NBA GOAT discussion

JohnnyTheBone

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Couldn't agree more.

I don't know if many players in sports history have as warped a perception about them as Kobe. Maybe Elway.

By stats: He's not top 10 in any stat. He's 27th in PER, 29th in BPM, 60th in win shares per 48, 19th in total win shares.

By MVP: he won 1 MVP. a 2nd place finish, and three 3rd place finishes. He's 10th in MVP shares, above guys who are undoubtedly better than him like Wilt. He's probably getting passed by Durant and Harden before they retire.

He's 12th in VORP, again above guys who are undoubtedly better than him but had shorter careers, like Bird and Magic.

He has no black ink instead of field goal attempts and points, and every year he led in points he also led in attempts.Except 03, where Iverson attempted 16 more shots.

For me the argument that Kobe is a top 10 player has absolutely no basis in reality and is kind of absurd. There are guys you can reasonably argue here, like Oscar, Garnett, Shaq, Dream, Robinson, etc. Kobe does not have a reasonable argument (especially over Shaq -- literally fucking no one that watched those Lakers teams would think Kobe was the more integral player).

As The Last Dance gets into, Kobe was like Jordan. But he was discount Jordan, and discount Jordan isn't above guys that actually won MVPs and led the league in shit.
Fantastic post. Thank you. I've argued for over a decade that Paul Pierce was every bit as good as Kobe. If you replaced Kobe with Pierce on those Lakers teams with Shaq, they still win those titles. Hell, Pierce clearly outplayed Kobe in the two NBA Finals where they went head-to-head. Kobe was a volume scorer who played hero ball and fired up ill-advised shots at the worst possible time. Pass.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Yeah, Simmons had Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on his podcast last week and they went all in with a Kobe>Duncan take and it's just so stupid and the annoying thing is that it appears to be the consensus among the typical NBA fans, especially with fans under 30 which is a whole separate issue for me.

The most annoying thing about Kobe (and boy are there a lot of them) is that the fucker got lucky soooo much in his career. The number one thing he has going for him is his 5 rings, which of course are impressive but he was clearly the second banana on three of those teams. In 2009 he is legitimately really good in the Finals, but in 2010 he is pretty bad, shooting 40 percent and taking almost twice as many shots as any other Laker, goes 6-24 in Game 7 but gets bailed out by Gasol and the refs who keep sending him to the line, and he sneaks away with his 5th ring. Then people argue that Kobe is superior to Duncan because Duncan never "led a team to a title" like Kobe. Give me a break.
The funny thing is the '03 Spurs have possibly the biggest gap ever between best player and second best player on title teams. Duncan won his second straight MVP while Robinson was riding off into the sunset and Parker and Ginobili were young and mistake-prone. No one on that team was close to Duncan. Meanwhile, Kobe didn't win a playoff series in the three years between Shaq and Gasol.
 

BigSoxFan

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The funny thing is the '03 Spurs have possibly the biggest gap ever between best player and second best player on title teams. Duncan won his second straight MVP while Robinson was riding off into the sunset and Parker and Ginobili were young and mistake-prone. No one on that team was close to Duncan. Meanwhile, Kobe didn't win a playoff series in the three years between Shaq and Gasol.

Yup. In 2003, Parker was just 20/21 and it was Manu’s first season where he wasn’t even close to what he would become. Think he was only like a 20mpg guy that year. DRob was on his last legs. Fortunately for the Spurs, that was peak Duncan and he just laid waste to the league. And I’m taking peak Duncan over peak Kobe every day of the week.
 

Kliq

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The funny thing is the '03 Spurs have possibly the biggest gap ever between best player and second best player on title teams. Duncan won his second straight MVP while Robinson was riding off into the sunset and Parker and Ginobili were young and mistake-prone. No one on that team was close to Duncan. Meanwhile, Kobe didn't win a playoff series in the three years between Shaq and Gasol.
You are speaking my language dude. Duncan left a trail of asses in 2003 and it somehow gets overlooked. People are lazy and just look up the roster and see Parker, Ginobili and Robinson and assume they were the peak versions of themselves in 2003 when they obviously were not. In 2003, Duncan KO'd Kobe and Shaq in Game 6 of the WCSF with a 37-16. Next round he averages a 28-17-6 with 3 blocks to beat a really good Mavericks team with Nash and Notwitzki as well as Michael Finley. In the Finals he annihilates the Nets, averaging 24-17-5 with 5 blocks per game to win the title; including a should-be-legendary 21-20-10 with 8 blocks in the clinching game, and if you watch the highlights there is a real argument that Duncan got screwed out of at least two additional blocks by the official scorer, and that it could have a been a quadruple-double, which probably changes how people see Duncan.

