Stats & Info: Opening Night in the NBA
October, 29, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information
Noah Graham/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant and LeBron James both have records in their sights this season.The NBA season tips off tonight with six teams in action, including the two favorites in the Eastern Conference and the first leg in the battle for Los Angeles supremacy between the Lakers and Clippers. We take a look at the numbers to know heading into the season.
LeBron and the Heat aim for 3-Peat
The two-time defending champion Miami Heat will try to become the first team to three-peat since the Lakers accomplished that feat 2000-02. Should Miami make it to The NBA Finals, it would be the first team to do so four straight times since the Boston Celtics from 1984-87.
LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell are the only players to win the regular-season MVP award and an NBA Championship in consecutive seasons. James hopes to join Russell as the only player to accomplish that feat three straight times.
Even without another title, LeBron could join a short list with a third straight MVP award. Only Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Russell have been named MVP three straight seasons.
James has won four MVP awards in the last five seasons. If he wins this year, he’d be the first player with five in a six-season span. He’d also join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Jordan and Russell as the only players with five MVP awards.
Kobe closing in on Jordan
Kobe Bryant will miss the beginning of the season as he continues to recover from a torn Achilles, but he needs just 676 points to move past Jordan into third place on the all-time scoring list.
This will be Kobe’s 18th season in the NBA, all with the Lakers. Only John Stockton, who spent 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz, has played more seasons with a single franchise.
Rose returns to Chicago
Derrick Rose is back with the Chicago Bulls after missing all of last season. Rose last played on April 28, 2012, the first game in an eventual playoff series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Rose averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game during the 2011-12 season. Chicago’s point guards have struggled in his absence.
Last season, the Bulls starting point guards averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 39.5 percent from the field. All three marks were in the bottom quarter of the league.
Lots of personnel changes
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there were an NBA-record 13 head coaching changes in the offseason. Nine of those coaches will be making their NBA head-coaching debut.
There are 92 international players on NBA opening night rosters, a new record for the league. France has the highest representation with 10 players, and 27 of the 30 teams have at least one international player.