It’s Getting Drafty In Here: 90’s Edition


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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  1. Chris says:

    The Duncan-Shaq debate should be an interesting one. On the one hand, the only other player in the history of the game who approaches Shaq’s dominance from his rookie season to his time in Miami is Wilt, but on the other, Duncan has been quietly but undeniably great, at a level that produces championships every few seasons, for approximately 3,751 years. I’d give the edge to Shaq simply because there was no point from Orlando to Miami when he was not the most influential player in any game he played in, except perhaps when he played Jordan (and maybe even then). Hell, he overshadowed Kobe in Los Angeles, which the Vatican would consider a miracle were he being considered for sainthood.

    If Penny Hardaway had remained healthy, they’d have won 4 or 5 in Orlando and Kobe would be thought of as a really good wing player who shot the ball too much and could never quite take a team to the top.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


      From a pure, raw athletic and on-court talent stand point, Shaq would best Duncan. But for two reasons, I consider that insufficient to anoint him the “better” player.

      1.) Less importantly, size and strength tends to win out in the NBA when evaluating one-on-one matchups. It’s possible that Tim Thomas would destroy John Stockton in a game of one-on-one, but John Stockton was infinitely better in a game of basketball.
      2.) I consider work ethic and effort to be a skill and Shaq lags pretty far behind Duncan in this respect. Shaq should have been leading the league in scoring and rebounding every damn year and mowing down the competition. That he didn’t speaks to how seriously he took the game.

      Shaq probably beats Duncan in a game of one-on-one. Give them the same four teammates (or teammates of identical quality but allowing for Duncan to play the 4 and Shaq to play the 5) and I think Duncan’s team outplays Shaq’s team. Probably?

      Regardless, I think Duncan had the better career. Shaq probably could have had a better one but he didn’t. And I think that matters.

      Duncan is probably going to get the Kareem treatment, which is a damn shame. Kareem is criminally underrated.Report

      • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        It’s odd to me that Kareem is underrated, because when I was a kid, in the twilight of his career, he was almost universally described as the greatest player ever.

        I think Shaq up to the first or second championship was as good a player as it is possible to be. I will never forget watching him lead the fast break at full speed, at 7’2″ or whatever he is.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

          Young Shaq executing a spin move was a thing of unquestioned beauty and utterly terrifying. He — like Jordan — was harmed by not having a true rival at his position.Report

          • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

            I saw Shaq play a couple times in college, once in his freshman year with Robertson (the twin towers), and once in his junior year. The second time, my Dad’s season tickets were behind the basket on the home side (this was Memorial Gym, where the benches were at the ends). Watching what happened to the goal when he dunked from that vantage point was spectacular.Report

        • j r in reply to Chris says:

          I wonder if Kareem gets short shrift because of timing. The last phase of his career was happening just as the NBA went from being mostly about centers to being mostly about guards.Report

          • Chris in reply to j r says:

            I think it’s probably a bit of this, along with the fact that the NBA’s popularity skyrocketed just after he retired, with Magic, Bird, Jordan, and so on. There seems to be a sort of mental block for people below a certain age, where the NBA begins sometime around 1984, at the twilight of Kareem’s career.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

            I also think alot of people felt Kareem wasn’t a true champ until Magic came along.

            Which is silly because A) he won with the Bucks a decade earlier and B) as @tod-kelly , few super stars win on their own.Report

      • CK MacLeod in reply to Kazzy says:

        Kazzy: I consider work ethic and effort to be a skill and Shaq lags pretty far behind Duncan in this respect. Shaq should have been leading the league in scoring and rebounding every damn year and mowing down the competition. That he didn’t speaks to how seriously he took the game.

        A Shaq with Duncan-level, much less Kobe-level, dedication to fundamentals and self-development is probably humanly impossible – as per the Gentle Giant syndrome. When you’re bigger, stronger, and faster than everyone else in existence, you have to pull back a little bit or you will be destroyed in one way or another. Either you will destroy yourself, or the world will find a way to destroy you.