Of course, Duncan didn't have a giant Nike contract, didn't play in LA, and didn't market his success as some sort of Tony Robbins-esque lifestyle choice, so some idiots will actually argue that Duncan never really "led a team" to a championship. By my count, he was definitively the best player on four title winning teams, and you could argue on five depending on much you valued old-man Duncan's interior defense (he was the team's second leading scorer and leading rebounder). The only other players who can say that they were the best players on four or more title teams are Jordan, Russell and Mikan. Not Kareem, not LeBron, not Magic, not Bird, not Shaq and certainly not Kobe.
 

67YAZ

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He was MVP six times (as many as anyone ever). He was generally regarded as the greatest individual defensive player ever and among, if not the greatest, rebounder. He also averaged a huge number of assists. But the entire Russell argument is about winning, not about stats. One either believes that he played in a way to help his teams or they do not; I personally think his record speaks for itself. He won more than any of the guys you names and until they change the rules, that is the point of the game. He did it with two completely different types of Celtics teams, and he did at a college that never won a thing before or after. To me, that means something. You may want the numbers---and you may thing Oscar Robertson is better than any of them because of his numbers.

I certainly think a part of any 'greatest' argument is philosophically working through how to translate eras. We have zero idea what Bill Russell would be in 2020 as a basketball player---we don't know if he'd be stronger, if he'd develop a three-point shot, or what. We don't really even know what Larry Bird or Magic Johnson would look like with 2020 rules on hand checking and enhanced spacing. Would Magic's bad 3 pt shooting for much of his career result in him being a 'tragic flaw' guy for many years (his 3pt shooting most of his career makes Lonzo Ball look accurate)? Would Bird be exposed defensively Might he be overpowered at the 4/5? Or would these all-time greats have adjusted their games and even to a degree their bodies to their era? We don't know and never will.

My personal answer to that question---which is not by any means the only one---is that we can really only compare guys by how they played against their peers. Otherwise,I I think the reality is that the current era is always the best era because the game advances strategically, the players come from a bigger pool, and physically they are superior. That may be a fine outcome---but I personally think it is more interesting to rate each player against their era.
I see what you’re saying, but I poorly made my argument. I get frustrated with the stats like championships won or invest in elimination games because they’re a trump card that doesn’t open up a lot of new perspectives. It’s a piece of the puzzle, but I think it often gets used as the biggest piece.

Russ fast forwarded the evolution defenses by a generation or more. He invented the role of rim protector and the concept of dominating the paint. Before Russ, defense was largely a man to man affair, with centers focused on beating their counterparts. But along cake Russ, swatting shots from the weak side and flying in from angles to grab boards at both ends. After only a couple seasons, he completely changed the expectations for a position and the template for how teams were built. (Ans I’d argue that until the recent emergence of the stretch 5, Russell’s game was still half the prototype for centers.)

Russ was also a great playmaker, a one of a kind high post point guard. He was also one of the game’s great thinkers, relentlessly studying and innovating to find new edges over opponents.

But still, he just doesn’t measure up to the other GOAT contenders in scoring. That’s half the game. And if you adjust Russ’ stats for pace of play, the gap between he and every other all-timer from 1970 is yawning. Was Russell’s defense so much better than Jordan’s or LeBron’s or Kareem’s or Bird’s that it overcomes the offensive disparity? I don’t see it.
 

bankshot1

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Perhaps you should examine the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. And I understand that as the NBA did not keep detailed defensive and rebounding stats, until after Russell retired, its tougher to analyze or conceptualize his impact on both ends of the court, but there is a point value to the almost 23 boards he got a game, the fast breaks he started, and the estimated (from game tapes) 7-9 blocks a game Rusell had.

As an aside, and keeping this to center to center, while KAJ scored about 9 points a game more than Russell, Russell outboarded him by 11 a games, and dished out almost 1 additional assist per game. And KAJ was a very good shot blocker, but he was no Russell, and averaged about 2.5 blocked shots pg (versus an estimated 8 for Russell). Is it conceivable that the 11 incremental boards, 4-5 incremental blocked shots and 1 assist per game, could have equaled or surpassed the 9 more points KAJ scored per game?
 

67YAZ

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That’s a good and fair question. I do think you have to account for the fact that the pace of play steadily declined over the course of Kareem’s career. Each of Kareem’s counting stats and pee game averages are proportionally more valuable in a slower league.

