When the Los Angeles Lakers came to town last month, Kobe Bryant was asked what he thought of the fact the Lakers rarely won when he scored 30 or more points.
Bryant’s response was basically he didn’t care, and anyone can twist a bunch of numbers around to serve any purpose. That spurred me into thinking of all the statistics in sports, some more useful than others.
So here they are, every useless statistic you never wanted to know and were never going to ask about the NBA. All numbers are courtesy of basketball-reference.com, which is to basketball junkies what Pinterest is to wives everywhere.
Since he brought it up, we’ll start with Bryant, who is entering the most productive month of his career. His career scoring average gradually increases every month from November until January, when he tops at 26.8 points. Then he steadily begins declining through the end of the regular season.
Bryant’s gambling buddy, Kyrie Irving, is only a 74 percent free-throw shooter on Saturdays, the lowest mark for any day in his young career. But he makes up for it the next day. He’s a 92 percent free-throw shooter on Sundays.
The Cavaliers have faced the Atlanta Hawks 204 times, more than any other team in history. They have a .724 winning percentage against the Charlotte Bobcats (21-8 after the victory Friday), their best winning percentage against any team. They struggle the most against the San Antonio Spurs (.358) and Houston Rockets (.359).
LeBron James has averaged two points more per win than loss throughout his career (28.3 in wins, 26.3 in losses). He is a 51 percent shooter in games his team wins and a 45 percent shooter when his team loses.
Those numbers should look familiar. Michael Jordan shot 52 percent in victories and 46 percent in losses.
Speaking of Jordan, it only felt like he broke into your house, stole your girlfriend and shot the dog every spring. He actually treated the Portland Trail Blazers even worse than he did the Cavs. After they bypassed him to select Sam Bowie (whoops), Jordan punished the Blazers for it every year by scoring 34.4 points per game against them, the best mark of his career against any single team.
His 30.6-point average against the Cavs barely cracks his top 10. That’s only in the regular season, of course. By May, your girl was gone, the dog was bloody and the Cavs were eliminated from the playoffs.
Apparently Superman’s kryptonite hides in Denver and Minneapolis. There was just something about the Northwest Division that didn’t agree with Shaquille O’Neal. He averaged 15.4 points in games against the Northwest, which wasn’t created until the 2004-05 season, easily the lowest mark of his career.
For as good of a rebounder as Dwight Howard is, his teams grab more offensive rebounds when he’s on the bench than when he’s on the court.
Howard never appreciated it, but he was a better player when Stan Van Gundy was on the bench compared to now that he’s not.
Kevin Durant has been most productive throughout his career on two days’ rest, when he shoots 48 percent and averages 27.5 points. His worst performances come when he’s too rested and apparently loses his rhythm. With three or more days’ rest, Durant shoots 45.7 percent and averages 26.1 points.
Allen Iverson really didn’t like practice. He averaged 27 points on the second night of back-to-backs. His average with days off (and practices in between) was always lower.
Dion Waiters’ best shooting quarter during his rookie season has been the first, when he makes 42 percent of his shots. It deteriorates from there, bottoming out in the third quarter when he makes just 34 percent.
Dirk Nowitzki is as neutral as Switzerland. He doesn’t care where he plays, just give him a ball and a rim. He averages exactly 22.8 points both at home and on the road. His rebounds (8.4 home, 8.2 road) and assists (2.7 home, 2.6 road) are nearly even, too.
Tuesdays with Larry weren’t all that enjoyable. Larry Bird averaged 22.2 points on Tuesdays, his lowest day of the week. Bird was at his best both Sundays and Mondays when he averaged 26.9 points.
For all that Magic Johnson did well in his career, and there was plenty, he couldn’t make 3-pointers. Johnson was a career 31 percent 3-point shooter, but it’s worse than that. During the 1986-87 season, when the Lakers won a championship, Johnson made eight 3-pointers all season. Eight. C.J. Miles made that many the other night in Brooklyn.
Johnson didn’t make any during the 1982-83 season, his fourth in the league. He missed all 21 attempts that year, and judging by some of his off-court tales, it’s the only place in his career he couldn’t score.
Byron Scott won 793 games during 14 regular seasons as a player. He’s in his 13th season as a head coach and Friday’s victory at Charlotte was his 400th.
What’s it all mean? Not much.
By the time Bryant left Cleveland last month, the Lakers were 1-10 in games in which he scored 30 or more points. Since then, they’re 5-4 when it happens.
He was right. Numbers can often be twisted to make any point seem relevant. At least now, you have all new material next time you’re caught at the water cooler with nothing to discuss.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.