by Micah Hart
You may have noticed it’s the offseason, which means we have plenty of time to sit around and think about many of the things that make it fun to be an NBA fan. Here at All Ball, we’ll be passing the time until the start of the season with a new series, the Fave Five. Each week will count down a list of the five best, or worst … somethings. We’ll try to get creative with it. Plus we’re taking requests! If you have a suggestion for a Fave Five post, give us a shout and you may see it appear in this space over the next several weeks.
Remember last year when the Nets had four Williams on their team? Crazy right? Maybe not, actually. As it turns out, Williams is the most populous last name in professional basketball history, with 69 players.
Williams is the most popular surname — but is it the best? For this week’s Fave Five, we took a look at the history books to pull out the five best teams by last name.
A couple quick notes: This list is entirely subjective, but there was a little method to the madness. First off, given the sheer mass of players who have competed over the years in the NBA and ABA, we narrowed the list to last names with at least 10 players listed in the Basketball Reference database.
Then, to help whittle down the contenders even more, we used Win Shares (if you are unfamiliar with them, here’s a brief description) as a baseline for judging performance. With a few exceptions, the five players we chose for each team had the most career Win Shares within each last name. To help further guide our hand, we then averaged the win share totals per starting five. I’m sure anyone with basic skills in statistical analysis could poke any number of holes in this methodology, but like I say, this list is ultimately subjective. So too bad.
Also — we used statistics to help frame the debate, but ultimately the rankings came down to answering this question: If these teams played each other head to head, with each player in their individual primes, who would win?
Here we go!
Total Millers: 16 (including 2012 Draft picks Quincy and Darius)
Starting Five: Reggie Miller (174.4), Andre Miller (90.1), Brad Miller (76.5), Mike Miller (53.5), Oliver Miller (21.1)
Hall of Famers: One, as of Friday
Average career WS of starting five: 83.1
The Miller name is pretty top heavy. Reggie, making his way into the Hall of Fame this weekend, is 15th on the all-time list in Win Shares, while Oliver has the least amount of any starter in the top five. In fact, only one other Miller (Larry, a G/F who played seven seasons in the ABA from 1968-75), has put up even double-digit career WS totals*.
*Quincy and Darius, you have your work cut out for you.
This isn’t the flashiest bunch of players, Reggie aside, but the rest of this lineup put together a fine collection of NBA careers in their time. And yeah, Oliver is the weak link here, but the dude — when he was fit enough, which perhaps wasn’t so often — could ball.