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2011-12 NBA Western Conference Preview: Loud City vs. Lob City

It took a while, but after an offseason that was defined by a labor dispute, David Sterns’ vetos, and one blockbuster trade, the NBA season is finally here. The Western Conference saw a changing of the guard take place last season, as perennial powers such as the Lakers and the Spurs faded away while the upstart Mavericks and Thunder rose into prominence. Furthermore, the transition of superstars like Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Deron Williams has further altered the balance of power over the past year. Ironically, the LA teams may rank as both the biggest winners and losers, with the Clippers skyrocketing up all early season projections, while the Lakers seem to drop further with every news cycle. So, without further adieu, we present to you our 2012 NBA Western Conference preview :

8. Denver Nuggets

What do the Denver Nuggets get for trading away one of the best players in the NBA for a bunch of used parts? Several years in NBA purgatory, otherwise known as the 6th to 10th seed in your conference – good enough to make a run at the playoffs every year, but never good enough to ascend to a championship level (for more on the subject, please see the Wikipedia entry  for the Atlanta Hawks) To top it all off, the Nuggets signed Nene, a guy who has only played a full 82-game season once during his nine year career, to a 5 year, $67M contract – guaranteeing future entries into the land of mediocrity for years to come. Still, the Nuggets have enough to squeeze into the playoffs yet again.

7. Portland Trailblazers

Brandon Roy retires, Greg Oden is once again injured, and the star-crossed Blazers are left to wonder what if? Well, actually not wonder – to see their alternate destiny, they need to look no further than Oklahoma City. Even with all of their misfortune however, the maneuvering of Blazers GM of Seasons Past has left behind a somewhat respectable squad. A very good frontcourt of Aldridge, Camby, and Gerald Wallace  has been paired with a respectable backcourt of Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews. The signing of Jamal Crawford rounds out a solid bench.

6. San Antonio Spurs

You mean they’re not dead yet?  They’re old, and yes, they’re boring. But the trio of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker still remains intact. That fact, coupled with a solid veteran in Richard Jefferson and up-and-comer in DeJuan Blair should be enough for Pop’s crew to squeak out another playoff berth.  The shortened season, while presenting challenges in schedule density,  should also benefit a Spurs team that often seems to start fast, and fade during the longer 82-game season. Enjoy it while it lasts Spurs fans – in all likelihood, this will be this team’s last hurrah.

5. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies sport an underrated frontcourt of Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol, that may be the best in the Western Conference . Their backcourt remains a weakness, featuring the highly erratic Mike Conley and offensively challenged Tony Allen/Sam Young. Give credit where credit is due though: Grizzlies management has turned a Pau Gasol lump of coal into a credible Western Conference playoff team. Downside for the Grizzlies? They will be stuck in the 4 to 6 seed range until they further upgrade their backcourt and either Gay or Gasol takes a next step into superstardom.

4. Los Angeles Clippers

Ok – I have to admit. I’m jumping on the Lob City bandwagon. Besides the best nickname of the NBA season, this team can play. For perhaps the first time in Clipper history, Donald Sterling has put together a team that consists of a credible mix of legit superstars, young athletic talent, and savvy veteran experience. All of this should propel the Clippers into the top half of the Western Conference. Clipper fan – your roadmap to future success: get into the 2nd round of the playoffs this year, bounce out Vinny Del Negro in the offseason and get a real coach, let Blake Griffin’s offensive game get a little more refined, let the defense continue to improve, upgrade the bench slightly, and voila: you have a title contender for the 2012-13 NBA season.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

If this post had those fantasy big board rankings with up and down arrows that signal player momentum, the Lake Show would be plummeting like a rock. I could begin to catalogue the Lakers’ troubles this year, from: (1) Gasol looking disengaged, (2) Kobe having a torn ligament in his wrist, (3) Artest being plain fat and out of shape, (4) their three primary offseason acquisitions all being defensive liabilities, (5) Bynum will miss the first 5 games, and of course, (6) Mike Brown being the head coach – but am afraid I would exceed my word limit on this post. The only thing that is keeping the Lakers this high is that they still have one of the top 3 players on Earth, and the Bynum/Gasol combination is still one of the top PF-C duos in the league. However, it is all but impossible to see how this team as presently constructed seriously challenges for another NBA championship. Paging Dwight Howard

2. Dallas Mavericks

Don’t underestimate the loss of Tyson Chandler. The Mavericks still have enough talent to look good in the regular season, but between the loss of their defensive soul and the fact that they really caught lightning in a bottle in 2010, it doesn’t appear like this team has enough firepower to bring Cuban back-to-back championships. Additionally, adding another year to the already long careers of Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t help either. Nonetheless, it will be a nice season with a likely Western Conference finals exit – but don’t worry Mavs nation, you’ll always have that 2010 championship DVD to fall back on.

