12/03/2012 - 17:58
Minute By Minute, Paul Moving Further Up the NBA's History Book
Ryan Laughlin and the Paul Pierce Team
Thanks to an infusion of young players and unexpected depth, Paul Pierce is averaging the lowest number of minutes per game of his career. Undoubtedly part of Celtics coach Doc Rivers's strategy to conserve Paul’s energy for the playoffs, it hasn't stopped The Truth's continued climb through up the NBA's all-time ranks.
In a league where the average career lasts just six years, Paul Pierce has played 15. In that time, he's logged 38,358 minutes, which as of Friday was the 33rd-most minutes played in NBA history. Even with his strategically lightened workload, Paul is well on pace to move up two spots, and the players Paul's likely to pass have not only had outstanding careers: they both share something unique with the Celtics captain.
In the 1998 NBA Draft, Paul Pierce was projected to be selected as high as third overall in some mock drafts. When Paul slid all the way to the Celtics with the 10th overall pick, it made headlines. Perhaps the most surprising name that was called before Paul’s was Dirk Nowitzki's, then just a relatively unknown teenager from Germany. Today, they are rightly regarded as two of the finest players of their era, and Paul will likely slip ahead of Nowitzki this week. Not only are Pierce and Nowtizki linked through the ’98 draft, but they are two of the few current NBA players who have spent their entire respective careers with one franchise.
After being selected by Boston in 1998, Paul suited up for his first career NBA game on February 5, 1999, at home versus the Toronto Raptors. Coincidentally, Toronto's starting center at that game happens to be the other player Paul is primed to pass in the record books Wednesday, Kevin Willis. Though he played for 8 different teams over the course of 22 seasons, Willis was a consummate professional, just like Paul is. What's interesting to contemplate is that Paul is a full ten years younger than Willis was when he played his last NBA game. If Paul continues at this pace for another seven years, he’s almost certain to end his career in the top ten of minutes played.
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