Blake Griffin

Which Current NBA Player Would You Draft First?

A few weeks ago, Michael Pina of Both Teams Played Hard wrote a nice article asking the basic question:  “if you could draft one player to start your team today, who would it be?”.  This is an interesting spin on the more asked (and usually beaten down) question of “who is the best player in the NBA?”, because, to evaluate who you would draft involves analyzing who would give you the best opportunity to win championships, who has the greatest longetivity, who would be the best cultural fit, etc..

Pina’s top 5 were as follows:

5. Russell Westbrook

4. Dwight Howard

3. Blake Griffin

2. Derrick Rose

1. Kevin Durant

While Pina makes some good arguments about why each of these players belongs on the list, my take on this subject is slightly different. Let me explain.

Lebron must be #1 on this list.

Regardless of his Finals performance (or rather last 3 games), I don’t see any way you can leave Lebron off the list (or for that matter, not #1). The addition of Lebron (and ok, to a lesser extent, Chris Bosh) to the Heat and subtraction from the Cavs took one team from mediocrity to within 2 games of the championship, and sent the other straight to the bottom rung of the NBA ladder. Add on top of that the fact he is 26, is the best player in the NBA, has a steadily improving game, has become a defensive monster, AND makes his teammates better – and there seems to be no question who should be at the top.

Generally speaking, you should be a scoring wing or dominant center to qualify.

The recent history of the NBA has shown that, while we are in a golden era of the 6’3” point guard currently, the players that win championships tend to be either superstar wing players or dominant centers. A history of the last 20 years have players like Jordan, Pippen, Olaujuwon, Duncan, Kobe, Shaq, and Wade winning the vast majority of championships. There have been exceptions such as the 2004 Pistons or the 2008 Celtics, however these teams were much different in that they had no single superstar, but rather a collection of All-stars that blended extremely well as a team (and happened to play world class defense). One could argue that Duncan and Nowitzki were power forwards, but even here, each of these players have the size of an NBA center and are often asked to play that position during the season.

What does this mean? Just that players like Russell Westbrook, Rose, and Griffin, while great players in their own right, face a steep climb to win an NBA championship as their team’s primary go-to player.

I would rather have 5 legendary years from a player than 10 years from a high-level All-star.

Legends win multiple championships, all-stars just help their teams to playoffs. At the end of the day, there are only a handful, and you must overweight any draft of this nature to acquiring legends, even if it costs you a few years in the process (within reason, of course). Again, there are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking there are only a few players in the NBA that are truly “bankable”. A corollary to this statement is, as most savvy NBA fans will admit: you would rather have 2 superstars on your team than a handful of high achieving All-stars. If you are going to draft players to start your team, you MUST ensure they are superstar caliber. In this instance, I’m not convinced that Blake Griffin (despite his “legendary” rookie year) or Russell Westbrook, will meet this criteria over the course of their careers.

Clutchness is an important factor.

None of a player’s physical talents matter if they fail to deliver when it matters most. The greats get it done down the stretch. Despite Lebron’s failings in the final games of this year and last year’s playoffs, his clutchness has steadily improved over time – a look at the clutch stats show he has been one of the most clutch players in the NBA for many years now. For other players, like Kobe Bryant (unless you’re Henry Abbott or The NBA Realist), Derrick Rose, and Dwyane Wade, their clutchness among current NBA players is unquestioned.

So my top 5 are…

5. Derrick Rose

4. Dwyane Wade

3. Dwight Howard

2. Kevin Durant

1. LeBron James

As stated, Lebron at #1 was an easy choice for me. From there, I agreed with Pina that the next obvious choice is Kevin Durant. Not only does KD have perhaps the best offensive game in the NBA, he is showing signs of life in both the leadership characteristic as well as defense – perhaps the two lingering questions regarding his game. You also get the sense with KD that he has just scratched the surface of his potential, so for that reason alone, he is our next best bet to build a team around.

Dwight Howard, despite what most would say is a lack of clutchness, comes in at #3 because in an era marked by a lack of dominant centers, Howard stands several notches above the rest. Even with really no other legitimate All-stars to speak of on his 2009 team, Howard was able to lead the Magic to the NBA Finals. Howard will go down as the best center of his current generation, and it stands to reason if you can combine him with just one reasonable piece, the team you would draft would contend for a championship for years to come.

Wade beats out Rose in my book for two reasons: (1) he has been there and done it and (2) as I mentioned, I value scoring wings over small point guards. In addition, I’m not convinced that Rose, as a scoring point guard, would be as easy of a player to build around as Wade (e.g., if you brought in a scoring wing for Rose, would that diminish his performance? Can he be a pass first point guard?) Finally, of all the players on this list, I believe Wade is the guy I would hands down want on my team with the game on the line in the Finals. Wade is definitively one of the top 3 players of this generation and a future legend. All this means that even though I get Wade for perhaps 5-6 less years than Rose, I would rather take my chances with him first.

Lastly, it is a compliment from my perspective that Rose makes the list at #5. While I believe there may be better all-around point guards (see: Chris Paul), Rose brings intangibles of toughness and clutchness , which, as I mentioned above, cannot be underestimated. He seems to play biggest when the lights are brightest – and that is something you cannot teach. Add that to the fact he is 22 years old, and Rose makes our final slot.

What would your draft look like?


147 Responses to “Which Current NBA Player Would You Draft First?”

  1. Lebron should be in the top 5, but he shouldn’t be #1. He has proven to be a choke artist and a quitter. Whenever a team stands up to him, he folds. He has 2 other top 10 players on his team and other good role players, but yet lost to a team that was eerily similar to his 09 and 10 cavs’ teams. Most people like to make excuses for lebron, such as making bosh or spoelstra or the supporting cast as the reasons for lequits failures, seriously, enough with the excuses. Bosh was top 10 before coming to the heat, and if you watch heat games closely enough, it’s quite disappointing lebron and wade can’t figure out to work together amongst themselve and bosh to maximize their abilities.

    Rose is only 1 inch shorter than wade, so your argument comparing the 2 is rather moot about size and rose is already better than wade and wade is injury prone, including leading one of the biggest downfalls of a champ. team to a first round loser in a weak east. conf. in 07 and completely tanking a whole season in 08. And shaq was the better overall player throughout that entire year in 06 for the heat.

    But I agree, it’s obvious on average, superstars are larger players and not small guards, one of many reasons that Nash was never able to win a title or even reach a finals even while playing with a potential budding superstar in stoudemire and alongside an actual superstar in dirk.

    And if you take lebron off the heat, the bulls win, or if you take wade off the heat, the bulls win, and if you think both of them are better than rose, the heat would still have the best player in the series, and bosh would easily be the 3rd best player in the series. Rose is still young, but he’s already shown great heart and resiliency and doesn’t seem to care about antics and celebrations like lebron/wade, but primarily only cares about winning.

    Posted by boyer | August 29, 2011, 8:04 pm
    • Boyer — thanks for the comment. Couple of responses:

      1. Regarding Lebron — though I disagree for a variety of reasons, ok, I’ll play along. Who do you think *should* be #1. If I look at the next guy on my list, KD, he hasn’t exactly been a pillar of clutchness either. Wade has shown when he and Lebron are on the same team, Lebron is the clear #1. So then who on this list would you move above King James?

      2. Rose is i inch shorter, however his wingspan is 3 inches shorter than Wade. I think most people will tell you Wade is definitively the bigger guard (and plays better defense as well because of his wingspan). Furthermore, my point was also around being a point guard vs. a wing. Lastly, you kind of mix comparisons here. In one example you criticize Wade for losing in the 1st round, but then give him little credit for perhaps the most legendary Finals performance ever. Btw, that 2007 team underwent 2 major injuries to both Shaq and Wade and the departure of Riley for a good part of the season. I will agree with you that Wade is injury prone, and on that basis alone, you would have a strong case for moving Rose ahead of Wade.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | August 30, 2011, 9:02 pm
      • Ok, I take back my Lebron could never be #1, though if he is, it’s not saying much for the current status of players around the NBA. Of the potential top players that you would draft first in the current NBA, Durant and Rose, and Kobe for that matter seem to be the top guys that take winning and only winning more seriously than the others. The others, particularly lebron and howard, especially lebron, are more concerned with celebrations, clowning around, making money, and becoming a global icon. To each their own decisions, but not surprising that these other, primary goals of lebron, are probably one reason of many, to explain some of his listless performances. His 2 finals appearances are maybe the worst of all time compared to how he performed during the season/rest of the playoffs. Also, remember that mysterious right elbow injury that he needed to shoot a lefty FT. Well, the very next game he’s clowning around shooting pre-game halfcourt shots. Hmm, bad elbow? I think not. The guy is high on excuses, not good for a #1 draft pick. Not that all of these guys haven’t had bad ‘clutch’ performances, just like every player in history, it’s that lebron has become completely disengaged(quit) in back to back playoffs. He has shown to be someone who cannot be relied upon, even to give anywhere close to maximum effort on a consistent basis. Wade had to repeatedly give lebron pep talks in the finals this year, but to no avail. Lebron is clearly more talented and individually better than wade, but when incorporated into the team concept of b-ball, he has yet to fully figure it out, and while wade had some bad moments in the playoffs, he played spectacular at times and didn’t give up on his team. Lebron is not the clearcut #1 on the heat, that is a fallacy.

        If we’re talking about the future of the nba and #1 draft pick, I’d take howard over lebron for sure, and probably durant and rose, too.

        Nobody is saying rose is bigger than wade. Tell me where I said that, because I didn’t. But, you seemed to imply that wade is a lot bigger than rose, which he isn’t. Sure, they play different positions, but rose is not a small PG like Paul. Rose is powerfully built. Actually, wade is too heavy, he should shed some pounds to maximize his abilities. I didn’t mix comparisons. Wade gets credit for his 06 finals, though it was against extremely weak opponents and more of a result of det/dallas choking than miami winning in my book, but he got the job done, even with the help of the refs a bit. But, people act like this one series makes wade out to be some superhuman, which he isn’t. He didn’t even make first team all nba this year, and he’s on the downswing of his career. What people seem to forget is that wade and shaq, too, orchestrated one of the biggest if not the biggest downfalls of a champion in nba history, and wade more or less tanked one entire season. Complain about injuries all you want, every team deals with them. The lakers had key injuries in 08, and narrowly beat a stacked c’s team in the finals. Injuries in 07, but then 08, and so on, when do the excuses stop? Wade’s a good player, but not some all-world type player when compared to the true greats. Most likely a HOFer, though. I just took exception to the pt. you brought up of wade over rose because of size as one argument, which is not a very good argument, and rose was already better than wade last year, and much younger as it is. Miami had it made last year in that the true contenders either made stupid trades or clearly aged in affecting their teams. Dallas was left standing in the west with just one superstar, Dirk, who has been continually bashed for playoff failures, and then a bunch of rugrats more or less, a solid team, but definitely one of the weakest champions we’ve ever had. Only the bulls were the other contender in the east, and they’re clearly not ready. Next year will be different. Dallas will still be good, but how good. Lakers will probably be better, and the thunder will be better. But, a lot depends on the CBA.

        Posted by boyer | August 31, 2011, 12:13 pm
      • Wade is also a couple of months shy of 30. A shooting guard who relies so much on athleticism typically starts fading between 30 and 32. Even if the injury-prone Wade makes it to 32 or 33 before slowing down, the hard-working Rose will surpass him soon enough (if he hasn’t already). I would take a 20 and 10 guy in Blake Griffin who is still developing into a go-to guy than 2-3 years of injury prone superstardom that could finish in the Finals this year.

        Posted by Sweaty Yeti | November 3, 2011, 3:30 pm
    • You can’t be serious? Lebron is the most versatile player in the NBA. All the heat need is some inside toughness. They have nobody that will go inside and bang. Bosh plays like a female and Haslem was hurt all season. When they get some size Down low and start letting people like Dampier go they’ll be fine. Anyway, if you start a team with Lebron and get him the players he wants you’ll win. Lebron wanted Amare to join the caves but Gilbert got Jamison of all people, the suns were ready to basically give amare away but Gilbert didn’t want him. To me, Lebrons only problem is he lacks discipline!!!! If he would’ve went to college he would have it. If he wasn’t worshiped in high school he might have it. Mike brown was a push over and spoelstra is too young to stand up to Lebron. He needs a dose of Popovich. However I think he is smart enough to develop it on his own with wade as a teammate.

      Posted by Matt | November 27, 2011, 6:59 pm
  2. I can’t take seriously anyone who mentions ‘clutchness’ as a key point in his ‘evaluation’, and then makes Lebron the number 1 in it.
    Sure, he has been ‘clutch’ before. A lot. But it doesn’t matter if you hit the game winner in an handful of mid-season games that you should have won anyway. You have to get it done when it matters the most.
    He got plenty of opportunities to prove this wrong in the past, and he paralyzed like a deer in headlights.