I know there’s some sophisticated efforts at win shares that try to compensate for the limited game data collected back before 1973. To the extent we can rely on those, Russell is a whopping 27.3 defensive win shares ahead of the #2 all time, Tim Duncan (133.63-106.34). But still, Russ is only #20 in total win shares, trailing Duncan (#7) by almost 43ws.
 

bankshot1

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I've no idea of the calculation but win share favors longevity. And unfortunately arthritic knees led Russell to a relatively early departure from the game. Russell put in 13 years versus the 20 or so years for Duncan and KAJ. However as Russell is ranked 20th in win share, you should probably question over relying upon it in comping individual players from different eras. But in the same vein it accentuates how dominant a defensive player he was in a comparatively short time. And perhaps gives us an answer to your question,

Was Russell’s defense so much better than Jordan’s or LeBron’s or Kareem’s or Bird’s that it overcomes the offensive disparity?

While the NBA was far more frenetic in the 60s than it was in the 70s and 80s, it was not such to account for the differences in rebounds (22 v 11) and blocked shots (8 v 3), which you seemed to discount to minimal offensive value.
 

67YAZ

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I've no idea of the calculation but win share favors longevity. And unfortunately arthritic knees led Russell to a relatively early departure from the game. Russell put in 13 years versus the 20 or so years for Duncan and KAJ. However as Russell is ranked 20th in win share, you should probably question over relying upon it in comping individual players from different eras. But in the same vein it accentuates how dominant a defensive player he was in a comparatively short time. And perhaps gives us an answer to your question,

Was Russell’s defense so much better than Jordan’s or LeBron’s or Kareem’s or Bird’s that it overcomes the offensive disparity?

While the NBA was far more frenetic in the 60s than it was in the 70s and 80s, it was not such to account for the differences in rebounds (22 v 11) and blocked shots (8 v 3), which you seemed to discount to minimal offensive value.
Longevity does count, though. Being able to play 20 seasons is incredibly valuable. (And Kareem is the only player who started his career in the 1960s to get to 20 seasons. That was a huge accomplishment in and of itself. The next guys to get there were Parish and Moses Malone, who both started in 1976.)

But if we do cut Duncan’s career down to 13 seasons to match Russell’s, Timmy loses 44.1 win shares. This drops him just a hair behind Russell - 163.5 to 162.3. And no one here is calling Duncan the GOAT for his first 13 seasons. Russell’s inability to score at a high level hamstrings his case.
 

bankshot1

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Longevity does count, though. Being able to play 20 seasons is incredibly valuable. (And Kareem is the only player who started his career in the 1960s to get to 20 seasons. That was a huge accomplishment in and of itself. The next guys to get there were Parish and Moses Malone, who both started in 1976.)

But if we do cut Duncan’s career down to 13 seasons to match Russell’s, Timmy loses 44.1 win shares. This drops him just a hair behind Russell - 163.5 to 162.3. And no one here is calling Duncan the GOAT for his first 13 seasons. Russell’s inability to score at a high level hamstrings his case.
I'm perfectly content with the value delivered by Russell's 13 years and KAJ's and Duncan's 20 years. I was suggesting you broaden your horizons to understand the totality of Russell's strengths (which are not as easily quantified as a lay-up and you seem to ignore or assign no value to) and how they impacted a game, a series and a season, versus just looking at ppg. And that it might provide you with a different perspective and understanding.

And fwiw I've no definitive answer to GOAT other than having a few candidates who were dominant in their time over past 60 years.
 

67YAZ

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I'm perfectly content with the value delivered by Russell's 13 years and KAJ's and Duncan's 20 years. I was suggesting you broaden your horizons to understand the totality of Russell's strengths (which are not as easily quantified as a lay-up and you seem to ignore or assign no value to) and how they impacted a game, a series and a season, versus just looking at ppg. And that it might provide you with a different perspective and understanding.

And fwiw I've no definitive answer to GOAT other than having a few candidates who were dominant in their time over past 60 years.
Well, a bunch of people more versed in basketball and quantitative analysis than I have tried to put a numerical value on what rebounds and blocks contribute to winning. Win shares is one of those models. I’m not sure why your general insistence that 11 boards and (maybe) 8 blocks per game are more valuable than 9 points per game - compared across eras no less - is a better argument.
 

