On the Heels of History: Gafford’s Brush with Chamberlain’s Record

Daniel Gafford of the Dallas Mavericks has been on a remarkable shooting streak that nearly saw him eclipse a long-standing NBA record set by the legendary Wilt Chamberlain. Back in 1967, Chamberlain set an extraordinary record by making 35 consecutive field goals. Gafford, in a strikingly close call, made 33 consecutive shots across five games, a streak that unfortunately ended with a missed shot in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gafford’s proficiency in close-range shooting placed him in a prime position to potentially surpass Chamberlain’s record. He’s not known for jump shots; in fact, a vast majority of his attempts have been within the paint, specifically within a four-foot restricted area, where he boasts a conversion rate of over 77%. His selectiveness in shot-taking, focused on layups and dunks, has contributed to his impressive efficiency. Interestingly, Gafford is on course to possibly surpass De’Andre Jordan’s record for the highest career field-goal percentage among players with at least 2,000 shot attempts, boasting a current rate of 70.6%.

Gafford’s role within the Dallas Mavericks’ system significantly contributes to his efficiency. Playing alongside Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who are adept at creating lob and roll opportunities, Gafford primarily feeds on dunks and layups, which are his strengths. This was evident in a game against the Golden State Warriors, where all five of his successful field goals were assisted by either Doncic or Irving.

Gafford’s strategy is simple yet effective: he focuses on consistently finishing every opportunity, whether contested or not, with either a dunk or a layup. This approach has seen him dunk 17 times during his 33-shot streak, with 31 of these shots coming from within or near the restricted area.

While Wilt Chamberlain holds numerous unbreakable NBA records, his 35 consecutive field goals made is a rare feat. Gafford’s recent performance, although he didn’t break the record, places him in an elite group that has come close to matching Chamberlain’s statistical prowess. In Dallas, Gafford’s restricted-area shooting has become even more concentrated, with over 87% of his shots coming from this zone.

Gafford’s near-miss at breaking Chamberlain’s record not only highlights his shooting efficiency but also cements his position as a significant player in the NBA, one capable of approaching the feats of the game’s greatest legends.

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