Consecutive FGs Isn’t the Only Wilt Chamberlain Record Daniel Gafford Could Break Soon

You know you’re doing something right when you challenge the records of Wilt Chamberlain, the most dominant single force in basketball history. The deceased 7’1″ Hall of Famer’s accomplishments both on and off the hard-court are the stuff of lore. Nobody has come close to the 100-point game he put up in 1962 or the 50.4 points a game he averaged that season as a 25-year-old.

Now, however, former Arkansas basketball star Daniel Gafford is 25 years old too, and he has a couple of Chamberlain’s benchmarks firmly in his sight.

It’s not often a player has the chance to break one of Wilt Chamberlain’s records in the modern-day NBA, much less two in the same season. But the El Dorado native has a chance to do just that over his final 17 games of the season.

Arkansas Basketball Great Daniel Gafford Goes Off

The 6-foot-10 big man is currently leading the league in field goal percentage by a wide margin. He is shooting 70.6% from the field on the season, five whole percentage points ahead of Jakob Poeltl in second place. The gap between Gafford and Poeltl is nearly as wide as the gap between Poeltl and Moritz Wagner who currently sits in 10th place in field goal percentage.

Following this trend of efficient scoring, Gafford is currently in the midst of a record-breaking hot streak from the field after joining forces with passing extraordinaires Luke Doncic and Kyrie Irving in Dallas. Over his last five games, the Razorback great has made 33 consecutive shots from the field. This streak surpassed the previous record for most consecutive field goals made in the play-by-play era (since 1997-98) by 11 shots – and counting.

However, Gafford might not be done after simply breaking the modern-day record. In 1967 while playing for Philadelphia, Wilt Chamberlain set the all-time record for most consecutive field goals made with 35 in a row – only two more than Gafford’s current streak.

The former Razorback has already overcome one former Hog during this record-breaking stretch when his Mavericks defeated Stanley Umude and the Detroit Pistons. Umude recently signed a full-time NBA contract with the Pistons in the middle of his second NBA season. He’s shooting over 54% from long range and the season played 14 minutes in the matchup with Gafford, going 1-of-3 from long range.

Gafford passed Chamberlain for No. 2 on the all-time consecutive field goals list on Wednesday when he made of 5 of 5 shots for 33 in row, one more than Chamberlain’s second-longest streak of 33.

“I try to tell myself not to worry about it,” Gafford said. “If I do it, that’s good. I’m going to celebrate it, of course. I just want to come out and win games. I’ll worry about the record after for sure.”

He got to do that against another former Razorback as the Mavericks faced Golden State Warriors and Moses Moody.

Moody has seen his role with the Warriors increase marginally this year, jumping up from 13 minutes per game last season to over 17 minutes per game in 2023-24. In that increased role, he’s doubled his scoring output to 8.1 points per game to go along with 3.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and 33% shooting from long range. Over his last eight games heading in the Dallas game, Moody was averaging 9.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in nearly 23 minutes per game.

While it’s certainly unique for Arkansas fans to see a former Razorback get the chance to break a Wilt Chamberlain record while facing off against another former Razorback, multiple Hogs squaring off in the same game has been relatively common this season.

All-Time Record for Pro Hogs

In fact, there are more former Arkansas basketball greats playing in the NBA in the 2023-24 season than any other season in NBA history. Umude’s contract made it 10 full time players along with Ricky Council IV and recently-signed Mason Jones who are both currently on two-way deals, allowing them to split their time between the NBA and the G-League. This rounds up the total number of Razorbacks in the NBA to 12, surpassing the 10 Hogs who appeared in the 1996 season.

If Gafford manages to go perfect from the field against Golden State but doesn’t get to seven shot attempts, his next chance to reach Chamberlain’s record will come the very next night, this time against Isaiah Joe, Jaylin Williams, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s averaged exactly seven made shots over his last four games, so it’s likely that his streak will either break the all-time record or come to an end before the Oklahoma City game is over.

However, most consecutive field goals made isn’t the only Wilt-Chamberlain-held stat that Gafford has a chance to surpass this season. He’s currently on pace to have the sixth highest field goal percentage in a single season, trailing Wilt Chamberlain (currently 2nd on this list) by roughly two percentage points.

Since Gafford has made the move from Washington to Dallas, his already stellar field goal percentage has ballooned to 76.6% on 5.9 attempts per game compared to 70.6% on 6.5 attempts for the season.

It’s been quite a bouncback for the former Arkansas basketball star, who like his mentor Bobby Portis started his NBA career in Chicago. It didn’t go too well. “I kind of fell out of love with the game,” Gafford said of his time in Chicago. He was there for only a year and half before getting traded to the Wizards.

“I had to kind of re-evaluate myself when I got traded to Washington,” he added. “I took a step back and figured out how to bring myself back into loving the game. It was a lot when it came to me mentally here in Chicago. I wanted to be better than I was.”

Next Wilt Chamberlain Record to Fall?

Gafford is certainly in the same conversation as Chamberlain in terms of overall field goal percentage for a single season, but it will be a tall task to outright catch him with only 16 games remaining this season. Even if he continues his rate of shooting roughly seven times per game over that stretch, he would have to shoot over 79% from the field to pass Chamberlain’s record.

To put things into perspective on how the situation was with 17 games left, if Gafford were tos shoot 120 shots between then and the end of the season (7.1 attempts per game), he’d have to make 95 of those attempts. This would put him at 79% field goal percentage over his final 17 games with a season-long average of 72.71%, just barely surpassing Chamberlain who sits at 72.70% in second place on the list.

Mitchell Robinson currently sits at the top of the single-season field goal percentage record book with an astonishing 74.19% in 2019-20. Gafford would have to make 103 out of 120 shots (86%) at this hypothetical 7.1-attempt-per-game pace to surpass Robinson at the top of the list.

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