After finishing the 2005-06 season as the nation’s leading scorer with an average of 28 points per game (ppg), Adam Morrison was named 1st Team All-American and won both the Naismith and Wooden awards as college basketball’s most outstanding player. In addition, he had a good showing in the 2006 NCAA Tournament by leading the #3 seed Zags to the Sweet Sixteen before the team fell short in a near-upset over the #2 seed and eventual runner up UCLA Bruins. Selected by the Charlotte Bobcats as the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 Draft, Morrison had a decent rookie season with a scoring average of 12 ppg. However, he never averaged more than four ppg for a season throughout the remainder of his NBA career. Out of the league with only 1,200 points in 161 career games, Morrison earned the spot as the #2 NBA Draft Bust.
Whether reading this post when written in Fall 2016 or at some later time, you likely recognize the image of Colin Kaepernick on one knee. Specifically, the 49ers quarterback single-handedly started a movement to kneel during our national anthem prior to the start of sporting events. Kaepernick presumably decided that his act of defiance would bring a voice to social injustice and oppression. While the message should be incontrovertible, the method has drawn much criticism. As such, the message unfortunately has taken a back seat to the messenger.
Like it or not, the nerds have changed how we look at sports. Thanks to sabermetricians, statistics like OPS and WAR are as recognizable as HR and RBI. Similar to WAR (wins above replacement) for baseball, WiSh (win shares) is an all-encompassing statistic for basketball. Ranked by WiSh, the Top 5 players in NBA history are: 1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; 2) Wilt Chamberlain; 3) Karl Malone; 4) Michael Jordan; and 5) John Stockton. Without a doubt, each one of those players is a legend of the game. As an all-time NBA ranking, however, it’s just doesn’t work.
Alternatively, the Top 5 players ranked by total MVPs are: 1) Michael Jordan; 2) Bill Russell; 3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; 4) LeBron James; and 5) Wilt Chamberlain. Aaahhh, much better. Arguably, MVP awards provide a better proxy for all-time greatness than win shares. Regardless, WiSh still can be useful to establish a threshold above which a superstar can be defined. Similarly, it can determine a threshold below which a bust can be defined.