Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell?

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Mezotarkus
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Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell? 

Post#1 » by Mezotarkus » Sat Jan 9, 2010 3:30 pm

I have seen estimates of Russell's blocks as 5-10 bpg over his career. Weren't the Celtics games in the 60s either televised or at least broadcast over the radio? Couldn't block statistics be compiled from this media?
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Re: Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell? 

Post#2 » by TrueLAfan » Sat Jan 9, 2010 5:38 pm

It's hard to say. First, radio and old TV tapes of basketball--even Cetlics basketball--were not prized. They were recorded over when possible, and not stored with any care when not recorded over. Highlights are so sporadic from the time when Russell played (and tend to be playoff oriented) that we don't get much of an idea of everyday play. But I think we can make a somewhat educated guess.

We can "guess" at how good a shot blocker Bill Russell was based on Block %. Conservatively, I'd place him around 6 to 6.2. That makes him better than Hakeem or DRob, not as good as Zo or Camby. For anyone that says, "Hey, Hakeem/Drob is a much better shot blocker than Russell was!"...keep in mind that Greg Ostertag, in terms of block %, is better than both...and you could make a good case for Russell being better than Ostertag. Anyway...6.0 to 6.2.

There's got to be some variation. I'm going to have Russell's block % randomly vary by about 25-30% total...from a low of 5.2 to a high of 7.1. Russell played pretty much the same amount per game in every season, so in terms of overall blocked shots and averages per season, we shouldn't be terribly far off. (We'll just have seasons in the wrong order).

To work the numbers back from block percentage, we have to estimate the number of opponent shots taken. This is tricky. Boston was the fastest paced team in the league for much of Russell's career. But they also were a great defensive team. I'm just going to guess that, on average, opponents took the same number of shots as the Celtics. We'll talk about the other scenarios later.

So here's what you end up with

Code: Select all

Year      G     Blk%   Blk   BPG
1957     48     5.7    204   4.24
1958     69     5.2    306   4.44
1959     70     6.0    417   5.96
1960     74     6.4    499   6.74
1961     78     7.1    598   7.67
1962     76     6.6    534   7.03
1963     78     5.5    437   5.61
1964     78     6.8    599   7.68
1965     78     6.4    494   6.34
1966     78     5.9    433   5.55
1967     81     6.2    434   5.36
1968     78     5.3    332   4.26
1969     77     5.6    386   5.02
TOTAL   963     6.1   5673   5.89


The 5-10 block a game statement seem to be, in general, accurate. Keep in mind that two main reasons for Russell blocking so many shots are that he played a lot of minutes and there were a lot more shots available to block. In terms of how many he blocked while he was on the court, he was truly great...but not markedly better than David Robinson, and as much behind Alonzo Mourning.

If you assume that the Celtic's opponents took 4% fewer shots, Russell's blocks drop by about .2 to .3 blocks every year. If they took 4% more shots than the listed amount, Russell's blocks go up by that same .2 to .3 every year. It's not going to change things all that much.

This is a quick and dirty projection. But I think it's, in general, accurate. I doubt it's wildly far off...I think ranking Bill Russell's shot blocking ability as falling in between Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Camby is, if anything, conservative. Still, my guess is that in a worst case (for him) scenario, Bill Russell was blocking 6 shots a game at his peak. In a best case scenario, it's probably over 8 and maybe close to 9. So, even though we can see that pace and era differences impacted it, I'm pretty cool with saying Bill Russell was blocking 5-8 shots a game pretty much every year.
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Mayap
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Re: Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell? 

Post#3 » by Mayap » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:32 am

And as good a shot blocker as Russell was, Wilt was an even better shot blocker.
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Re: Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell? 

Post#4 » by DrunkOnMystery » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:11 pm

I remember hearing the Magic's announcer, Matt Guokas(who played with Wilt) say during a game once that the players had figured it out in the locker room once, and they had Wilt and Russell both at around 8 or 9 a game.
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Re: Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell? 

Post#5 » by Mayap » Mon Feb 8, 2010 5:50 am

DrunkOnMystery wrote:I remember hearing the Magic's announcer, Matt Guokas(who played with Wilt) say during a game once that the players had figured it out in the locker room once, and they had Wilt and Russell both at around 8 or 9 a game.

Harvey Pollack, the official statistician(even to THIS DAY!) of the 76ers(and what used to be the warriors) swears that he's certain Wilt had a few seasons where he had averaged double digit blocks. It's not hard to believe considering his first game in the NBA he had 17 blocks, which is tied with the highest amount of blocks officially recorded.
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Re: Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell? 

Post#6 » by jinxed » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:53 pm

How can you calculate Block % if you don't know how many blocks he had?
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