bankshot1

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Well, a bunch of people more versed in basketball and quantitative analysis than I have tried to put a numerical value on what rebounds and blocks contribute to winning. Win shares is one of those models. I’m not sure why your general insistence that 11 boards and (maybe) 8 blocks per game are more valuable than 9 points per game - compared across eras no less - is a better argument.
Given your self-professed inability to value Russell's defensive contributions I asked a question whether Russell's greater rebounding totals, his greater blocked shots, and his higher assist totals than KAJ could equal or surpass the value of the 9 more ppg KAJ averaged than Russell. I don't know the answer, and thus insisted on nothing, but rather posed a question based on statistics you seemed wholly unaware of or decided to ignore.
 

coremiller

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You are speaking my language dude. Duncan left a trail of asses in 2003 and it somehow gets overlooked. People are lazy and just look up the roster and see Parker, Ginobili and Robinson and assume they were the peak versions of themselves in 2003 when they obviously were not. In 2003, Duncan KO'd Kobe and Shaq in Game 6 of the WCSF with a 37-16. Next round he averages a 28-17-6 with 3 blocks to beat a really good Mavericks team with Nash and Notwitzki as well as Michael Finley. In the Finals he annihilates the Nets, averaging 24-17-5 with 5 blocks per game to win the title; including a should-be-legendary 21-20-10 with 8 blocks in the clinching game, and if you watch the highlights there is a real argument that Duncan got screwed out of at least two additional blocks by the official scorer, and that it could have a been a quadruple-double, which probably changes how people see Duncan.

Of course, Duncan didn't have a giant Nike contract, didn't play in LA, and didn't market his success as some sort of Tony Robbins-esque lifestyle choice, so some idiots will actually argue that Duncan never really "led a team" to a championship. By my count, he was definitively the best player on four title winning teams, and you could argue on five depending on much you valued old-man Duncan's interior defense (he was the team's second leading scorer and leading rebounder). The only other players who can say that they were the best players on four or more title teams are Jordan, Russell and Mikan. Not Kareem, not LeBron, not Magic, not Bird, not Shaq and certainly not Kobe.
Kareem and Magic are both close depending on how you divide up 82/85.

But I agree that Duncan's 2003 playoffs is heavily underrated. He averaged 25/15/5/3 for the whole playoffs, in an extremely low-pace environment (the Spurs' average pace that year was 90.0 possessions/game; league average today is 100.2; the 1962 Celtics were 130.8!). His per 100 possession playoff averages were 30.6/19.1/6.6/4.1, with a +24 net rating.

42.6
That’s a good and fair question. I do think you have to account for the fact that the pace of play steadily declined over the course of Kareem’s career. Each of Kareem’s counting stats and pee game averages are proportionally more valuable in a slower league.

I know there’s some sophisticated efforts at win shares that try to compensate for the limited game data collected back before 1973. To the extent we can rely on those, Russell is a whopping 27.3 defensive win shares ahead of the #2 all time, Tim Duncan (133.63-106.34). But still, Russ is only #20 in total win shares, trailing Duncan (#7) by almost 43ws.
It's not just pace that has to be era-adjusted. Early 60s rebounding totals were also inflated by the low shooting percentages of the era, which made a lot more rebounds available. League average FG% in 1962 was 42.6%. It peaked in 1984 at 49.2% (today it's 46%, with the huge rise in 3-point shots likely having brought the average down).
 

Kliq

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reggiecleveland

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As for how Bill Russell would be in 2020, he'd be roughly the same size as Dwight Howard, but with a higher basketball IQ, and MUCH more competitive. Wouldn't that make him a cornerstone on a competitor? I'm thinking like Draymond Green.

And going back in time, how good would guys like Harden be if you had to dribble without palming and travel rules were much stricter?

The 50s and 60s are comparable to the dead ball era in baseball in how much the game has changed.
Draymon Green? That is where you think Russell would stack up today? Higher BB IQ than Howard? Massive understatement. How about 19,000 times tougher than Howard, 3 times as quick. If Deandre Jordan was a sprinter you are beginning to get the idea. Russell would be an elite, probably the elite defender of any era. I high doubt KD could take him off the dribble if Russ grew up in the dribble/Spot Up era. He would be the forward you could switch everything with, or not. He would revel in 12 different ballscreen coverages. He would win a dunk contest or two, and on offence finish off 3-5 plays a game with dunks. Though I doubt he ever becomes a 3pt shooter (though his work ethic was such I would not put it past him being passable) he is a big you could use for handoffs, slip screens, etc because he could pass and put the ball on the floor. A coach like pop would find a way for him to dominate.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEs4KC4xHE0
 

