NBA GOAT discussion

The Social Chair

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It's Jordan for all the reasons mentioned here. The only knock on Jordan was 96 - 98 was one of the weakest stretches of talent in NBA history. That last season before the strike was awful.
 

PedroKsBambino

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If you’re going to insult me, we’re done here. I spent 15 years of my life in San Antonio. I’ve watched more Tim Duncan than you, I can guarantee you that much so nice try there, buddy. I personally attended about 600 Spurs games since I had season tickets for several years, including right in the thick of Duncan’s prime in the early 2000s. I saw them compete in person more times than you as well.

Go ahead and cite the stats you’re referring to. Show me how smart you are.
Assists at peak: Garnett 2000 - 2007: 5.0, 5.0, 5.2, 6.0, 5,0, 5.7, 4.1 4.1. Duncan's career high was 3.9; his average those same years was 3.1.

Garnett's peak rebound years he led the league four years in row (which means more than Duncan those years, even in San Antonio). Top 3 years were 13.9, 13.5, 13.4. Duncan's career high was 12.9

It's pretty funny that you say "most people outside of Minnesota/Boston would say Duncan" when in fact the problem is you are a San Antonio homer who didn't follow closely enough to know what either player actually did.

The stats for all these guys are freely avaiable here: https://www.basketball-reference.com/
 

BigSoxFan

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Assists at peak: Garnett 2000 - 2007: 5.0, 5.0, 5.2, 6.0, 5,0, 5.7, 4.1 4.1. Duncan's career high was 3.9; his average those same years was 3.1.

Garnett's peak rebound years he led the league four years in row (which means more than Duncan those years, even in San Antonio). Top 3 years were 13.9, 13.5, 13.4. Duncan's career high was 12.9

The stats for all these guys are freely avaiable here: https://www.basketball-reference.com/
You’re aware that there is nuance in those numbers, right? Duncan was sharing a frontcourt with David Robinson, a great rebounder himself, during Duncan’s prime years. Duncan was every bit the rebounder as KG.
 

Kliq

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You are scouting the stat line here, right---you didn't watch them, I assume.

KG was clearly a better rebounder---check the numbers. Fair that Duncan was better as a post scorer---but as I noted, Garnett at his peak was both a better and a more diverse offensive player overall. And Garnett averaged close to twice as many assists, again...check the numbers.

You keep citing career stats---I could not have been any more clear I'm talking peak. KG's peak was shorter and his decline more severe---that is why Duncan's career stats/awards are better. But at his peak, Garnett was spectacular.
No way dude.

I love KG, but the dude could be a really soft offensive player. He had range and better quickness than Duncan, but Duncan's reliability in the post was key to him winning big games, especially because it allowed him to hang around for offensive rebounds while KG was often dragged away from the basket. Duncan was a better career rebounder in the playoffs, which is notable because he also played 100 more career playoff games than KG. KG has some more impressive peak rebounding numbers...but that is because he was often only playing 3-5 games a year in the playoffs. Also, individual rebounding is a really overrated stat.

He never carried a peak team like KG? What are you talking about???

KG carried the TWolves into nothing but first round exits, except for one season he made the WCF when he had a good supporting cast. Other times they missed the playoffs entirely.

If we are going to argue peak Duncan, go look at his 2002-2003 season. 24 games in the playoffs, 25-15-5 with 3 blocks and shot 52 percent from the field. Closed out the 3-time defending champion Lakers with a 37-16 on the road in LA. Went on to beat Nash/Notwizki in the conference finals, then demolished the Nets in the finals, closing them out with a near quadruple-double in Game 5 (21-20-10 with 8 blocks). His best teammates that year were 20 year old Tony Parker and Stephen Jackson. Nobody post-merger ever won a ring with less talent around him. Never carried a team at his peak????
 

PedroKsBambino

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Having watched both for years I'm quite aware. Also, as an FYI, David Robinson retired in 2003 so he wasn't around for half the years I cited.