1.       Oklahoma City Thunder<strong><a target=

It’s a rite of passage in the NBA. The young and upcoming team endures a few tough playoff losses before climbing to the top of the mountain. The 80s Pistons went through it. The 90s Bulls went through it. And even the Kobe-Shaq Lakers had to run through a few tough seasons. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, the last few seasons have been a learning experience which should have adequately prepared them for a deep playoff run in 2012. The packed shortened schedule should also favor young legs that can quickly recover from a series of back-to-backs that every team will encounter this year. A more mature Westbrook-Durant combination coupled with an anorexic Kendrick Perkins should vault this team to the top of the Western Conference for many years to come.


45 Responses to “2011-12 NBA Western Conference Preview: Loud City vs. Lob City”

  1. kobe is not even close to top 3 in the NBA, and hes out of the top 5 and its questionable if he is even in the top 10.

    Posted by sam G | December 25, 2011, 7:41 pm
  2. Sam — thanks for the comment, please help me out here. If you’re correct in your assertion that it is “questionable that Kobe is even in the top 10”, then you are essentially implying the Lakers have no players in the top 10 of the NBA (since neither Gasol, Bynum, or Odom when he was here was as good as Kobe).

    So you must believe they dramatically overachieved last year, winning 57 games while missing their starting center for 30 games, losing 5 of their last 7 games, and not having a player in the top 10?

    I would venture to say that most folks believe the Lakers underachieved in winning 57 games last year.

    I’d also ask you to suggest the 10 players you believe would be ahead of Kobe and would be happy to start that discussion.

    Posted by Brown Mamba | December 25, 2011, 8:44 pm
    • i know 3 for sure…deng, noah and boozer…all future hofers baby!

      Posted by He Hate Me | December 25, 2011, 9:33 pm
      • The only player better than Kobe right now is James. Durant is about equal as Kobe’s defense makes up the difference in the offense. Wade is about equal to Kobe and perhaps a little better. Derrick Rose is close, yet not better than Bryant.

        Mamaba may be a total Kobe homer, but he is correct that Kobe is no worse than the third best player right now.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 26, 2011, 9:56 am
        • I would have to disagree. I think Kobe is solidly the 5th best player in the league right now.
          James is the first. I would say that Durant, Wade, and Rose are better than Kobe is now. Nostalgia aside, Kobe is getting old and the miles on his legs are catching up with him. I don’t think he has the ability to take over games the same way he used to. I think we’ll learn a lot when he has to play 66 games in about 120 days.
          Maybe he’ll prove me wrong.

          Posted by Andrew | December 27, 2011, 4:31 pm
          • James is better at this moment. I think the rest are arguable. Wade is probably your best argument as he is both highly skilled and has performed when it has counted the most. Durant is a great scorer, but has yet to how he can consistently put a team on his back in the most crucuial moments and deliver. Rose is a great PG, but I don’t even think he is the best at his position (Paul is). Plus, I think his impact is limited by his size. Howard is the best center is the game, but is greatly hampered by his inability to contribute significantly in the 4th quarter of games.

            Posted by Brown Mamba | December 27, 2011, 9:15 pm
    • Kobe bryant, is a one trick pony and his one trick is scoring and hes not even efficient at that, guys who I rank ahead of him are guys who can do multiple things .

      here is a list of guys I have ranked ahead of Kobe and why

      1 LEbron james, much more effective scorer ,passer ,defender rebounder

      2 dwayne wade, much more effective scorer defender

      3 dwight howard better defender scores more effectively better rebound ,shotblocker

      4 blake griffin is much more efficient at scoring can rebound

      5 chris paul better playmaker, better on ball defender ,scores more efficiently

      6 dirk nowitski rebounds better than kobe albeit not by alot much more efficient at scoring than kobe is

      7 kevin durant more efficient score better on ball defense albeit not by alot better rebounder

      8 derrick rose, actually is not a much more efficient scorer, but his play making/passer is better and his on ball defense at least this year is terrific

      9 rajon rondo, runs an offense/better passer , on ball defense is excellent

      10 pau gasol, he rebounds better is a better defender and he scores much much more efficiently than kobe

      kobes problem to me , is the lazy ass non existent defensive ,he usually gets the WEAKEST wing player or plays off his guy completely, he cant score efficiently, he can assist here and there , but even his passes are the oh crap I just dribbled off too many seconds off the clock and the defending didnt bite on my pump fake , uh here gasol or bynum do something with it type of passes.

      and gasol is a top 10 player , some say he might be the best power foward in the game (or at least were sayin that before last years playoffs) and the lakers still got the twin towers this year and in years past it was always the lenght of the lakers and that bothered opponents not kobes ball hogging ass.

      what are the lakers record when kobe does not play, and what are their stats , heres something shockin they actually do better statistically on offense when kobe doesnt play, why cuz his dribble at the top of the key and shoot with a hand in yer face style stifles team offenses, the year he missed six games the team went 5 and 1 with a loss to boston by 2 was their only loss, that was without kobe, so they are very capable of winning and do great without him, can they win a title no, but neither could kobe if one guy in his stacked roster was injured or underperformed,(case in point) in 08 no bynum or ariza no title ,last year pau gasol struggled no title, the two years they had their FULL team in tact in the finals they won, and they wont win a title this year cuz they dont have ODOM, even thought they have a roster with gasol bynum ,defensive specialist ron artest AND KOBE ballhog bryant, they need another piece like cp3 ,what does that say about kobe bryant.