Kliq

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Draymon Green? That is where you think Russell would stack up today? Higher BB IQ than Howard? Massive understatement. How about 19,000 times tougher than Howard, 3 times as quick. If Deandre Jordan was a sprinter you are beginning to get the idea. Russell would be an elite, probably the elite defender of any era. I high doubt KD could take him off the dribble if Russ grew up in the dribble/Spot Up era. He would be the forward you could switch everything with, or not. He would revel in 12 different ballscreen coverages. He would win a dunk contest or two, and on offence finish off 3-5 plays a game with dunks. Though I doubt he ever becomes a 3pt shooter (though his work ethic was such I would not put it past him being passable) he is a big you could use for handoffs, slip screens, etc because he could pass and put the ball on the floor. A coach like pop would find a way for him to dominate.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEs4KC4xHE0
The thing about Russell is that his lack of scoring was never seen as a weakness or fatal flaw the way something like Shaq's FT shooting was viewed. There was never really a moment were someone would say "Russell has to score more or we are going to lose." So he never had to work on scoring that much. He believed with his skillset that he if he just focused on defense, rebounding and passing his teams would win, and he ended up being totally right. Could Russell have averaged 30 points a game? Perhaps, but he never had too.
 

DannyDarwinism

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I listened to this recently, it has some good discussion of Russell's athleticism and how he'd translate in today's game. It's Ben Taylor's podcast, he's the guy who did that "backpicks" series that we had a thread on a while back. He's very bullish on Russell, as is his guest, Andre Snellings. Snellings was a high- hurdler in college and cites Russ’s crazy track feats. They both argue that Russell essentially made a bunch of decent players into Hall of Famers, and now gets unfairly dinged for playing with a bunch of Hall of Famers. Very good listen for those looking for a Russell sploogefest.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/55-hakeem-vs-robinson-vs-russell-andre-snellings-great/id1428290303?i=1000475092827
 

Kliq

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I listened to this recently, it has some good discussion of Russell's athleticism and how he'd translate in today's game. It's Ben Taylor's podcast, he's the guy who did that "backpicks" series that we had a thread on a while back. He's very bullish on Russell, as is his guest, Andre Snellings. Snellings was a high- hurdler in college and cites Russ’s crazy track feats. They both argue that Russell essentially made a bunch of decent players into Hall of Famers, and now gets unfairly dinged for playing with a bunch of Hall of Famers. Very good listen for those looking for a Russell sploogefest.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/55-hakeem-vs-robinson-vs-russell-andre-snellings-great/id1428290303?i=1000475092827
Thanks for sharing. The point about Russell turning a bunch of people into Hall of Famers. I'd say objectively, Cousy, Sharman, Havlicek and Sam Jones are HoF players regardless of who they played with. Tommy is a borderline guy. KC Jones, Frank Ramsey, Satch Sanders, etc. are in the Hall basically because they won a bunch of championships.
 

bankshot1

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I listened to this recently, it has some good discussion of Russell's athleticism and how he'd translate in today's game. It's Ben Taylor's podcast, he's the guy who did that "backpicks" series that we had a thread on a while back. He's very bullish on Russell, as is his guest, Andre Snellings. Snellings was a high- hurdler in college and cites Russ’s crazy track feats. They both argue that Russell essentially made a bunch of decent players into Hall of Famers, and now gets unfairly dinged for playing with a bunch of Hall of Famers. Very good listen for those looking for a Russell sploogefest.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/55-hakeem-vs-robinson-vs-russell-andre-snellings-great/id1428290303?i=1000475092827
I loved the 60s Celts but a several of those HoFers were good role players (KC, Ramsey, Satch) who blended pretty well with Russell (and Cousy) and rode to the Hall on the back of an all-time giant.
 

reggiecleveland

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I loved the 60s Celts but a several of those HoFers were good role players (KC, Ramsey, Satch) who blended pretty well with Russell (and Cousy) and rode to the Hall on the back of an all-time giant.
Any coach will tell you it is easier to slow it down than speed it up. One reason (though I disliked him) I respected Magic and put him in GOAT discussions is his ability to create tempo. Russ was the same. Teams, coahes would plot how to slow down the Celtics, but Russ got them running. It has been lost in the "showtime" idea the Lakers invented running, but it was the reverse during the Celtics run. If they got running it was over. If you could slow it down and feed it to Wilt (The usual rival) you had a chance. the Elgin, West Lakers liked to run too, but were not as a good at it as Russ et al.