    Posted by Ric | August 30, 2011, 6:32 am
    • Ric — I understand where you would draw that conclusion about Lebron, his playoff failures have been colossal and will the last 2 will probably ultimately cost him any long term consideration in the GOAT discussion.

      That being said, all of the players on this list are flawed in the clutch, no player in my mind (you can argue Wade — but even then have to rank him lower in my opinion based on his injury history, age, and current talent level), has been any better than Lebron in crunch time. Also, Lebron has had his fair share of very clutch playoff performances as well. Getting to the 2007 Finals with the Cavs for example, is still probably one of the great overachievements in NBA playoff history. His performance against the Bulls this year was simply amazing. And even in a losing effort several years ago against the Magic, Lebron had an incredible series.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | August 30, 2011, 9:07 pm
  3. You have a good point there, I wont argue how great Lebron is (as a basketball player of course, because I think that ,as a person, he conducts himself like a spoiled brat) and how incredible his game is at times. Anyway, I’d rather build around a different kind of player, as I find this Messiah Complex that seems to affect players like Lebron (at leat until the last season in his case) too problematic. I wouln’t build a team around him, but I might be wrong.

    Posted by Ric | August 31, 2011, 6:01 am
  4. If i were building a franchise, i would have to go with a dominate center or a floor general point guard. It would have to be between Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. No knock on Lebron, but I think he will go down as the best regular season basketball player ever. As far as his post season accomplishments, yet to be seen.

    Posted by Trip | September 1, 2011, 8:08 pm
    • Trip — thanks for the comment. Chris Paul is an interesting choice, I thought about him vs. Rose for a bit and ultimately chose Rose over him because:

      1. Chris Paul is 4 years older than Derrick Rose (26 vs. 22)

      2. Chris Paul is only 6’0″ vs. Rose at 6’3″. This length will help Rose both defensively as well as from a durability standpoint. Chris Paul has already shown he is injury prone.

      3. Chris Paul seemed to have peaked a few years ago. He is still great, but doesn’t seem to be adding to his game.

      4. Derrick Rose just seems to have that “it” factor. Hard to put a finger on it, and Paul certainly has shown up huge at times in the playoffs, but Rose seems to have a knack for the moment.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | September 1, 2011, 10:06 pm
      • No team has been ‘the’ team with a small PG. I guess the 89-90 pistons are the closest thing, but thomas wasn’t that small, and those rosters were stacked top to bottom, similar to the 04 pistons. Paul is highly overrated as a player, but he probably does as much as he can out of his small frame. Rose clearly is better now. Look at the 99 spurs or the bulls title teams or the last 5 lakers’ title teams, all teams with very bad, at least below average starting PGs. Heck, Fisher wouldn’t start for any other team in the league during the lakers last 2 title teams.

        Paul has been good, but not necessarily that amazing of a playoff peformer, let’s put it in perspective. He disappeared in the 4th of game 7 against the spurs a few years ago, deferring to Jannero Pargo, ridiculous. And this past season against the lakers was him being guarded by Fisher, a terrible on-ball defender at his advanced age. A hobbled Kobe Bryant did better against Paul than Fisher, so what is that telling you? When Kobe guarded Paul primarily in game 2, you could tell Paul was extremely frustrated and the Hornets offense was in complete disarray.

        Posted by boyer | September 2, 2011, 8:11 am
  5. Mamba, once again, nice article and I think I agree with 4 of your top 5 picks. The one I question is Wade, not because of his skill, but because I am fearful of his ability to continue to contribute at a high level.

    Conventional wisdom is that great shooting guards tend to peak in year 6, and Wade, indeed, peaked in PER and points per game in his 6th year, 2008-2009. Likewise, there’s a common perception that these guys decline pretty quickly at 32, and Wade will turn 30 during the next NBA season. Although I suspect he’s got a few high level years left, we’ve already seen his peak, and he’s only going to get worse.

    Further, Wade is at increased risk of injury due to the style of his play. Players who shoot lots of free throws put themselves at a higher injury risk than their peers, and among players shorter than 6-4, Wade is among the career leaders in FTA per game. Further, the fact that he runs off of his back heel puts extra stress on his knee and ankle joints when compared to players who run with better technique and is likely to lead to both faster joint degeneration and a higher risk of a major acute injury. The fact that he’s missed about a sixth of his career games due to injuries and has never played 80 games in a season makes me nervous.

    Wade is special, but I think that’s too many red flags for me to pass up on the young studs for him.

    Posted by Lochpster | September 4, 2011, 7:32 am
    • Lochpster — thanks for the comment. Hear what you’re saying about Wade’s injury history. What tipped it for me is that he is one of a handful of players in the NBA that I believe can be an alpha dog on a consistent championship contender. I believe if you give Wade and Rose the same supporting cast over the next 5 years, Wade would win a championship before Rose. Just my opinion.

      Who would you replace Wade with?

      Posted by Brown Mamba | November 26, 2011, 11:16 pm
  6. I would draft lebron. All you need is a nasty blue-collar center (which he hasn’t had yet) like Tyson Chandler, a decent point guard, and a shooter. Maybe another guy that can get 15 points a game to put beside him. If you put that around lebron you have a great team.

    Posted by Matt | November 27, 2011, 6:47 pm
  7. So would anyone at this point not take Lebron #1 if the NBA redrafted?

    Posted by nightbladehunter | August 14, 2012, 7:49 am
    • Nope. Lebron is the obvious #1 pick. The only other reasonable choice would be Dwight Howard.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | August 14, 2012, 11:31 am
    • Lebron may be the best player in the world, but I think I’d take Durant at #1.

      Posted by lochpster | August 14, 2012, 7:33 pm
      • Lochpster really? Lebron is 27 right now…pick him first and pair him with another all star and good shooters and you have yourself a possible title winning team. If everyone was redrafting Lebron would be the first pick simply because KD as great of a scorer as he is is not ready with his all around game. Its no fluke(I know I keep saying this) that Miami won in 5 games, its largely because Lebron outplayed and was able to guard KD.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | August 14, 2012, 7:42 pm
        • Two things tilt this slightly in Durant’s favor, IMO-he is younger, and he’s proven his loyalty to the team that drafted him. Also, Lebron certainly did not defend Durant effectively in the finals. KD put up 31 PPG on a sick 65% true shooting. It was one of the best finals performances of all time-it just so happened that Lebron was better and his teammates were locked in.

          Lebron at #1 overall would be an excellent choice, and I would not fault anyone for taking him there.

          Posted by lochpster | August 14, 2012, 10:09 pm
          • Lochpster look at 4th Q’s after game 1…you pretty much always had Lebron on KD…and KD’s stats with Lebron directly guarding him weren’t that good. His stats with anyone else guarding him were amazing, much like Lebron did a couple of years ago vs D-Rose, he limited the other teams best scorer when it mattered most. They talked about it throughout the entire series, how Lebron was stepping up and guarding KD when it mattered most.

            I would take Lebron because of the all around game and I would be willing to take the age difference because of the chance to win now with Lebron. KD isn’t one to carry a team quite yet. His all around game isn’t polished enough. Now with what we saw in the London games, that might be changing. He might use them as a springboard to get even better and I hope he does, I enjoy seeing him play and I look forward to further Miami-OKC finals matchups.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | August 16, 2012, 6:16 am
          • Interesting. Where could I find those numbers? My recollection was that Durant pretty much killed it the whole time, no matter who was on him.

            Posted by lochpster | August 17, 2012, 12:05 pm
  8. I would select LeBron at this time (and probably for the past four years or so), but I don’t find much to object to when someone else argues that KD is a better pick due to his (younger) age and developmental upside … thankfully, arguing this issue is vastly different than debating relative merits with the batshit-crazy Kobe throng …

    In his ninth year in the NBA, LeBron won the R/S MVP and Finals MVP awards, received the highest vote totals for the All NBA and All Defense teams, and he led the U.S.A. teas to an Olympic gold medal. Additionally, he averaged 30+ points (on 50%+ shooting), nearly 10 rebounds, and nearly 6 assists for the entire playoff run.

    In his ninth year in the NBA, Kobe won NOTHING, personally directed his team into three years of wilderness irrelevance, and “led” his team (comprised of some questionable players, but also Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant) to a 28 – 38 record in games in which he played, failing to even qualify for the playoffs along the way …

    Just doing my part to offset the outrageous ramblings on 710 ESPN radio these days …

    Posted by Ken | August 16, 2012, 3:25 pm
  9. by the way, for the delusional “ring” crowd going completely off the rails at the very idea that Boeheim, Coach K and many other experts are not even wasting their breath to bother including Kobe in the “greatest ever” conversations going on these days …

    1. like many others, i thoroughly discount the first three rings on account of the objective statistical records, the subjective Finals MVP outcomes … and my personal “eye test” 😉

    kobe was no more relevant in any of the Finals series from ’99/00 through ’01/02 than Dwyane Wade was this year (unkind truth be told, he was far less relevant in all but the last of those years) …

    2. regarding the Finals win over Orlando … teaming with Pau Gasol in beating a team with one emerging star (a 22 year old one, at that) is not exactly the most impressive Finals showing ever … and before you point to his stats in those Finals to somehow justify anything, be forewarened that his stats are dwarfed by those put up by LeBron against that very same Orlando team in the ECF … and he had exactly nobody to help him, unlike Kobe …

    3. regarding the Finals win over Boston, I have three bullets to share: 6/24, no Kendrick Perkins in Game 7, and the aging Boston lineup isn’t exactly comparable to an OKC lineup this year with FOUR OLYMPIANS, including three on the U.S.A. team alone …

    4. after demanding to be “the man”, kobe proceeded to “lead” his teams during his chronological prime (from ’04/05 through ’06/07) to stunningly abysmal records; he has been the “leader” of teams that have been on the business end of THREE 30+ POINT BLOWOUT LOSSES in closeout playoff games over the past 6 years, and he has been the “leader” of teams that have been swept 4-0 and nearly swept 4-1 in the Conference semis the past two years … all of the above despite having played on rosters stacked with Top 3 talent in the league for all but THREE of hiS SIXTEEN years in the league …

    i can go on and on (with facts, mind you … not the hyperbolic, deranged ramblings you’ll get from those who deign to dispute the foregoing) …

    Posted by Ken | August 16, 2012, 3:58 pm
    • i failed to mention the adverse impact on the 2009 Finals caused by the master of panic … had SVG stayed status quo and not tried to get Jameer back into the lineup, the Lakers would have been lucky to win that series in 7 games …

      thus, Kobe would have two rings to crow about (w/o Shaq, but with Pau, AB, etc.) and both would have come in less than impressive 7 game series …

      Posted by Ken | August 16, 2012, 4:05 pm
    • Ken lets get these laker/kobetards to go on the record with 1.Their expectations and If kobe has enough currently as it stands.

      Posted by samtotheg | August 16, 2012, 5:11 pm
      • sam, there isn’t much to really waste time on re: the expectations of the kobe crowd and getting them to lock down their delusional prognostications. no, no, no … it’s far too easy to read the putt on that issue.

        they will just: 1) clumsily move the chains; 2) scream in your face about the 81 point game against the mighty Raptors or the five rings or the (R/S) game-winner run against the likes of Milwaukee and Golden State; 3) tell you that your absurd data and facts don’t trump their eyeball assessments; 4) give any tourette’s syndrome sufferer a run for his or her money by sputtering out a series of awkward “closer”, “cold-blooded assassin”, “clutch”, and “black mamba!” cliches; 5) vaguely allude to elusive alternative quantitative techniques; 6) go off the rails with haughty ad hominems and pathetic straw men scrambles; and 7) finally just blame anyone else for any failures that arise anyway …

        the fact is, the dude has had more help than any other G/F superstar in history (by a wide margin), and he largely BOMBED when it counted most, IN HIS PRIME AND WHEN HE WAS THE UNDISPUTED MAN OF HIS TEAM …

        below is a listing of the players that Kobe has had the privilege of playing with over his entire career that are better than the very best teammate LeBron James had at any point during his first seven years in the NBA and before he left for Miami (some say Mo Williams, some say Antawn Jamison, some say a nearly 40 year old Shaq … any way you look at it, that “very best” teammate is inferior [in most instances, VASTLY inferior] to every player noted below) …

        PHASE 1: Shaq is “the man”

        1997 – 2004: Shaquille O’Neal

        PHASE 2: Kobe is “the man”
        COMPOSITE TEAM RECORD: 115-115

        2005: Lamar Odom, Caron Butler
        28-38 RECORD (Kobe in lineup)

        2006: Lamar Odom
        45-37 RECORD

        2007: Lamar Odom
        42-40 RECORD

        PHASE 3: I Give Up, Y’all … I Cannot Do Anything Without A Top 3 Roster And I’ll Even Accept A Trade to Pluto (or the Bulls)”

        2008: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom

        2009: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum

        2010: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, MWP

        2011: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, MWP

        2012: Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, MWP

        2013: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, MWP

        anybody who even suggests that Kobe isn’t the luckiest mofo to ever lace them up just needs to STFU and wither into the ether as far as i’m concerned …

        Posted by Ken | August 17, 2012, 12:21 pm
        • LOL

          It comes down to “KOBE IS LUCKY”

          Awesome argument.

