances - 15 (1997,1998,1999,2000,2001,2002,2003,2004,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012)

Conference Finals - 8 (1998,2000,2001,2002,2004,2008,2009,2010)

NBA Finals - 7 (2000,2001,2002,2004,2008,2009,2010)

Championships - 5 (2000,2001,2002,2009,2010)


Awards and Honors

MVP - 1 (2008)

Finals MVP - 2 (2009,2010)

All-NBA First Team - 11 (2001,2002,2003,2004,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013)

All-NBA Second Team - 2 (2000,2001,2004,2010,2011,2012,2013)

All-NBA Third Team - 2 (1999,2005)

Hall of Fame - 2020

*(actual in bold, deserved in italics)


All-Time Ranks

Total Points - #4

Points Per Game - #13

Total Steals - #17

Three-Pointers Made - #18

Total Assists - #31

Steals Per Game - #99


League Leads

Points Per Game (#1-2006,2007, #2-2003,2005,2008,2012, #3-2009,2013, #4-2001,2004,2010, #5-2011)

Total Points (#1-2003,2006,2007,2008, #2-2013, #3-2002,2009,2011,2012, #5-2010)

Total Steals (#3-2003, #5-2008)


After averaging over 30 points per game in each of his final two high school seasons, Kobe Bryant decided to skip college and enter the NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the #13 overall pick, who immediately traded him to the Lakers for Vlade Divac.

Kobe did not play much in his first season, and scored only 7.6 points per game, but he doubled that average to 15.4 in his second season, then raised it again in his third season to 19.9 per game in his first season as a starter. The Lakers had reached the Conference Finals in his second season, losing to Utah, while losing to the Spurs in the second round in 1999.

With the hiring of Phil Jackson to coach the Lakers after that season, the Lakers fortunes turned around overnight. Shaq became completely dominant while Kobe continued to grow into a star, averaging 22.5 points that season as the Lakers won 67 games. The Lakers reached the Finals, where they faced Indiana, winning the title in 6 games, though Kobe averaged only 15.6 per game in the series.

Kobe was named to the All-NBA Second Team for the second year in a row in 2001 after he raised his scoring average to 28.5 per game, along with 5.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists, and the Lakers completely dominated in the playoffs, sweeping through the first 3 rounds before losing a single game in the Finals, finishing the postseason with a 15-1 record and another championship. Bryant averaged 25.4 points in those Finals, much better than the season before, but Shaq was still the star of the team and the Finals MVP.

His scoring dropped to 25.2 the next season, but he was named to the All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career, an achievement that would become commonplace by the end of his career. The Lakers had a tougher path to the Finals that year, needing 7 games to beat the Kings in the Conference Finals, before sweeping the Nets in the Finals to win another title, the third straight for the Lakers.

The next year, Kobe finished second in the league in scoring with 30.0 per game, his first time beating Shaq for the team scoring lead, but the team lost to San Antonio in the second round of the playoffs. After adding Gary Payton and Karl Malone before the next year, they were favorites to win another championship, but it was a down year for Bryant, who scored only 24.0 per game, which dropped to 22.6 in the Finals as the Lakers lost to Detroit in 5 games.

Shaq was traded away after that season, largely due to problems with Kobe, and the Lakers missed the playoffs completely in Kobe's first season as the team's undisputed leader. When Phil Jackson agreed to return to coach the team the next year, Kobe had his best season, leading the league in scoring with 35.4 per game, including his famous 81-point game, the second-highest single game in history, but the Lakers lost to Phoenix in the second round of the playoffs.

He led the league in scoring again the next year, this time with 31.6 per game, but the Lakers lost to the Suns in the first round of the playoffs, ending his season earlier than he wanted yet again. After the season he demanded a trade, but nothing ever materialized, and he ended up returning to the team for his 12th season.

The Lakers traded for Pau Gasol before the season, and the addition of another star was huge for the Lakers. Bryant won the MVP after averaging 28.3 points per game, much lower than the previous 2 years, but the Lakers had the best record in the West, and they played that way in the playoffs, beating the Spurs in the Conference Finals to reach the Finals for the first time without Shaq. They faced the Celtics in that series, but fell to their longtime rivals in 6 games.

Kobe led the Lakers back to the Finals the next year, this time going through Denver to reach the final round, where they faced Dwight Howard and the Magic. Kobe averaged 32.4 points in the Finals, 5.6 higher than his regular season average, and finally won a championship as the star of the team, taking home his first Finals MVP in the process.