      Posted by Sam G | January 4, 2012, 1:46 pm
      • Griffin and Gasol cannot create their own shots.

        Kobe has a unique skill that is very valuable.

        Kobe is still better than those two right now, but likely will not be in 2 years.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2012, 10:16 pm
        • kobe currently is shooting what 41 percent and is a career 45 percent shooter, and who was feeding gasol in memphis ,I stand by what I say kobe is not top 10 hes a defensive and offensive liability (at times) when his ass is on the court.

          Posted by Sam G | January 4, 2012, 11:28 pm
  3. I would be wary of the Spurs as Duncan is likely in his final season now that he is 34 soon to be 35 and having to battle nagging injuries. Ginobli is also approaching the twilight of his career. If the
    Spurs start out slowly, they may shop Parker to try to get some expiring contracts and begin to rebuild.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 26, 2011, 10:32 am
  4. Sorry, Duncan is 35 soon to be 36. My mistake.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 26, 2011, 10:33 am
  5. After putting more thought to it, I would rank the top 5 players in the NBA in this order:


    Nobody can do what James does. Wade is a mirror of Kobe and a little younger and little more healthy (yet not as durable). Howard is singular in what he brings. I already addressed the reason as to why I put Bryant ahead of Durant (for now)

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 26, 2011, 12:38 pm
    • Kobe has to be minimum top 5. He just made first team all-nba and first team all-defense(1 of 3 players to do so), and he is clearly still an elite player this year so far. Howard’s tough to rate, but offense is more important than defense and his offense is greatly worse than the other elite players in the league. He’s in the top 5 somewhere, but can’t dominate a game consistently like a few other elite players.

      Lebron is probably the best reg. season player, but we have something called the playoffs after the reg. season, and when you’ve inexplicably quit on your teams 2 years in a row, and when you had the deepest team in the league and best reg. season team in the league 2 years in a row(cavs), and then go to the most talented team in the league the following year by a wide margin(heat), the question is, just how much help does lebron need to win a title. His 2011 Heat team was more talented and deeper than any of the lakers teams from 08-10. Shannon Brown couldn’t even find minutes in clev. with lebron or with a bad bobcats team, then comes over to the lakers and is 7th man, and essentially 6th man with odom starting in place of bynum half of the time. Those lakers weren’t deep at all, and not nearly as talented as people they are. Bynum could barely stay on the court, and artest/fish/brown are 3 players part of their top 7 players, not very good.

      Rose is a small guard like wade, and isn’t quite there yet. Durant is looking awesome. Contrary to many beliefs, wade just isn’t in kobe’s neighborhood. Wade is tiny and injury prone, probably only 6-3 at best. He has the same skill sets or lack thereof as lebron, and lebron is slightly better in some of those skills than wade is, so there’s no logical reason to put wade ahead of lebron other than to consider lebron’s disappearing playoff acts, which is a major concern. But lebron still played a lot better than wade in the playoffs even with those disappearing acts. Wade was bad against the bulls and mavs, but he at least put forth full effort, which I can at least live with it. Wade and Kobe are much different players, I’m confused why you think wade is a mirror of kobe. And I’m not so sure wade is healthier than kobe. Wade broke down in the playoffs last year as did Kobe. That was the first time that Kobe’s injuries actually slowed him down. His wrist is a mess right now, but he’s still performing extremely well.

      Posted by boyer | December 31, 2011, 1:46 pm
  6. It is not a BELIEF that Wade is in Kobe’s neighborhood. LOOK AT THE RESULTS DATA.

    Bryant 25.3/5.3/4.7 PPG/RPG/APG
    Wade: 25.4/5.1/6.3 PPG/RPG/APG

    Bryant: .455/.339/.837 FG%/3PT%/FT%
    Wade: .485/.292/.768 FG%/3PT%/FT%

    Also, Wade is no slouch on the measured defensive metrics, either.

    Bryant: 1.5/0.5 SPG/BlkPG
    Wade: 1.8/1.0 SPG/BlkPG

    The Post Season is no different

    Bryant: 25.4/5.1/4.8
    Wade: 25.9/5.7/5.6

    and again in playoff efficiency

    Bryant: .448/.335/.815
    Wade: .483/.327/.789

    Wade actually IMPROVES his numbers in the playoffs.

    It is unlikely that Wade’s production will decrease in the next 4-5 years, barring injury.

    Exactly, HOW is Wade NOT in Kobe’s ‘neighborhood”?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 1, 2012, 12:24 am
  7. And what the heck do you have against Shannon Brown? You have referenced him several times.

    Having watched Brown in HS as well as at MSU, I can tell you that he is a very good player. A hard working defender and good finisher. His problem is that he is only 6’4″ and not a great ball handler (like an Isaih Thomas) and not really a distributor. Thus, he can truly only be a shooting guard, and he is simply undersized.