          Posted by Gil Meriken | August 17, 2012, 5:36 pm
          • Kobe is good. He’s also extremely lucky. Do you have a point?

            Posted by lochpster | August 17, 2012, 6:08 pm
          • Yes, I have a point.

            Lebron is good. Lebron is also extremely lucky.

            Jordan was good. Jordan was also extremely lucky.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 17, 2012, 6:28 pm
        • Dang Ken! You’ve left one of the usual suspects sputtering but that usually happens when the Kobe mythology get hits by facts.

          Posted by ks | August 18, 2012, 4:21 pm
          • Moving the goalposts

            Phase 1 Shaq and Lakers: “Kobe is just a second banana, he cannot lead a team to a title” (even as Kobe has sparkling performances in the playoffs, including against the Spurs in 2001, prompting Shaq to comment: “I told Kobe that he was my idol,” O’Neal said. “I’m serious. He’s playing phenomenal. I think he’s the best player in the league, by far.”)

            Phase 2 – Post Shaq: “Told you he stinks – Can’t win without Shaq” (Even as Kobe drags subpar teams to the Western Conference playoffs, teams that MJ and Lebron would be hard pressed to even get 40 wins with, and even as Kobe scores the second highest point total in NBA history while winning, had a streak of 50! or more points in 4 consecutive games, something MJ and Lebron could not and have not matched, Kobe outscored a Dallas team through three quarters, all in the name of winning … and more)

            Phase 3 – Lakers acquire Gasol, lose to Boston in the 2008 Finals: “Kobe is no MJ! Told you!” (Even though before being acquired Gasol is not even wanted by his old team, which is why he was traded, and regarded about the same as Chris Bosh)

            Phase 4 – Kobe wins two consecutive Finals MVPS, placing him in hallowed company, prompting “Ringzzz don’t matter! Robert Horry has 7!” and the most delicious one of all, which I suppose was inevitable after undeniably crossing all the milestones they said he couldn’t reach; “KOBE IS LUCKY!” hahahahaaha… this comments on this site have turned into a sham, might as well be a Bruce Blitz site, that’s how poor the analysis is (not directed toward Lochp and Paulie – well maybe the “ringzzz” changing of measurement, which has been a valued measure of a SUPERSTAR, but not the analysis)

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 18, 2012, 5:08 pm
          • I have read several of Ken’s posts in the past. I actually think he’s really consistent with his arguments regarding Kobe.

            I believe his point is not just that “Kobe has been lucky”, perhaps exceptionally so on a scale of luckiness. I think his point, in general (at least as I have read it), is that Kobe is overrated and has several unmitigated failures on his resume DESPITE that exceptional luck.

            Jordan and LBJ not winning 40 games with the mid-2000’s Lakers? Are you sure that’s a sound argument given the Bulls averaging nearly 64 wins in Jordan’s six title seasons and the Cavs averaging 60+ wins in LBJ’s final four seasons, only to win barely 20 games the year following his departure? I fail to understand what may be your logic behind this argument. But to each his own.

            Posted by DS | August 18, 2012, 5:36 pm
          • Whoa there, Gil. That’s way too many logical fallacies in one paragraph. Straw men, ad hominems and appeals to authority, oh my.

            The rings bit isn’t some newfangled way to discredit Kobe-it’s an age old sports debate. Wilt vs Russell ring a bell? Bart Starr vs Johnny U? Trust me, I’m on here bashing Russell as hard as anyone.

            Posted by lochpster | August 18, 2012, 8:53 pm
          • DS – using how a team does the season after a superstar leaves is only informative if the rest of the team is similar to what it was before … in Lebron’s case, the Cavs roster was completely different, especially if you factor in minutes played from the season before (outside of Lebron’s position) I’ve covered this before, so I’ll keep it short and encourage you to do a side by side of Lebron’s supporting cast in 09-10 and the team in 10-11. You will find many many differences. In any event, even if the rosters are similar, they still may not indicate much, if you may recall that the season after Jordan retired, the Bulls won only two fewer regular season games than the year before, and were a botched call (by the refs own admission) away from reaching the conference finals. So using that logic, Jordan was only worth 2 regular season wins, and maybe two playoff series (which is a big thing, but still a smaller impact than one might have guessed).

            So I’d caution against falling into “The Cavs only won 19 games after Lebron left” trap.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 18, 2012, 8:56 pm
          • Gil,

            The belief that the departure of James was not significant to the Cavs turning from 61 wins to 63 losses is absurd.

            James played 2966 minutes. That’s 36 minutes a game of top line talent to replace. That type of talent is not interchangeable, nor will a 60+ win team FIND such a talent in the draft.

            True that Varejo went from 2169 minutes to 994, but I doubt his 8.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg were not too hard to replace. Antoine Jamisen increased his minutes from 811 minutes to 1842 minutes; Jamisen increased his scoring form 15.8 to 18.0. That was about the best he was gonna do.

            The Cavs no longer had Ilgauskas or O’Neal, but neither of those two had talent that could not be replaced. Ilgauskas only average 7 ppg, that’s not that difficult to find. Shaq only added 12 ppg, also not hard to replace.

            It is also true that Mo Williams was dealt after 36 games, but the Cavs were 8-24 with Williams and 11-39 without him. I doubt he made any difference at all.

            What was impossible to replace for the Cavs was ONE player producing 29.7 ppg, 7.3 rebounds per game and 8.6 assists a game.

            James departure was the ABSOLUTE single greatest reason why the Cavs went from 61 wins to 19 wins.

            Anything else is just BS.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 18, 2012, 11:01 pm
          • Of course the main driver of the Cavs collapse is Lebron leaving.

            But he is not the entire story.

            The performance of the 2010-11 team does not have any reflection on Lebron’s “supporting cast” of 2009-10, because it was not Lebron’s “supporting cast” that only won 19 games. It’s not a viable comparison. Lebron is not worth 40 wins to any team by any stretch of the imagination. No player has even been worth 40 wins to a team, and it’s “BS” to imply that (which you didn’t, but I’ve seen that implied plenty enough to address it).

            And in any event, like I said, I wouldn’t use this type of thing to gauge a player’s value, as you can see my counter-example with MJ. I don’t think MJ was worth 2 regular season wins, but following this type of logic would force you to take that position.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 18, 2012, 11:29 pm
          • It is actually a viable comparison; you just don’t want to admit it or are too narrow in your application and understanding of reasoning.

            As I stated, the loss of a player that consumes minutes and produces like LeBron is impossible to replace in the NBA.

            That loss requires much less talented players to try and make up that production and they cannot. After realizing the this reality, the Cavs were forced to make personnel maneuvers to try and reassemble for the future or for whatever other reason they rationalized.

            So, the Cavs may NOT have been as bad as a 19 win team without the shake-ups. What do you think they may have “achieved”? 25 wins? 28? Isn’t also possible that had the Cavs simply kept the roster in place without James and Oneal that they win LESS than 19 games?

            The simple removal of James from that roster does tell us that his supporting cast was pretty pedestrian.

            Bryant dealt with the same issues after the departure of Shaq (and others). The difference is that the Lakers picked up Odom and Butler; neither of them great, but the Lakers STILL had Bryant.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 19, 2012, 7:18 am
          • Gil, maybe the following details will make the before/after issue as it pertains to the Cavaliers more informative for you and others.

            If you examine the 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009, 2009/2010 teams fielded by the Cavaliers, you will find teams that averaged somewhere in the 60 wins territory per season.

            You will find the occasional player capable of being a starter on another NBA team (but not a Top 15 team), several NBA journeymen capable of being rotation players on sub-Top 15 teams, and lots of random parts that wouldn’t seem to be even capable of making another NBA roster. The degree of roster turnover was consistent both over time within the franchise and as compared to other franchises.

            And then you will find LBJ, the one significant constant in those rosters that changed every year during that four year period, without any appreciable decline in regular season record.

            So the issue isn’t just comparing the Cavaliers the season before LBJ left and the season after he left. There is much more data there that makes the analysis actually very informative, IMHO. It’s more like four + seasons of high-level team performance with one star and a mixed bag of league rejects, followed by two seasons of dismal performance without the one star in question.

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 8:02 am
          • So just so we’re clear here (both DS and Paulie) – you believe Lebron was worth around 40 wins to the 2009-10 Cavaliers team?

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 19, 2012, 8:08 am
          • I won’t opine for Paulie, but I think of it this way:

            Based on my analyses and observations over the past five or six season, I have every confidence that LeBron James could have been exchanged for the best player on the Charlotte Bobcats last year (Gerald Henderson? DJ Augustin?) and that exact same roster, otherwise unchanged, would have probably won something like 40 games in 2012 (instead of the 7 games they did win). Adjust that for 82 games and you have a record of maybe 49 wins and 33 losses.

            So the answer for me is yes. The guy has shown too many times that the teams he plays on just win at very, very high rates. And other than the last two seasons, they have been exceedingly terrible supporting casts of teammates. Frankly, he has played with pretty mediocre talent beyond DWade and Bosh the past two years, too.

            Maybe winning a bronze medal as the 19 year old star of the 2004 Olympic team is an issue for some. I see him blamed for that regularly, but it seems that those mocking him for that inferior achievement gloss over the fact that he was, in fact, 19 years old. Can anyone imagine a U.S. team that had nobody better than Anthony Davis winning the gold this year? A bronze medal? Any medal? Making it out of their elimination group? I cannot.

            Maybe getting swept by the Spurs in the 2007 Finals as a 22 year old superstar is an issue for others. For me, what he did to Detroit in the Conference Finals and the achievement of grinding that roster into the Finals is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of basketball. I’m confident that perhaps one other player in history might have been able to pull that one off, and he certainly couldn’t have done it as a 22 year old (I’m old enough to have seen the early Bulls squads).

            Maybe taking nine years to win a ring and suffering mental lapses in the 2009 Conference Finals and 2010 Finals are issues for still others. While these performances were unfortunate (especially 2010), it’s difficult to imagine how we blame him for the 2009 setback without really heaping a great deal of the blame on Dan Gilbert. But that’s just my opinion anyway.

            So, again, for me: Yes, I believe he’s worth roughly 40 games by himself.

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 9:48 am
          • I apologize for screwing up the years. I meant the 2010 Conference Finals (vs. Boston) and the 2011 Finals (vs. Dallas).

            I have no substantive issues with his 2009 playoff performances, though some seem to. To them, I say: check the roster, check the data, and let me know what more he could have reasonably been expected to do to offset the unmitigated meltdown by Mo Williams and the motley crew in his midst at that time. Even LBJ has performance limits.

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 9:54 am
          • @DS

            “So, again, for me: Yes, I believe he’s worth roughly 40 games by himself.”

            It’s not that simple. Things need to be put in perspective. Add LeBron to a 20-win team and you’ll probably have a 50-win team.

            But add LeBron to an already 50-win team and you’ll get 65-win team at best.

            Just putting in my 5 cents.

            Posted by doosiolek | August 19, 2012, 10:01 am
          • Doosiolek – agreed, you are 100% correct. There are undeniable mathematical limitations to my position as previously stated.

            I would have been better served by stating my position this way: LeBron James, on any team, no matter how bad, will lead that team to a minimum 60% winning percentage. I believe his floor, when healthy (with the worst talent mix around him), is approx. 50 games or so in an 82 game season. Ceiling (presumed with talent around him)? 67 games.

            That’s also one of the amazing facets of LBJ’s game – in a long regular season, whether you give him 100% scrubs or 100% all-stars, he is phenomenal at creating an outcome that is at or near the very top of the league. Prior to this 2012 season, he has experienced some struggles converting that regular season success into rings. Whether he is over that hump, we shall see.

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 10:11 am
          • @doosiolek

            Good point, there is a point of diminishing returns as the rest of the team gets better.

            But adding 40 wins, even to a 20 win team is wholly impossible in my world view, and I will have to agree to disagree with those who think otherwise.

