seen online: (some boards imply they run as far as footballers)http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/arc ... 22233.html
Oooh, math and basketball. I may have to stop halfway through this post for a cold shower.
Anyway, in the 1994-1995 NBA season (http://www.rawbw.com/~deano/articles/st ... mstats.txt
), the average number of possessions in a game for one team on offense was 95.2. With 2 teams, the average number total becomes 190.4.
The court is 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. While fully recognizing that most players sit a decent bit and also don't do full 94X50 routes, I'll take a shot at estimating movement. Obviously, the distances are also different by position. Posts probably go 88 feet end to end but move less during set plays. They also don't rack up fast break feet. Guards, may move only from 3 point line to 3 point line, but in guarding the perimeter and running fast breaks pick up more feet. So, I'll call it essentially even.
With 190.4 possessions per game (PoPG) and a 48 minute game, each PoPG lasts an average of 15.12 seconds. All distances will be biased towards posts since that is what I am and I can more easily guesstimate distances traveled. One average possession would be 88 feet from block to block. In 15 seconds, 3 swings of the ball can occur, or 2 swings and penetration. Since the lane is 12 feet wide, take an average of 2.5 trips per possession side to side for 30 feet. Positioning and footwork probably add 8-10 steps, or approximately 20 feet. A rebound battle adds another 5 in shifting. All told, that gives us 88+30+20+5=143 feet in one possession.
143*190.4 = 27,227.2 feet or 5.16 miles. So, Wilt Chamberlain probably averaged over miles per game, as would any player who plays a majority of minutes and is the focus of an offense with important defensive responsibilities (think Jordan).
The average starter probably only logs 3.5-4 miles.