Duncan is a spectacular player who by all accounts is just as good a person. He also is not perfect, and there are things others were better at---for individual seasons, and over their careers (though not Garnett on the latter criteria). The numbers say the same, great as Duncan was.
 

BigSoxFan

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Having watched both for years I'm quite aware. Also, as an FYI, David Robinson retired in 2003 so he wasn't around for half the years I cited. I'd think being a Spurs superfan you'd have known that.

Duncan is a spectacular player who by all accounts is just as good a person. He also is not perfect, and there are things others were better at---for individual seasons, and over their careers (though not Garnett on the latter criteria). The numbers say the same, great as Duncan was.
Ha, you are so out of your element when it comes to Spurs talk with me but keep digging that hole. I’m a Celtics fan who lived in San Antonio for over 15 years and watched far more than you ever did.

And we’re talking prime years so Duncan’s prime years don’t need to align with KG’s. Really weak argument point there. In my opinion, Duncan’s prime years were 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 and both years Robinson was there so my point remains. And KG was not a better all around offensive player. That is just completely false.
 

Marciano490

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Ha, you are so out of your element when it comes to Spurs talk with me but keep digging that hole. I’m a Celtics fan who lived in San Antonio for over 15 years and watched far more than you ever did.

And we’re talking prime years so Duncan’s prime years don’t need to align with KG’s. Really weak argument point there. In my opinion, Duncan’s prime years were 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 and both years Robinson was there so my point remains. And KG was not a better all around offensive player. That is just completely false.
KG has the better movie career though, right?
 

jmm57

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My gut said Duncan.

Top 7 seasons by BPM
KG: 10.2, 9.5, 8.4, 8.2, 7.8, 6.8, 6.3
Duncan: 8.5, 7.6, 7.6, 7.6, 7.0, 6.1, 5.6


Duncan never led the league, KG did twice.

Not a perfect stat, but also not the result I expected to see.
 

nighthob

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It's Jordan for all the reasons mentioned here. The only knock on Jordan was 96 - 98 was one of the weakest stretches of talent in NBA history. That last season before the strike was awful.
Not just 96-98. Basic skill stats like league wide FT% and eFG% started declining in 93 after the first wave of expansion.
 

jaytftwofive

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I'm not going to argue with the sports reference people on statistical deep-dives, but...for starters that analysis is based almost entirely on valuing win shares as definite which is faulty; ESPECIALLY when evaluating Wilt's teammates. Wilt was a hog, he dominated the ball in a way that Russell never did on offense. Russell's teammates were going to be better in part because Russell allowed them to be better. Do you think Cousy/Heinsohn/Havlicek/Jones etc. would have as impressive WS/48 numbers if they were just standing around watching Wilt try and score 50 points every game?

The other thing is that Russell had better teammates during certain stretches of his career, particularly the early 60s, when the Celtics were a complete juggernaut. By the back half of his career, especially once he left the Warriors and went back to Philly, Wilt's teammates were significantly better than Russell's. I think Russell did have better teammates, but I don't think the gap is big enough to justify Russell's incredible championship success when compared to Wilt. There was something about Wilt's statistical dominance that wasn't conducive to winning.
The only thing that bugged me about Wilt was he always said Russell had more talented teammates? Well then why were the 67 Sixers voted the greatest team for the 35th anniversary team? He had Hal Greer, and Luke Jackson and Chet Walker and Wali Jones and Billy Cunningham. All stars and Hall of famers. And on the Warriors he had Tom Gola and Paul Arizin and Guy Rodgers and others so that argument is wrong. And the worst and dumbest thing he said was that the Celtics would have won most of those titles with Nate Thurmond or Walt Bellamy at center.
 
