During the 2000-01 season, Jerry Stackhouse scored at least 20 points in 73 of the 80 games he suited up for. He played at least 40 minutes in over two thirds of those games, and had just two nights all season where he took less than 17 shots. The dude averaged 29.8 points a game – better than Shaq, better than Kobe, better than Vince – and led the entire league in total points. So why doesn’t anyone remember this?
For starters, he played in Detroit, surrounded by eye-catching players like Corliss Williamson, Joe Smith, Michael Curry and Chucky Atkins. I can’t tell you how many times I turned on my TV to catch the Pistons, wearing those swamp water teal jerseys, and said to myself “Damn, I love me some Mikki Moore!” They won 32 games all year, were completely out of the playoff picure almost from the start and played like a group of car salesmen on lunch break at the Y. It was the slowest paced team of anyone all year. Stack also barely shot 40 percent, and led the league in turnovers, as well as “Get outta here with that s—” shots.
But if we can constantly celebrate someone for playing efficiently, there has to be an award for doing the exact opposite as well, right? I’m the first one to point out a player sacrificing shots to play hard man-to-man on every possession or doing his best to always set rugged screens. But every once in a while, it’s refreshing to see a dude just chuck. From anywhere and everywhere. All. The. Time.
On the first night of the season, Stack scored 44, taking 35 shots. From there, he never stopped. One night in particular stands out: a blowout win in April over Chicago. Stackhouse dropped 57 that night.
To find out how dominating Stack was in Detroit that season, check out the team’s point totals. Detroit’s next three highest scorers didn’t even score as much as Stackhouse combined. That’s what happens when Stackhouse is your only jump shooter (Atkins was the only other player who even made one trey a game). That’s what happens when your starting front court is Ben Wallace, Smith and Curry. They’ve probably set more screens in their lives than anything else. And that’s what happens when the team has literally no one else who can create a shot. This was worse than T-Mac in Orlando, and almost as bad as Iverson in Philly. The NBA’s greatest one-man band… that never was. Because no one remembers it.
Stackhouse was always good for buckets. Early in his career, he feuded with Iverson in Philly and still managed to score around 20 points a game for nearly three years. Once he was traded to Detroit, he formed an unlikely duo with Grant Hill. One wasn’t really a scorer, but found ways to always leave the arena with 20 or 25. The other wasn’t much of a passer or rebounder and yet, he still developed a reputation as a guy you could win with because he was tough (to this day, nobody messes with Stack).
[Related: Jerry Stackhouse Can't Go Out Like This]
But in that one season, amongst two feuding teammates out in L.A., and the revival of a Philly franchise from “that little guy,” no one remembers what he did. Stackhouse once averaged nearly 30 points a game for an entire NBA season. What other NBA players have ever done that? It’s not a big list, starts with Wilt, Jordan, Kareem and Oscar and ends with players like Lloyd Free and Jack Twyman. For a player that was never as good as we thought he would be (mainly because he was supposed to be the Next Jordan), 30 a night is money.
Now that he’s retired and become a regular of the summer pickup games, Stackhouse will forever be considered the post-up, role playing wing with those 2000s Dallas teams. No one will recall he was once the heir to Air. More importantly, the career 17.9 a night scorer is probably the only person in the world that’ll never forget the year he was shooting like Bishop in Juice.
Which players have lost seasons that you think are under appreciated?
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