There's been a lot of discussion about what Jeremy Lin's 26-game sample last season really means. During that historic 26-game stretch from February 4th to March 24th, 2012, Lin averaged 19.5 points, 8.1 assists and 2.1 steals per 36 minutes. However, it was only 26 games, less than a third of a regular 82 game season. So can we really extrapolate future success based on that sample?
Near the height of Linsanity in February, NY Times political analyst and statistician Nate Silver wrote a blog entry, Jeremy Lin Is No Fluke, in which he compared Lin's crazy first 4-game streak to other comparable streaks in NBA history since the 1985-1986 season. He concluded that it was highly unlikely that Lin would simply turn out to be a flash in the pan. That's great, but Silver only used Lin's 4-game run at the start of Linsanity as a basis of comparison. What about his 26-game run? The resource Silver used, Basketball-Reference.com, only lets you compare streaks, meaning that Silver's minimum requirements of 20 points and 6 assists would only match players that racked up at least those numbers in each consecutive game. In other words, a player who in consecutive games racked up 21/6, 19/6, 21/6 would not be matched because he only scored 19 points in the second game, despite averaging over 20/6 during those 3 games. Furthermore, it does not take minutes played into account.
Well, in the past few days, I developed a program that uses the same game logs from the 1985-1986 season onward that can determine per 36 minute averages over a minimum number of games and find players that average above certain amounts in desired stats. I set the criteria to find players that, over a minimum stretch of 26 games, averaged at least 20 minutes played, as well as 19 points, 8 assists and 2 steals per 36 minutes, just like Lin in his 26-game stretch. Here are the players and the seasons in which they accomplished it:
Players that, in at least 26 consecutive games, averaged 19+ points, 8+ assists, 2+ steals per 36 minutes, and 20+ minutes played since 1985-1986
|Player||Season(s)||All-Star Game |
|Darrell Armstrong||1999-2000||0||MIP, SMotY|
|Clyde Drexler*||1985-1986||10||All-NBA (5x)|
|Sleepy Floyd||1985-1986, 1986-1987||1|
|Anfernee Hardaway||1995-1996||4||All-NBA (3x)|
|Tim Hardaway||1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993||5||All-NBA (5x)|
|Derek Harper||1989-1990||0||All-Def (2x)|
|Kevin Johnson||1990-1991, 1993-1994||3||MIP, All-NBA (5x)|
|Magic Johnson*||1986-1987, 1987-1988, 1989-1990||12||Finals MVP (3x), MVP (3x), All-NBA (10x)|
|Michael Jordan*||1988-1989||14||Finals MVP (6x), MVP (5x), All-NBA (10x), All-Def (9x), DPotY|
|Jason Kidd||2002-2003||10||All-NBA (6x), All-Def (9x)|
|Fat Lever||1986-1987||2||All-NBA, All-Def|
|Chris Paul||2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2011-2012||5||All-NBA (4x), All-Def (4x)|
|Gary Payton||1994-1995, 1997-1998, 1998-1999||9||DPotY, All-NBA (9x), All-Def (9x)|
|Terry Porter||1989-1990, 1990-1991||2|
|Mark Price||1991-1992, 1993-1994||4||All-NBA (4x)|
|Isiah Thomas*||1985-1986, 1986-1987, 1987-1988||12||All-NBA (5x)|
|Russell Westbrook||2010-2011||2||All-NBA (2x)|
*In Hall of Fame
You can see Lin is in pretty good company here. In addition to 4 Hall-of-Famers, most of these 22 other players have been to the All-Star game at least once. You can also see that Chris Paul was the only other player to match or exceed Lin's 26-game averages in the 2011-2012 season. This is by no means a guarantee that Lin will turn out to be a future All-Star, but I wouldn't bet against it.