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amarshal2

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There was like an nba tv segment on this where they debated KG Duncan or Dirk. They chose KG. I liked both players and just thought KG was the better player in his peak. Duncan’s post game makes it close but KG had such an edge in defense and passing. Knowing what we know now I’m just annoyed he never learned to shoot the 3. He could’ve been a 40% guy on some volume and been the best player in the nba right now. With better teammates and tuning he’s in the fringe top 10 discussion. Certainly better than Kobe.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Duncan is a spectacular player---and, he played with a bunch of Hall of Fame teammates, a Hall of Fame coach, and "the infrastructure" That doesn't make him less great, but when comparing to KG it is important to remember the context and also the numbers. KG put up better numbers (including, impressively, comparable efficiency numbers and TS%) with a mostly terrible supporting cast year after year, and with a lot more pressure on him to produce at both ends. People who only or primarily saw him later in his career with the Celtics imagine he had a "big 3" all along but this was not at all the case---and as great as he was in 2008 he was much, much better earlier in his career.

Duncan, started off playing with David Robinson early in his career and then with Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and late in his career Kawhi Leonard.

KG played in his Minny years with Wally Sczerbiak as the second-best player. Yikes.
 

BigSoxFan

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There was like an nba tv segment on this where they debated KG Duncan or Dirk. They chose KG. I liked both players and just thought KG was the better player in his peak. Duncan’s post game makes it close but KG had such an edge in defense and passing. Knowing what we know now I’m just annoyed he never learned to shoot the 3. He could’ve been a 40% guy on some volume and been the best player in the nba right now. With better teammates and tuning he’s in the fringe top 10 discussion. Certainly better than Kobe.
Both KG and TD were elite defenders. Fine with people preferring KG since he could get out on the perimeter better but would contest the “such an edge” point. Duncan was 1st team All-Defense 8 times. 9 times for KG. KG won his DPOY award after his prime in 2008 and this discussion is focused on their respective primes, which I define as 2001-2003 for Duncan and 2003-2005 for KG. Obviously, awards are only part of the story but they help provide context.

I think it’s a fascinating discussion because their respective situations were so different. I’m a Celtics fan first and have had this discussion with Spurs fans for years and they all think it’s Duncan slam dunk. I obviously prefer Duncan but it’s much closer in my mind. Post prime KG should/could have won 2-3 titles playing with post-prime Pierce/Allen. I fully believe they win 2009 title if he stays healthy. And then 2010 is a toss up. And the calcified Big 3 damn near took out the prime Heat in 2012. They were awesome and it really is a shame they only won 1 title.
 

Animale

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Dennis Rodman is the biggest difference making player of all time. Probably not GOAT, but ... maybe?

(Probably old hat for most folks here, but always fun to re-read)

 

Soxy

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I agree with consensus that Jordan was best but, due to timing, he never once beat a truly elite team for the title. Aging Lakers? Blazers? Suns? Sonics? Jazz? All decent teams but none of them come close to stacking up with the recent Warriors, prime Spurs, 80s Celtics, Lakers, Sixers, etc. You can only play who is on the schedule but the Bulls’ competition was weak.

Put the 1990s Bulls in the 1980s and I believe they have about 3 titles like the Celtics. Really is too bad that we never got to see the 1994 Rockets against the Bulls.
Wasn't directly for the title, but they did sweep the Bad Boys Pistons in the 91 Conference Finals. That was the beginning of the end for the Bad Boys, but they were coming off of back-to-back championships and three straight trips to the NBA Finals. That felt like a passing of the torch, kind of like how the Pistons took the flame from the Celtics.

But, yeah, from that point on, it was basically a rotating cast of characters taking their jabs at the Bulls, and not landing very often. Those Bulls teams never really had an iconic foil to do battle with year in and year out. Jordan had exceptionally good timing with his rise to fame, including all of the off the court marketing stuff (Gatorade/Nike ads, "Be Like Mike", etc.). He was the perfect player, both on and off the court, for that time and era. Such is life; timing matters and it's often out of our control as individuals. I don't think it tarnishes his legacy, but it is interesting to think about.