    You reference that he couldn’t break the Cavs line-up, but he was only 21 and he only played 38 games with the Cavs. Hardly a sufficient sample size.

    Brown gave the Lakers many quality minutes.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 1, 2012, 12:29 am
    • I have nothing against Brown, just stating the facts. He’s not a great option as a backup PG or backup SG. Most people are delusional and think those recent lakers’ title teams were deep and very talented, but that’s just not true at all. If Brown is 6th or 7th man on your team, it just shows just how thin those lakers’ teams were.

      Posted by boyer | January 3, 2012, 9:57 am
      • Got to agree with boyer on this one. while brown got the LA fans excited with his jumping ability, his defense was just slightly better than average, his handles were below average, his jumper was very average, and he had little to no passing skills. expect him to disappear off the map now that he is no longer with the lakers.

        Posted by drinkinghaterade | January 3, 2012, 10:00 am
      • I can agree with that assesment.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 3, 2012, 5:42 pm
  8. And Artest is still a monster defender

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 1, 2012, 12:30 am
  9. And alos, to debunk the “Kobe was the best in the 2008 Olympics”

    though Braynt palyed more minutes, 181-150, Wade had more points (128-120), more rebounds (32-22) and more steals (18-9).

    Wade also shot much better than Bryant

    Wade: .671/.471/.624 FG%/3PT%/FT%
    Kobe: .462/.321/.583 FG%/3PT%/FT%

    Bryant did have more assists (17-15) and more blocks (4-1), but Bryant did play MORE minutes and those are hardly big disparities.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 1, 2012, 12:46 am
  10. Wade also went to the FT line the most of anyone on the US Olympic team, 41 times to Bryant’s 12 times.

    though Bryant did jack up the most shots at 104. James was second with 83.

    Kobe still not shy about shooting, even when it ain’t fallin’!

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 1, 2012, 12:49 am
    • Hmm, so you’re basically saying that everyone involved in basketball thinks Kobe is better, but that doesn’t mean anything. Wade’s a good player, no doubt about it, but his career is just not in Kobe’s neighborhood. How many all-nba first teams does Kobe have, and how many does Wade have? Are all these players/coaches/GMs, who think Kobe’s better, all idiots? Come on, paulie, time to wake up.

      Just remember what happened to wade after 06 as well. Still with shaq in 07, they get swept in first round to bulls, without rose, then are the worst team in the nba the next year. Just a disgraceful downfall, with pieces still there to do something, and in the weaker conf.

      And Kobe started on the olmypic team for a reason over Wade. Is coach K an idiot, too? Nobody’s saying Wade was bad, in fact, he was very good. Kobe, wade, and lebron were the top 3 olympic performers, but Kobe’s impact was much greater than any of those 3. He committed himself to defense, and the rest of the team took notice, sacrificing his own offense, so naturally, he wouldn’t be the top offensive leader. That team needed a defensive stopper, and that’s what Kobe brought.

      Fast forward to the gold medal game, and what happened? Finally, a team plays it close with usa, a tight game at the end, and just like in recent years’ playoffs, lebron is wetting his pants in crunch time. No worries, lebron, Kobe is there to save the day, which is actually what he did. An amazing finish by kobe, and kobe haters while glad the usa won, are more than slightly pissed about how they won.

      And good that Kobe isn’t shy about shooting. I’d much rather have a guy going all out than a guy like lebron just moping around the court doing nothing, wouldn’t you? It’s true, kobe’s strength is his weakness, but that strength has brought him 7 finals’ appearances and 5 titles, can’t argue with those results.

      And please watch artest sometime. That guy is still good at times, but far from a monster defender. You do realize he’s only made 1 2nd team all-nba defense in the past 5 years, right? And make that 6 years after this year, as there’s no way he will make it this year, especially since he isn’t starting.

      Posted by boyer | January 3, 2012, 10:13 am
      • Boyer- You’re still arguing with this guy? You’re not going to be able to reason with him, unless you quote some numbers which vaguely correlate (in real life, not mathematically) to winning performance.

        Posted by Gil Meriken | January 3, 2012, 10:29 am
        • I know, Gil, it’s a lost cause, but every once in awhile, I’ll come back.

          That’s the thing about stats: they never lie, but they don’t really tell the whole story, do they, and sometimes very little, if any, of the story?

          Just look at how the actual people who are apart of the sport view each player, and it’s obvious Kobe has been much better than Wade. As of right now, they’re fairly equal for the reg. season, I’ll leave at that.

          Also, one other side remark: look at how Jason Terry called out Lebron James during last year’s finals? Who would be stupid enough to do that to Kobe Bryant? But, some bench player is calling out everyone’s supposedly easily best player alive for 6+ years running, and guess what, after that, Terry outplayed lebron, and lebron was last seen moping around the court being pushed around by a small guard. What a joke. Lebron is such a mental midget, he has a lot of work to do.

          I also find it highly ridiculous how the heat have the best 2 players in the league, according to most, and another top 10-15 player, and still can’t win, and when they don’t win, everyone points the blame to someone other than lebron/wade, whereas if it’s kobe’s team, the blame is always on kobe.

