Is there a better way to cap off the year than with a 71 points performance? Oh, and beat Shaq to a scoring title by doing so? That’s David Robinson for you in ’93/’94 – one of the most underrated individual campaigns ever.
If you don’t believe me, believe the numbers he put up. The Admiral averaged 29.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. He did it shooting .507 from the floor, .345 from three, and .749 from the charity stripe. Robinson was also one of the league’s best interior defenders. Your basic defensive parameters prove it, as D-Rob averaged 3.3 blocks and 1.7 steals per contest.
Now let’s dig a little deeper. Other than leading the NBA in scoring, Robinson also scored the most points on the cumulative level. The obvious reason for it was his scoring displays night in and night out. But the other reason for it was Robinson’s best ability – availability. The Admiral had only missed two regular-season games, as he led the Spurs to 55 wins and number four seed in the West.
Just how dominant Robinson really was, lays in the fact that he led the league in free throws attempted. And convincingly so, as he went to the line 182 times more than Karl Malone. And those weren’t your James Harden-like manipulated calls. At 7-1, 250, Robinson was a force, and the only way to contain the guy was to send him to the line. It didn’t work.
Apart from his historic 71 points performance in Spurs’ last regular-season matchup against the Clippers, Robinson also had seven games of scoring over 40. D-Rob also led the league in triple-doubles, as he racked up five of those. It just goes to show how diverse Robinson’s game was, as he was delivering on both ends of the floor.
It’s no secret The Admiral was a defensive force. The guy was a Defensive Player of the Year in ’92 and had eight All-NBA Defensive selections to his name. The 93-94 season was no exception. Only this time, he got into the All-Defensive second team. Hakeem Olajuwon was the reason for it, as the Rockets’ center ended up winning the MVP award. It was a coin flip between two big men, but it ended up going in favor of The Dream. Robinson was left out of All-NBA First team for the same reason, as he received a second-team selection. It’s the Hakeem curse The Admiral became a victim of, but that’s what makes his season underrated.
Just think about this; Robinson dominated all the advanced statistical categories. He led the NBA in win shares with 20, dominated the Box Plus/Minus column with 11.9, and had contributed to 8.9 points per 100 possessions – also league-leading. D-Rob also topped Hakeem in defensive Box Plus/Minus, despite The Dream winning the Defensive Player of the Year. In terms of his value for San Antonio, The Admiral had the biggest impact on his team winning, as he led the NBA in VORP.
All the numbers point out to a simple conclusion — David Robinson was awesome. His 93-94 season doesn’t get nearly enough attention. The Admiral became NBA’s MVP the next year on arguably a worse season. Does the award validate it?
With D-Rob, it was nothing but the timing. Hakeem just happened to have a historical year, just when Robinson had one of his own. Hakeem gets all the praise for it, and no one mentions Admiral’s run. And we should. It’s one of the most underrated individual campaigns NBA player has ever had.