He averaged 27.0 per game in the regular season the next year, finishing in the top 5 in scoring again, and took the Lakers to their 3rd straight Finals, where they met up with the Celtics again. This time, they were able to get revenge for their loss 2 years earlier, and Kobe won his second straight Finals MVP after knocking off the Celtics in 7 games.

Bryant climbed into the all-time top 10 for scoring during the next season while averaging 25.3 per game, but the Lakers lost to Dallas in the second round of the playoffs. He came back with a 27.9 average the next year, but the result was another second round playoff loss. He was averaging 27.3 the next year when he tore his Achilles near the end of the season, and without their star, the Lakers fell in the first round.

After recovering from the Achilles injury, Kobe made his season debut in late December, playing in 6 games and averaging only 13.8 points per game before suffering a knee injury that ended his season. In his absence, the Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time in 9 years.

He came back healthy the next year, and averaged 22.3 points per game for the first few months of the season before suffering a shoulder injury that would once again end his season early, the third year in a row that he would not finish the season, and the second in a row that the Lakers would end up far from the playoffs.

He worked hard to come back for one final season, his 20th in the league, and though he wasn't his old self, he still averaged 17.6 points per game, and scored 60 points in his final game, becoming the oldest to ever reach that mark. The Lakers won only 17 games that season, the worst in team history, so his career ended with that final regular season game.

It took a few years for Kobe to become a star in the NBA, and his last few seasons were marred by injuries, but he was very good for those 14 years in the middle. He wasn't great when he won his first title, but was a big part of the next 2 championships in the sidekick role, before winning 2 titles late in his career as the big star. He won 2 scoring titles and is #4 on the all-time scoring list, and has the #13 scoring average in history, and he is definitely one of the best to ever play the game.




NBA Predictions - 22 Oct

Upset picks are in italics.

Charlotte at Cleveland - Hornets by 2.5

New York at Orlando - Knicks by 14

Indiana at Washington - Wizards by 10.5

Brooklyn at Philadelphia - 76ers by 19

Toronto at Boston - Celtics by 16

New Orleans at Chicago - Bulls by 14.5

Oklahoma City at Houston - Thunder by 5.5

San Antonio at Denver - Nuggets by 6

Phoenix at LA Lakers - Lakers by 3

Utah at Sacramento - Jazz by 1.5


Results

NBA: 2-1 (.667) 11-5 overall (.688)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Fantasy Football Rankings - Week 7

 

Quarterbacks

 

1

Aaron Rodgers

GB

2

Patrick Mahomes

KC

3

Kyler Murray

AZ

4

Matthew Stafford

LAR

5

Tom Brady

TB

6

Lamar Jackson

BAL

7

Ryan Tannehill

TEN

8

Matt Ryan

ATL

9

Jalen Hurts

PHI

10

Sam Darnold

CAR

11

Teddy Bridgewater

DEN

12

Geno Smith

SEA

13

Derek Carr

LV

14

Joe Burrow

CIN

15

Taylor Heinicke

WAS

16

Jameis Winston

NO

17

Carson Wentz

IND

18

Jimmy Garoppolo

SF

19

Tua Tagovailoa

MIA

20

Daniel Jones

NYG

21

Mac Jones

NE

22

Case Keenum

CLE

23

Zach Wilson

NYJ

24

Jared Goff

DET

25

Justin Fields

CHI

 

 

Running Backs

 

Flex

1

Derrick Henry

TEN

1

2

Aaron Jones

GB

2

3

Alvin Kamara

NO

3

4

Darrell Henderson Jr.

LAR

4

5

Cordarrelle Patterson

ATL

8

6

Jonathan Taylor

IND

9

7

James Conner

AZ

14

8

Darrel Williams

KC

15

9

Leonard Fournette

TB

17

10

Chuba Hubbard

CAR

18

11

Joe Mixon

CIN

20

12

Antonio Gibson

WAS

22

13

D'Andre Swift

DET

23

14

Damien Harris

NE

27

15

Mike Davis

ATL

30

16

Chase Edmonds

AZ

31

17

Josh Jacobs

LV

33

18

Demetric Felton

CLE

34

19

Saquon Barkley

NYG

37

20

Alex Collins

SEA

38

21

Miles Sanders

PHI

42

22

AJ Dillon

GB

55

23

Michael Carter

NYJ

56

24

JD McKissic

WAS

62

25

Khalil Herbert

CHI

63

26

Sony Michel

LAR

68

27

D'Ernest Johnson

CLE

69

28

Melvin Gordon III

DEN

73

29

Myles Gaskin

MIA

74

30

Eli Mitchell

SF

 

31

Damien Williams

CHI

 

32

Latavius Murray

BAL

 