I was a kid at the time, but I do recall that Suns team being really good. Prime Barkely, Thunder Dan Majerle, Kevin Johnson, pre-flameout Richard Dumas, bunch of solid role players (including our good friend Danny Ainge)...... that team looked like they had the makings of something strong, but they never were able to put it all together. They actually had 2-0 series leads against Houston in each of the next two playoffs, only to see the Rockets storm back and win in seven games both times, on their way to back-to-back titles. Those Barkely Suns teams could just never get over the hump.
 

BaseballJones

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Wasn't directly for the title, but they did sweep the Bad Boys Pistons in the 91 Conference Finals. That was the beginning of the end for the Bad Boys, but they were coming off of back-to-back championships and three straight trips to the NBA Finals. That felt like a passing of the torch, kind of like how the Pistons took the flame from the Celtics. Lakers
FTFY. The Lakers had won the previous two NBA titles (including beating those same Pistons the year before), three of the last four, four of the last seven, and five of the last nine. The 80s was *their* decade, not Boston's. The Pistons took the torch from the Lakers, not the Celtics. (unless you're just referring to the Eastern Conference)
 

Kliq

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Saying Jordan never had a true foil was like saying the Patriots never had a true foil in the AFC East. He didn't have a foil because he beat their ass every year.
 

bakahump

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I dont have nearly the BB chops, but I would love to see a discussion of the Greatest player of all time set from a 1v1 context.

Maybe Halfcourt (Full?). Alternating Possession (seems like it would even the odds). So that Kareem and Wilt would need to break the pesky D of Jordan and couldnt just back Gs and Fs down to the block every play. Play to like 30 or something so that the Big guys might get tired. Maybe I am skewing this too far towards the smaller guys.

Seems like a Jordan (6'6) or Baylor (6'5) or Doctor J (6'7) would be good bets. Strong (Jaylen like) but mobile enough to be a danger to big men. Also with great hops to contest some of those big guys.

Bron obviously would be a contender.
 

BaseballJones

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A 1-on-1 tournament featuring prime Jordan, LeBron, Kobe, and Durant would be absolutely epic.
 

lexrageorge

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Saying Jordan never had a true foil was like saying the Patriots never had a true foil in the AFC East. He didn't have a foil because he beat their ass every year.
I think it's fair to say that the Bulls did not have a consistently dominant "super" team to face during their period of dominance.

The Lakers had to beat the Celtics and Sixers (and lost a couple of times in the process). The Pistons had to get by the Celtics and then the Lakers.

The first Bulls title was against an aging Lakers team after Kareem's retirement. The following season the Bulls had to get by good but not great Knicks and Blazers teams.

The 1993 title march was impressive, as the Knicks and Suns were great teams. When Jordan returned from his self imposed exile, the Knicks and Rockets were aging. Shaq and the Magic were too young, and the Sonics were a bunch of nice pieces but hardly considered a great team. The same could be said of the 1997 Heat team, but the beatdown of the Jazz in the Finals for those last 2 titles was impressive.
 

mauf

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I feel like LeBron would finish dead last. Jordan would win. Kobe vs Durant for 2nd is a tougher one. I’d probably lean Kobe.
No way. Miami-era LBJ weighed slightly more than Karl Malone -- so at least 60 pounds more than peak Jordan. That version of LBJ would destroy those other guys in a 1-1 game with playground-style foul calling. The current version of LBJ, obviously, would not.
 

BaseballJones

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Yeah I think LeBron might be the favorite to win that. Nobody can handle his physicality. He's also taller than both Jordan and Kobe, though not as quick. He can muscle Durant.
 

BigSoxFan

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No way. Miami-era LBJ weighed slightly more than Karl Malone -- so at least 60 pounds more than peak Jordan. That version of LBJ would destroy those other guys in a 1-1 game with playground-style foul calling. The current version of LBJ, obviously, would not.
It depends on what style he plays. He is the worst shooter of the group and his moves aren’t as refined.
 

