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Southpaw Scarcity in the NBA
You probably wouldn't know it by looking at the All-Lefty Team we unveiled Tuesday, but there has only been a small handful of known lefties in the history of the world's foremost basketball league
There are, as is customary, only six players total on the annual All-Lefty Team that I published Tuesday.
Two guards, three frontcourt players and a sixth man.
Five of the six who form the 2023 edition came from just two franchises: New York and Sacramento.
This seems notable.
The Knicks were represented by Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. (Reserve Knicks big man Isaiah Hartenstein, meanwhile, also received a measure of consideration to fill the Sixth Man slot that went to Memphis’ Luke Kennard.)
The Kings’ two All-Stars naturally were pretty much the first two names on the list: De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.
So I couldn’t resist writing about my fellow lefties one more time, after posting the full 2022-23 Southpaw Six roster in the Tuesday Newsletter Extravaganza, because I'm hoping a true math ace or two out there sees this and volunteers to help me figure out how to contextualize how statistically improbable it is for two teams in a 30-team NBA to roster a combined fivesome of such productive lefties.
It can't be overstated, after all, how scarce lefties are in the relative scheme of NBA history.
According to research provided to me by Stathead's Mike Lynch, there have only been 330 known left-handers to appear in at least one regular-season game through the NBA's first 77 seasons.
By contrast: There are 4,797 players total, according to Lynch, who have played at least one regular-season NBA game.
(Unrelated aside that tickles me: Every time I ask Lynch to send me the updated number in that category, he always reminds me that Argentine guard Luca Vildoza played seven playoff games for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2022 playoffs but didn't appear in a single regular-season NBA game that season to rank as a true one-of-a-kind anomaly.)
Dividing 330 into 4,797 — this is math I can handle: It tells us that only 6.8% percent of the NBA players we’ve ever seen have been officially listed as left-handed.
Yet the modern-day Knicks and Kings are somehow teeming with standout lefties.
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