Championships, or rings, often get cited in historical discussions, but the career totals can be rather misleading. Even players who won just a single title aren’t created equally: Would anyone claim that James Michael McAdoo deserved as much credit as Stephen Curry for the Golden State Warriors’ 2015 championship?
Ring shares solve this issue by doling out credit based on minutes played during the championship run. Each title-winning team has five ring shares to hand out to the members of its roster, as it’s possible for five players to play every minute en route to the final victory. In that extreme scenario, each member of the quintet would receive exactly one ring share.
But let’s circle back to the Warriors, looking specifically at McAdoo and Curry.
It was possible for a player on that roster to log 1023 postseason minutes. Golden State needed four games to sweep the New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round, six games to get by the Memphis Grizzlies in the next, five to beat the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals and six to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. That’s 21 outings at 48 minutes apiece, which equates to 1008 possible minutes. However, Game 3 against the Pelicans and Games 1 and 2 against the Cavaliers required overtime periods, which tacks on another 15 possible minutes and brings us to our grand total of 1023.
Curry logged a team-high 826 minutes, so his ring shares equate to 826/1023, or 0.807. Meanwhile, McAdoo was on the floor for just 10 minutes—10/1023, or 0.01 ring shares.
Each player has one actual championship on his resume, but this concept allows us to provide some legitimate differentiation.
The inherent flaw, of course, is that minutes don’t necessarily equate with importance. You could technically have a player standing in the corner for 40 minutes a game on a championship team and earning close to a full ring share.
That caveat needs to be made, but NBA squads do tend to hand the most minutes to their best players. Though there’s by no means a perfect correlation, it’s rare to find a team in possession of the Larry O’Brien Trophy that failed to allocate its minutes somewhat efficiently.
As such, ring shares are by no means a perfect measure; they’re just far better than looking at championships in a vacuum.
We can also only go back to 1952 in our database, since no record of minutes played exists for the 1951 Rochester Royals and every champion before them. Our apologies to Bob Davies, Arnie Risen, George Mikan, Joe Fulks and all the other great players who we can’t credit with the ring shares they deserve.