        Imagine, for instance, if Shaq had decided to do whatever was necessary to shoot free throws at a higher percentage, possibly by shooting them underhanded, Rick Barry-style. To my knowledge, he never seriously considered that, like most players dismissing the idea along somewhat sexist lines: It looks, they say, girlish, and no one gives it a second thought. Maybe he tried it, and it just didn’t work, but I don’t think he ever seriously gave the idea a chance. Let’s just assume that he could have gotten his FT % up to 80% that way. At that point, he wouldn’t just have been dominant (he’s still way ahead of anybody for total lifetime 20+ points, 10+ rebound playoff games), he would have been super-dominant – until and unless either the rules were changed or the referees effectuated a rules-change by calling him for charging when he pushed helpless defenders out of the way, or both. Maybe at some level the real reason he couldn’t shoot FTs 80% regular-style was psychological, an unwillingness to deal with success at quite that level, or maybe it was a deeper knowledge that if he did, the world would gang up on him anyway.

        For a few brief years, he was simply, as he liked to say, the most dominant ever. He also usually quickly added that Kobe was the most skilled – equivalent of best “pound for pound.” I think he was correct on both counts.

        The statement was meant to be generous and was received that way, and helped keep Kobe on board during a period in which Kobe’s unique combination of skill-set and physical ability was or could have been dominant in a different way, and in which he was arguably not receiving as much credit as he deserved for sacrificing his personal achievements for the good of the team. If Shaq had been able or willing to pull back, or if it would have arguably for Phil et al and in reality made the ca. Y2K Lakers more likely to win championships, Kobe might have had his 80-point game then, or, who knows, might have gone for 100, or might have strung together his series of 40-point games with THAT team instead of with the woeful post-Shaq pre-Pau Lakers. But the Kobe- rather than Shaq-led Ls in that period I’ll say probably wouldn’t have 3-peated, and might not even have gotten over the first championship hump.

        I think that Kobe pound-for-pound may have been better than Jordan, for a while, and, as I argued once upon a time with Kazzy when I was first commenting at the then “League,” was also the most purely entertaining ever, far more entertaining or sheerly in-the-moment amazing then Duncan, every night succeeding in ways that no one else including Jordan ever thought of attempting, but basketball is a team sport with a strong emphasis on winning and championships, and the conditions of the game vary from period to period. Given the rules, conditions, history, and overall dynamics of the game and league, Jordan was slightly better suited than Kobe to super-excel, so qualifies probably as GOAT – overall, or GOAT-O. He was the best player on the team that compiled the best record ever, on the way to winning consecutive championships. If he hadn’t quit for a couple of years to fail at a high level playing baseball, the Bulls might have challenged the old Celtics for most championships in a row, at a time when it shouldn’t have even been possible.

        Kobe to my mind qualifies as GOAT PforP. Shaq possibly as GOAT in sheer dominance, but only for a brief period, GOAT-D, though Wilt during a very different era was arguably GOAT compared to other players, or relativisticallly GOAT, though some say if another Wilt turned up today he’d be GOAT all over again. And I don’t know what you want to do with Bill Russell, while LeBron is putting together his own strong GOAT-Period argument, and may, by the end of his career, end up with the best argument of all – untill/unless someone else comes along who combines relative physical dominance with skill, dedication, and basketball brains.Report

    • Vikram Bath in reply to Chris says:

      I think the Duncan > Shaq assessment is solid. Additionally, while Shaq certainly changed things when he was on the floor (really just on offense), I think the statistics may show that he might not have actually changed it for the better in terms of points per possession. This sounds like a job for Grantland or 538.

      Is thinking Duncan is superior to Shaq really that much of a minority position though? My understanding was that Shaq was generally regarded as the second best player on each of his championship teams.Report

      • Chris in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        My understanding was that Shaq was generally regarded as the second best player on each of his championship teams.

        Hmmm… I never got that impression. I’m not sure Kobe got that impression, either.Report

      • Chris in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Also, looking at advanced stats, Shaq blows Duncan out of the water with his PER, whether we look at career or prime, but Duncan wins on career win shares, though Shaq was still better in his prime. Shaq was a better scorer by a wide margin, and Duncan is a better defender by a wide margin.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


          PER only nominally considers defense so I take it with a bit of a grain of salt when comparing guys with such drastically different defensive impacts like Shaq and Duncan.