            Take the 57 win 1992-93 Chicago Bulls team. Phil Jackson guessed that the loss of MJ would be worth 15 wins to that team. It ended up to be only 2 for various reasons, but you can see that even the greatest(or arguably greatest) player in NBA history was though to add 15 wins to his team, so I find it stretching believability that anyone, including Lebron, could be worth 2 and 2/3 times what Phil though MJ was worth to his team.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 19, 2012, 10:13 am
          • I think you have overstated Lebron’s value when you say he can bring any team to a minimum 60% winning percentage. But now that I know where you stand, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 19, 2012, 10:19 am
          • And if the implication is not clear, I also wholly disagree with the “bag of rejects” characterization of Lebron’s squads.

            Which is the main point, he had plenty of help in Cleveland, it’s only revisionist history that his teams were poor. If you can recall that 2009-10 season, the Cavs were big favorites to win it all (or at the very least make the Finals), and it was to be Lebron’s year. I even read articles saying the Cavs management had finally assembled a group around him such that Lebron had no more excuses.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 19, 2012, 10:35 am
          • Gil, that’s OK by me. People disagree about these kinds of issues all the time.

            By the way, I went back and reviewed the team data. I overstated the average season wins by the Cavaliers in the last four seasons of LBJ ball. It was approx. 55 wins per season, not 60+. Apologies for that overstatement.

            It was interesting (to me, at least), that in his last four seasons in Cleveland, the Cavaliers were 4 – 14 without LBJ in the lineup. That’s a 22% winning percentage

            And they were 218 – 92 with him in the lineup. That’s a 70% winning percentage. While I don’t see how one could degrade those rosters much further to drag the outcome below 60%, it’s a matter of conjecture based on data.

            And we can agree to disagree there.

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 10:39 am
          • Gil, we’ll have to disagree on that one, too.

            The Cavaliers were favored to win by some in 2009 and 2010 simply because of LeBron. It was nothing more than that, IMHO.

            Reviewing those rosters, favored to win by some or not, should enlighten all of us.

            The guy played with some real all-time scrubs. Moreover, I don’t see a single player on any of the teams he played with in Cleveland (at the production level they were performing at during that time (e.g., 40 year old Shaquille O’Neal isn’t to be confused with 29 year old Shaquille O’Neal) that was capable of being a starter on any other team that has been viewed as Top 15 over that period.

            Again, that’s my viewpoint.

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 10:45 am
          • Gil, can you give me a fuller sense of your views along those lines and what you base them on?

            Would you conclude that Kevin Durant had plenty of help this year? Was the OKC 2012 roster surrounding KD better, equal to, or worse than the Cleveland 2009 and 2010 rosters surrounding LBJ?

            Would you conclude that Chris Paul had plenty of help this year? Was the Clippers 2012 roster surrounding CP3 better, equal to, or worse than the Cleveland 2009 and 2010 rosters surrounding LBJ?

            Would you conclude that Kobe Bryant had plenty of help this year? Was the Lakers 2012 roster surrounding Kobe better, equal to, or worse than the Cleveland 2009 and 2010 rosters surrounding LBJ?

            Would you conclude that Paul Pierce had plenty of help this year? Was the Celtics 2012 roster surrounding Pierce better, equal to, or worse than the Cleveland 2009 and 2010 rosters surrounding LBJ?

            I’m trying to understand why you feel that the Cleveland rosters were in any way, shape or form competitive. I mean, can you name a single player on any of those Cleveland teams (2008/2009 or 2009/2010) that was or is capable of starting on any team in 2012 or prospectively in 2013?

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 11:14 am
          • DS,

            You have summed up my position pretty well.

            To Gil,

            No. I do not believe that James, in a vacuum, is adding 40 wins to any team.

            That said, my belief is that the ripple effects of losing a player with his minutes and production level has far reaching effects.

            the crux of the debate is: Were the Cavaliers (other than James) a combination of good players. The evidence to this is : NO

            Beyond that, the question is: Was the Cavaliers management such that they would properly utilize resources to surround James with personnel capable of winning? The answer, again: NO

            Unlike the Lakers, and Los Angeles, top talent will NOT travel to Cleveland to play unless EVERYTHING is in place for a title run. Why did Shaq go to the Cavs? To Boston? Shaq was looking at the easy ride to a title. (I believe that Shaq is very lazy)

            the Lakers had better management and provided better foundation for re-tooling by luring great talent in.

            Also, remember that the 1998-99 Bulls lost Pippen, Rodman, and Kerr as well as Jordan. That is 8808 minutes out of 19680 or 44.7% your needed minutes for a season. Jordan accounting for 3181 of them.

            With losing only Jordan, the Bulls stll win maybe 35 rather than 13 games, but they still are a poor team that won’t make the playoffs.

            Had the Cavs won 35 games in 2010-11 they still would have been a poor team and not in the playoffs.

            James made the difference enough for that group to compete for a championship. It is not an INDIVIDUAL failure if an otherwise poor team TEAM does not win a championship. Probably, more toward the contrary.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 19, 2012, 12:25 pm
          • I think the departure of Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers in the Summer of 2004 also illustrates the point that one player can significantly affect (positively or negatively) the future of a franchise by his mere presence.

            Remember that the record for LA in 2003/2004 was 56 wins – 26 losses. Following that season, the Lakers went from contending for titles every year to not even making the playoffs in one unfortunate offseason.

            But O’Neal wasn’t lost that offseason via free agency. He was traded to Miami for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant, etc. While it wasn’t an ideal equals-for-equals trade, there was enough there that the Lakers were not left empty-handed. In fact, the fruit of those trade assets have helped yield over the subsequent years key players including Pau Gasol (Caron Butler – Kwame Brown – Pau Gasol), Steve Nash (via Lamar Odom’s exception), and now Dwight Howard (poor record in 2004/2005 enabled Lakers to draft within the lottery, which is historically very unusual – #10 pick = Bynum). While other parts factored into these subsequent trades, it’s pretty remarkable that one “washed up big man” could manage to impact so favorably a franchise eight years after the fact.

            Anyway, the Lakers record the following year (2004/2005) was 34 wins – 48 losses (minus 22 wins). Besides O’Neal’s departure, contributors Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Derek Fisher and Rick Fox departed, too. Arguably partially offsetting those other losses was the fact that Kobe Bryant was performing at or nearing his peak levels during that tame frame.

            Meanwhile, the Miami Heat record was 42 wins – 40 losses in the year before Shaq arrived in South Beach (2003/2004). The next year (with Shaq, ‘Zo, and developing DWade, partially offset by those trade losses), the record was 59 wins – 23 losses (plus 17 wins).

            I believe that a reasonable argument may be made that had DWade not been injured in the Conference Finals vs. Detroit, the Miami Heat would likely have advanced to the Finals that year (as it stands, Detroit needed 7 games and Wade’s injury to advance). We’ll never know what might have happened, but we do know that San Antonio needed seven games to best the Pistons in the Finals that year.

            So the net effects of O’Neal leaving LA are as follows:

            The Lakers regress from perennial championship contender winning in the 55 – 65 games per year range, to complete non-factor winning an average of 40 or so games per year for the next three years.

            My sense of the impact: minus 20 games per season

            The Heat catapult from non-factors winning an average of 35 games or so over the previous three seasons to immediate championship contender, winning the ring in season two after barely missing out in season one.

            My sense of the impact: plus 15 – 20 games per season.

            Anyway, that’s just another example of these kinds of impacts. It goes without saying (I hope) that these kinds of impacts cannot just be generated by any star or superstar. IMHO, it really takes 1) a physically dominant big man (e.g., O’Neal in 2004, even as he had begun to fade into his decline); or 2) a wing player with tremendous diversity of talent (e.g., LBJ in 2010).

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 7:03 pm
          • DS,

            You have touched on a part of the equation that is very often overlooked or completely ignored; the Cavs received NOTHING in return for James.

            While no single player is worth 40 wins, the fact that they got nothing back only compounded 20 or so wins that James did mean to that team.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 19, 2012, 8:21 pm
          • Paulie,

            I’ll split the difference with you and we can settle on plus 30 wins for LBJ? Ha!

            I guess your peg of 20 wins for an effective superstar makes sense as Shaquille essentially took his 20 games from the Lakers (minus 22) to Miami (plus 19) in a fashion that jives pretty well with your estimate (avg. = 20.5).

            But it still leaves something to be explained in the case of the Cavaliers (61 – 19 = minus 42) / Heat (58 – 47 = plus 11) change of scenery for LBJ (avg. = 31.5).

            Of course, this is crude math at work here, but there are still some directional indicators to be observed, IMHO.

            You’re also right that the sign-&-trade deal that ultimately went down to effectuate his move from Cleveland to Miami hasn’t really enriched the Cavaliers yet … two late first rounders and two late second rounders.

            Oh, well – better than nothing, I guess. Cleveland’s been done dirtier anyway (see C. Boozer, 2004).

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 9:26 pm
          • DS makes a good point that I forgot to bring up – Lebron went from the winning 61 with the Cavs in 2009-10, to winning 58 with the Heat, who the year before won 47. I’m a bit tired to go research the discrepancies in the Heat roster from 09-10 to 10-11 outside of Lebron, but doesn’t that imply that the “supporting” Cavs were somewhat equivalent to the 09-10 Heat, if not better?

            Now I don’t believe that, but following this logic we’ve been talking about,if we’re using season to season differences to gauge a player’s impact, wouldn’t that follow that since the 09-10 Cavs record with Lebron was similar to the 10-11 Heat with Lebron, that the supporting casts should be similar in value?

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 19, 2012, 10:31 pm
          • DS,

            When a poor team with little talent starts off a physically demanding and grueling NBA season 8-24, you can bet that at least half the roster is going to mail it in.

            I would think that an exponent would need be applied to teams under the Shaq/LeBron formula to account for the expiated losing.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 19, 2012, 10:32 pm
          • Gil,

            This may be far too simple of a statement for your typically long winded, yet extremely narrow arguments, but. . .

            losing is easy to come by in the NBA.

            Far better rosters than the 2010-11 Cavs have lost more.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 19, 2012, 10:35 pm
          • When we debate whether and to what degree a player has plenty of help in a given season (and maybe even seek to compare this to the degree of help for another player in another season), might it be more productive to examine advanced stats such as Win Shares and PER?

            By way of example, could we observe LBJ’s Win Share and PER in the 2011/2012 season and then formulate composite values of these advanced stats for the remainder of the roster? And then draw a conclusion based on the delta? I’m a soft science person with decent stats experience in a research setting, so I don’t know the feasibility of these kinds of comparisons.

            Thoughts are welcome. There must be a reasonable way to settle the debate, at least for most people.

            Posted by DS | August 19, 2012, 11:24 pm
          • Paulie – huh? Not sure how your comment is related to the fact that the 2009-10 Cavs won about the same number of games as the 2010-11 Heat.

            DS – Please, no Win Shares or PER, they’re simply manipulations of the individual box score, which has allocation issues, as well as the problem that it never tells you when a player is playing in a manner that maximizes the team’s winning outcome.

            Some examples:
            1)A player can have the exact same individual box score as another player, and yet have a completely different impact on winning in both size and magnitude.

            2)Imagine someone took the Win Shares and PER of all of the countries participating in the Olympics games this year for basketball. I imagine you’d end up with some interesting results that would rank Paddy Mills above half of Team USA, and if all you had were those metrics you might also conclude that you’d rather have some Russian guy rather than James Harden on your team. In this case, the individual box stats would mislead you on the value of individual players simply because of the structure and roles of the players on each team.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 19, 2012, 11:59 pm
    • More diversion bs.

      Coach K Quotes on Kobe:

      “I really like Kobe a lot. He’s easy to coach. He buys into everything,” Krzyzewski once said. “He’ll do whatever he thinks he needs to do to bring about a championship. He’s proven it, and he wants to prove it again. There are lot of people who prove it once and never want to do it again. He’s uncommon. He wants to prove it over and over again. There is nothing bad about Kobe Bryant.”

      “You see what [Kobe] has accomplished, and what he still is accomplishing, and LeBron hasn’t done that yet,” Krzyzewski said. “Now can he? Yeah. When it’s all said and done, I think you’re talking about two of the top 10 players to ever play the game.”

      “In finally getting my opportunity to coach Kobe Bryant, I found that he is who I thought he was,” Krzyzewski writes in his new memoir.

      “One of the most talented basketball players in the history of the game and the unique kind of competitor that may come around only once in a leader’s lifetime.”

      Posted by Gil Meriken | August 16, 2012, 8:19 pm
    • When you’re in the business of discounting the first three rings, don’t leave out the fact that the 2000 and 2002 rings probably should belong to the Trailblazers and Kings (the Pacers and Nets would have been heavy dogs in the finals), like 2006 should have belonged to Dallas. Thanks, Tim Donaghy and David Stern, for screwing up the legitimacy of the NBA!

      Look at the fallout. Wade, Shaq and Webber would each be tied at one ring, Dirk and Rasheed Wallace 2, Kobe 3, and Pippen 7. Imagine how fundamentally differently we’d view each of these players had this (alleged) cheating not happened.

