Tip-Off Timer: Mark Eaton Averages 5.6 Blocks in '85
As far as modern defensive monsters go, Mark Eaton has been a bit forgotten. The Wag has imprinted Dikembe Mutombo's image in all our eternal memories; when you think of blocked shots, you think of Deke.
But Eaton can lay claim to the blocks title, in terms of seasonal average. In 1984-85, Eaton racked up a whopping 5.6 blocks per game.
Of course, there's an asterisk: Eaton's Jazz, coached by Frank Layden, played an extremely fast style, opening up more possessions, and by extension more block opportunities for the big man. Still, the Jazz finished with the No. 1 defense in all the land per possession, and Eaton was a huge part of that. We've seen from the Jordan-era Bulls and other squads that you don't need a shotblocker to play great defense. But it certainly helps.
During that '84-85 season, Eaton blocked nearly 9% of all opponent shot attempts while he was on the floor (a figure Manute Bol eclipsed several times, I might add). As the NBA has moved toward utilizing the three-pointer more frequently, and as no team plays at the pace Eaton's Jazz (and other contemporaries) did, it's unlikely we'll see such mythical block figures again without something major changing in the league. Last season's blocks champion (Dwight Howard) finished with fewer than three per game, for example. Chris Andersen, last year's blocks per possession leader, would need to play 45 minutes per game to beat Eaton. (Hey, if Nene gets injured ...)