Kliq

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I think it's fair to say that the Bulls did not have a consistently dominant "super" team to face during their period of dominance.

The Lakers had to beat the Celtics and Sixers (and lost a couple of times in the process). The Pistons had to get by the Celtics and then the Lakers.

The first Bulls title was against an aging Lakers team after Kareem's retirement. The following season the Bulls had to get by good but not great Knicks and Blazers teams.

The 1993 title march was impressive, as the Knicks and Suns were great teams. When Jordan returned from his self imposed exile, the Knicks and Rockets were aging. Shaq and the Magic were too young, and the Sonics were a bunch of nice pieces but hardly considered a great team. The same could be said of the 1997 Heat team, but the beatdown of the Jazz in the Finals for those last 2 titles was impressive.
But using this kind of logic, you are almost arguing that it would be more impressive if the Bulls had lost to one of these teams during their run and came back to beat them. The reason we don't consider the teams Jordan beat "great" is because they ran into Jordan. If there was no Jordan, probably multiple of those teams you mentioned would have won a title and we would evaluate them very differently; they didn't because of Jordan (and for two years, Hakeem).

On top of that, Jordan did have to beat great teams. When he KO'd the Bad Boys in 1991, he knocked out the two-time defending champions, a truly great team that was specifically designed to contain perimeter scorers like him. How are they not a great team? They had knocked Chicago out of the playoffs multiple times before that, and they were not that old; Dumars, Thomas and Rodman were all under 30. Then they beat the Lakers, who were definitely at the tail end of their run, but still were a very dangerous team. Magic (31) and Worthy (29) were still in their primes and Magic had finished second that year in MVP voting that season. Yeah there was no Kareem, but Kareem in his final championship season averaged 14-6. The 91 Lakers had two very good Centers in Sam Perkins and Vlade, who averaged a combined 24-15. They were actually better off without Kareem by that point, minus the fact that Kareem could still get the skyhook off when you needed it. Key role players like Byron Scott and AC Green were also in their primes.

People assume that because it was the last Laker team to make the Finals until Shaq came, and that Magic would have to retire the next season, and that the Bulls rolled over them in the Finals, that the 91 Lakers were not really that good of a team; they were actually extremely good. Jordan and the Bulls were just better.
 

mauf

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It depends on what style he plays. He is the worst shooter of the group and his moves aren’t as refined.
None of those guys could stop peak LeBron from scoring around the rim. Assuming playground-style foul tolerance, he'd defend peak Jordan well enough to win relatively easily. Durant would shoot over him like he wasn't there, but wouldn't hit enough 3s to make up for getting steamrolled on defense. Kobe would get utterly crushed.
 

Kliq

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None of those guys could stop peak LeBron from scoring around the rim. Assuming playground-style foul tolerance, he'd defend peak Jordan well enough to win relatively easily. Durant would shoot over him like he wasn't there, but wouldn't hit enough 3s to make up for getting steamrolled on defense. Kobe would get utterly crushed.
I think that the best options for guarding LeBron one-on-one would be Kawhi or Giannis.
 

BigSoxFan

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None of those guys could stop peak LeBron from scoring around the rim. Assuming playground-style foul tolerance, he'd defend peak Jordan well enough to win relatively easily. Durant would shoot over him like he wasn't there, but wouldn't hit enough 3s to make up for getting steamrolled on defense. Kobe would get utterly crushed.
I don’t think anybody beats Jordan “relatively easily” in one on one. That’s just not happening. But obviously all of this is entirely subjective.
 

Sam Ray Not

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IIRC, Simmons has often said that if KG had ended up in the Spurs ecosystem while Duncan had been sentenced to toil for 12 seasons in the Twin City tundra, there’d be no question that KG was the better player of the two. I don’t always buy BS’ BS, but I’m with him on that. They’re similar players in terms of interior defensive impact, but KG did a lot more — better shooter with deeper range, better ball handler and creator, more switchable defender.