      Posted by lochpster | August 17, 2012, 12:35 pm
      • yes, i can co-sign on your thoughts here … the only nuance i might contemplate is whether almost any other 2 guard in the Top 15 at that position would have been preferable to Kobe in the ’04 Finals vs. Detroit … his destructive desire to (try to) impose his dominance on the team failed miserably and singularly resulted in the loss, plain and simple …

        i don’t buy the “Karl Malone was injured” or “Shaq ONLY averaged 27/11 on 60% shooting” b.s. … the fact is that Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince ABUSED the hubristic Kobe into play that lost the series and deprived Shaq of a second ring in the hypothetical …

        Posted by Ken | August 17, 2012, 1:26 pm
        • I’m very hesitant to ascribe a win or a loss to a single player. In the 2004 Finals, not a single Laker really played well other than Shaq. Obviously Kobe hurt the team pretty badly, but so did Malone’s injury and the fact that the remainder of their roster was woefully short on talent. There was certainly nobody even remotely capable of slowing down Chauncey Billups, who couldn’t have been licking his chops more coming into the series.

          Would any top 15 shooting guard have won the title with that team? I say no. The rest of their roster was terrible, and they really needed someone other than Shaq to share the workload. Would a smarter performance from Kobe won them the title? It’s certainly possible but no slam dunk. I also think it’s likely they would have had a much better shot had Malone been healthy or had they had a real point guard to match up with Billups. But the Pistons were a really good team.

          Posted by lochpster | August 17, 2012, 2:53 pm
      • LOCHPSTER…how do we know those teams would have won in the finals had they in fact reached it?

        As for the 2006, Miami won because of D-Wade mostly, he played unreal the entire series and he helped bring Miami back from the very brink by transforming into a player that all of the sudden couldn’t miss. Miami had a number of huge rally’s throughout the series and so did Dallas, it was a pretty even series. I don’t see that the “refs” won that series as its often claimed…I think that is just bitter Dallas fans for the most part.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | August 20, 2012, 9:40 am
        • Portland and Sacramento would have been huge favorites over the Pacers and Nets, respectively, but you never know. It could have been Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd with the extra hardware. As a Pacers fan through and through, I’d have loved to see that, but I doubt it would have happened.

          As for 2006, Phil Jackson’s certainly not a bitter Dallas fan, and he came up with this gem: “That Miami Finals really was a tough one to swallow. I think Wade averaged about 25 foul shots a game. You couldn’t even touch him. That was really tough to swallow and I think he understood there’s kind of a pecking order in this league and you keep your mouth shut at times.” Tracy McGrady also is on record as saying the series was rigged.

          In the 3 close games in the series, all of which Miami won by a combined 6 points, Wade shot 64 free throws and Dallas shot 74. Proof of great play? Depends who you ask. I won’t go through all the bad calls one by one-there’s an interesting article about some of them here:

          Then all the Donaghy stuff came out. Donaghy claimed he made bets against Dallas because the knew of the league’s anti-Cuban bias and a bias toward losing teams. Danny Crawford apparently bragged that the Mavs rarely won when he was a ref and, indeed, at the time the scandal broke the Mavs were 1-16 in playoff games refereed by Crawford, yet overall they had a winning record. That’s quite an unlikely coincidence.

          I know when I was watching the series I thought the officiating was a joke. All this other stuff just reinforced that. Where there’s this much smoke, there’s usually fire. But believe what you will.

          Posted by lochpster | August 20, 2012, 7:30 pm
          • I’m not sure Phil and Tracy McGrady are the kinds of sources who would make me feel better about leaping from dicey anecdotal evidence to near certitude … however, the Donaghy matter does reinforce the long-held suspicion that the NBA isn’t exactly indifferent when it comes to propping up the mythologies surrounding certain players who drive the merchandising gravy train …

            81 points, anyone?

            Lochpster, no hardware at all for Reggie, but I have always felt bad that he didn’t take the Celtics up on their offer to escape retirement for a ring chase with the Big 3 … had he done so and KG and Perk stayed healthy, a threepeat would have been very likely …

            Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 11:46 am
          • Reggie Miller could probably still run all day long, avoid any physical contact, and loft those beautiful jumpers for an NBA team TODAY with that “physique” of his … even as he nears 50 years old!

            He would have to ditch the league-mandated slobbering over the players that drive merchandise sales and recover his animus toward them, but it can be done …

            Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 11:54 am
          • On the issue of FT disparities, try the hallowed “out scored the Mavs by himself through 3Q!” and “81points!!!” games …

            In the former, Kobe had 25 FT attempts through the end of the 3Q when he left the game; the Mavs had 24 FT attempts during that same period (on their home floor) …

            In the latter, Kobe had 20 FT attempts in the game, including 13 FT attempts in the runaway 4Q alone (with 7 FT attempts in the final 2 1/2 minutes when the lead had been at 15 + points for many minutes by that time) … the Raptors had 27 FT attempts for the entire game …

            The fact is that the game was completely settled by the 6 minute mark of the 4Q … the gratuitous 20 points from that point on made an otherwise impressive 61 point game look sad and petty in the grand scheme of things (a barely average team placating its irascible star by enabling him to play NBA2K-style against a woeful opponent) …

            Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 1:04 pm
  10. the iteration herein of the age old question of “who ya got” (sic) is less interesting to me than it would otherwise be if it was it was in its true “apples to apples” format … which NBA player, current or past, would you draft first for one season to be played during their individual “prime”?

    i got MJ on that one, with LeBron, Magic Johnson, and then perhaps Tim Duncan surprisingly in hot pursuit …

    the MJ, LeBron and Magic selections shouldn’t require much explanation … but for me, there’s just something completely organic and exceptional about Tim Duncan’s career … three finals MVPs, the teams were constructed primarily through the draft, supplemented with fairgame castoffs from other teams …

    Posted by Ken | August 17, 2012, 1:54 pm
    • I love the way you asked this question. It’s a tough choice between MJ, Wilt and Kareem for me. I, personally, would take Wilt at #1. I struggled with early 90s MJ and early 70s Kareem, but I think I’d take early Kareem by just a hair, then MJ at #3. After the top three, I think there’s a slew of guys you could make a pretty compelling argument for, but I think I’d probably follow with Lebron and Shaq.

      Posted by lochpster | August 17, 2012, 3:34 pm
      • 1. MJ
        2. Lebron
        3. Wilt
        4. Kareem
        5. Magic
        6. Bird
        7. Oscar

        Not saying that Lebron is the second greatest player of all time, just saying that in today’s game he can use his skill set to the max. With the centers I listed I wonder if teams would hack them to force them to shoot FT’s instead of getting easy baskets.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | August 18, 2012, 7:38 am
        • Teh importance of a great post player is paramount to winning in the NBA.

          I would have to pick Wilt #1 and then Kareem.

          I would also likely take Olajuwan, Robinson and Shaq over the rest.

          I can’t teach or coach size, and those players I listed not only had great size but also great skill.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 18, 2012, 9:52 am
          • Couldn’t agree more, Paulie. I almost had the stones to put Robinson over Shaq but couldn’t pull the trigger. I’m glad you did :)

            Posted by lochpster | August 18, 2012, 11:00 am
  11. To answer the topic question of “who would I draft first today?”

    The answer would be LeBron James. The complete physical package. He can score and facilitate, rebound and both defend within a team context and also on a man on man basis.

    Durant would be second. A fluid effortless and inspiring player to watch; I interpret that his team really enjoys playing with him. He is selfless and accountable and hungry.

    His only deficiency is on defense, but it is not out of laziness or indifference (Carmelo Anthony)

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 18, 2012, 10:32 am
  12. Paulie, I completely recognize the historical importance of a great post player in winning championships in the NBA …

    Unfortunately, the league hasn’t had a traditional Center dominate the landscape since Shaq (circa 1999 – 2004) … it seems that the game favors raw speed and athletic ability now, not “back to the basket skills”, “footwork”, or even proficient rebounding. And there is no indication that we’re going to see a return of this kind of dominant big man going forward. That’s why Kareem, Wilt, and Bill Russell ar all top 10 players for me all-time, but none of them would likely be in my top 10 selections to build a team around today …

    Bynum is a pauper’s Shaq and Dwight is a pauper’s Hakeem … these guys don’t move the needle in arguing or a guy in the pivot as the man to build around in today’s game …

    Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 12:08 pm
  13. You need to really re-think you strategy to team building.

    The question as to Wilt being available in the draft is that ALL players form history are likewise available.

    This is not a question about present day style. Yet, having said that the biggest reason for having the dominate post presence is NOT offense, rather defense. The ability to defend your basket is paramount as it allows other wing players greater freedom on defense to double team.

    That defense COMBINED with a offensive skill set is what sets the others apart.

    In a historical draft, I could gather plenty of forwards and guards to complement the big guy, but as stated above, I can’t coach or “strategize” size.

    the league hasn’t seen a “traditional center” in some time because they don’t come along that often; hence the even greater need to increase their value.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 12:51 pm
  14. I hear you, Paulie … my question, though, is the other side of your point that Wilt’s dominant size cannot be taught and would be an advantage today even more so BECAUSE the league lacks competent big men presently … maybe Wilt’s demonstrated dominance derived from him playing against a much small player, on average, than he would even see today at the power forward position …

    Kareem, I can see thriving today to some degree because his game was less power, more finesse … Wilt, I’m not sure his combination of skills and talents would be prized at the top of a draft (and I know from reading your past posts that you are very, very thoughtful about Wilt’s role in he history of the game and the “transferability” of his game to today’s standards) …

    In an “all hands on deck” draft, it’s true that Wilt would be available … I’m just not convinced that his 1960’s basketball skills, durability, and ability to stay out of foul trouble (and high jumping prowess!) would stand up to the hyper-athletic standards today …

    Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 1:15 pm
  15. you’re NOT convinced that a player with Wilt’s combination of size AND athletic skill would stand up?

    That is a very confusing statement that you need to explain.

    Wilt was the total physical package; the grace and elegance of David Robinson and strength and power of Shaq.

    How, exactly, would a player with those traits NOT be valuable today?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 1:59 pm
  16. I actually don’t think I alluded to an assessment of Wilt’s “athletic abilities” …

    I’m with you as it relates to SIZE … I’m just not sure that enough was demonstrated on the basketball court or the high jump pit to get me to the “work class athlete” marker … clearly, he demonstrated dominant physical behavior in competitions with HIS PEERS … for the same reason Bill Walton’s 21 / 22 drubbing of 6’3 Larry Finch in the 1973 national championship game isn’t as impressive to me as it is to others … Jim Brown was also as dominant in Football and other sports in his day … could he make an NFL roster if you time-machined him from the 1960s to 2012? I’m surmising that the answer is “no” …

    Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 2:11 pm
  17. Also, I haven’t actually taken the position that Wilt would not be valuable today …

    I simply don’t value what he would bring to the table in 2012, freshly time-machined from 1962 as a 25 year old, beyond the contributions that I believe I would get fom Michael Jordan circa early 1990s or LBJ circa NOW or even Tim Duncan circa early 2000s …

    Besides, in a two player draft … we flip a coin, I would take MJ, you would take Wilt, I would take LeBron, you would take Kareem, then I would take Magic and I’m assuming you would take Mikan, right? After I took Timmy, you would take Olajuwon, then I would take Shaq and you would round out your starting five with David Robinson …

    LeBron James
    Tim Duncan
    Michael Jordan
    Magic Johnson


    5 Centers

    I know this distills your response into an unreasonable concoction, but I wanted to go through the exercise to consider the broader implications of “team” vs. “size” …

    Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 2:28 pm
    • Ken,

      You fail to understand that someone is actulaly capapble of logical applications and understanding of team construct.


      I would take the BEST of the centers first (Wilt, Kareem, Robinson, Olajuwan)

      THEN, I would seek to COMPLIMENT that player with others.

      Mikan was irrelevant in the league after the rules were changed. Jabbar and Chamberlain thrived DESPITE the rules being altered because of them.

      Considering that I have Duncan as #7 all time, I doubt that I would take Mikan over him or Jordan, Bird, Magic, West, Robertson, Pettit, Baylor, Bryant, Barkley, or about 60 other guys. I would take Jerry Lucas well before Mikan. I would take Chris Webber before Mikan. Hell, I would take Detleph Schremph over Mikan.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 2:44 pm
  18. Ken,

    Are you HIGH???

    Jim Brown was (and is) one of the five greatest athletes that the USA has ever seen. Is there something that Jim Brown wasn’t?



    Built like a brick house? (6′ 2″ 232 lbs with a 29″ waistline)



    Have you seen this guy????

    Those statements are WAY WAY off.

