Sam Cassell coulda been a contender.
We're not talking another NBA championship ring. He's got two of those. We're not talking about individual statistics. He's averaged close to 20 points per game in other seasons with other teams. And we're not talking about regular-season accolades, either. He was already named to the All-NBA second team.
We're talking about the NBA Finals MVP.
Look at his numbers even now with his ailing back and hip.
Forget the number of minutes and games he's played and focus on the number of shots he's taken and number of shots he's made. Add in free throws and 3-pointers and realize that Cassell is averaging 1.31 points per shot in the playoffs.
That's how many NBA franchises determine the offensive efficiency of their players.
In this Western Conference Finals alone, he is averaging 1.24 points per shot despite the fact that he has yet to play a fourth quarter and didn't even start the last game while playing only five minutes.
In this series, he's scoring 9.3 points per game in 16 minutes. Stretch those out to his regular-season minutes and he's at 20.3 points per game. Now consider that the Timberwolves are averaging only 2.25 points less per game than the Lakers and you can begin to feel his pain.
And it gets worse when we take the top-five scorers of the final four NBA teams and figure out what they're scoring per shot at a time that defenses are taking over the game and shooting percentages are plummeting.
With his sore back and aching hips, Cassell is still the third-most efficient scorer left in the playoffs, which is just another statistic to a guy who is watching the most important games of his life from a stationary bike.