Quick Thoughts

1. Can Miami Three-Peat? James’ quest for a three-peat is not remarkably rare.  In fact, we’ve had three in the past 20 years or so.  (Michael Jordan did it twice and Shaq/Kobe Lakers had one as well (1999-00 through 2001-02).   The Heat, however, are attempting a rarer feat.  The mere ability to get back to the NBA Finals in four straight years is remarkably rare.  Since the NBA went to the current 16-team playoff format in 1983-84, only the Boston Celtics have appeared in four straight NBA Finals (1983-84 through 1986-87).   We can never know if the MJ Bulls would’ve made four straight Finals (MJ retired after each third title) but we do know that the task of winning became more difficult for the Bulls with each title and there was reason to believe that the cumulative toll of four straight years of deep playoff runs might’ve tripped the Bulls up.  Opening up the inquiry from the pre-1983-84 playoff format, making four straight Finals was/is still difficult.  Obviously, the Bill Russell Celtics didn’t have problems but, since Russell retired, the only other team to place four times was the Lakers from 1981-82 through 1984-85.

So, it seems clear the LBJ will have some difficulty this year and that there is potential for the Heat to get tripped up pre-Finals.  In this case, the Pacers, Nets, and Bulls all look like they have enough fire power to potentially upset the Heat.  In a vacuum, none of these teams is probably good enough to beat Miami in the playoffs but the Heat have to run a long gauntlet the last few years and most team have not been able to do this.

2.  Chris Smith, and the depths of PER: No, we are not talkin about Chris Smith the former UConn star (and later T-Wolf bench player) but the current Knicks’ 15th man and brother of J.R. Smith.  Chris Smith’s presence on the Knicks’ roster as a 6’2 defensive guard who can’t shoot (1-7 in the pre-season) makes you wonder if New York is back to making silly decisions again.  By the way, if J.R.’s brother did have the career of the old Chris Smith(10.7 PER over three seasons at 18 MPG), the Knicks and new Chris would be quite happy.  Chris Smith (the new model) probably won’t ever play in a game so but I did wonder who was the worst player in NBA season for a single season.  With the help of Basketball-Reference, we find that the lowest PER ever is late model Gheorghe Muresan, who played one minute in 1998-99 and missed a shot and had a turnover and no positive stats leading to a -90.6 PER.  If you bump up to a minimum of at least 100 minutes played in a season, Larry Hughes’ final cameo in Orlando in 2011-12 (114 minutes in 9 games) “leads” the list at -4.8 (5-22 from the field and 12 turnovers).  Turning to players who actually played significant minutes (i.e. at least 2,000 in a season), the winner is the memorable Junior Harrington, who put up a 6.4 PER as the starting point for Denver’s 17-65 intentional tank team (that yielded the Carmelo pick). This was the only PER in the 6 range.  In the 7 PER range, we have a couple of Bruce Bowen seasons on San Antonio, Greg Kite’s year that he started on Orlando’s original expansion teams, and Adam Morrison.  If you set the minimum minutes heavy at 3,000, there aren’t really any terrible stinkers.  The lowest PER goes to a young Rick Mahon (1982-83 version) at 11.6, followed by some vets who filled holes without a particular strengths (Jim Jackson, Sam Mitchell, Rafer Alston, Anthony Mason, Clifford Robinson, and Lindsey Hunter).

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