          Posted by boyer | January 3, 2012, 4:18 pm
          • The Heat can’t win?

            They came within two games of the titel last year, and are the odds on to win it this year.

            I never, at any time, wrote the Wade was BETTER than Bryant. EVER.

            What I did write, is that Wade is in the neighborhood, which he clearly is.

            I apologize for using data to support my positrions. How stupid of me.

            Perhaps, Boyer or Gil could have some of the Basektball execs they cite so often call me and confirm thier anecdotale evidence.

            Boyer, if you have ANY of the Gm or Execs or whoever you wish to cite as being more relyable than the results data, then please, list it so that we can read it for ourselves. why keep it to yourself?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 3, 2012, 5:41 pm
          • Also, Boyer, I have asked you four or five times to pleas offer up your list of the 20 best NBA players ever.

            You are so confident that Bryant is far better then West, but you never tell us where West is in relation to Bryant.

            When will you provide this information to us?

            You and Gil both like to marginalize my commentary and explain where my failures are, yet neither of you have ever offered any insight or information; only criticism. Can you offer up any information ro data that supports your opinions? If so, what is the source? How did you arrive at your conclusions? Tell us. this whole blog is about advancing the discussion to reach a greater truth,

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 3, 2012, 10:56 pm
          • How, exactly is it illogical to conclude that a plyer that has higher rates is inferior to a sceond player when their volume is approximate?

            Why is that illogical? Because you don’t agree?

            again, for those scoring at home:

            West: 27.0/5.8/6.7
            Bryant: 25.3/5.3/4.7

            West: .474/.814
            Bryant: .454/.837

            West had no three point line in his day or his scoring may be higher. West was also a great defender, but they didn’t have the All Defensive team awards until 1968-69 and West was 2nd team once and first team four times.

            West was also had superior results data in the playoffs.

            I just can’t see how it is “illogical” to think that West could be better.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2012, 11:24 am
      • Boyer, You’ve really gotta stop posting dude. This is one of the better blogs on the internet and you are defiling it with your garbage.

        “How many all-nba first teams does Kobe have, and how many does Wade have? Are all these players/coaches/GMs, who think Kobe’s better, all idiots?” Are you really that stupid? How is this even a fair comparison at this stage in there careers. Kobe Bryant is in his 16th season. Wade is in his 9th. Also one of those season he was injured and on one leg. Don’t you think its fair to compare these guys once they have played an equal number of seasons?

        Which brings me to my second point. Wade got swept by the Bulls because the guy had one arm. Did you even watch that series or are you cherry picking. There is no way he should have been playing. The following season, he missed 31 games and came back too early and was never 100%. He only averaged 22 points a game which is very unWade like. So OF COURSE they are not going to make the playoffs, especially when combined with an older Shaq who only averaged 13 points a game. That team was done.

        Third, Kobe started over Wade in the Olympics, because he was better THEN. As in 2008. Wade is better now as in 2011, and I guarantee you that he would not start today.

        Fourth, Wade, not Kobe scored the most important points in the 4th quarter of that Olympic game with 2 minutes left.

        Fifth “It’s true, kobe’s strength is his weakness, but that strength has brought him 7 finals’ appearances and 5 titles, can’t argue with those results” Dumbest argument ever. You don’t think that there were other factors at play here? He wasn’t even the best player on those first 3 championships.
        If your gonna try and make an argument, at least post the facts instead of your bias half truths.

        Posted by Sanity | January 3, 2012, 8:30 pm
        • The data would say that the best two players the 2008 Olympics were Wade and then James.

          But then, the numbers lie, unless I want to use them to support my predetermined position.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 3, 2012, 10:34 pm
          • What you are calling data is merely incidental observations recorded by the box score keeper.

            If you want real individual data, go to synergy.com, don’t use the box score which only records simple points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, etc.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 4, 2012, 9:45 am
          • Paulie, why don’t you go reread your post above, stating that you have Wade ahead of Kobe. And keep on saying and implying that wade was better than kobe, so, so sorry for actually thinking that you think wade is better than kobe.

            And did the heat win? Last time I checked, they lost in the finals, and the mavs won. That might count like a win in your book, but to me, that’s a loss.

            Still beating the deadhorse about kobe/west, huh? You talk about me providing info., etc., which I have countless times, though you only consider the info. you provide as valid. There’s no logical way to think west was better than kobe, as I’ve explained many times already, and won’t get into it anymore with you as you just don’t get it. But, they’re both top 15 players of all time. How far into the top 15? That’s for you to guess. Comparing a guard to a center is a lot tougher than comparing 2 players that played the same position. When you’re way off base on the latter, what’s the pt. to go any further?

            Sanity, stop making excuses for wade(and lebron for others). That’s the one thing I can’t stand about lebron, and wade to an extent, they’re high excuse players, and their fans follow suit. The heat, with wade in charge, went from nba champs to nba chumps, extremely quickly. He tanked basically 2 seasons, when they still had a chance to make some noise. It wasn’t like 35 wins in 2008, it was 15 wins, a truly awful season.