Also he was as nasty a MF ever and hated losing.
 

bankshot1

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Any coach will tell you it is easier to slow it down than speed it up. One reason (though I disliked him) I respected Magic and put him in GOAT discussions is his ability to create tempo. Russ was the same. Teams, coahes would plot how to slow down the Celtics, but Russ got them running. It has been lost in the "showtime" idea the Lakers invented running, but it was the reverse during the Celtics run. If they got running it was over. If you could slow it down and feed it to Wilt (The usual rival) you had a chance. the Elgin, West Lakers liked to run too, but were not as a good at it as Russ et al.

Also he was as nasty a MF ever and hated losing.
Yup.

The Celts fast-break was keyed off of their D and Russell's ability to grab the rebound and turn and whip the outlet pass half-way upcourt. The shot went up and Celts pretty secure in the knowledge Russell would grab it, could start to move from D to O. And then the fire drill was on. It was beautiful textbook transition hoops written by Auerbach and executed by Russell etal,
 

InstaFace

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I once read (I think it was from Bob Ryan) that in 21 winner take all games (2 NCAA tourneys, 1 Olympics, and NBA-best of 5 and best of 7) that Russell was 21-0 in those games.
Because I'm bored and poker'd out right now:

1955 NCAA: San Francisco 77, La Salle 63 (Russell MVP, KC Jones also on the team, La Salle was defending champ)
1956 NCAA: San Francisco 83, Iowa 71 (team was 29-0, undefeated)
1956 Olympics: USA 89, Soviet Union 55 (Russell Captain; the era was not so competitive, the semifinal went USA 101, Uruguay 38)
1957 Finals Game 7: Boston 125, St Louis 123 (2OT)
1959 ECF Game 7: Boston 130, Syracuse 125
1960 Finals Game 7: Boston 122, St Louis 103
1962 ECF Game 7: Boston 109, Phil. Warriors 107 (game was tied with 2 seconds left before a Sam Jones winner)
1962 Finals Game 7: Boston 110, LA Lakers 107 (OT) (an all-timer Russell theft game, his entire frontcourt fouled out, the game was nuts)
1963 ECF Game 7: Boston 142, Cincinnati 131
1965 ECF Game 7: Boston 110, Phil. 76ers 109 (Havlicek stole the ball)
1966 ECSF Game 5: Boston 112, Cincinnati 103
1966 Finals Game 7: Boston 95, LA Lakers 93
1968 ECF Game 7: Boston 100, Phil. 76ers 96 (first-ever comeback from 3-1 down in a series; another all-timer Russell game)
1969 Finals Game 7: Boston 108, LA Lakers 106 (Lakers put balloons up in the forum prior to the game, enraging a worn-out Russell)

That's 14-0. I guess you could argue the other 4 (1955) and 3 (1956) NCAA games, plus the Olympic QF and SF (single-elim, prior rounds were round-robins), which would get you to 23.

Russell eliminated:
- 1958 NBA Finals: St Louis over Boston (4-2) (Russell missed games 4 and 5 with an injury)
- 1967 ECF: Phil. 76ers over Boston (4-1) (first year with Russell as player-coach)
He also only went 14-7 at USF as a sophomore.
 

kfoss99

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Draymon Green? That is where you think Russell would stack up today? Higher BB IQ than Howard? Massive understatement. How about 19,000 times tougher than Howard, 3 times as quick.
I meant no offense to Russell.

I meant if you put Russell in today's NBA with no improvement to the skill set he had that he'd still be a Hall of Famer. Both Green and Howard are boarder line Hall of Famers not known for being sharp-shooters and Russell would immediately be better than both.

Who do you think is a better comparison?
 

BaseballJones

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Interesting convo with my FIL the other day. I remember Bird coming to the Celtics in 1979-80. I was just 10 years old at the start of that season, so I don't remember tons but I do remember this.

Russell's last season was 1968-69, so 11 years prior to Bird. When I was a kid watching Bird...Bill Russell seemed like an eternity ago. I mean, I never watched Russell play. He seemed to me to be something from another age altogether, but it was just 11 years.

You know how long it's been since the Garnett-Pierce-Allen championship? 12 years.

It's been longer since that last title than it was between Russell's last season and Bird's first.

I know that time is relative but holy smokes that hit me like a ton of bricks the other day.
 

Euclis20

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I meant no offense to Russell.

I meant if you put Russell in today's NBA with no improvement to the skill set he had that he'd still be a Hall of Famer. Both Green and Howard are boarder line Hall of Famers not known for being sharp-shooters and Russell would immediately be better than both.

Who do you think is a better comparison?
Garnett. Tall, skinny, super athletic, incredible rebounder and defender, and one of the few superstars for whom scoring is not a +++ skill. No comparison is perfect, but I feel like this is as good as any.