          But, yes, at his absolute best, Shaq was better then Duncan. I just think Duncan was more consistently at or close to his best and I think that matters. And not just in a lamenting-what-could-have-been-way. In an actual way: ‘chips aren’t the only measure but do you think Shaq would trail Duncan if he had Duncan’s work ethic and intensity (and, yes, Duncan is fiercely intense despite his supposed mild mannered nature).Report

          • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

            I have no doubt. I think that at his best, Shaq was one of the top 3 or 4 players of all time.

            There was a great article in SI or Grantland or somewhere a few weeks ago about what might have been in Orlando, and while they didn’t really touch on it, I think one aspect of that is that if he’d stayed in Orlando, Penny remaining healthy, he’d never have gotten sucked up into the L.A. spotlight and celebrity, and very well might have remained more focused on basketball while winning championship after championship.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

              I’d be interested in seeing them apply some of the new analytics to Shaq. Looking at his “gravity” rating might yield some really unbelievable results.Report

  2. Vikram Bath says:

    It’s interesting to me that Robert Horry is mentioned here at all. He never made it on any All Star team. He never was able to create his own shot. I would guess if you watched Youtube highlights of his, you’d see nothing impressive. It would just be open jump shots at the end of games for the win.

    Yet, the dude won multiple championships with three separate teams. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that he played significant minutes for each of those teams, and none of them would go into a important situation with Horry on the bench.

    And despite Duncan’s greatness, I can’t help but note that Horry was around for Duncan’s first two championships, and once Horry left it took another 7 years to earn his last one.Report

  3. Tod Kelly says:

    @kazzy “But I feel like Kobe ruins everything everywhere all the time. Fact: Kobe has never won a championship without a super-elite offensive C (3 with Shaq, 2 with Pau).”


    Where to even begin?

    First off, it’s a little hard to swallow that Kobe “ruins everything everywhere all the time” unless the everyone you’re referring to is either the early 00’s Kings or the late 00’s Suns. He is, after all, along with Duncan, the leading non-roleplaying ring winner in the modern era whose initial’s aren’t MJ. In 2008 when the Olympic Squad was facing adversity in the Gold Medal round against Spain, it wasn’t LeBron, Howard or Anthony the team looked to when they needed someone to take them on their backs and carry them home.

    Secondly, this — “Kobe has never won a championship without a super-elite offensive C (3 with Shaq, 2 with Pau) — is absurd, and not simply because Pau Gasol isn’t a center. Look how easy it is to discount everybody else using this logic:

    Tim Duncan has never won a championship without two future Hall of Famers playing along side him. (Robinson/Elliot; Ginobli/Parker)

    Shaquille O’Neal never won a championship without a future HoF shooting guard. (Bryant, Wade)

    LeBron James never won a championship without multiple future HoFs playing along side him. (Wade, Bosh, Allen)

    By this kind of selective logic, you can discount the rings of every single great NBA player ever — including Jordan, Magic, and Bird.Report

    • Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      LeBron James never won a championship without multiple future HoFs playing along side him. (Wade, Bosh, Allen)

      I think a lot of people would say that particular asterisk is deserved.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @vikram-bath “I think a lot of people would say that particular asterisk is deserved.”

        It is not. LeBron James is the single greatest player of his generation.

        And I say that as someone who can’t stand the guy.Report

        • Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          He can be the single greatest player of his generation and still get an asterisk by his championship. The asterisk doesn’t take away from his abilities. It just means that when referencing his championship, it will be with a “Oh, yeah, he took a huge payout to move to Miami with a bunch of other great players so he could make sure he got a championship.”Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath says:

            I know, but I can’t help but notice no one else gets that same treatment, which is funny since everyone else deserves it.

            Garnett went to Boston to get his championship; Shaq moved twice to get his. Neither Bryant nor Duncan moved, but like Olajuwon and Robinson each took big pay cuts in order to be able to afford other great players to come to them.

            In fact, the only team I can think of in the post-Jordan era who didn’t have either a superstar who moved to that team to better their odds at winning *or* take a pay cut to get other superstars to come to them is Detroit.

