Oct. 29, 2007 --As we get ready to tip off the 2007-08 season, STATS LLC takes a trip around the Association, going inside the most important and most interesting numbers for each team in the league.
Dallas Mavericks: While the Mavs were shockingly ousted by the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs after winning 67 games last season, they did receive some small compensation in Dirk Nowitzki's MVP trophy. Last season Dirk joined Larry Bird (1986-87 and 1987-88) as the only players in league annals to average 20 points per game while hitting 50% of his field goal attempts, 40% of his three-pointers and 90% of his free throws.
Denver Nuggets:Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony are both entering this season averaging over 24 points per game for their careers. Since 1980, only four other pairs of teammates each had career scoring averages of at least 24 points – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo for the Lakers (1981-82 to 1983-84), Michael Jordan and George Gervin for the Bulls (1985-86), Dominique Wilkins and David Robinson for the Spurs (1995-96) and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in their final season together in Los Angeles (2003-04).
Golden State Warriors: The Warriors' first round victory over Dallas ranks as one of the most improbable upsets in league history. Golden State became the first team ever to win a playoff series against a club with at least 25 more wins during the regular season.
Houston Rockets: While most NBA superstars have title aspirations, a simple trip to the second round of the playoffs would do Tracy McGrady just fine in 2007-08. McGrady has played 32 career postseason games without ever advancing past the first round, more than any other player in league history.
Los Angeles Clippers: With Elton Brand sidelined, Corey Maggette will be the go-to guy for the Clips. Maggette has a knack for getting to the line, hitting 326 more free throws than field goals throughout his career – fifth most all-time behind Dolph Schayes (849), Arnie Johnson (464), Harry Gallatin (413) and Al Cervi (376).
Los Angeles Lakers: Assuming Kobe Bryant stays, the major change in the Lakers lineup this season will be the return of Derek Fisher, replacing Smush Parker at point guard. Parker hit just 15.6% of his three-pointers in the last two postseasons, while Fisher's 42.6% shooting from three-point land in the playoffs is the highest all-time among players with at least 300 attempts.
Memphis Grizzlies: After winning 49 games in 2005-06, the Grizzlies managed just 22 victories last season. Excluding the 1998-99 lockout-shortened campaign, the 27-win dropoff by Memphis was the fourth largest in league history. The only clubs that experienced a larger decline in wins from the previous season were the 1996-97 Spurs (-39) without David Robinson for 76 games, the 1982-83 Rockets (-32) who had just traded reigning MVP Moses Malone, and the 1964-65 Warriors (-31) who sent Wilt Chamberlain to Philadelphia at the All-Star break.
New Orleans Hornets: A full season back in New Orleans and a few more overtime tilts could be what the Hornets need to make their first postseason appearance since moving to the Western Conference in 2004. They won all seven of their OT games in 2006-07, joining the 2002-03 Pistons (8-0) and the 1961-62 Lakers (7-0) as the only clubs in the shot clock era to win at least seven overtime contests without suffering a single loss.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns are the only team in NBA history to lead the league in scoring, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and three-point percentage – and they've done it in each of the past two seasons.
Portland Trail Blazers:Greg Oden's rookie season came to an abrupt end with knee surgery in September. The only No. 1 overall draft picks since 1960 to not play a single NBA game in their rookie year were David Thompson in 1975-76, who chose to go to the ABA, and David Robinson in 1987-88, who was serving a two-year naval commitment.
Sacramento Kings: The Kings locked up Kevin Martin with a five-year contract extension this summer and with good reason. Martin has improved his scoring average by at least seven points in each of the past two seasons (2.9 to 10.8 to 20.2). The only other player in league history to do so (minimum 10 games played in each season) – Derek Smith, from 1982-83 to 1984-85.
San Antonio Spurs: A fifth championship in 10 seasons, and more importantly a repeat title, could solidify San Antonio's spot as one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. The only franchises with more rings are the Celtics (16), Lakers (11) and Bulls (6), but each of those clubs won back-to-back championships on more than one occasion - a feat the Spurs have yet to accomplish. However, San Antonio has won at least 57 games in seven straight seasons, matching the Lakers (1984-85 to 1990-91) for the longest such streak in league history.
Seattle SuperSonics: The injury to Greg Oden leaves Kevin Durant as the clear frontrunner for this season's Rookie of the Year. Seattle, along with the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Heat, are the only current franchises yet to have a player win the Rookie of the Year Award.
Utah Jazz: Finding the new Stockton-to-Malone combo in Utah didn't take too long. Including the playoffs, Deron Williams assisted on 274 of Carlos Boozer's buckets last season - most by any tandem in the NBA.
Atlanta Hawks:Josh Smith has blocked at least one shot in 53 straight games entering this season. That's the longest active streak in the league, 41 more than the next highest player on the list (Tim Duncan, 12).
Boston Celtics:Kevin Garnett missed out on the playoffs in each of his last three years in Minnesota. He became the first player since Spencer Haywood to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in three straight seasons without playing a single playoff game. Haywood did so in four straight years with Seattle from 1970-71 to 1973-74.
Cleveland Cavaliers:LeBron James either scored or assisted on 50.6% of the Cavaliers' baskets in the playoffs last year. That is the highest percentage for any player who led his club to the NBA Finals (previous high – Allen Iverson, 49.9% in 2000-01 with the 76ers).
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the past five seasons. Since the NBA adopted conference play in 1970-71, no team from the East has advanced to six consecutive conference finals. The only team from the West to do so was the Los Angeles Lakers, who made eight straight trips to the conference finals from 1981-82 to 1988-89.
Indiana Pacers: Slow starts hampered the Pacers in 2006-07. Indiana trailed at the end of the first quarter in 52 games last season, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the most in the league.
Miami Heat: The Heat were swept by the Bulls in the first round of last year's playoffs. Only three other defending NBA champions failed to win a playoff game in the following season – the 1956-57 Philadelphia Warriors, the 1969-70 Boston Celtics and the 1998-99 Chicago Bulls.
Milwaukee Bucks:Michael Redd has increased his scoring average from one year to the next in each of his seven NBA seasons. Only one player in NBA history has done so in each of his first eight seasons -- Derek Harper with the Mavericks from 1983-84 to 1990-91.
New Jersey Nets: Only two players in NBA history have averaged a triple-double for an entire postseason -- Oscar Robertson, in four games for the 1961-62 Cincinnati Royals, and Jason Kidd, who did so in 12 playoff contests last spring.
New York Knicks: In his final season as a Blazer, Zach Randolph stepped up in crunch time. His 33 game-tying/go-ahead field goals made in the fourth quarter or overtime were tied with LeBron James for the third most in the league, trailing only Kobe Bryant (47) and Mehmet Okur (41).
Philadelphia 76ers: Aside from Kyle Korver, the Sixers did not have a serious three-point threat on their roster last season. Korver was responsible for 46.5% of the team's three-point field goals, the highest percentage in the league.
Toronto Raptors: Behind LeBron James, Chris Bosh received the second-most MVP votes in the Eastern Conference in 2006-07. Bosh led his team in both scoring and rebounding in 45 games last season, most by any player in the league.
Washington Wizards: With Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler sidelined by injuries, Washington failed to win a game in the first round of the playoffs against Cleveland. The Wizards were missing 3,321 regular-season points scored by players who did not appear in a single postseason game for them, the most by any playoff team in league history.