The Greatest Stat Padding Season You’ve Never Heard Of

The NBA has seen some truly egregious stat padders over the years.

Who could forget Rajon Rondo giving up open layups in favour of boosting his assist numbers, or Russell Westbrook shamelessly pinching Steven Adams’ rebounds in pursuit of triple doubles?

But with the exploits of stat padding hall of famers like these, one man has completely slipped under the radar.

Jason Kapono began 2007-08 by establishing himself as that season’s best long-range marksman while playing for the Toronto Raptors.

He shot a staggering 51.7 percent over his first 30 games, while averaging three attempts per game.

The white hot Kapono was on pace for one of the five best three-point shooting seasons of all-time.

If this was NBA Jam, the balls leaving the sharpshooter’s hands would’ve been engulfed in flames.

But well before the season’s half-way point, he abruptly put the queue in the rack, refusing to shoot unless he was left completely naked on the perimeter.

Seemingly determined to keep that outrageously high percentage intact, Kapono shot just 0.6 three-point attempts per night across his final 51 games.

Such stringent shot selection would’ve been great if we were talking about Tyreke Evans during his Sacramento days or Detroit-era Josh Smith, but no so much when we’re dealing with a two-time Three-Point Contest winner.

So, how did all this work out for Kapono?

Well, it appears he might’ve overthought this one, hitting at just 37.9 percent for the rest of the year.

Kapono still finished the season as the league’s most accurate long-range shooter at 48.3 percent (13th all-time), narrowly edging out Steve Nash and Peja Stojakovic, while finishing miles ahead of Ray Allen (39.8 percent).

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But his remarkably gun-shy finish to the season certainly made for bizarre viewing.

Meanwhile, the Raptors must’ve been wondering why they were paying a shooting specialist millions of dollars to actively avoid shooting.

And yet, Kapono’s desire to shoot miraculously returned the moment the playoffs arrived, hoisting almost five treys per game in the postseason.

Kapono’s 24 attempts across five playoffs games was more than he’d put up during the entire second-half of the regular season.

Now that’s probably not what coaches mean when they talk about careful shot selection.

(h/t Redditor pwnful)