            So I kind of suspect that the LeBron asterisk is similar to the Kobe asterisk that Kazzy and a lot of other people use — it seems to me that each is based more on a desire to downgrade the accomplishments of someone we don’t care for and don’t want to be great than it is relevant facts.Report

            • Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Agreed he’s not the only one who deserves it. Additionally, it wasn’t the guarantee it was thought to be at the time. Charles Barkley tried to get a championship that way, and it didn’t work out for him.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath says:

                Additionally, I think you can make the argument that the only reason staying with a team worked for Duncan and Bryant is because they played respectively for the Popovic-era Spurs and the Jerry Busse-era Lakers — each arguably the gold standard for major sports franchises (and non-arguably for NBA franchises).

                If either had been drafted by Cleveland it’s a good bet they’d have either left for greener pastures after their first contract, or they’d have a combined total of zero rings today.Report

              • Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                @tod-kelly , I’m having a hard time not bringing this up, so I’m just going to bring it up…

                I think the idea of judging careers based on championships is bullshit. The only reason it is considered important that I can tell is because commentators decided to say it enough times. I think it does a tremendous disservice to a lot of excellent players when commentators inevitably add on that despite their many accomplishments they never managed to win a championship. Championships are fragile things. A shot made or missed here or there, and the whole result differs. It’s bullshit to put so much emphasis on it, and we’re seeing players react accordingly.

                I forgot which year it was, but I remember seeing a fourth-quarter blown call in what I think was a wild card playoff game. The wrong team ended up winning, and I thought that was OK. But then they went and won the damn Superbowl. They never should have been there in the first place, but there they were. For whatever reason, that cemented my attitude on this.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath says:

                I’m somewhere in the middle. I think that factoring in championships is something you have to do, but I don’t think it’s the end-all be-all — otherwise, Derick Fisher is a better point guard than John Stockton.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Vikram Bath says:


                Judging only by championships is bullshit but it is less bullshit in some sports than others. The nature of basketball is such that individual players swing a team’s likelihood of championship much moreso than any other team sport.

                So, it is unfair to say that Chris Paul sucks because he never advanced past the 2nd round or that Robert Horry is basketball Jesus because he has an ungodly number of rings. But if you are comparing Isaiah Thomas and Chris Paul, it doesn’t seem unfair to factor in Thomas’ playoff success as he was the driving force behind those team’s success. Paul is similarly the driving force behind his team’s success but they are less successful. And not for lack of talent.Report

              • Vikram Bath in reply to Kazzy says:

                Strawmanning! I don’t think I said that championship games should be regarded as if they were meaningless.Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              And it’s unlikely that the NBA, with its focus on individual superstars rather than teams, will allow another Detroit to happen.

              As to the question of whether the league can stop it, I might believe in the integrity of the game again when there’s a rule change such that the purpose of the video review is to get the call right. Not part of the call, the whole call. Including obvious fouls that weren’t whistled in real time.Report

              • Mo in reply to Michael Cain says:

                @michael-cain The focus on superstars is the nature of basketball more than anything else. In basketball, you are one of 5, so you have an inordinate impact on the game. In football you are one of 22 (offense and defense) and in baseball you are one in 9. And I would quibble with the fact that there weren’t any superstars on that Detroit team. There were no offensive superstars on that team, but Ben Wallace was unequaled at the time on the defensive end and that Pistons team had a historically great defensive showing in the playoffs.Report

            • Mo in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              @tod-kelly Kobe took a pay cut? When did that ever happen?Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Mo says:

                ‘Pay cut’ might have been the wrong wording, but it’s close enough.

                In 2010 — his opt out year — he was projected to have a contract worth of approx $120 mil over three years, based on other superstar players like Wade and LeBron. Instead, he re-upped with Los Angeles at a relatively paltry $90 mil to ensure they could offer extensions to keep Odom, Artest, and Gasol — plus ensure there was $ to keep Jackson on.Report

              • Mo in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Kobe got close to the maximum allowed by the league rules during that time. The hometown discount was $3.

