By: Darren Schmidt

Latrell Sprewell was one of the most memorable and entertaining players the Warriors have ever had, even before he had to put his hands on PJ Carlesimo to finally get that awful, whiny, gravelly voice to stop, just stop. He was a player the Warriors stole late in the draft, a skinny Southern kid who was as awkward with the press as he was comfortable on the court. He could seemingly play every minute of every game. He wasn’t a perfect player but he was uniquely fun to watch.

He’s also lucky he didn’t play today. He wouldn’t have fared well with the increasingly stat-oriented analysis of the game.

Let’s use his ‘93/‘94 all-NBA season as an example. First of all, he shouldn’t have been on the all-NBA team. He had a pretty pedestrian PER of 15.9, which on the Warriors put him just ahead of the immortal Keith Mister Jennings’ 15.5 and far behind Chris Gatling’s 18.7, and in the NBA put him well behind the other guards on the 2nd and 3rd all-NBA teams. When you adjust for pace his overall numbers aren‘t that impressive, either. The Warriors shot and scored a lot. So did he. He took almost 40% more shots than anyone else on the team even though his TS% was tied for 8th on the team and his eFG% was the worst on the team for anyone who played decent minutes. He wasn’t so much of a creator for others as he was a guy who had the ball a lot and passed it occasionally. He averaged less than 5 assists and almost 3 turnovers a game. And for all the talk of his defensive prowess the Warriors gave up just one fewer basket per 100 possessions with him on the floor than they did when his primary backups, Jeff Grayer and Jud Buechler, played.

He should probably get credit for playing the most minutes in the NBA. His numbers started to suffer as the season went on, but still, the numbers are underwhelming, especially when you consider you don’t really get credit for entertainment today. He was a good player to watch and to have on your team, all scowl and scrap, but the numbers don’t add up so he shouldn’t be appreciated like he was then.

Memories aren’t what they used to be. Basketball isn’t either.

2 Responses

  1. Eric

    I loved Sprewell too, but he also did a whole lot of losing when he was the go-to guy on the team. And at the time my dad (a former bball coach) had a lot to say about his inefficiency. I think that in the long run we’ll look at the iso-90’s as the aberration in basketball history.

  2. bgalella

    The collective talent seems to improve with every generation, as league expanded during the early 90s, with the addition of Orlando, Miami, Minnesota and Charlotte, the talent pool dwindled a bit, allowing players like Sprewell to earn All-NBA votes.

    Not to diminish what he did, he was a solid player and an All-Star, but he won’t be remembered for much other than choking out his coach.