            Make sure to come back, sanity, when kobe’s starting for the 2012 olympics team.

            Posted by boyer | January 4, 2012, 10:06 am
          • Boyer,

            I have Wade as a better player than Kobe NOW due to the difference in age, and amount of career minutes logged, and Mike Brown. But it isn’t a wide gulf. they are essentially the same in terms of results.

            For the course of their careers, I have Kobe well ahead of Wade, and I don’t see any reason that Wade should pass him.

            For the present, they are certainly very close.

            the thing is, why don’t you just put your list of top players and pot it? What are afraid of? You seem fairly confident in your opinion; offer it up. Reading your posts, it seems that you have bias against players of prior eras, but you are certainly not alone there.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2012, 11:05 am
          • Oh stop it, paulie. You really think I’m afraid of you? Give me a break. We were talking about west and kobe before, nothing else. Any other views of any other player is irrelevant. It’s quite funny when you mention bias, maybe you should re-read your posts. Everyone has bias.

            All you can look at is what you see on the court. And it’s obvious players are better today than in the past. I understand diet, nutrition, etc. has improved, just like athletes have improved. If you want to try to normalize athletes between positions and eras, fine, even though that’s completely accurately impossible, but defining who was better or not is different. Besides, wilt is probably the greatest athlete to ever play b-ball, and he played way back in the day.

            You keep throwing out these stats, but what does that prove? What do those stats really mean? Just take Pistol Pete’s 44ppg average in college, what does that prove, other than he played against weak competition and shot the ball nearly every time? He probably wouldn’t even average half that if he played today. Weird argument. You get caught up on one stat too much.

            Kobe was a much better athlete than west, much better offensively, much better defensively, much bigger, at least 4-5 inches taller/35-45 lbs. heavier, and many more accolades/titles than west. Not only is kobe superior in every way to west, he has gotten much better results than west, too. I’m not really sure how you can argue otherwise, very perplexing, but not surprising with you. They played the same position, so it’s not like comparing a center to a PG. This is why it’s completely illogical to think than west was better than kobe. Even most brain-dead kobe haters can see that, unfortunately, you don’t. And nothing against west, i’m not bashing west, he’s an all-time great, but I’m tired of the blatant disrespect Kobe gets. I know you’re hopeless, but still, very annoying.

            And I know there’s some stat that said Rodman was better than Jordan. What does that stat prove? It’s absolutely pointless in my book. Rodman is a HOF, so it’s not like comparing Odom to Kobe, which btw some stats said Odom was better than Kobe, and Pau is better than Pau. Some people actually think Pau is better than Kobe or iverson is better than kobe, so I guess you thinking West is better than Kobe isn’t nearly as bad, so you got that going for you.

            Posted by boyer | January 4, 2012, 1:04 pm
          • Paulie/Boyer,

            Let me help settle this once and for all. The divide in your arguments rest on whether we can compare players between eras.

            Boyer is correct in that players in 2012 are better than players during the 1960s/1970s. Data shows that human beings are simply taller, bigger, faster, and more athletic while being exposed to more advanced diet, nutrition, and training. In sum, it is the mark of human evolution, and 30 years from today, players will be bigger, taller, faster than in 2012. If we were to look soley at this metric, Kobe Bryant is absolutely better than Jerry West. Put another way, if 2012 Kobe played during the 1960s, his numbers would be off-the-charts, while 1965 Jerry West, at 6’3 would likely suffer in production if he played in 2012.

            However, this is a very shortsighted way of comparing players. Instead, the fair way is to compare players according to their eras, otherwise we might as well completely disregard the careers of superstar players such as Bill Russell, Oscar, West, Wilt, and Bob Pettit. In sum, you can’t penalize a player for being ahead of their time, otherwise the all time greats would be limited to only modern day players which is ignorant.

            7’2 Wilt would not average 100 points in 2012 and 6’5 Oscar would not average a triple double for an entire season. However, based on Genomics, and advancements in human evolution, had Wilt and Oscar been born into the current era, Wilt would be an even more athletic 7’5 and 350lb center while Oscar would be a more athletic 6’8 and 250. Combined with the advanced teachings in today’s game and their natural skill set, you are telling me that those guys wouldn’t be great? They may not average the same points/reb/assists due to the pace of the game, but they would still be great.

            We need to compare West and Kobe in the same manner as well. Jerry West played during an era when the average shooting guard was 6/2-6/3. Today, the average shooting guard is 6’5. In 2012, West would be closer to 6’5 or 6’6 instead of 6’2/6’3. If so, based on the accomplishments of his era, and after studying West’s career carefully, I too have West above Kobe.

            West was a far more efficient scorer for his era (TS% of 56% during an era when league averages were 50%. By comparison, Kobe has averaged 55% when league averages were 54%. West was also a better passer although Kobe was a better rebounder.

            West was also a more clutch player, bigger game player, and far, far better playoff performer than Kobe during his time. His 1969 finals performance was unparalleled not to mention his 65, 66, and 68 Finals performances. With the exception of 2002, Kobe never had Finals performances statistically close to these. Moreover, West never had a bad playoffs. There was no 2004, 2008, or 2011 for West and the statistical disparity between the 2 players is quite significant. When West went down, he went down swinging – arguably unlike any other player to play the game, including Michael Jordan.

