NBA Roundtable (cont.)
3. Do you think Wilt would be able to put up 100 points against today's players? And vice versa, could any modern-day players drop 100 points in Wilt's era?
Thomsen: The slower pace would limit him today. If Chamberlain were playing for a team averaging 86 shot attempts, then his 100 points of 1962 would equate to 75 points today.
I'd like to see how LeBron would have done in that era. At 6-foot-8, he is almost as tall as Russell was, he might weigh at least as much as the 275-pound Chamberlain and experts like to say the NBA has never seen anyone of his class athletically. Two potential limitations would be (1) whether he could score out of the post as prolifically as the players of that era, and (2) whether he would be passing the ball to open teammates too often at the expense of looking for his own shot, which, of course, is how team-first winners are supposed to play.
McCallum: I don't want to sound like one of those born-yesterday guys mainly because ... I'm not. I caught Wilt live on numerous occasions (though not as a reporter). But with the doubling-down and the increased size of players in today's league, Wilt, for all his gifts, probably wouldn't have gotten to 70 in a single game.
Conversely, I have little doubt that Kobe would've gotten to the century mark in Wilt's era. Yes, the game could be physical and, yes, there wasn't a three-point line, where 21 of Kobe's 81 came from against Toronto. But defenses weren't as complex back in the pre-Hubie Brown days, and Kobe, on a night when he was so moved and his teammates were moved to help him, would've done it.
Hughes: No to the first, for the reasons stated above. Defenses likely would not let him. And there are enough 7-foot stiffs who could lay wood to Wilt that he'd be slowed down. Remember, he was a very poor free-throw shooter. He made 28-of-32 in the 100-point game. I'd have to think that Shaquille O'Neal, as physically imposing as he is even in today's game, could replicate what Wilt did when Shaq was in his prime. Everything would have to come together, like the free-throw shooting, but if his teammates made a concerted effort, as the Warriors did in that game, I think Shaq could do it.
Mannix: No way Wilt sniffs 100 in today's game. Wilt was 7-1, 275 pounds -- a giant among men in 1962 but just another name on a list of Brendan Haywood/Roy Hibbert/Andrew Bynum types in today's game. That's not to say Wilt wouldn't be effective. But a large chunk of Wilt's 100 points came from being physically superior, a factor that would be absent if he were playing today.
Flip the coin and there are several players who, if transported back to the '60s, would top 100. LeBron, certainly. And Chamberlain was just as lousy from the line as Shaq. Kobe, Carmelo, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard would have had a good shot, too. That's not a knock on anyone from that era. It's just that they played in a time before advanced strength training, nutritional supplements and personal trainers who hang from players shoulders like garment bags. Today's player is just too big and athletic for anyone from that era to handle.
4. Which of Wilt's 72 NBA records will be the toughest to break?
Thomsen: If anyone ever averages 50.4 points per game in one season, as Chamberlain managed across 80 games in 1961-62, then the NBA will have morphed into something unrecognizable by today's standards.
McCallum: There are several, but this is the guaranteed-never-to-be-approached gold standard: In the 1961-62 season, the Big Dipper averaged 48.525 minutes per game. That is, he averaged more than a full game by playing every minute, including overtime games. He was a rarity -- the physical interior player who rarely fouled. (Or was rarely called for a foul, anyway.) The top minutes-played guys these days rarely reach 40.
Hughes: The 100-point record, obviously. But also, nobody is ever going to average 50.4 points a game. C'mon, that is ridiculous. The guy was a phenom. And think about this: They didn't track blocks or steals then, so he should actually hold more records than he currently does.
Mannix: Scoring 50 points in a game is a rare feat. Averaging 50 points for a season? That's impossible. Wilt's 50.4 average is a mark that will never be touched. The league can make all sorts of rule changes that favor the offense -- heck, it could draw a four-point line -- and no player will ever come close to averaging 50 points in a season.
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