“If my aunt had wings” caveat, of course. One could also ponder how many rings MJ would have if he hadn’t gotten with Phil Jackson / Tex Winter and the best perimeter defender of his era, what Steph would be if he had been stuck in Mark Jackson’s Jurassic offense, Bird without McHale/Parish, etc.
 

Soxy

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FTFY. The Lakers had won the previous two NBA titles (including beating those same Pistons the year before), three of the last four, four of the last seven, and five of the last nine. The 80s was *their* decade, not Boston's. The Pistons took the torch from the Lakers, not the Celtics. (unless you're just referring to the Eastern Conference)
Correct, I meant in the Eastern Conference.
 

nighthob

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It depends on what style he plays. He is the worst shooter of the group and his moves aren’t as refined.
When you’re 6’8” 260 with that speed and those hops you don’t need “refined moves” to just run over shorter guys you have 60lbs on. In a playground style tournament Kobe hurling himself on the ground every time LBJ blows by him isn’t going to result in a whistle. As the actual worst shooter in that Gang of Four Kobe’s destined to finish last. The question is which of LeBron or Durant finish first.
 

Soxy

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Saying Jordan never had a true foil was like saying the Patriots never had a true foil in the AFC East. He didn't have a foil because he beat their ass every year.
I get your point, but not your analogy. The Patriots have had tons of foils over the years. Colts, Steelers, Ravens, Giants..... none of them played in the same division, but so what?
 

Hoya81

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Your response ignored a key point in my argument: Russell slowed down Wilt better than any other player in the NBA, and it wasn't particularly close either. That ability to slow Wilt down is what won the Celtics games.

Yes, for many years of their overlap, the Celtics had the better team, in some cases by quite a lot. However, not all years. In 1967-68, the Celtics finished 8 games back in the standings behind a 62-win Philly that was coming off their championship season. The 76'ers still had Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, and Chet Walker, all 3 of them Hall of Famers in their own right. For the Celtics, Sam Jones was, like Russell, nearing the end of the line, although they did have Havlicek. Wilt shot nearly 60% that season, but only 49% against Russell, as the Celtics pulled out the 7 game series.

The following season, Wilt joined the Lakers, who had some guys like Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. The Celtics won 48 games that year; the Lakers 55. Wilt averaged 20.5 ppg on 58.1% shooting. The Lakers beat the Celtics 4 of 6 times during the regular season. In the 7 game playoff series, Wilt averaged less than 12 ppg on 50% shooting.

Wilt was undoubtedly a better scorer and rebounder; Russell was by far the better defender and overall play maker.
I don’t have the quote available, but I do remember a basketball writer saying that an important part of Russell’s strategy against Wilt was to let him get his points, which Wilt always considered more important than the outcome.

You also have to consider the physical mismatch between Russell and Wilt.
Wilt was at least 4 inches taller, Russell played at 220 versus 275 for Wilt etc.
30006
 

BigSoxFan

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When you’re 6’8” 260 with that speed and those hops you don’t need “refined moves” to just run over shorter guys you have 60lbs on. In a playground style tournament Kobe hurling himself on the ground every time LBJ blows by him isn’t going to result in a whistle. As the actual worst shooter in that Gang of Four Kobe’s destined to finish last. The question is which of LeBron or Durant finish first.
It’s absolutely exhausting to go to the rim every time in one on one. Everyone settles for jumpers at times. I’m still taking MJ but note the point on size difference.
 

BaseballJones

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It’s absolutely exhausting to go to the rim every time in one on one. Everyone settles for jumpers at times. I’m still taking MJ but note the point on size difference.
That's totally true. But it's less true if you have a massive size advantage. Which LeBron has over all three other guys.
 

PedroKsBambino

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One of the assumptions you need to make when doing cross-era comparisons is what happens to physical differences.