            West was every bit the stopper during his era, making multiple All-defense teams, having unofficially averaged at least 2+ steals per game had they kept track of that stat back then. He was also arguably a better help defender for his time.

            Lastly, he has had as much, if not more, of an impact on the game. The guy still remains an ambassador for the NBA and is the logo.

            Kobe has had a longer career, but never peaked to the level that West did. They both have one MVP, though Kobe has 2 Finals MVPs. Kobe will also likely break more longevity records, but nothing convinces me that West would be unable to do if he had the same benefits of modern medicine, thereby prolonging his career.

            In the end, to me, winning, being a big game player, and demonstrating individual brilliance serve as the pillars of my criteria and West, for his era, was better. He never won as many rings, but as we have discussed countless times on this site, ring counting is a very amateur way of measuring greatness since it is entirely dependent on the supporting cast. West simply could not overcome Bill Russell and his cast of Celtics hall of famers and had he had 4-6 Hall of Famers playing alongside him like Russell did, I have no doubt he would have won multiple championships.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | January 4, 2012, 2:08 pm
          • Please watch this film of Jerry West playing:


            Especially at the 3:13 mark, watch West dribble.

            It will become very apparent that on in an absolute comparison, Kobe is light years ahead of West.

            Relative comparisons are still debatable, but there is a chance West would not even make today’s NBA if he were exactly as he is on this film, today.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 4, 2012, 3:50 pm
          • Realist,

            This is why I have repeatedly asked, if not begged, for boyer to offer up his list of top 10 or 20. I want to see who else he has and where to determine HOW he arrives at his conclusions.

            I believe, as you apparently do, that context is the key.

            I am not measuring Jerry West as an individual against Kobe or anyone else, what I am doing is measuring the difference of Jerry West against his peer group and then comparing that to whatever difference exists between Kobe and his peer group.

            there is no question that the players are indeed better conditioned, stronger, and faster.

            That does not mean that a great athlete from 40 years ago would not be a great athlete today. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

            Obviously, I regard Bryant as a top 15 and likely top 10 player of all time, but I am measuring him in his own time with his own accomplishments.

            I measure everyone else the same way, what did they do during their time? What was the separation of their production compared to the rest?

            Jerry West played against the top competition in the world in his day. Kobe Bryant plays against the top competition in the world today. What we measure is how much better each player was when he played against that competition.

            Now. . .as to your assertion that Larry Bird is not the #4 all time. . .lol

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2012, 10:13 pm
          • That’s a great video, Gil. Well, kind of. It was so boring watching those much inferior athletes compared to today, I couldn’t watch it all.

            But, it’s not that West couldn’t dribble well overall, it’s that West admitted he couldn’t dribble well with his left hand. If paulie/nbarealist pay attention to anything, pay attention to that. If you’ve ever played ball before, you should realize how important it is to dribble well with both hands.

            If that’s the guy you’d want on your team over Kobe, go ahead right. I wish you well as Kobe gets your butt.

            And the argument about West being Kobe’s size if he lived today is pure speculation and unwarranted. Does that mean wilt would be 7-5, 315, etc.?

            Posted by boyer | January 6, 2012, 8:25 am
  11. Wade is currently a better player then Bryant, he just is with the age difference. I thought he was a better player last year but thats debateable.

    I have…
    1. Lebron
    2. Wade
    3. Durant
    4. Kobe
    5. Howard

    I only have Kobe over Howard because Howard is horrible in the 4th since they can use the Hack a Shaq on him.

    Posted by Nightbladehunter | January 2, 2012, 9:58 am
    • Gil,

      please explain what synergy.com is about.

      What is it;s purpose and what does it measure if not the actual results of what happened.

      If there is a tool out there that can further enlighten and complement, or improve the data we already have, then why do not more people use it?

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2012, 11:08 am
      • Not only does Synergysportstech.com use video clips, they give much more in depth data on type of shot taken, distance taken, and a host of situational and contextual information.

        NBA Teams actually do use it, but much of the data is proprietary, available for a fee.

        My hope is that we can move beyond the current box score, maybe even develop an advanced box score, with better observations of what has happened in each game that can be used as the raw data for an evaluative, predictive model.

        Take a look at some of the posts there, I think you will like it.

        Posted by Gil Meriken | January 4, 2012, 3:56 pm
        • I can agree that there is much in the game that does not appear in a box score.

          Would 5 or 6 Dave DeBuschere jack hammer picks have an effect on defenders by the 4th Q? I would bet they would and there is value in that.

          However, you must surely see the correlation between the results data and the win/loss column?

          Do you not see how applications such as Pythagorem demonstrate the realtionship between points scored points allowed and wins and losses?

          I would agree that Jerry West, as he was in 1969 could would not be a 30 ppg scorer today; but he wouldn’t be the Jerry West of 1969, he would be the Jerry West of today. that jerry West would have from advancements in training, diet, nutrition, equipment, tactics, strategy, rules changes ad salary.

