So far in his basketball career, Tacko Fall has not done much in the NBA. While he has been a G-League Sensation that cannot be stopped, Fall has shown the same promise while getting limited minutes after the game has been decided for the Boston Celtics, but simply doesn’t receive that many chances to show his worth. One has to wonder if the organization is simply saving Fall for when he is in his prime or when centers Luke Kornet and Tristan Thompson leave the team. Whatever the case, Fall is a much better player than the Celtics (and the NBA) let on.
On one of the rare chances Fall received playing time, he was able to block four shots in the span of a minute. This is legendary, as if he continued at this rate for even half of a game, he would easily set the record for the most blocked shots in a game (the unofficial record is 26 by Wilt Chamberlain). While blocks and rebounds are where Fall gets attention, he has the ability to score many points off of offensive rebounds and easy put-backs. Fall also recently made a sweet Hakeem Olajuwon-esque fadeaway in game which got the whole Celtics bench oohing and aahing.
After graduating from the University of Central Florida (and narrowly losing to Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament), Fall went undrafted, though the Celtics took a chance on him and signed him, sending him to their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
In the 2019-20 season, Fall played 29 games (11 started) for the Red Claws. In those 29 games, Fall averaged 12.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game in about 23 minutes of action. It’s safe to say that these are great numbers for a center, and warrant at least 10 minutes a game of action in the NBA.
On March 8th, 2020, Fall nearly recorded a triple-double (for the Red Claws) with a stat-line of 16 points, 14 rebounds, and nine blocks! In that game, he looked like a man among boys, doing whatever he wanted with ease. However, despite these incredible stats, there are still a few unknown stats that have the potential to shock you.
During the 2020-21 regular NBA season, Fall has appeared in 19 games, averaging about seven minutes played per game. In those games, Fall averaged 2.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. These aren’t that impressive on the surface, but these stats are even more impressive when it’s considered that Fall plays around seven minutes.
If we look at Fall’s Per 36 numbers, which show what a player would produce in 36 minutes played per game, then Fall is averaging 12.4 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 5.3 blocks! These are incredible numbers, and not just by Fall’s standards, but by all-time great center standards. It’s safe to say that if Fall had been born into a different era (let’s say the 1960s), then he may be looked at as the greatest center of all time.
Let’s look at arguably the greatest statistical center ever, Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain had few rivals in the 1960s because of how far ahead he was compared to his peers. His greatest statistical season was 1961-62, where he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds (leading the league in both). On March 2nd, 1962, Chamberlain would score 100 points, an NBA record to this day. However, one reason that Chamberlain scored this much was that he played every minute of every game during that season, bringing his average minutes per game to over 48 (due to overtime). During the game in which he scored 100 points, his teammates fouled on defense so that he could get the ball without killing the clock and break the previous record. The average basketball game has around 70 possessions, though it would be safe to say that this game had around 100 possessions.
If we take Fall’s numbers and see what they would amount to in 100 possessions, Fall would have averaged 16.9 points, 18.7 rebounds, and 7.2 blocks per game! The season before, when Fall was trying to prove he belonged on the floor even more since he was a rookie, he put up slightly higher numbers, so if we take his numbers from the 2019-20 season, we get per 100 possession numbers of 33.6 points, 21.9 rebounds, and 5.9 blocks per game! Fall would lead the league in blocks almost every season if he got even 36 minutes of playing time per game, and if the Celtics unleashed him truly, they would have one of the best defenses in the league and possibly a multiple time Defensive Player of the Year in their paint.
There is no way to truly tell how many blocks Chamberlain acquired in his career, but luckily for us, a statistician ahead of his time recorded blocks for a fraction of the games in Chamberlain’s career, and in the games where those blocks were recorded, Chamberlain averaged 8.8 blocks per game! The link to the site where Chamberlain’s block statistics can be found here, and if we put Fall in the 1960s, I have no doubt that with the extra inches he could block even more shots and possibly grab as many rebounds.
Fall may not be as gifted or have the potential to be a better player than Chamberlain, or guys like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Bill Russell. However, if Fall gets the minutes and develops his game, he has the potential to be a top three Celtic center of all time (behind Russell and Dave Cowens), Defensive Player of the Year, All-Star, and maybe one day, if he leads his team to enough wins, an MVP.
What do you guys think of Fall’s stats when adjusted to more minutes per game? How great of a player do you think he can be? Let me know your thoughts, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog (it would mean a lot to me), and as always, have an awesome day!