Also, I feel like this has come up before, but Dwight Howard is absolutely not a borderline Hall of Famer. He's getting in easy. He was unequivocally the best center (five 1st team all NBA nods), rebounder (led the league in rebounding 6x) and defender (three DPOY awards and four 1st team all defense nods) in the league for 5-6 years. He's always a clown as a leader and his scoring will forever be a disappointment, but he's the same guy who led a mediocre Magic team (second best player was either Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu or Jameer Nelson) to the NBA finals past Lebron, and the same guy who averaged 19 ppg and shot almost 60% from the field during his prime. He's in without a second thought.
 

BaseballJones

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To @Euclis20's point about Howard...here's his line over his 5-year prime (2007-08 through 2011-12):

12.2 fga, 59.0% fg, 59.0% efg%, 20.6 points, 13.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.5 blocks

Now we know he wasn't as gifted a shooter/scorer as guys like Olajuwon or Robinson, but his peak eFG% of 59.0% was better than Olajuwon's 52.1% (1993-97) or Robinson's 52.8% (1990-94).

So if the objective was to put the ball in the basket, Howard did it more efficiently than Olajuwon or Robinson did at their respective peaks. Or even better than Shaq's 58.2% eFG from 1994-98.

Kinda hard to believe, and I don't think he was as good a player as those other three, but those are the actual numbers.
 

coremiller

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To @Euclis20's point about Howard...here's his line over his 5-year prime (2007-08 through 2011-12):

12.2 fga, 59.0% fg, 59.0% efg%, 20.6 points, 13.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.5 blocks

Now we know he wasn't as gifted a shooter/scorer as guys like Olajuwon or Robinson, but his peak eFG% of 59.0% was better than Olajuwon's 52.1% (1993-97) or Robinson's 52.8% (1990-94).

So if the objective was to put the ball in the basket, Howard did it more efficiently than Olajuwon or Robinson did at their respective peaks. Or even better than Shaq's 58.2% eFG from 1994-98.

Kinda hard to believe, and I don't think he was as good a player as those other three, but those are the actual numbers.
This is way overstating Howard's efficiency. The other elite centers have lower efficiency because they took far more shots than Howard did. There's always a trade-off between volume and efficiency; you can't directly compare shooting percentages between guys taking 20-21 FGA/G with a guy taking 12.
 

kfoss99

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Also, I feel like this has come up before, but Dwight Howard is absolutely not a borderline Hall of Famer
I should have done my homework, but I'm a random Internet poster. You're right, 99.4% HofF probability for Howard per Basketball Reference.

He really was special in Orlando.
 

BaseballJones

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This is way overstating Howard's efficiency. The other elite centers have lower efficiency because they took far more shots than Howard did. There's always a trade-off between volume and efficiency; you can't directly compare shooting percentages between guys taking 20-21 FGA/G with a guy taking 12.
His efficiency is what it is. But he knew he wasn't an elite offensive player, and so he took fewer shots. I agreed that he wasn't as good an offensive player as the other guys I mentioned. But the goal is to put the ball in the basket, and he did it efficiently. There's no way mathematically to deny that.
 

lexrageorge

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His efficiency is what it is. But he knew he wasn't an elite offensive player, and so he took fewer shots. I agreed that he wasn't as good an offensive player as the other guys I mentioned. But the goal is to put the ball in the basket, and he did it efficiently. There's no way mathematically to deny that.
+1. Efficiency and effectiveness are distinct measures, but are often used interchangeably.
 

Ale Xander

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Howard is clearly in based on Koufaxian analysis. His peak was great. Obviously Olajuwon, Mutombo, and Robinson (and Russell, Reed in other eras) were much nicer humans, but that is irrelevant.
 

BaseballJones

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Just for fun....

Olajuwon (1992-93 to 1996-97): 39.1 min, 20.2 fga, 6.9 fta, 52.0 fg%, 75.1 ft%, 52.1 eFG%
Howard (2007-08 to 2011-12): 36.7 min, 12.2 fga, 10.8 fta, 59.0 fg%, 57.9 fg%, 59.0 eFG%

Eliminating the very scant and very random three point attempts and making every field goal attempt a two-point field goal attempt (and not counting missed shots when they got fouled in the act of shooting, because there's no stat kept for that so we have no way of knowing), these numbers show that, based on FGA and FTA...

Olajuwon had opportunities for 47.3 points per game
Howard had opportunities for 35.2 points per game

Olajuwon turned those 47.3 point opportunities into 26.2 points (55.4%).
Howard turned those 35.2 point opportunities into 20.6 points (58.5%).