    Wilt and Jim Brown dominated because they were physically superior; no passing of time has changed that.

    to offer a persective: Bullet Bob Hayes won Olympic Gold in 1964 with a 100m time of 10.06. This year, Bolt ran a 9.63. I understand the difference of .43 seconds in a short sprint is stark, but the gap is 48 years.

    Given that, I doubt that sports with require such athletic diversity, such as football or basketball would see even that streak of a difference.

    If Dwight Howard is dominate today, then why wouldn’t Wilt be? Wilt is listed at 7′ 1″ and 275; Howard is listed at 6′ 11″ and 240. Wilt was also faster, stronger and far more graceful.

    I find your conclusion that Wilt could not play today and be THE dominate force in the league as really ignorant and naive.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 2:36 pm
    • By the way, Paulie … I completely respect your views on Wilt … if this were taking on sacred cow dimensions (e.g., generally any and all debates with fanboys intoxicated by the Kobe mythology), I would obviously be less diplomatic …

      To be clear re: my views: in the BIg 3, Wilt, Henry Aaron (or Willie Mays for many), and Jim Brown are among the iconic athletes from the 1960s / 1970s who deserve their places in the pantheon of Athletics … those places are not diminished (in my book) by the mere suggestion that Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, and Barry Sanders were more than capable of joining them there (and perhaps even improving on how they got there) …

      Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 3:08 pm
      • There is a difference in having others JOIN you or ADVANCE your trail, and supplanting you.

        The idea that Barry Bonds and Barry Sanders are in the SAME class as Jim Brown and Wilt is quite different from believing that Jamal Lewis, Chris Johnson, Kendrick Perkins, and Serg Ibaka would PREVENT them from excelling.

        That is what you were implying with your “time machine” musing.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 4:32 pm
      • Funny, IF in Ken’s point of view, you are a “Kobe fan boy” if you believe Kobe to favorably compare with MJ and/or top 10 all time and/or the top player in the league anytime in his career, then the following must be “fanboys intoxicated by the Kobe mythology”:

        Bill Simmons
        Steve Kerr
        B.J. Armstrong
        Avery Johnson
        Kevin Love
        Steve Nash
        Shaquille O’Neal
        Eddie Johnson
        Alvin Gentry
        many others

        Yup, these guys are Kobe lovers, or else they must be part of the vast conspiracy to pump up Kobe (sarcasm, in case it doesn’t translate).

        This is not to say that there are not players who don’t think as highly of Kobe (notably Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, and many others) but it directly contradicts Ken’s myopic view that you must be a “Kobe supporter”, or have some agenda if you think he’s in the same league as Ken’s heroes.

        Posted by Gil Meriken | August 21, 2012, 8:02 pm
    • AND< with Jim Brown,

      We MUST give him BIG points for his love scene with Raquel Welch in "100 Rifles"

      Hubba hubba!

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 4:48 pm
  19. Yeah, a lot to digest there, but I’ll keep it as brief as I can (a tall order, to be sure) …

    The bottom line is that I don’t believe that Wilt would be the dominant player in basketball today if he had access to my time machine (best center in basketball today? Probably); and I feel the same about Jim Brown in football … I think Wilt’s famed ability to avoid fouls would not stand out in today’s game and I think Jim Brown would not have to worry about pretending he was injured returning to huddles after Ronnie Lott, Lawrence Taylor, or Ray Lewis spent some time with him at the point of attack …

    Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 2:49 pm
    • I doubt LT would hve ever tackled Brown.

      Taylor was a great player, but his legacy as a “bone crunsher” is steeped in false perception; LTY was a great pass rusher, but not such a great LB.

      Butkus 119 G, 22 INT, 27 FR,
      Hendricks 205 G, 26 INT, 16 FR
      Lewis 221 G, 31 INT, 19 FR
      Taylor 180 G, 9 INT, 11 FR.

      LT recorded a lot of sacks, but those weren’t kept until 1981, which was LT’s first year.

      Brown played against plenty of hard hitters. I really doubt Ronnie Lott would have scared him. I doubt he would scare him today.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 10:37 pm
  20. Paulie, what would you expect, production-wise, from 25 year old Wilt playing against 25 year old Andrew Bynum in a fictional game today? How about against a 29 year old Shaq?

    I ask because I think Dwight Howard is far from a Wilt analog in modern basketball … how would he do vs. Centers of similar size?

    Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 2:57 pm
    • I would need more infomration than that oversimplified context.

      Regular season ro playoff?

      Home or road?

      How many days off for each player?

      Who else is on the roster?

      Typically, tow great players tend to marginalize each other.

      I doubt either would drop 40 points or grab 30 boards.

      I do believe that Wilt (and his team) would fare better, especially as more games pass. Wilt simply had too much skill and athletic superiority.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 21, 2012, 4:36 pm
      • I think this process involves truly excessive over-thinking, but here goes:

        one regular season

        neutral court

        3 days off for each player

        full court, 12 minute quarters

        remaining roster: four random dudes from the YMCA

        I would expect that there would be 50 possessions per team; I would expect that the ball would funnel into the pivot 70% of the possessions.

        In Wilt vs. Andrew Bynum, I would expect that 25 y/o Wilt would probably outplay Bynum, shooting 60% to 50%. Wilt would score 42 points and grab 22 boards. Bynum would score 35 points and grab 18 boards.

        In Wilt vs. Shaquille O’Neal, I would expect that 25 y/o Wilt would struggle to outplay 29 y/o Shaq … Shaq would probably shoot 60% to 55% for Wilt. Wilt would score 39 points and grab 20 rebounds. Shaq would score 42 points and grab 20 boards.

        All conjecture, but still …

        And I get your point that, while the top players today might be competitive with all-time greats from days past, that shouldn’t be confused that good, not great, players today would also be competitive when they had their turn on the court / field …

        Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 5:38 pm
      • “maybe Wilt’s demonstrated dominance derived from him playing against a much small player, on average, than he would even see today at the power forward position”

        False. The average center during Wilt’s era was 6’10, and there were numerous notable 7 footers during the era. Not all that different from today, when only 13 of 30 NBA teams trot out 7 foot centers, the most physically imposing center in the game is 6’11, and Roy Hibbert is a matchup nightmare at 7’2″.

        “I’m just not convinced that his 1960?s basketball skills, durability, and ability to stay out of foul trouble (and high jumping prowess!) would stand up to the hyper-athletic standards today”

        I’m not sure the hyper-athletic standards of today would stand up to Wilt. Wilt was the greatest athlete in NBA history. His purported max of 525 lbs is the best in NBA history, and he was observed benching 465 at age 59. Shaq never lifted that much during his prime. Wilt’s fabled leap allowed him to dunk on a 12 foot rim (making his vertical greater than Jordan’s), and his 10.9 second 100 yard dash would make him one of the fastest basketball players in history, as well. There’s not a center in NBA history that Wilt couldn’t outmuscle, out jump and outrun.

        And if his offensive repertoire didn’t have quite the beauty or finesse of a Hakeem or Kareem, it was certainly more refined than that of a Shaq or Moses Malone (let alone Bynum or Howard). I just don’t see what part of his game doesn’t translate.

        Drop a 25 year old Wilt in today’s game and he leads the league in scoring, rebounds, likely blocks, and is one of the most efficient offensive players and the most devastating defensive presence in the league despite being denied the advances of modern science and medicine. I just don’t see how a reasonable person could conclude otherwise.

        Posted by lochpster | August 21, 2012, 7:08 pm
        • As Lochp stated, Wilt was an athletic marvel, he had it all: size, speed, strength, agility, and endurance.

          Posted by Gil Meriken | August 21, 2012, 8:07 pm
        • In honor of the Big Dipper’s recent birthday, I will make like most of his opponents back in the day and capitulate to the inevitable … I was offbase in failing to truly appreciate Wilt’s role in history …

          Posted by Ken | August 22, 2012, 10:43 am
        • Lochpster,

          One small correction. : )

          “Wilt was the greatest athlete in NBA history.”

          Indeed but Wilt was also one of the greatest athletes in US history period. When you look at his college track career as well, his atleticism was mind boggling.

          To your point, a 10.9 100 yard dash by a 7fter in the 70s? that’s absurd.

          Posted by ks | August 22, 2012, 3:08 pm
  21. I meant “one regular season game” …

    Also, the rebound numbers might be light …

    Posted by Ken | August 21, 2012, 5:42 pm
  22. the NBA channel is honoring Kobe’s birthday with a marathon of his greatest performances today …

    i realized in watching some of the marathon that even i had suffered some brainwashing at the hands of the mythology surrounding this guy’s career …

    his game at 19 years old, at 22 years old, and at 25 years old … wasn’t in any way on par with LeBron’s at those chronological milestones … not even close and really inferior across the board … we’ll have a chance to compare both at 28 years old after LeBron’s 2012 / 2013 season (Kobe “led” his team as a 28 y/o to a 42 – 20 record and a first round exit from the playoffs) …

    and then i enjoyed a hearty chuckle when i read an article that highlighted the all-star players that Kobe has played with in his career (all within 3 years of an all-star appearance) …

    1. Shaquille O’Neal
    2. Eddie Jones
    3. Nick Van Exel
    4. Dennis Rodman
    5. Glen Rice
    6. Horace Grant
    7. Ron Harper
    8. Gary Payton
    9. Karl Malone
    10. Pau Gasol
    11. Ron Artest
    12. Andrew Bynum
    13. Steve Nash
    14. Dwight Howard
    + more?

    That doesn’t even mention the players he had as teammates who were not all-stars, but very good players nonetheless:

    1. Robert Horry
    2. Derek Fisher
    3. Cedric Ceballos
    4. Ron Harper
    5. Rick Fox
    6. John Salley
    7. Brian Shaw
    8. Lamar Odom
    9. Caron Butler
    10. Antawn Jamison
    + more?

    can we incinerate the last of the preposterous arguments that LeBron has had as much talent to work with as Kobe? (and frankly, Kobe has done less through 9 seasons, esp. as far as I’m concerned) …

    Carlos Boozer
    Zydrunas Ilgauskus
    Anderson Varejao
    Mo Williams
    Antawn Jamison
    Shaquille O’Neal (40 y/o)
    Dwyane Wade
    Chris Bosh
    Udonis Haslem
    Mike Miller
    Shane Battier
    Ray Allen
    Rashard Lewis

    Abysmal … the only two players that LeBron has played with that belong in the class of the Lakers’ all-stars that Kobe played with are Wade and Bosh … period.

    Posted by Ken | August 23, 2012, 4:41 pm
    • From

      There is an impressive list of players–ranging from the sublime (future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal) to the ridiculous (legend in his own mind Smush Parker) who played for at least two teams and had the best season of their careers while playing alongside Bryant… see link for list

      Posted by Gil Meriken | August 24, 2012, 8:43 am
      • The article you porvide a link to is really lame.

        A mostly verbal account form Bryant as to how he was a “mentor” to Andrew Bynum.

        Though I am certain that Bryant BELIEVES he is a great teammate, mentor, husband and person, I doubt those that he has “mentored” share that belief.

        I always marvel why anyone ever bothers to ask an athlete any question about anything.

        As to the “point” that players enjoyed their “best” years while a teammate of Bryant’s is only conjecture and likely largely incidental.

        Shaq was already great before joining the Lakers, as was Gasol, Odom, etc.

        This article suggests that the presence of Bryant transformed otherwise pedestrian talent and due to his presence unleashed the greatness that lay within.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 24, 2012, 10:15 am
        • If it’s incidental, then why do we see it over and over and over? It’s not one-time occurrence, but there’s a consistent pattern throughout his entire career. Odom and Gasol weren’t great before joining the lakers, but they then had their best years of their careers with kobe. And gasol joined the lakers at an age where players don’t improve that much anymore normally. Friedman’s article doesn’t follow your illogical nonsense, thank goodness for that, obviously you can’t understand it, as it puts kobe in a good light.

          Posted by boyer | August 24, 2012, 4:03 pm
          • Really? Why is Gasol great now, but not with Memphis?

            Gasol with Memphis

            476 Games
            3324/6533 .508 FG%
            2301/3152 .730 FT%
            18.8 ppg/8.6 rpg/3.1 apg

            Gasol with Lakers

            320 games
            2292/4259 .538 FG%
            1303/1639 .794 FT%
            18.4 ppg/10.1 rpg/3.5 apg

            Gasol has been more efficient with LA, but, perhaps playing with a crappy Memphis team (227-304 with Gasol) explains the slight increase in production? Seems that Gasol is essentially the same player with LA that he was with Memphis.

            Of course having Bryant on one’s team helps that player. but the same is true for Bynum, Odom and Fisher.

            Perhaps it was Odom that made Gasol better? Or Fisher? There is no evidence that Bryant alone helped anyone, ever.

            That article implies that Bryant was SOLELY responsible for every player getting better and that is simply not true.

