The ’03/’04 NBA season saw one of the most shocking endings in its history. The Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone lost to the Detroit Pistons. With their always on the ball defense, the Pistons smothered those flashy Lakers and dominated in five games. The Pistons only scored 90.1 points per game in that season and held their opponents to 84.3. Their leading scorer Richard Hamilton averaged 17.6 points. When you think about it, that was the only way a team like the Pistons could win a championship.
That season also saw some low-scoring by the best players in the league. Even though Kevin Garnett was named the MVP of the season, he averaged 24.2 points per game, just like Peja Stojaković, second on the scoring list. The only player who averaged more than 25 PPG was Tracy McGrady with 28.0. Allen Iverson put up 26.4, but he played only 48 games.
McGrady was shooting his team out; he had 23.4 field goal attempts per game, of which he converted 9.7 (41.7%) into baskets. His three-point percentage was low, too; he shot only 33.9%. McGrady was very inefficient, but he was the only guy who could manage at least 25 points at that time. T-Mac also added 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.
Still, those 25 points were enough for him to take the scoring title. To put that into perspective, in the ’18/’19 season, 11 players finished averaging at least 25 PPG.
If we look at the actual NBA campaign, we will see that the difference is even more significant. Bradley Beal leads the scorers with 34.9 PPG in front of Kevin Durant, who averages 30.7, and then there are 11 other players averaging 25 or more PPG this season.
Basketball changed a lot since that Pistons’ title, and it’s pretty hard to believe that a team like that could have success with today’s pace of the game. But hats of to them and to T-Mac, who was trying hard to squeeze those points in.
If he averaged over 25 back then, what would he average today?