Weight training was completely different (read: nonexistent) in Russell/Wilt's ear. Diet was rarely thought of as part of training. Guys didn't all work out year-round. The average player size was way less than it is today. So you have to decide how to translate that.

One approach is to say "Wilt was only 275, Shaq at 325 would have steamrolled him" That is probably literally the comparsion. But I think a better one, albeit which brings in more assumptions, is to say Wilt was 275 in an era where centers were 230 pounds. So today, where centers are 260 pounds he probbaly would have packed on a bunch more muscle and been 300 or more.

Ditto with how the game was played. I get that Larry Bird shot 1.9 threes a game over his career. But if we project him to playing someone from today, I think we should assume he'd adjust and shoot more--whether that is 5 a game like Durant or more, who knows. To me, much more realistic to assume he'd play more like today's players than not.

All that says, to me, that Chamberlain would still be great today but perhaps would lose some of the overwhelming physical differentiation he had in his era. And guys like Russell would have bulked up some, but still have been smaller than Wilt. Guys like Bird would benefit some offensively from increased use of 3s, but perhaps face a little more defensive challenge with all hte motion and switching. But I don't think realistic to simply cite the weight or shooting percentage from one era and compare it to another without any adjustments.

As to Jordan/LeBron I certainly agree Lebron is a freak and would have been much bigger and stronger than MJ. But I also think MJ would have been stronger than the guy who played in the 90s, too. As to them one-on-one I would make James the favorite but don't think it's quite as certain a blowout as others do---Jordan was a great on-ball defender and he would have bothered James' handle and forced some adjustments. He'd get very low and not even James could simply shove him aside regularly and dunk every possession. Think about how Marcus Smart defends bigger players effectively today---it has always been true in the NBA that especially away from the lane good strong smaller defenders have a chance. I think James' biggest advantage would be posting up, and that is not his strength. I think Jordan's quickness would be a problem for James, though younger James could stay with him to a good degree.
 
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bakahump

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Someone with the Knowledge needs to start a bracket! :)

Kawhi is a great option to win it. Especially 2018-2020 version. Strong enough Defensively to match up against most anyone. While still a premier offensive player.

I think its those type of guys (6'7-6'10 guys) with the best handle are the ones to beat.

I am also not sure if "Playground" fouls are the best idea either. Maybe not NBA ticky-tack fouls. But something in between.

Like I said Lebron is probably a 1 seed. But I also think he would tire if forced to bring the ball up full court (or even half??) every possession to initiate his bully offense.

Giannis? Tall enough to get his shot off on most anyone and conversely probably a good defensive bet. Is his handle good enough? Is his non shooting that big a deal? (What about Simmons?)
 

Kliq

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Non-shooting to me wouldn't be that big of a deal in a game of one-on-one. With Giannis against a team defense, you can play off him and pack the paint with multiple bodies to deter him. In one-on-one, Giannis would get a full head of steam, take one or two massive strides and then pulverize whoever was standing back guarding him at the rim.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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Saying Jordan never had a true foil was like saying the Patriots never had a true foil in the AFC East. He didn't have a foil because he beat their ass every year.
You hear that circular logic with Serena Williams, too. "she can't be the best because she was playing against inferior competition, which we know because she always beat them". So you're saying, if she had lost more, you'd hold her in higher regard...

 

nighthob

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Jul 15, 2005
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It’s absolutely exhausting to go to the rim every time in one on one. Everyone settles for jumpers at times. I’m still taking MJ but note the point on size difference.
Sure it’s absolutely exhausting, when the guy defending you is roughly the same size. When you have 2”-3” and 60lbs on them, however, not that exhausting. Also, you’re forgetting that neither Bryant nor Jordan could really shoot past mid range, so unlike LBJ, they actually would need to score at the rim. Which is a heck of a lot harder when you’re being defended by peak LeBron at playground rules.
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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FWIW, here's their respective 3-point shooting percentages, career best three years:

LeBron: .406, .379, .367
Jordan: .427, .376, .374
Kobe: .383, .361, .351
Durant: .422, .419, .416

So it goes: Durant, Jordan, LeBron, Kobe

LeBron's numbers from outside are close enough to Jordan's that the game wouldn't likely come down to that.
 

nighthob

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Jordan and Bryant were sub-.330 shooters for their career. Jordan couldn’t shoot them at all, really, in his physical prime. But if you want to put a mid 30s MJ up against a 28 year old LeBron, good luck with that.
 

