Name games

The object of the game is to link NBA first and last names. Think of Chris Paul George Hill. What’s the longest possible string of names? What’s the best string of names? And, if we created a big 3-on-3 tournament of “before-and-after” teams — who would win it all?

I used Basketball-Reference to build a database of every name in NBA history. After removing duplicates and suffixes like “Jr.” I found 4225 unique names (exact matches only, no homonyms). In the end, I found 655 players whose first name was the same as another player’s last name and 602 players whose last name was the same as another player’s first name.

I found three different 9-player chains:

Ronnie-Lester-Conner-Henry-James-Ray-Scott-Lloyd-Neal-Walk and Ronnie-Lester-Conner-Henry-James-Thomas-Jordan-Mickey-Davis-Bertans and Ronnie-Lester-Conner-Henry-James-Thomas-Jordan-Mickey-Dillard-Crocker

You might notice that the name Henry James was in each of those long chains. In fact, Henry James was in more three-player before-and-after combinations than any other name — 43 times as first name (shown with the pink bar), 203 times as the second name (in blue), and 2 times as the third name (in green).

These were some of the best before-and-after trios for the name game tournament. I really like Terrell-Brandon-Roy-Hibbert as my pick to take it all.

Inspired by an unusual confluence of J names on the 2019-20 Memphis Grizzlies roster — Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Junior, Josh Jackson, Jonas Valanciunas, Jae Crowder, Jontay Porter, John Konchar, Justice Winslow, Tyus Jones — I looked up how often in NBA history a team has had more than one player with the same first letter? What’s been the largest group of teammates to share a first letter? Which is the most common letter to be shared by a group of teammates?

The Jazz had 4 guys named John in 2001-02: John Stockton, John Starks, John Crotty, and John Amaechi. Per PBPstats they did all play in the same game together, but there were no 4-John lineups for the Jazz that year.

Here are some of the most popular first names in the NBA over the years.

The 1953-54 season was the YEAR OF THE BOB. Fully 11 PERCENT!! of the league was named Bob (13 of 119 NBA players).

Check out more strange projects.

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