29 November 2020

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Scoring Blindness

As an analytical NBA mind who is very active on Instagram I’ve noticed the average fan puts way to much emphasis on scoring. Scoring is important don’t get me wrong buy obviously it’s not the whole game of basketball; heck its not even the only aspect of offense. People who put huge amounts of emphasis on just the ability to score the basketball call from something I call scoring Blindness. Scoring blindness is the tendency for fans to gravitate towards great individual scorers and ignore the other aspects of the game. This often leads to overrating the player.

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The poster boy for Scoring Blindness is Adrian Dantley. Today I will be diving into his career to show the fact that a great scorer is useless if that’s all they can do effectively. Adrian Dantley was one of the most prolific scorers in league history who put up some of the best scoring numbers throughout the 80s. Dantley started his career as a member of the Buffalo Braves in the 76-77 season. As a rookie he averaged 20.3 points on 52 percent shooting from the field. The Braves finished the season with a 30-52 record despite having 3 efficient 20+Point per game scorers including former MVP Bob McAdoo. Adrian Dantley was rewarded with the rookie of the year award and traded to the Indiana Pacers. This made Adrian Dantley the first ever ROY to be traded immediately after their rookie season. As a pacer he only played 23 games then was traded to the Lakers despite the fact he averaged 27 points on 50 percent shooting. During his year and a half with the Lakers he averaged 18.7 points per game and shot 52 percent. His decline in scoring was due to the abundance of talent the Lakers had including Kareem and Jamaal Wilkes. As seen Dantley’s efficiency did not improve despite the massive amount of scoring the Lakers roster had.

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Even with the individual skill the Lakers had they were continuously a first or second round exit and after the 1979 season Dantley was traded to Jazz after the Lakers drafted future legend Magic Johnson. In Utah Adrian Dantley finally found some stability and throughout his 7 seasons in Utah he averaged a monstrous 30 points per game on 56 percent shooting. During this time Period he captured 2 scoring titles and competed for many other with the Likes of Michael Jordan and Alex English. After 7 years in Utah He was traded to the contending Detroit Pistons in 1986. The Pistons had just come off a first round exit the 85-86 season, with a rookie Dumars and 24 year old Isiah Thomas running the show. What the Pistons felt they were missing was a true go to scorer on the wing so they traded productive 20 point per game scorer Kelly Tripucka for Dantley. Throughout his 2 seasons in Detroit Dantley experience the most team success he had ever in his career.The 87 season saw Dantley averaging 21.5 points per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and the Pistons nearly made the finals but lost ot Birds Celtics in a grueling 7 game series. Birds game stealing steal in game 5 was probably the difference between a finals appearance and possible win.s

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The 87-88 season saw a 32 year old Adrian Dantley averaging 20 points per game on 51 percent shooting he field. The Pistons that season narrowly escape the first round in an aggressive- hard fought best of 5 series against the Washington Bullets led by Jeff Malone, Moses Malone, Bernard King and prolific shot blocker Manute Bol. The next series the beat the brakes off of MVP Michael Jordan before coming face to face with their sworn nemesis Boston Celtics once again in the Conference Finals. This team the Pistons were able to come out ahead against the veteran Celtics in 6 games. In the Finals they came face to face with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. In a pivotal game 6 up 3-2 superstar point guard Isiah Thomas went down with an ankle injury; in a heroic effort It dropped 43 points on one leg limping up and down the court. Up 1 with 14 seconds left a phantom foul was called on Bill Laimbheer which sent Kareem to the line. Kareem made both free throws and the Lakers escaped game 6 with a 103-102 victory. By game 7 the damage to Isiah’s ankle was to much and with a subpar performance from their star point guard the Pistons fell short of the 88 championship. After this season Dantley was traded for Mark Acquire and the Pistons went back to back.

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Dantley would play 2 years in Dallas and one more in Milwaukee before retiring after the 1991 season. Adrian Dantley left his mark on the game as an imposing scorer; yet teams didn’t want him. The reason for this was even tho Dantley was an all time great scorer he didn’t contribute in many other aspects of the game. Listed at 6 foot 5 but in reality more like 6 foot 3 A.D. was undersized for the small forward position. This led to him being targeted by opposing wings so as quickly he scored his match up would easily get those points back on the other end. Tho Dantley was adept at creating his own shots his play-making abilities fell extremely short. Dantley was often a ball stopper and used large portions of the shot clock so when he did pass the ball his teammates were often forced to take a low percentage shot.This is seen by observing how players would take drastic steps forward when Dantley would leave their team. Scoring is an important skill in any player but if it isn’t matched with an ample basketball IQ and a plethora of other attributes the sample player is easily replaced. Scoring is often easily redistributed you could find a large amount of players that can get you a bucket but one in a hundred players can create for their teammates like a Steph Curry or Lebron James.

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