BaseballJones

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Jordan and Bryant were sub-.330 shooters for their career. Jordan couldn’t shoot them at all, really, in his physical prime. But if you want to put a mid 30s MJ up against a 28 year old LeBron, good luck with that.
Jordan entered the league when the 3-pt shot was a novelty, not a featured mode of offense. He showed later in his career that when it really became a weapon, he could use it pretty well. I think it's fair to say that if the 3-point shot was a *thing* when he entered the league, he'd have focused more on it and been a much better shooter.
 

nighthob

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The players are who they are. Jordan in his physical prime lived at the rim and in the mid-range. That’s who he was. Later in his career he had a couple of outlier years. That didn’t make him a good shooter. LeBron has been a better distance shooter for his career, and on more volume. Plus there’s the whole 6’8” 260 vs 6’6” 200 thing.

Also if the NBA had adopted the three point line a decade sooner, as they absolutely should have as it entered pro basketball in the early 60s, Pete Maravich would be in this conversation. ;)
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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Jordan is probably the best mid-range shooter of all-time and was a very good free throw shooter throughout his career. Since he had a maniacal work ethic to improve aspects of his game that he thought would help him win, I have zero doubt that if he were to come along today, he would regularly shoot 40 percent from three at a high volume.
 

Sam Ray Not

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Jordan is probably the best mid-range shooter of all-time and was a very good free throw shooter throughout his career. Since he had a maniacal work ethic to improve aspects of his game that he thought would help him win, I have zero doubt that if he were to come along today, he would regularly shoot 40 percent from three at a high volume.
Using 5 three point attempts per game as proxy for “high volume,” there are five players in NBA history who have averaged better than 40% over their careers (min 10,000 minutes played):

.435 Steph Curry
.419 Klay Thompson
.416 JJ Redick
.401 Peja Stojakovic
.400 Ray Allen

That’s the complete list. Not everyone that has a great mid-range stroke has a stroke that stretches perfectly out beyond the arc. Jordan had a somewhat flat shot that might not have stretched that well, maniacal work ethic notwithstanding,

That said, if we’re still talking about one-on-one matchups — and assuming something real at stake, like a boatload of cash — I would never bet against Jordan, largely because I doubt his opponent could get to the required 21 points or whatever before being totally broken psychologically.
 

mjm3773

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FWIW, here's their respective 3-point shooting percentages, career best three years:

LeBron: .406, .379, .367
Jordan: .427, .376, .374
Kobe: .383, .361, .351
Durant: .422, .419, .416

So it goes: Durant, Jordan, LeBron, Kobe

LeBron's numbers from outside are close enough to Jordan's that the game wouldn't likely come down to that.
An important thing to remember for Jordan with respect to these numbers is that his .427 and .374 came in 95-96 and 96-97, respectively, the last two of three years that the 3-point line was shortened from 23'9" to 22'. Take those years out and his top three years are .376, .352, and.312.
 

Zereck

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Jul 17, 2005
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Unless you solely judge guys by what they did and don’t factor in the era they played it’s weird to see people downgrade Jordan for 3 point shooting when we’ve seen guys like Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Brook Lopez become passable to good 3 point shooters. Jordan was a really good shooter who improved his shot and range during his career who also had a maniacal work ethic. Even if you want to say he wouldn’t be a 40 percent 3 point shooter, I have a tough time seeing him not getting to like 37%-38% or relatively close to that.