Comparing the Scoring Streaks
By Brian Martin
On Monday, Kevin Durant extended his streak of scoring 30 or more points to 11 straight games, placing him in some elite company.
Over the past 30 seasons, there have only been five of these streaks in the NBA, with Kobe Bryant's run of 16 straight games in 2003 being the longest. No player had accomplished this type of scoring burst in over a decade before KD caught fire.
While it looks like Wilt Chamberlain's NBA record of 65 straight games with 30 or more points in the 1961-62 season is pretty safe, let's take a closer look at the most recent five streaks to see how these scoring binges compare to one another.
|Player||Games||Dates||Stats||Game Logs||Shot Chart|
|Kevin Durant||11||Jan. 7 to Jan. 27, 2014||Stats||Game Logs||Shot Chart|
|Tracy McGrady||14||Mar. 5 to Apr. 1, 2003||Stats||Game Logs||Shot Chart|
|Kobe Bryant||16||Jan. 29 to Feb. 28, 2003||Stats||Game Logs||Shot Chart|
|Shaquille O'Neal||11||Mar. 28 to Apr. 17, 2001||Stats||Game Logs||Shot Chart|
|Michael Jordan||11||Feb. 13 to Mar. 4, 1987||Stats||Game Logs||Not Available|
The two oldest streaks (Shaq in 2001 and MJ in 1987) are the bookends in terms of scoring, with Shaq averaging just 33.7 points over his 11-game streak and Jordan averaging 40.6 over 11 games. Shaq did not crack the 40-point plateau during his streak, while Jordan had five games with at least 40 points, including a streak-high of 61 points.
Shaq was the most seasoned veteran (29 years old, in his ninth NBA season) among these five players to achieve an 11-game streak. Jordan had the least experience (in just his third season at age 24), but McGrady was the youngest (23 years old, in his sixth season coming straight out of high school). Durant (age 25) and Bryant (age 24) were both in their seventh seasons when they went on this scoring tear.
Shaq, the only post player on this list, led the group in rebounds (12.5) and had zero 3-pointers to aid his scoring efforts. What was a bit surprising is that Jordan also had zero 3-pointers during his 11-game run. He attempted just four during the streak and only 66 for the entire 1986-87 season. While he averaged 1.7 3-point attempts per game over his career, it was a shot he added to his scoring repertoire later in his career; he first eclipsed 100 3-point attempts during the 1989-90 season, his sixth in the league.
The most recent trio of streaks -- T-Mac, Kobe and KD -- all got a lot of help from the long ball. None more than McGrady, who averaged 3.4 made threes on 7.6 attempts (44.3%) during his 14-game streak. Kobe (42.9%) and Durant (41.7%) also shot the three particularly well during their respective steaks.
While Jordan did not make a shot behind the 3-point line during his streak, he took full advantage of the free throw line, averaging 13.5 made free throws during his streak, the most among these streaks. In fact, Jordan made the same total number of field goals and free throws during his streak with 149 each.
Each of these guys has a unique characteristic about how they lit up the scoreboard:
|Player||Total Points||FGA||Points Per FGA|
If you remove points scored on free throws and just look at the number of points scored on field goal attempts, the gap widens for Durant.
|Player||Total Pts||FT Pts||Pts on FGM||FGA||Points Per FGA|
Durant has averaged the most rebounds (6.3) of any of the perimeter players and the most assists (6.0) among these streaks and is the only player to record a triple-double. Meanwhile, Jordan was a beast on the defensive end, averaging 3.9 steals and 2.8 blocks -- both leading this group -- during his 11-game streak.
Kobe and Jordan each had a pair of 50+ point games during their runs (keep in mind that Kobe's streak lasted five additional games), while Jordan was the only player to break the 60-point barrier. But no one comes close to Kobe's nine straight games with at least 40 points during these streaks. Over those nine games, Kobe averaged 44.0 points, shot 49.6% from the field and a scorning 47.1% from three.
There are only two other players in NBA history to score at least 40 points in nine consecutive games: Jordan (1986-87) and Wilt Chamberlain (two 14-game streaks during the 1961-62 season, and one 10-game streak in 1962-63).
Kobe had 11 total 40-point games during his 16-game streak. McGrady had four during his 14-game run and Durant currently stands with four as well through 11 games.
The question that remains is how long Durant can keep this going. He'll face a tough test Wednesday against the defending champs in Miami. Will LeBron and Co. be able to slow him down or will the Slim Reaper strike again?