NBA all-time 5-15

GoJeff!

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I wanted to bounce off some of the historical comps going on in the kemba and playoff threads about where current players fit in among all-time greats. I know we've done this before, but stuff has changed and I wanted to see where people think now.

I'm looking for an all-time top 15, but the interesting discussion seems to be outside of the top 5. In other words, Lebron vs Jordan has been argued to death, but KD vs. Kobe or CP vs Magic seem more interesting. So I'm hoping for less discussion on Russell, Jordan, Kareem and LeBron, and more on everyone else.

I'll start with my list, but I might be the least knowledgable poster in this forum.

LeBron
Jordan
Russell
Kareem
Bird
Magic
Hakeem
Duncan
Shaq
Wilt
KD
Kobe
Curry
Oscar Robinson
Karl Malone
 

kfoss99

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I feel like Karl Malone is the outlier on that list. I'd replace him with Garnett, but I don't know if that's home team bias.

I found this comparison on a quick search, it's not unreasonable to think Garnett could fill his spot on your list. But, man, Malone put up points over his career.

Kevin Garnett vs. Karl Malone Comparison (landofbasketball.com)

Durant and Curry play a different game, they might be top 10 guys. But, they don't have the mythology around them of Bird and Magic.
 

Devizier

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Lebron - Jordan - Kareem - Wilt - Russell

Feel safe with: Duncan - Magic - Bird - Shaq

After that it's wide open. A few years ago, I would have had Malone, Robinson, Garnett, and Olajuwon as stone cold locks but maybe not as much anymore. Great players like West might find themselves bounced by guys like Steph Curry. I think Durant is knocking on the door, if he's not there already. Chris Paul has forced his way into the conversation.
 

Dotrat

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I know their positions were different and that Erving’s best years were in the ABA, but I’d still want Dr. J over Malone. Then again, I’m also old. ☺ I’d take Elgin Baylor over the mailman as well.
 

kfoss99

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I know their positions were different and that Erving’s best years were in the ABA, but I’d still want Dr. J over Malone. Then again, I’m also old. ☺ I’d take Elgin Baylor over the mailman as well.
I feel bad for forgetting Elgin. He was before my time. He should be in the top 15, just for putting up astronomical numbers while serving the reserves. NBA history really is unkind to guys who didn't win (multiple) championships.
 

Kliq

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I think a true ranking is hard to consider given the various different roles these players served and the eras they played in. Some quick back of the napkin assessments:

1. Michael Jordan
2. Bill Russell
3. LeBron James
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
5. Magic Johnson
6. Larry Bird
7. Tim Duncan
8. Shaquille O'Neal
9. Wilt Chamberlain
10. Kevin Durant
11. Jerry West
12. Hakeem Olajuwon
13. Elgin Baylor
14. Oscar Robertson
15. Steph Curry
16. Moses Malone
17. John Havlicek
18. Kobe Bryant
19. Dirk Nowitzki
20. Kevin Garnett
21. Bob Pettit
22. Bob Cousy
23. Dwyane Wade
24. Charles Barkley
25. Isiah Thomas
 

BaseballJones

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The Pantheon: Jordan, LeBron, Kareem, Wilt, Russell
Among the Deities: Magic, Bird, Curry, Oscar, Duncan, Shaq
The Demigods: Durant, Olajuwon, Robinson, Kobe, K. Malone, West, M. Malone, Dr J, Baylor
The Heroes: Barkley, Isiah, Havlicek, Hayes, Stockton, Gervin, Garnett, Paul, Frazier, Nash

I'm sure I'm missing someone. And of course YMMV on these.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Sorry but whenever Karl Malone is brought up I feel the need to mention he's a pedophile. That doesn't change his ranking or anything.
 

Sausage in Section 17

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I'll try instead from a 12 man roster POV. How to make the best all time team, which isn't the same as the 12 best players.

Starters:

C Chamberlain (his 2 way game elevates him above Jabbar, IMO)
PF Malone
SF Lebron
SG Jordan
PG Magic

Bench:

C Shaq
PF Russell
SF Bird
SG Bryant
PG Curry

Garnett (his defense gets him the nod over Duncan)
Robertson

Bird and Lebron could be sort of interchangeable between a G or F role. Similar with Jordan, Bryant, and Magic.

Taxi Squad: Olajuwon, Duncan, Durant, Ray Allen, Stockton
 
Last edited:

PedroKsBambino

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I think a true ranking is hard to consider given the various different roles these players served and the eras they played in. Some quick back of the napkin assessments:

1. Michael Jordan
2. Bill Russell
3. LeBron James
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
5. Magic Johnson
6. Larry Bird
7. Tim Duncan
8. Shaquille O'Neal
9. Wilt Chamberlain
10. Kevin Durant
11. Jerry West
12. Hakeem Olajuwon
13. Elgin Baylor
14. Oscar Robertson
15. Steph Curry
16. Moses Malone
17. John Havlicek
18. Kobe Bryant
19. Dirk Nowitzki
20. Kevin Garnett
21. Bob Pettit
22. Bob Cousy
23. Dwyane Wade
24. Charles Barkley
25. Isiah Thomas
As an aside, I always find it really hard to describe how one could put Magic above Bird. I can see how someone puts peak Magic (the guy with a good jumper) ahead of Bird, though I would not. But Magic wasn't even the best player on his own team for a number of years, and it wasn't until about 1987 where you could credibly argue he was close to Bird. So given they had somewhat shorter careers, I just do not believe you can get there overall. I get the metrics---but the assists skew those.
 