33

Javonte Williams

DEN

 

34

Rhamondre Stevenson

NE

 

35

John Kelly

CLE

 

36

Kenneth Gainwell

PHI

 

37

Rashaad Penny

SEA

 

38

Kenyan Drake

LV

 

39

Jamaal Williams

DET

 

40

Mark Ingram II

HOU

 

41

Nyheim Hines

IND

 

42

Malcolm Brown

MIA

 

43

Giovani Bernard

TB

 

44

Peyton Barber

LV

 

45

Jeremy McNichols

TEN

 

46

Le'Veon Bell

BAL

 

47

Brandon Bolden

NE

 

48

Ty Johnson

NYJ

 

49

Ronald Jones II

TB

 

50

Kyle Juszczyk

SF

 

 

 

Wide Receivers

 

Flex

1

Davante Adams

GB

5

2

Tyreek Hill

KC

6

3

Cooper Kupp

LAR

7

4

DJ Moore

CAR

10

5

Deebo Samuel

SF

11

6

DK Metcalf

SEA

12

7

Mike Evans

TB

16

8

Courtland Sutton

DEN

19

9

Calvin Ridley

ATL

24

10

Terry McLaurin

WAS

25

11

Marquise Brown

BAL

26

12

Antonio Brown

TB

28

13

Ja'Marr Chase

CIN

32

14

DeAndre Hopkins

AZ

35

15

Robert Woods

LAR

36

16

Chris Godwin

TB

39

17

Tyler Lockett

SEA

40

18

Michael Pittman Jr.

IND

41

19

Henry Ruggs III

LV

43

20

Julio Jones

TEN

44

21

Marquez Callaway

NO

45

22

Tim Patrick

DEN

46

23

Brandin Cooks

HOU

49

24

Donovan Peoples-Jones

CLE

51

25

Darnell Mooney

CHI

52

26

AJ Green

AZ

53

27

Mecole Hardman

KC

54

28

AJ Brown

TEN

57

29

TY Hilton

IND

58

30

Christian Kirk

AZ

59

31

DeVante Parker

MIA

60

32

Jaylen Waddle

MIA

61

33

Rondale Moore

AZ

65

34

Jakobi Meyers

NE

66

35

Hunter Renfrow

LV

67

36

Allen Robinson II

CHI

70

37

Corey Davis

NYJ

71

38

DeVonta Smith

PHI

75

39

Tee Higgins

CIN

 

40

Randall Cobb

GB

 

41

Kalif Raymond

DET

 

42

Brandon Aiyuk

SF

 

43

Robby Anderson

CAR

 

44

Chris Moore

HOU

 

45

Amon-Ra St. Brown

DET

 

46

Tyler Boyd

CIN

 

47

Demarcus Robinson

KC

 

48

Kenny Golladay

NYG

 

49

Deonte Harris

NO

 

50

Sterling Shepard

NYG

 

 

 

Tight Ends

 

Flex

1

Travis Kelce

KC

13

2

Mark Andrews

BAL

21

3

Dallas Goedert

PHI

29

4

Darren Waller

LV

47

5

Kyle Pitts

ATL

48

6

Hunter Henry

NE

50

7

Zach Ertz

AZ

64

8

Ricky Seals-Jones

WAS

72

9

Mike Gesicki

MIA

 

10

Tyler Higbee

LAR

 

11

CJ Uzomah

CIN

 

12

TJ Hockenson

DET

 

13

Rob Gronkowski

TB

 

14

Ross Dwelley

SF

 

15

Noah Fant

DEN

 

16

David Njoku

CLE

 

17

Tommy Tremble

CAR

 

18

Jonnu Smith

NE

 

19

Robert Tonyan

GB

 

20

Evan Engram

NYG

 

 

 

Kickers

 

1

Matt Prater

AZ

2

Nick Folk

NE

3

Mason Crosby

GB

4

Matt Gay

LAR

5

Justin Tucker

BAL

6

Harrison Butker

KC

7

Randy Bullock

TEN

8

Daniel Carlson

LV

9

Ryan Succop

TB

10

Graham Gano

NYG

11

Chase McLaughlin

CLE

12

Younghoe Koo

ATL

13

Zane Gonzalez

CAR

14

Michael Badgley

IND

15

Jake Elliott

PHI

 

 

Defenses

1

Arizona

2

New England

3

Tampa Bay

4

LA Rams

5

Carolina

6

New Orleans

7

Baltimore

8

Cleveland

9

Indianapolis

10

Las Vegas

11

NY Jets

12

Atlanta

13

Green Bay

14

San Francisco

15

NY Giants