Chris Gatling

“The Energizer,” Chris Gatling, was unique — perhaps underrated and overrated at the same time. He was a rarity, a one-dimensional big man whose only skill was post scoring.

Through 1997 he was tracking to have one of the best career FG%s ever (57% ranked 7th all-time going into the ’98 season); he then proceeded to shoot 45.1% from ’98 onward, a rate that wasn’t helped by a bizarre proclivity for 3s in 2000 and ’01. Despite the gaudy FG%s, Gatling wasn’t a shooter, as attested by his .660 FT%. He had no face-up game. He was, however, a tremendous off-the-bench post scorer, with a career 18.9 P/36 rate that peaked at a staggering 25.0 in 1997. That season, Gatling had a usage rate of 31.7 — the same rate LeBron James has in 2012! No reserve big man has ever done that, before or since. And it was all from pure post scoring!

Gatling is best known for playing for 8 NBA teams in his career. He typified the “trade zone”, because he was useful as a scorer but ultimately a flawed player. While he rebounded some, he was a mediocre defender, a total non-passer/black hole, and had coachability concerns. Teams wanted him enough to get him, but not enough to keep him around longer than a half-season or so.

Don’t shed any tears for Gatling, though. Being a one-dimensional NBA journeyman netted him almost $30 million over an 11-year career. There are worse careers to have, even if his Hall of Fame Probability is exactly 0.0%.

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About Neil Paine

I work for Sports-Reference.com. I've been a freelance writer for ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and Basketball Prospectus.

Posted on March 15, 2012, in History, YouTube Finds and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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