                “If Bryant had opted out in 2010 and signed with another team as a free agent, he could have signed for up to $108,353,700 over four seasons (with 8 percent raises). Including the last season of his current contract, Bryant now will receive a nearly identical $108,353,697 over those same four seasons. ”


    • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


      Yes, I was taking a bit of a potshot at Kobe. I just don’t like the guy. And do feel he is overrated.

      I mention the center comment because I think guards benefit from the presence of dominant offensive post men (and while Gasol may or may not have been a C, he was a post player). Damon Jones had a career (sort of) because of Shaq. The way he drew defenses towards him created space on the outside that allowed someone like Kobe to thrive. So while Pippen made Jordan’s Bulls teams better (because Pippen was one of the greatest players ever), I don’t know that he specifically made the game easier for Jordan. The most he might have done was taken a bit of defensive pressure of MJ because he didn’t have to guard the other team’s best player night in and night out. But that is different than the Shaq/Kobe dynamic. Which is why I highlight it.

      I similarly don’t like to put asterisks on championships won by so-called super teams. You know why super teams win? Because they are better than non super teams. Pretty much every team that has won a championship had multiple Hall of Famers on it. The Pistons are an exception and they are a bit of an aberration but they also had above-average talent at every position 1-5, an incredible coach, and they worked perfectly together.

      So, I won’t deny that Kobe earned his 5 rings. But I don’t consider his contributions to those teams equivalent to Jordan’s because Jordan was the focal point of the offense (from the wing position!) for all six of his while Kobe was the focal point for two and still had post players (Gasol and, to a lesser extent, Bynum) (and hand checking rules) that made it significantly easier for him in a way Jordan never did. Jordan played with defensive minded centers throughout his career and the best offensive post player he had was, who, Horace Grant?

      Kobe also ruined a handful of teams in a way that Duncan never did. Shaq wasn’t always beneficial… he dictated the offense in a way that was detrimental to a team like the Suns towards the end of his career. Duncan’s teams were consistently better because of him. Likewise, Dirk and KG. I’d still probably take Kobe over those last two but I would never take him over either Duncan or Shaq.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

        I think saying that Kobe wasn’t as good as MJ is a kind of weak slam, in as much as you can really make it against everybody else ever.

        I don’t know who I would take over Timmy and 24; to be honest Id be thrilled with either. But I’d take both over Shaq, who — I will tell you this as a life-long LA fan — was always an underachiever, and who could have been the greatest ever if he’d had half of Kobe’s or Duncan’s work ethic or commitment to detail.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


          That brings up an interesting question. If Shaq got 90% of his potential realized and Kobe got 110% of his, but Shaq’s ceiling was so much higher that the absolute value created was greater than Kobe’s, do you still take the latter?

          Some people just don’t like loafers and I understand that position. But I’d rather have Lamar Odom loaf through a season than Jud Buechler diving on the floor for every lose ball because Odom’s loafing is much better than Buechler’s hustle.

          Also, why the fish are you an LA fan?Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

            I grew up there?

            As to the rest, I do take Kobe over Shaq for exactly that reason. Professional athletics aren’t just physical — or at least they aren’t at championship level.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


              I did not know that. Fish you, fish Kobe, and fish the Lakers. Do you even HAVE lakes in LA?Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

                Dude, you need to give up your LAL hate.

                Now that Jerry Busse is dead and his know-nothing, do-nothing, spoiled rotten son has taken over the franchise, they are going to be perennially be one of the worst teams in the league every year for decades.

                There is no more giant for you to slay in LA.Report

        • Mo in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I’m a lifelong Lakers fan too and I hate the underachiever slam*. He got results. A lot of the beef was personality. Kobe wanted Shaq to work as hard as he did, but Shaq just wasn’t wired that way. If Kobe had come to terms with Shaq playing himself into shape and dominating in the postseason, he would have at least two more rings.

          TBH, that’s how Duncan has operated for the last 4 or 5 years, except Pop too the cover for it. He would sit his starters on back to back and would limit his numbers. For all the praise Duncan gets for “still having it”, he averaged less than 30 minutes per game this year and sat out of a lot of back-to-backs. It’s smart coaching (Duncan gets a lot of credit merely by playing for Pop), but it also means you can’t properly assess how much he still has.