            I would wager the real factor for Gasol’s slight increase is simply joining a better and deeper team. The same is true for Odom. Odom also missed a large number of games from 2001-2003 (86); that also likely had an effect. Both Odom and Gasol benefited from staying healthy AND playing on a very good roster.

            Bryant was PART of that roster, but so were Odom, Gasol. Bynum, Fisher, etc.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 25, 2012, 1:04 am
      • I’m violating my own guidelines here, but whatever …

        1. If Smush Parker was so “ridiculous”, please explain how his overall statistical efforts during his two Laker seasons would instantly qualify him as one of the top 10 – 15 players that LeBron James has ever played with …

        2. Notwithstanding the fact that everyone already knows you downplay or deny the significance of stats when it suits your defense of Kobe and suddenly resort to stats to support your convoluted logic when you seem to think there is support for the Kobe crusade, it’s still amusing to see you toss around “best season of their career” gibberish …

        UNLIKE YOU, I DO FIND VALUE IN STATS, conventional and advanced … as a proponent of stats, I want you to know that your pathetic retreat to stats is especially laughable because it fails entirely to consider the age of the player and point in their career … everyone knows that Shaq had one of his worst seasons when he played with LeBron; are we to conclude that LeBron made him worse? If so, why did Kobe wreck Karl Malone and Gary Payton’s careers?

        3. Anybody who has seen as many Laker games as even the average fan knows that Kobe’s game for his first six years in the league was dominated by him calling with his incessant “whoo hoo” and flailing his arms to call for the ball EVERY SINGLE TIME DOWN THE FLOOR … you cannot make anyone better when you’re orienting your body and screaming for the ball at all times … in fact, it creates 4 on 5 offense … and he has been, at best, a poor teammate since then … nobody likes to play with somebody who takes all the credit, deflects all the blame, and defiantly puts his own production (“I eat first”) over the good of he team …

        4. There are correlation and causation issues that discredit this kind of argument anyway …

        Again, this is pathetic enough that I don’t need to respond, but …

        Posted by Ken | August 24, 2012, 2:26 pm
        • Ken, you use data for a purpose that is incompatible with the data.

          I’ll quote this article, which seems to describe many basketball fans:

          “The interpretant applies the data to one or more uses, which achieve objectives the interpretant has. The interpretant is independent of the data. It understands the data and can put it to use. But if the interpretant misunderstands the data, or puts it to an inappropriate use, that is hardly the fault of the data, and cannot constitute a data quality problem.”

          The author of the Kobe link alludes to some basic stats to compare to the player’s own performance. This is a somewhat legitimate use, although it has it’s contextual problems, and I don’t even like to do it. I didn’t write the article.

          What you and many others do is compare stats of DIFFERENT players. This is not an appropriate use of individual box score data. And it renders inappropriate any uses of models based on them, if they are being used to evaluate the worth of individual players.

          Your discounting for Kobe’s value as a winning player is obviously influenced by a heavy personal bias. And your attitude is wretched. Please get a grip on reality, Ken.

          Posted by Gil Meriken | August 24, 2012, 3:47 pm
          • Gil, will you please explain exactly how you evaluate players?

            It’s clear from your comments that you have very definitive (maybe immutable?) opinions regarding player A being better / more productive / more clutch / more of a leader / more of a winner, etc. than player B, who is less of those things than player C.

            It’s also clear that you don’t seem to place much emphasis on box score statistics, and that championships seem to be the one objective measure that you value in drawing your conclusions. I have also read posts from you where you have indicated that free throw percentage and minutes played have some kind of special importance for you.

            Can you just explain, once and for all, the specific methodology behind your assessment process(es)? I’m completely serious here – it’s really, really difficult to understand whether you just have your opinion and it’s based on nothing more than that, or if you are using some type of objective, rules-driven process that can be used to compare any two players to one another.

            Just trying to understand where you’re coming from.


            Posted by DS | August 24, 2012, 10:06 pm
          • DS – As I’ve written with Paulie – no, I’m not using an objective rules-driven process, but it’s clear the “objective rules-driven process” based upon individual box score stats is not producing results any better (or worse, really) than you would get using a subjective, case-by-case process.

            The “superstar leading a team to multiple championships” is only one test, and a limited one for sure, but it’s a test that does not give you false positives. If you are a superstar that has led a team to multiple championship, you are a great player, no ifs, ands, or buts. If you haven’t, then it doesn’t mean you are or aren’t great, it’s simply silent. It’s a very reliable one-way test.

            Free throws and minutes hold no special importance for me, they only have different characteristics than your typical box score stats:

            – Free throws are as context-free as you are going to get in the box score, as they’re taken the under the same conditions (save for pressure situations), but they’re all taken from a minimum of 15 feet, and they are all unguarded. So it’s easy to see that those are comparable.
            – Minutes don’t suffer the allocation issues of all the box score stats, a player owns all of his minutes, but he may not own all of the points, rebounds, steals, assists, etc that are recorded in the box score (those fall in the spectrum from 100% credit to the team all the way to what 100% credit to the player, although the box score implies the latter).

            Remember, “objective, rules-driven process” is not equivalent to “accurate”, or even better than no method at all.

            The objective rules-drive process is only better if your method is sound. For example a good clinical trial will generate great results vs observation, since they are carefully controlled, and the data is appropriate for the purposes they are using it for.

            Thanks for being civil. It’s refreshing to see on the internet.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 24, 2012, 11:25 pm
          • OK, thanks for that explanation; I find it very helpful.

            Do you think the “superstar leading a team to multiple championships” concept translates as a binary test to regular season results, too? (i.e., a superstar’s team leads the league in wins for multiple seasons). I’m thinking it might translate as I don’t think the division, conference, varied opponents, etc. details would matter as a team that wins the championship faces a unique path to the ring anyway.

            I have tried in the past to devise a pure, metric-based approach to player evaluation based upon many of the various areas of production, to no avail.

            Posted by DS | August 24, 2012, 11:45 pm
          • DS- That is something to consider.

            Before we look at players who have led teams to the top reg season records, here is the list of multiple Finals MVPs since the inception of the award in 1969:

            Willis Reed

            It’s a short list (and makes me want to look into Willis Reed), and you can see why the “multiple title” test is iron-clad. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t do very well in telling you who’s better relative to each other, only that whoever is on this list is automatically an all-time great.

            Now for the list of players who have led their team to the best record multiple times. Let’s take the last ten years top team, and who led them:

            2011-12 Bulls (Rose) & Spurs (Duncan/Parker)
            2010-11 Bulls (Rose)
            2009-10 Cavs (Lebron)
            2008-09 Cavs (Lebron)
            2007-08 Celtics (KG)
            2006-07 Mav (Dirk)
            2005-06 Pistons (Billups?)
            2004-05 Suns (Nash)
            2003-04 Pacers (Jermaine O’Neal?)
            2002-03 Spurs (Duncan)& Mavs (Dirk)

            So the list of guys leading to multiple reg season top records is: Rose, Lebron, Dirk, Duncan

            While Rose and Dirk are great, I think their inclusion invalidates this test for “all-time” status.

            Further, just as a the goal of a player is not to accumulate the highest win shares or any other stat, the goal of the team is not to have the best reg season record; it is to win the title.

            And if you notice the names on this list, while the criticism of the “RINGZZZ” argument(as it is commonly mocked) is that it is a reflection of the team, leading a team to the best reg season record appears to actually be MORE of a full team achievement than winning a title (which is generally superstar driven – makes sense, as rotations tighten up in the playoffs vs the reg season).

            Posted by Gil Meriken | August 25, 2012, 1:32 am
    • It should be noted that one of the games NBA TV chose to highlight Kobe’s career exploits yesterday featured the following stat line for Shaq …

      44 points | 21 rebounds (11 offensive) | 4 assists | 7 blocks

      He also blocked JWill’s critical shot in the final 24 seconds and made numerous other crucial plays to cover for Kobe’s usual airball & turnover show down the stretch ….

      I had hoped to see some of those MANY clutch buzzer beaters to win those most important playoff games from Kobe over he years … wait, what’s that you say, hippocampus? There are none of those in the playoffs, much less the Finals? They are all meaningless regular season games? Oh, how I have been duped!

      Posted by Ken | August 24, 2012, 2:55 pm
      • Gil,

        You omitted Jordan form the list of multiple Finals MVP’s.

        Willis Reed was a great player, but he was also on a GREAT team.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 25, 2012, 10:23 am
      • A fatal (to me, anyway) flaw, of limiting your search by using team results or Championship results is that we can tend to overlook or outright ignore the luck factor.

        A player’s TEAM will be matched up with another very good to great team and often the difference in winning and losing can come down to random bounces, errant rebounds, questionable calls, or even an injury.

        As with any search, it is a fairly decent broad approach to BEGIN the quest to find the best, but it should not serve as the destination.

        I would also disagree with your assessment of Nowitzki as an all time great. I have Dirk in the top 30 players of all time, and I think that is deserved.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 25, 2012, 10:29 am
        • I am happy to report that NBA teams are progressing into the natural evolution of statistics, using multi-camera tracking to records statistics that document events well beyond the current box score, even incorporating spatial data.

          I only hope someday we the public can have access to this data without having to pay out the nose.

          A model based on this type of data would have exponentially more merit than anything based on the primitive current models.

          Of course, it would suffer from the same weaknesses any good statistical model has, but at least the source data would make sense as a basis for a basketball strategic model.

          Posted by Gil Meriken | September 2, 2012, 4:50 pm
          • This is certainly an interesting and welcome addition to the fund of basketball knowledge and analysis. What I fail to understand, however, is why you feel that this specific form of data is so much more valuable than all of the other data forms we have accrued and developed to date. Could you please expand on your thoughts?

            Posted by lochpster | September 3, 2012, 1:53 pm
          • I concur.

            I agree that the new data may very well offer us supportive evidence that players like Doug Christie, Bruce Bowen, Shawn Marion, Nate McMillan, Mo Cheeks, Jason Kidd and John Salley have tremendous value and contributed to winning well beyond their rudimentary stats.

            Yet, this new viewpoint may ALSO offer us evidence that Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and Jerry Stackhouse contributed less to winning than their raw totals would intuit.

            Are you thus willing to accept what this data reveals as the absolute gospel?

            If so, why?

            If not, why?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 3, 2012, 3:09 pm
          • Of course I would not accept as “gospel” the interpretations of the new video-based data, but they would have a whole lot more credibility than interpretations based on the rudimentary box score.

            This has never been about what model makes Kobe look the best, it’s about what models make sense. And it has never made sense to me to base basketball analysis on the buckets created by the box score. The events as reported in the article are 100x more minute and detailed than box score data (but not too minute – as an extreme, going to the molecular level you would LOSE useful information).

            Box score models claim that the box score is sufficient to value players, since they have found acceptable correlations, but I have never accepted this because it doesn’t make sense on an intuitive level. I also know that it’s easy to create a “statistically significant” by using p-values inconsistent with the data.

            It just never made sense to use the box score to judge a player (even if only for offense).

            Posted by Gil Meriken | September 3, 2012, 8:24 pm
          • why would this new device have MORE credibility than the result data?

            I could see how it may be more embellishing or a bit more illuminating than the rudimentary box score data, but I don’t wee how it could be more credible, as you believe it will be.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 3, 2012, 8:50 pm
          • It doesn’t amke sense to track who scores the points or who created plays that lead to points?

            I am more than willing to concede that the information is only a rough sketch fo the truth, ut when analyisn a players career, especailly longer ones, it seems to me that the dots can be easily connected.

            I would agree that each player and team creates a unique dynamic in of themselves, and we presently lack any type of measurement that tells us just how great of a contribution Pippen was, or Bill Walton, or how the change of teams had a negative impact upon Lamar Odom.

            What this new device will NOT tell us, is who has had the greatest careers.

            That will still be largely based upon combinations of data and interpretation of values.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 3, 2012, 9:01 pm
          • “This has never been about what model makes Kobe look the best, it’s about what models make sense.”

            With all due respect Gil, it is hard to believe your criteria aren’t ad hoc explanations for cherry picking criteria that make Kobe look great. To point:

            1) Free throw shooting-Could we find a less valuable measure of a player’s ability to score efficiently? Yet among standard shooting metrics, this is the only one where Kobe shows well, and it’s the only one you use. Why? Ease of measurement, apparently, rather than actual value.

            2) “most or second most minutes in a playoff run in the last 30 years that culminated in that ring”

            This certainly appears gerrymandered to include all of Kobe’s 5 championship seasons, whether or not he was playing Shaq’s caddy. I’ve never heard of someone else use this, and for good reason.

            3) Multiple finals MVPs-Kobe makes the cut. I don’t really buy this criteria, but I can see how someone would. What I don’t get is how somebody can be into this and free throw shooting, given the sheer volume of confounders with a finals MVP award.