Don't misunderstand. I'd MUCH rather have Olajuwon than Howard. Better defensive player (HO: 9x all defense, 2x DPOY; DH: 5x all defense, 3x DPOY), better passer, and clearly a more gifted scorer. Howard almost never scored outside the paint. Olajuwon could hit shots from all over, and had a dizzying array of moves. Howard was a smaller version of Shaq - relied almost all on power moves around the rim, and his size, strength, and athleticism (sick athlete in his prime) allowed him to score very efficiently. Plus, a better rebounder than Olajuwon, Robinson, and Shaq in his prime.

I like the Koufax analogy and think it works here. I'd rather have any of those other guys over Howard, but I think we forget that Howard in his prime was a beast.
 

Kliq

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The problem for Dwight was that he just didn't have a soft touch around the basket. Hakeem, Robinson, Shaq, etc. all had great physical tools, but what separates them from Dwight, beyond just Dwight's broken mentality, is that they all had a genuine soft touch around the basket and could score on the low-block. Dwight really didn't have that; if he couldn't dunk it and he couldn't get extremely close for a layup, he was pretty much screwed.

Look at his career FG% by distance, from inside three feet he has shot 72 percent for his career, but move him back just a few feet and his efficiency falls off a cliff. He has shot just 41 percent from 3-10 feet for his career. Hakeem by comparison shot 47 percent from that distance for his career, and we only have the last six years of data for him. Duncan shot 45 percent. Plus, his FT shooting has always sucked so even if he did get in close, you could always foul him.

Dwight was never a natural post-up player because of that. His clumsy jump hooks made other players want to wear hardhats as they careened off the rim (if the ball actually hit the rim at all). He never developed the footwork of Hakeem, or Shaq for that matter. Shaq didn't shoot well outside of three feet either, and also struggled with free throws. However, Shaq had good footwork and could post up and be able to get to the basket, or pirouette away for a better look. I know people think of Shaq as just a guy who dunked everything, but if you watch him he has a nice array of post moves and had a nice touch around the basket to score even if he couldn't get close enough to dunk the ball. Dwight never had that, which is why he never scored at the same rate as other dominant centers.
 

Euclis20

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Koufax was elite in a very short career. Howard had an excellent prime and a steady downslope which makes people forget what he did earlier. He's 15th all-time in blocks and 16th all-time in rebounds, and he'll climb a bit higher in each before he's done (i.e. he's not Koufax). He's always been a clown, and once he was no longer a top 10 player in the game (which happened sooner than for some, as his game is based more on athleticism than other HOFers) everyone knew it.

His book is not yet finished, and we'll see if he wants to hang around as an ultra efficient role player. In LA he's averaged 14 points, 14 boards and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes, shooting a remarkable .732 from the field. If in this role he contributes to a title or two it may help his career perception significantly.
 

Kliq

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Koufax was elite in a very short career. Howard had an excellent prime and a steady downslope which makes people forget what he did earlier. He's 15th all-time in blocks and 16th all-time in rebounds, and he'll climb a bit higher in each before he's done (i.e. he's not Koufax). He's always been a clown, and once he was no longer a top 10 player in the game (which happened sooner than for some, as his game is based more on athleticism than other HOFers) everyone knew it.

His book is not yet finished, and we'll see if he wants to hang around as an ultra efficient role player. In LA he's averaged 14 points, 14 boards and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes, shooting a remarkable .732 from the field. If in this role he contributes to a title or two it may help his career perception significantly.
Yeah, Dwight was a top five player for a number of years, came close to winning the MVP a few times, and then fell off a cliff not necessarily because of injuries, but because he was a toxic teammate with a weird personality that has played for 7 different teams. Koufax is in the GOAT conversation during his peak and his career unraveled due to injuries.
 

reggiecleveland

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Garnett. Tall, skinny, super athletic, incredible rebounder and defender, and one of the few superstars for whom scoring is not a +++ skill. No comparison is perfect, but I feel like this is as good as any.
Garnett was not as explosive around the rum as Russell\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
I meant no offense to Russell.

I meant if you put Russell in today's NBA with no improvement to the skill set he had that he'd still be a Hall of Famer. Both Green and Howard are boarder line Hall of Famers not known for being sharp-shooters and Russell would immediately be better than both.

Who do you think is a better comparison?
To me RuSsell has skills of a few recent guys.
He was the quick leaper shot blocker like Ben Wallace, he was the 6-9 guy running the break like Magic, he was the finisher at the rum like Deandre Jordan, and the quick feet o Garnett. But other than magic he was probably better than each of thse gys at those things.