          * Both in sports and workReport

          • Timothy M in reply to Mo says:

            Here’s another factor: if Shaq worked as hard as Kobe, would he have been injured and burned out by 27? Shaq was hauling around an extra 100+ pounds. As his late-career foot problems show, you can only do that for so long.Report

  4. Tod Kelly says:

    Also, FWIW, I’m not sure why you would have Stojakovic in your lineup for 1996. He was a terrible defender, and he has a well deserved reputation for disappearing in big games. The only reason you would have him in at all would be to be a tree point threat — and why use him if the greatest long-range shooter in the history of the game is available in that same year?

    If it were me, I’d slide Kobe over to the 3 (he played a lot of 3 under Jackson) and put Allen in at the 2.

    And there is no way that team would come in sixth that decade. At worse they come in at 3, though I suspect they’d be 2.Report

  5. Steve says:

    1992- I assume you meant Brent Price?
    1993- Houston I think is overrated because of playing in NYC. Better choices: David Wesley (undrafted but in that draft class), or Nick Van Exel. Better defenders and still pretty good shooters.
    1994 – probably would be pretty good on defense actually. Kidd and Jones were both good. Hill became a good defender later in his career. Marshall has a lot of blocks.
    1996- Not sure what the rules are but I’d rather have Ben Wallace (undrafted) than Z. Allen would be better than Peja also. Better shooter, longer career, became a decent defender.
    1997 – No argument here. Duncan is the best player of that generation. I would have Kobe around 5th, behind Shaq, KG, and Dirk too. (Shaq is a little strange to slot there as he started several years earlier).
    1998 – Another undrafted (Brad Miller) has a case here over Jamison.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Steve says:


      I limit myself to drafted players only because that is the easiest way to research. If I had the time to research undrafteds, your picks sound solid.

      And I use Basketball-Reference’s positional data and it had both Kobe and Allen as 2-guards only.Report

      • Steve in reply to Kazzy says:

        BR in the play-by-play estimate has Allen listed as a SF at about 15%, and Kobe about 9%. That’s about as much as Zo at PF.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Steve says:


          I didn’t look that closely. I looked at what they listed them as on their player page which I assume was based on games started.

          Basketball positions are not nearly as well-defined as football or baseball so this is a bit of a crapshoot. And given that this is a silly exercise to begin with…

          Putting Allen on that squad definitely moves them up the ranks but doesn’t give them the top spot which is what ultimately matters most.Report

    • Chris in reply to Steve says:

      The Knicks went to the finals with Houston and Sprewell. Sprewell! Houston was really good.

      Full disclosure: I met Houston several times when I was in high school at basketball camps in Tennessee. He was an extremely nice guy, even if he played for the wrong college, and I became a fan.

      Also, I think you have to rule Hill out simply because he spent his prime injured. Based on potential alone, he should have been a top 20 player all time, though.

      I agree about Ben Wallace, as well. He was, in his prime, pretty dominant, and took Detroit to the championship. He was also one of the best rebounders ever.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        See my note about Grant Hill. I genuinely cry when I look at his stats page and highlight reels.

        What I would have given to see Grant Hill and Scottie Pippen battle for supremacy at the three. OMG NOW I’M SAD ALL OVER AGAIN!!!Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

          Also, I’ve heard the same thing about Houston with regards to his niceness. He was beloved in NY before he became the butt of jokes (for cashing in and getting hurt). Not only was he a talented ball player, but he seemed to be universally recognized as a great dude.Report

      • Steve in reply to Chris says:

        Best player by far on that Knicks team was Camby and it’s not even close. Followed by Charlie Ward (once Ewing got hurt). That team advanced basically because Houston was shooting better than he did in the season and they had a very good defence. He has another good season late in his career (02-03) but on a mediocre team. He’s also a liability on defence. Wesley isn’t and does the same things on offense.