            4) Spatial analytics-Of course, the initial spatial analytics report came out in March and showed that Kobe had the largest shooting range in the NBA and had more high-efficiency shooting spots than anyone in the league other than Nash and Ray Allen. Given that, I’m not surprised you’re a big fan.

            Now I can’t read your mind, and I don’t know if you really are doing this or not, but Occam’s razor leads me to believe it’s much more likely that you are than that you happened to randomly come up with these four extremely unusual criteria (minutes, free throw shooting, range, and finals MVPs) that showcase the player you care about most perfectly while seeming to attack anything that shows him in a bad light.

            When you’re attacking credibility of this model and that, it’s hard for us to forget that you’re the guy who throws out ridiculous unsupported nuggets like these:

            “Kobe plays in such a way that optimizes the team’s chances of winning.

            If Kobe shoots a triple teamed shot, it’s usually because the alternative was worse.”

            Posted by lochpster | September 4, 2012, 12:16 am
          • In fairness, Loch, I think that total points or ppg could be a less valuable measure of scoring effectiveness.

            At least with FTA, we can extrapolate the voracity to which a player either:

            1) breaks down defenders and attacks the rim

            2) curries favor with the refs

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 4, 2012, 9:36 am
          • I don’t think the value of using FT% is higher, it’s just an example of a box score stat you can actually use to compare players, as opposed to the other box score stats. It highlights the difference between the FT stat (controlled, similar conditions) vs all of the other ones.

            And the common thread of models I don’t find credible is the use of the individual box score as the source of their data.

            Kobe may very well not show as well using video metrics, but it will have a credible statistical basis, since it will capture spatial data and other detail lacking in the box score data.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | September 4, 2012, 9:44 am
          • “I don’t think the value of using FT% is higher, it’s just an example of a box score stat you can actually use to compare players, as opposed to the other box score stats. It highlights the difference between the FT stat (controlled, similar conditions) vs all of the other ones.”

            I would generally agree with the above if you highlighted the fatigue factor.

            For instance nowadays the game is not so physical as it was in 1990-2005 and players don’t have to fight so hard for every spot. Look at Michael Jordan.

            In every full season prior to 97/98 MJ never shot worse than .832 from the charity stripe. Yet in 97/98 all of a sudden he went down to .784. Why? Because he had to change his game.

            Firstly 3-point line was moved back to its original distance. Secondly Pippen was injured for half of the season and MJ had to take much more on his shoulders. He went up from 7.0 FT attempts a game in 96/97 to 8.8 FT attempts in 97/98.

            Similarly when he came back as a Wizard and had an unimaginable (for a 39 yo) usage rate at 36.0 his FT percentage was low (.790) for his standards. Yet, one year later, when his USG% dropped to 28.7 his FT% went up to .821.

            So you see, even free throw percentage must be put into perspective. The more tired you are the fewer FTs you make. And if the game is physical, naturally you will be more tired.

            Posted by doosiolek | September 4, 2012, 11:45 am
          • Doosiolek

            Absolutely agree with your points about how even FT% can be contextualized. It’s only relative to the other stats that FT% seems to have the LEAST need for it. And yet, look at how many different factors you could think of for something as seemingly consistent as a free throw.

            So imagine just how much context needs to be placed when you are talking about such chunky measures as a “point” or a “rebound” … it serves everyone better to have a little more detail within the source data to tell you more about how the points and rebounds were generated.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | September 4, 2012, 12:00 pm
          • You also need to factor in Jordan’s age.

            The lower percentage was also only off one season after he had past age 34.

            The previous season he shot .833.

            The other factors would be his taking a year and a half off.

            Jordan is a solitary example.

            Can you offer others that cross that playing style zone to which you used as the crux of your point?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 4, 2012, 2:31 pm
          • Jordan’s FT% went back to .821 in 2002-03 at age 39.

            What would offer then, to explain his increase back to the level closer to his career norm?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 4, 2012, 2:33 pm
          • “it will have a credible statistical basis, since it will capture spatial data and other detail lacking in the box score data”

            I presume you’re talking about statistical credibility theory? Please expand. What makes one statistic more credible than another.

            I can certainly understand that adding a spatial element to analysis adds another detail, but I have no idea what it has to do with credibility.

            Posted by lochpster | September 9, 2012, 9:01 am
          • Not statistical credibility. Real-life credibility.

            As in, the method the model incorporates will make more sense because it uses data that has more detail than the box score, even without looking at the results.

            All things equal, the model with more detail (of course, there is a limit, but my contention all along is that the box score is insufficient for any serious model) will be more “credible”.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | September 9, 2012, 3:35 pm
          • I doubt that any greater “credibility” will be gleaned from deeper and more subtle data.

            What will likely be shown is, as I stated previously, that there are certain players who’s contributions that are not yet measured or that cannot be measured will now have a tangible metric.

            Players such as Terry Porter, Sidney Moncrief, Doc Rivers, Mo Cheeks, Nate McMillan, Jason Kidd.
            Those are the guys that are most likely to benefit from a more contextual metric.

            For the most part, NBA awards typically are not heaped upon those that only have the highest scoring average or the highest FG%.

            There has always been an intuitive, if not measurable, understanding of the significance of defense in winning. The MVP votes historically reflect this.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 10, 2012, 10:25 am
          • I vehemently disagree. The complexity of a statistic has nothing to do with its utility. It is useful only if it has high predictive value or major strategic implications.

            Dean Oliver estimated that he could account for roughly 96% of point differentials with only 4 statistics-eFG%, turnover rate, offensive rebounding percentage, and getting to the free throw line (to be clear, not free throw percentage). eFG% was worth roughly half of the point differential on its own. Those are high quality statistics that come from box scores. How are they not credible?

            Likewise, synergy has done an incredible job breaking down the success rate of different types of plays on a points per possession basis, which has major strategic implications for the offenses teams run. Offensive and defensive efficiency rates and MOVs are extremely predictive of winning and losing. I don’t understand how you can attack the credibility of such data.

            IMO the best individual measure of player’s value came from Benjamin Morris’s website, which measures a player’s value to his team based on his team’s margin of victory and winning percentage when he is or isn’t available, over the course of many seasons. Is it confounded by his teammates, rotations, etc? Sure, but so is spatial analytics.

            Other models (PER comes to mind) are unbelievably complex and have virtually no predictive value or strategic implications whatsoever.

            Again, I’m not bashing spatial analytics, which I suspect will have significant strategic implications in the years to come. But to say that previously developed data somehow does not make sense as a basis for a basketball strategic model, as you do, is just flat out wrong.

            Posted by lochpster | September 10, 2012, 10:37 pm
          • Hi Loch

            Your first example is using the team statistics in aggregate. I have no problem with that. A team creates those stats, and after all, the goal of the team is to have more points than the other team, whether it’s by scoring more, or denying more points.

            That analogy doesn’t apply to individuals (the individuals goal is to ____). The individual’s goal is to fulfill his role for the team, which as a result, results in the team scoring more, or denying more points. It is not to accumulate the individual stats. There are also no valuable strategic implications to be derived from individual box stats (Coach: “You are getting 6 assists per game. I want you to get 10!” – That would be a terrible way to coach).

            Posted by Gil Meriken | September 11, 2012, 12:06 pm
  23. You did list Ron Harper on both the All Star and non All Star lists.

    Probably just an oversight.

    Ron Harper was a pretty good player.

    There is no mythology in winning an NBA championship; you have to have a really good team. You need to go 7 or 8 deep in quality players to win. You also need some really top line talent to win.

    the Cavs with LeBron did NOT have that talent.

    The Lakers won because they had very good to great teams.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 23, 2012, 9:09 pm
    • Revisionist history always with you, paulie. The cavs were the deepest team in the league in 09 and 10, going at least 10-11 deep. Also, leading the league in wins each season, 66 and 61. No talent? You don’t win that many games with no talent. Heck, varejao was an all nba performer(2nd all defense) as a bench player. The lakers were obviously good teams in the early 2000s, because of shaq/kobe, after that, not much, barely good enough to get out of west each year from 00-02.

      Posted by boyer | August 24, 2012, 10:07 am
    • just oversight … i may also have meant Derek Harper from the early roster …

      i would also add that LeBron, in his early 20s, took teams with limited talent beyond him to 60+ win seasons and Conference finals and NBA finals appearances …

      given more talent, Kobe in his “prime” for 3 consecutive seasons, delivered a .500 record and nary a playoff series win …

      people should keep this in mind when they are pelting LeBron with the “lebronze” (he was 19!) and he was swept in the Finals (he was 22 and starring on a team with 4 other starters that couldn’t start on n other team!) …

      the mythology extends beyond what it takes to win a title … far beyond …

      Posted by Ken | August 24, 2012, 2:38 pm
  24. Boyer,

    Every time you post, you make dumber comments.

    The Cavs were so deep that once they lost James, they were able to win 19 games rather than 60? Pretty sound logic there.

    I revised no history and I am certain that an overwhelming majority of readers and posters here would agree.

    Please, stop posting until you can offer something tangible, and enlightening.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 24, 2012, 10:19 am
  25. Just to indulge the delusion of Boyer.

    Boyer states that the Cavs went 10 or 11 deep.

    10 or 11? So, what Boyer is asking us to believe is that the Cavs had, in effect, TWO full stating squads (even without James), that could have competed for a title.

    10 or 11 deep? Out of a roster of 12 or 13?

    Yeah, that seems reasonable.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 24, 2012, 10:36 am
  26. If you want to see examples of deep rosters check out the 1980’s Lakers or Celtics or the Pistons of 1988-1991.

    As a case in point, The Pistons lost Isiah for 34 games in 1990-91, due to Karl Malone’s elbow, and still won 50 games and made the EC Finals.

    The loss of a HOF point guard and top 25 player is a huge one, but the Pistons had 5 other players to step up and finish the year with 900+ points. Yet, the loss of Zeke was still enough to prevent the Pistons from overcoming a very talented and hungry Bulls team.

    The Pistons the previous 2 years also had diverse scoring which reflects their deep roster as they had 4 players in each year scoring from 1099-1492 points.

    The 2009-10 Cavs had ONLY James and MO Williams coring over 1000+ points (James 2258 and Williams 1092).

    Once James was removed and with NO similar replacement for his production, the rest of the roster is exposed as the also rans and complimentary players that they were.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 24, 2012, 11:45 am
  27. Another example is the 1997-98 Bulls, who lost Pippen for 38 games and still had enough great talent (Kukoc, Rodman, Kerr, Harper) to win 62 games.

    They did get pushed really hard by the Pacers in the ECF, but having the BEST player along with other very good to great players was enough to bring them a ring.

    Winning a title in the NBA is very difficult and as I stated before, you need a roster that is deep in talent.

    The 2010-11 Cavs lost James and two very replaceable role players in a 40 year old Shaq, and Ilgauskas (but picked up a full season from Jamisen) and went from 61+ wins to 19.

    The 1998-99 Bulls had lost Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Kerr and Longley and went from 62 to 13 wins.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 24, 2012, 12:18 pm
  28. I think it would be cool (and would also help explain how people think) if we did an starting 5 all time draft here on this page with the people that post a bunch. Let me know if you all want to do it and I will get all the names and make sure the pick order is random.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | August 28, 2012, 6:27 pm
  29. it would be better as a new thread

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | August 28, 2012, 9:49 pm
    • Yes I think it would be. Maybe someone can set it up.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | August 29, 2012, 8:01 am
      • Fun idea. I think an auction draft would be more interesting, and tell us more, than a snake.

        Posted by lochpster | September 2, 2012, 2:45 pm
        • LOCHPSTER I am willing to do an auction draft if Chasing 23 is willing to set up a page for it and we can get enough people to do it, plus rules (cap size for example) down.

          It would be cool to see what people would pay for a given player.

          Posted by nightbladehunter | September 3, 2012, 4:04 pm
          • Sounds good. Anyone who wants to be involved in the draft, post here. Once we know how many recruits we have we’ll iron out the type of draft and rules. I’m down for either type of draft.

            Posted by lochpster | September 3, 2012, 8:01 pm
          • I would be interested.

            Though I would like to wait for NASA to send me the copy of their spatial-relations data tracking system so that I can tell whether or not Harold Minor really deserved to be a Slam Dunk champion.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 3, 2012, 8:51 pm
          • Hmmm, we’ll need more than 3. Anyone else?

            Posted by lochpster | September 8, 2012, 1:46 pm
  30. I agree. Tells us what we value.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | September 2, 2012, 2:48 pm
  31. Count me in for either type of draft.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | September 6, 2012, 5:15 pm
  32. Success comes from better data, not better analysis. – Darryl Morey

    What I have been saying. Thank you.

    Posted by Gil Meriken | September 28, 2012, 1:45 pm

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