Hypothetical Power Rankings: Early-season record watch

You don't want to know where this shot is headed. (Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)
You don't want to know where this shot is headed. (Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports) /

It’s pretty hard for any NBA player, even the All-Stars, to make any impact on the all-time record book. I’m not even talking about the career records, where every possible factor has to go right in a two-decade span of dominance while the numbers rack up. I’m just talking about the all-time best single-season records. A lot of the good ones are out of reach: Wilt Chamberlain straight ruined everything in 1961-62. One time Mark Eaton blocked 5.6 shots per game. A mid-season trade once made an 88-game regular season a reality for Walt Bellamy.

Any record that is in danger of being broken in 2016-17 is, well, decidedly more obscure. Plus, projecting a broken record now in mid-November requires that one be remarkably irresponsible with certain small sample sizes. (Hey: if you’re going to break a record, it doesn’t hurt to start strong.)

Read More: Lucas Nogueira has finally arrived for the Toronto Raptors

Another word of warning: most of the plausibly attainable records are for all-time futility instead of all-time greatness. Here is a sampling, ordered from least to most likely to be standing at the end of the season:

4. Boris Diaw / Lowest Scoring Average, at least 20 minutes per game

When Utah grabbed Diaw in exchange for stashed draft pick Olivier Hanlan, I thought it was one of the best moves of the summer. Diaw seemed like exactly the right kind of selfless veteran who would help boost Utah’s serious nucleus up to the next level.

It hasn’t worked out that way so far. Injuries have limited ol’ Boris to just five games played — and what’s an even bigger issue is the games that Diaw has played in. In addition to having just three assists up against six turnovers, Diaw is shooting the ball rarely and making it even less. With 23.8 percent field goal accuracy, Boris is averaging just 2.2 points per game across 22.5 minutes played.

Only two times has a player scored less while also receiving at least 20 minutes a game from their coach over a full season. Plus, while both averaged 2.1 points per game, they still earned their keep with elite defending and rebounding: Jason Collins (2006-07) and Dennis Rodman (1998-99, a.k.a. The Lakers Season).

3. Lucas Nogueira and Salah Mejri / Field Goal Percentage, at least 10 minutes per game

Nogueira and Mejri are both examples of one of my favorite new trends of player: the deep bench player who provides ultra-efficiency during his limited minutes. Benches just used to be full of scrubs! Now these guys come in and drop better PERs than most of the starters they’re briefly replacing.

Both Mejri (12-for-14) and Nogueira (15-for-17) are currently shooting better than 85 percent from the field. Neither figures to get enough minutes to qualify for the straight-up accuracy record — that would be Wilt again, going 72.7 percent in his final season — but they still are getting a good amount of run.

The key to breaking this record is going to be passing up any shot, even open shots, that aren’t lay-ups or dunks. Is Mejri already thinking about his place in the history books?:

2. Rashad Vaughn / Lowest Career PER, at least 1,000 total minutes

Okay, technically not a single-season stat, but still. With a 5.1 mark so far on his young career, the 20-year-old Vaughn is just on the wrong side of a fellow first-round pick, mid-aughts draft bust Nikoloz Tskitishvili (5.2). After a 4.2 PER during his rookie season last year, Vaughn has already picked things up quite a bit by going 11.6 so far this year.

The Bucks also spent another recent draft pick on the since-released Johnny O’Bryant, who’s also awfully high on the chart with a 6.3 during his 2014-2016 Milwaukee tenure.

1. Channing Frye – Most Three-Pointers Per Minute, qualified for 3PT% leaderboard

In case there was any doubt — there wasn’t — that Stephen Curry’s 2015-16 season was the greatest shooting season of all time, his 5.4 made three-pointers per 36 minutes was a record for three-point frequency. (Curry bested, of all people, Steve Novak.) Although Curry is challenging his own record this year, he’s looking up at Frye, who is absolutely scorching nets for Cleveland. At 5.8 makes every 36 minutes, Frye has a much lower total minutes load (19.4) than Curry — plus he also has LeBron James always vigilantly looking to create high-percentage assists for him.

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Seeing as Frye went 2-for-8 from deep in a season-high 27 minutes when James sat out against the Indiana Pacers this week, Frye should find ways to maybe come down with the flu whenever LeBron is resting if he really wants to break Curry’s record.