        Van Exel was better as a shooter and could handle the ball as well. I liked Houston too, but being a nice guy doesn’t win games. 😉Report

        • j r in reply to Steve says:

          The take at the time was that being nice was costing games. Always loved Houston, but I remember feeling that he wasn’t aggressive enough. Taking a lot of pull up jumpers when he should have been driving.Report

      • Steve in reply to Chris says:

        Hill did spend too much of his time injured, but he also has a couple solid seasons after he was hurt a lot. By that logic, Penny shouldn’t be included either on the 1993 team. Hill was better than Penny (and Penny doesn’t have a comeback year later in his career). Even with the injuries, Hill is clearly better than anyone other than Kidd from his draft year, and Penny was clearly better than anyone other than Webber and Cassell that year. I don’t think the injuries matter unless someone doesn’t play at all (Greg Oden, Jonathan Bender types).Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Steve says:


          From my perspective, I see this is a single-game or round-robin style tournament. Something that emphasizes peak rather than longevity. So when looking at guys cut down by injuries, I ask myself: “What did they show us about their caliber of play in the NBA game?” Hill and Penny both showed they could be elite talents. So I considered them as such. Oden never did that. Jay Williams never did that. Bobby Hurley never did that. So none of them get that treatment. That’s my take, at least.

          I wouldn’t argue that Hill had a better career than, say, Vince Carter. But I’d absolutely say that Hill was a better play than VC.Report

  6. Steve says:

    My own spin on the ratings based on actual performance.

    1996 – With Big Ben and Ray this is by far the best team. With Z and Peja, it would be third.
    1998 – I don’t think this team would actually beat the 1997 team, but it would be an interesting game and they’d probably destroy most of the others.
    1997- There are two glaring holes in that roster for me, Captain Jack was a terribly inefficient player and Pollard was only good for about 15-20 minutes a game. Duncan and Billups and T-Mac is a very good 3 man team. The 1998 three man team is not far behind, Dirk-Pierce-Vince, and a 1996 team of Kobe, Nash, Allen would be pretty close too.
    1999- Baron can sort of shoot threes would be the only reason to take him instead of Miller, which I’d rather have Jet if that’s the reason. This is a very good and solid team actually. Marion is probably one of the more underrated players of his generation, probably because he was never a great scorer.
    1992 – lack of PG would probably hurt this team a lot. Basically everything would have to run through Shaq. I’d almost rather take another shooter instead of a PG just because of how big a hole that is. Maybe Jon Barry or Walt Williams? Defence should be pretty terrifying though.
    1995 – Sheed is kind of overrated but certainly better than some of the alternatives on other years.
    1994 – Injuries to Hill hurt here, but I don’t think that’s the biggest problem with this team. Biggest problem is the weaker front court. Marshall is a role player (he has two good seasons later in his career). Brian Grant is serviceable but not great either.
    1993 – Rated on potential if Penny and Webber weren’t hurt as often would be a little higher, but not top 5.
    1991 – Steve Smith was the alpha dog on the Portland teams of the late 90s. Sheed never seemed to want to do it. That’s who I’d run things through on this team too. They don’t have any holes really, but other than Dikembe, there’s nobody that great either.
    1990 – Other than GP, this team is just a little above average, with no good players. Scott really only has one good year and isn’t that far ahead of Kendall Gill.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Steve says:

      The ’98 team is probably my second favorite to the ’95 team but that is because I irrationally enjoy three of the players.Report

      • Steve in reply to Kazzy says:

        KG was always my favorite to watch, along with Ray. And Sheed is a character. I don’t mind those being factors. Just trying to look at how they might actually do on the court.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    By the way, though I note that the “best player of the decade” isn’t going to automatically win, I have to assume the 1984 draft will similarly win the decade (Jordan, Olajuwon, and Barkely). I mean, maybe some other year will trump it… but I can’t imagine how. Assuming they win, none of the three decade winners to that point will have won (in my mind) simply by having the best player but because they had multiple greats. 2003 had Wade, Bosh, Melo, and LeBron. 1997 had Duncan, McGrady, and Billups. The 80’s have the three previously mentioned guys. It is weird that some years have too many guys and some can barely field a roster.

    The 70’s will be interesting because even though Bird and Magic debuted together, they were drafted in different years because I believe the C’s used a now-defunct rule that allowed them to draft Bird while he still played out the string in the NCAAs.Report

  8. I always thought of Sprewell as a shooting guard. He’s a poor choice anyway: when things gets heated, he chokes.Report

  9. How is Chauncey Billups not an elite PG?Report