During Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant, the 2014 NBA MVP, had the best game of his entire career, scoring 49 points, dishing out 10 assists, grabbing 17 rebounds, blocking two shots, and poking away the ball for two steals. This triple-double stat line and comeback win was incredible, awe inspiring, and swung the series in the Nets favor, as now, even without star point guard Kyrie Irving, 2/3 of the big three in Brooklyn is healthy and they only need to win one more game before advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Durant’s performance might just be the best performance some people have ever seen in their lifetime (assuming that person is under the age of 13). His assists led to Jeff Green scoring 27 points off the bench and going seven for eight from three point range. However, one thing that people may not realize is just how dominant Durant’s performance was. We have to consider that if the Nets lost this game, they would most likely lose Game 6 at Milwaukee, meaning Durant saved the Nets’ season and championship hopes. Another thing to talk about is Durant’s Game Score. Game Score, a statistic created by John Hollinger in the early 2000s, is used to measure just how incredible (or horrible) a player’s performance was, statistically. The higher the Game Score, the better the performance. An average Game Score for an NBA player to achieve in a game is 10, a good Game Score is 20, and an excellent Game Score is 30.
The best regular season Game Score of all time was Michael Jordan’s 69 point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which earned him a Game Score of 64.6. Right behind Jordan is Kobe Bryant, whose 81 point game in 2006 against the Toronto Raptors earned him a Game Score of 63.5. The formula for game score is as follows:
PTS + 0.4 * FG – 0.7 * FGA – 0.4*(FTA – FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK – 0.4 * PF – TOV
Now, if we plug in Durant’s numbers to the Game Score formula, they look like this:
49 + 0.4 * 16 – 0.7 * 23 – 0.4*(16 – 13) + 0.7 * 0 + 0.3 * 17 + 3 + 0.7 * 10 + 0.7 * 2 – 0.4 * 3 – 3
You can do the math yourself, but this equals a Game Score of 50.4, which is incredibly dominant, but doesn’t tell the full story. If you look at the single performances by a player with the greatest Game Score (AKA the greatest performances of all-time), in NBA Regular Season history, Durant’s 50.4 Game Score would be tied for 21st all-time. This means that Durant’s performance was one of the 25 best games a player ever had in NBA history. That’s kind of difficult to wrap your head around.
However, there’s one missing piece to this puzzle:
As you can see, Durant would be tied for number 21 on this list, alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Reggie Miller. However, this list only accounts for regular season games. Durant’s game was in the playoffs, which means we have to look and see where Durant is among the best playoff game performances ever. Let’s count down the top five, and see if Durant makes it:
Disclaimer before the countdown: These performances only tell a player’s story statistically, not the impact they had on a game. Since modern stats are needed to calculate this, games prior to the NBA/ABA merge will not be counted (meaning no Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, or Bob Cousy appearances).
#5: Sleepy Floyd
During Game Four of the Western Conference Semi-Finals in 1987, Floyd had a monster game for the Golden State Warriors, dropping 51 points, 10 assists, three rebounds, and four steals on 69.2% shooting on the Showtime Lakers in what was easily the best game of his career (his Game Score was 49.1). The Warriors would need every point from Floyd, as the final score was 129-121. Unfortunately, they could not escape their own fate, as they were down 3-0 before Floyd’s big game, and would lose in five to the eventual champions.
#4: Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan’s best Game Score in the playoffs is surprisingly not his 63 point game against the Boston Celtics (which ranks seventh all-time). It is, in fact, a closeout game in the first round of the 1992 NBA playoffs, against the Miami Heat. Back then, first round series were best of five, so it only took three games for the Bulls to sweep the Heat and move on to the next round. In Game 3, Jordan had 56 points, five rebounds, five assists, and four steals, but what really boosted his Game Score was his efficiency and accuracy. Jordan only recorded two turnovers that game, and shot 20 of 30 from the field and 16 of 18 from the free throw line. This Game Score turned out to be 49.8, only 0.7 ahead of Floyd’s game.
#3: Kevin Durant
With his 50.4 Game Score, Durant’s performance against the Milwaukee Bucks ranks as the third best playoff performance in NBA history. Let that sink in for a minute. If you were one of the people who watched Durant play this game live, running up and down the court without sitting for a single minute, then you witnessed history.
People love to hate on Durant, but the truth is, whether he’s on a super team or not, Durant can easily take a team to the playoffs and make a deep run. He doesn’t need the other superstars around him (although they are a nice plus), as he is Steph Curry/James Harden in a seven foot body, making his shot nearly impossible to block. It’s no wonder why he scored 49 points, and in my opinion, he is the best player in the world (currently) and one of the three hardest players to guard in NBA history.
#2: Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley’s best playoff game ever came in the first round of the 1994 NBA Playoff when he was on the Phoenix Suns, taking on the Golden State Warriors. In this particular game, the Suns would win by seven points, 140-133. However, despite the fact that it was only the first round and the Suns swept the Warriors, Barkley still ended up having the best game of his career, scoring and rebounding at will to finish with a total of 56 points and 14 rebounds on 74.2% shooting from the field. His game score was 52.6, and if this was a regular season game, it would be ranked as the 10th greatest regular season performance ever.
#1: Damian Lillard
What? you’re thinking to yourself. That Damian Lillard has the best playoff game in NBA history? Yeah, he’s good, but his best performance is better then Hall-of-Famers like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and Allen Iverson? The answer and truth both say yes1. The more surprising thing? He did in this year’s playoffs, but so quietly that no one noticed. Against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the 1st round, Lillard dropped 55 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and three blocks on the Nuggets while shooting 17-24 from the field, 12-17 from three, and going 9-10 from the free throw line. When this game was talked about, it was for Lillard’s volume of threes, but his Game Score was 55.9, the best in playoff history. Another reason this performance is so underrated is that every other top five Game Score from a player came in a victory, while this came in a narrow loss.
What do you guys think about Game Score and Durant’s incredible performance? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!
1: Did you get the pun?
One thought on “Kevin Durant’s Performance Was WAY More Dominant Then you Think”
Great Blog, loved your analysis. I watched the game and the BUCS absolutely dominated in all aspects of the game. At one point the NETS were down by 17 points and it looked as though they were going to lose this game, and then Kevin Durant took over. He was unstoppable, scoring, grabbing those rebounds, a couple of steals, and 10 assists. KD saved the game and the NETS season, at one point Coach Nash asked him if he wanted to rest for a few minutes and KD said “no I’m ok and I want to go”. So he continued to play for 48 straight minutes and he was amazing. Best game I’ve seen and your brilliant statistical analysis are the best I’ve ever seen about any player in any sports and confirms what I witnessed last night. Great job.
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