          While I agree that players like Mikan could not (and, in fact did not) adapt to the modern game and others, like Bob Cousy, would surely not be winning MVP awards, I can’t make that same arguemnt for West.

          West ended his career in the 1970’s. Kareem was in his prime; would Kareem not be able to play today? Would Oscar Robertson not be able to play today? Larry Bird? That idea that evolution being so radical that the best players are essentially nullified after 20 years seems a little unrealistic.

          I am certain that there is much value in the system you mention, but isn’t that visually imputed as well?

          Wouldn’t the results of that system also be subject to interpretation? Couldn’t that interpretation be just as flawed or arbtrary as all the rest you have summarily dismissed?

          How is this evidence the absolute truth and the rest misleading and erroneous?

          That is what i need expalined to me.

          Thanks for the discussion and thanks for the help.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 4, 2012, 7:34 pm
          • The Pythagorean is applied to teams.

            A five-man unit creates points together, with varying degrees of responsibility to one person. Same for reb, asts, stls, blks. Those are fine to compare, because the results must be directly attributable to those five players, no way around it.

            We are talking about individual stats, which are assigned to one player. Two players can score 20 points with the same FG% and attempts, but have impacted the game completely differently because of how they scored the points. As a team or five-man unit only the production matters, but when evaluating the contribution of an individual player, the manner in which they score, rebound, assist, does matter. If you disagree with that, then we will have to just agree to disagree, because that is axiomatic to me. How much of their scoring, rebounding, assisting, is a function of who they play with, and what system they play in, and how much is manufactured through their individual skill? Player A can have inferior box score stats to Player B, with the same volume, and yet be a much superior player to Player B, especially if they play for different teams. There are limits to this, but the range is huge. A player who scored 20 ppg on 40% shooting could very well be a better scorer than another player who scored 25 ppg
            on 50% shooting. Or he could not. You can’t tell. Because you can’t say looking at those stats how each player would perform in the other’s circumstance. And if you can’t tell using those metrics, what is the point of them?

            I am asking for more refined units of data, which would help to rectify the issue of “chunky” stats like simple pts, reb, ast, stls, blks …

            It would not be a perfect system. It would be better than a model based on pts, reb, ast, stls, blks, etc.

            Also, at a certain point, a model can get too refined, which will work against it as well – as I said, we don’t need to know the molecular structure of the player, that would be too much info.

            But using the simple box metrics will at best get you OK results in evaluating players, but so will a visual evaluation.

            If you are going to create a convincing statistical comparison, it must be done using something that is not based on the simple stats, which don’t capture any of the context. At best YOU have to provide the context, but we know that can get to be subjective.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 4, 2012, 11:31 pm
          • Gil,

            Thanks for for clearing that up.

            I do understand that the Pythagorean is used for team results.

            As to the individual results, I also agree that not everything is as it seems.

            To use an example within this post, Sam G states that Gasol and Griffin are more efficient scores than Bryant. This does not ring true to me. while the FG% of each of the three players would indicate this, neither Gasol nor Griffin has the ability top take the ball from the five second line and penetrate and score off the dribble; Kobe can do this.

            I would disagree with comparing the stats of two players (in this case Bryant ans West) who essentially played the same position and had very similar roles.

            A very comparable comparison statistically to Bryant is John Havlicek, though most Kobe fans would strongly disagree. When you think that both were versatile players that could consume a ton of minutes, play terrific man defense, scored a lot of points, but neither had high FG%, both had great FT%, and both had similar RB and Assists numbers. They also played on terrific teams and were large pieces of their teams winning titles. Are you saying that those two players could not be regarded as similar? Perhaps the style in which they performed offensively was different, it seems difficult to argue that the results are not similar.

            If Bryant and Havlicek have not had similar careers, then explain to me why that is.

            I do agree that there are no absolutes regarding the comparisons and that context has many variables.

            I can also agree that relying SOLELY upon box score data leads people to false or misleading conclusions (Alex English or Tracy McGrady), but it is the only evidence that is available to the average person.

            In my evaluations, I use the data very judiciously. I consider the volume, rate, and environment. I take into account peak and career performance. I take into account play style and rules of play. I take into account position/role bias as well. It is not perfect, but until someone can provide me the means to apply improvements and further refine the results, then I am confident with my conclusions.

            this does not mean that is is a closed case. Indeed, it is all subject to debate and discussion. Prior to posting on Chasing 23, I had considered Artis Gilmore’s selection to the HOF as a mistake, but after reading Lochpster’s endorsement and then reevaluating the data, I arrived at the opposite conclusion.

            Kobe Bryant may indeed be a better total player than West, but I have yet to read a compelling enough argument to elicit that change in my mind.

            Further, by my own admission, I believe that Bryant has a chance to climb further up my hierarchy should he defy history and continue to perform at his present rate until age 37 or 38.

            Again, I thank you for taking the time to offer your counsel. It was very helpful.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 5, 2012, 9:23 am


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