Kliq

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I'll try instead from a 12 man roster POV. How to make the best all time team, which isn't the same as the 12 best players.

Starters:

C Chamberlain (his 2 way game elevates him above Jabbar, IMO)
PF Malone
SF Jordan
SG Bryant
PG Magic

Bench:

C Shaq
PF Russell
SF Lebron
SG Bird
PG Curry

Garnett (his defense gets him the nod over Duncan)
Robertson

Bird and Lebron could be sort of interchangeable between a G or F role. Similar with Jordan, Bryant, and Magic.

Taxi Squad: Olajuwon, Duncan, West, Ray Allen, Stockton
Duncan was a better defender than Garnett.
 

BaseballJones

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As an aside, I always find it really hard to describe how one could put Magic above Bird. I can see how someone puts peak Magic (the guy with a good jumper) ahead of Bird, though I would not. But Magic wasn't even the best player on his own team for a number of years, and it wasn't until about 1987 where you could credibly argue he was close to Bird. So given they had somewhat shorter careers, I just do not believe you can get there overall. I get the metrics---but the assists skew those.
That's because the best player on his team then was one of the top 4-5 players in the history of the sport. Bird wouldn't have been the best player on his team either if Kareem and Bird were teammates.
 

PedroKsBambino

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That's because the best player on his team then was one of the top 4-5 players in the history of the sport. Bird wouldn't have been the best player on his team either if Kareem and Bird were teammates.
On the contrary, I think after his rookie year Bird was pretty demonstrably better than Kareem. That's entirely my point. And also remember the implications of that---Magic had the benefit of NOT being the focus of the defense until mid-late career; Bird was the focus from day 1.
 

Kliq

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As an aside, I always find it really hard to describe how one could put Magic above Bird. I can see how someone puts peak Magic (the guy with a good jumper) ahead of Bird, though I would not. But Magic wasn't even the best player on his own team for a number of years, and it wasn't until about 1987 where you could credibly argue he was close to Bird. So given they had somewhat shorter careers, I just do not believe you can get there overall. I get the metrics---but the assists skew those.
It's close as hell, Bird was better at his peak but Magic was more durable and lasted longer. Both had similar impacts on the game and had similar flaws (terrible defenders later in their careers) although Bird was more of a killer earlier in his career and Magic had to learn that skill (and he later became a world-class killer). Ultimately, Bird is pretty much down a level after 1988, Magic was still at his peak up until his HIV diagnosis.
 

coremiller

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You really have to do this with three eras:

- pre-merger (1954-1976)
1. Russell
2. Wilt
3. West
4. Oscar
5. Baylor

- post-merger to three-point era (1976-~2005)
1. Jordan
2. Kareem
3. Hakeem
4. Shaq
5. Bird
6. Johnson
7. Duncan

- three-point era (~2005-present)
1. LeBron
2. Curry
3. Garnett
4. Durant
5. Kobe
6. Dirk

It's close as hell, Bird was better at his peak but Magic was more durable and lasted longer. Both had similar impacts on the game and had similar flaws (terrible defenders later in their careers) although Bird was more of a killer earlier in his career and Magic had to learn that skill (and he later became a world-class killer). Ultimately, Bird is pretty much down a level after 1988, Magic was still at his peak up until his HIV diagnosis.
Bird's skills were also more scalable because he didn't need to dominate the ball. To get the best out of Magic, he had to have the ball in his hands pretty much all the time.
Duncan was a better defender than Garnett.
This is certainly debatable. Duncan was a better rim protecter/man-to-man post defender, but Garnett was better at everything else. Garnett was much quicker than Duncan, was more switchable, and is one of the best ever help defenders.

On the contrary, I think after his rookie year Bird was pretty demonstrably better than Kareem. That's entirely my point. And also remember the implications of that---Magic had the benefit of NOT being the focus of the defense until mid-late career; Bird was the focus from day 1.
Kareem was a much more valuable defensive player than Bird, especially in the 70s at his peak. Kareem was not an all-time great defensive center like Russell or Hakeem, but he was pretty good, and a good rim-protecting big was just so, so valuable back before everyone started shooting 3s. Combine that with his great scoring efficiency for that era and IMO it's hard to make a case for Bird over him.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Kareem was a much more valuable defensive player than Bird, especially in the 70s at his peak. Kareem was not an all-time great defensive center like Russell or Hakeem, but he was pretty good, and a good rim-protecting big was just so, so valuable back before everyone started shooting 3s. Combine that with his great scoring efficiency for that era and IMO it's hard to make a case for Bird over him.
I don't disagree with that over their careers---but Kareem by 1982 he was 34 and that's the year I think Bird passed him.
 

Kliq

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You really have to do this with three eras:

- pre-merger (1954-1976)
1. Russell
2. Wilt
3. West
4. Oscar
5. Baylor

- post-merger to three-point era (1976-~2005)
1. Jordan
2. Kareem
3. Hakeem
4. Shaq
5. Bird
6. Johnson
7. Duncan

- three-point era (~2005-present)
1. LeBron
2. Curry
3. Garnett
4. Durant
5. Kobe
6. Dirk



Bird's skills were also more scalable because he didn't need to dominate the ball. To get the best out of Magic, he had to have the ball in his hands pretty much all the time.


This is certainly debatable. Duncan was a better rim protecter/man-to-man post defender, but Garnett was better at everything else. Garnett was much quicker than Duncan, was more switchable, and is one of the best ever help defenders.
In Magic that isn't the case, he was a versatile player that could thrive off-ball, which he had to do while playing with Kareem. Earlier in his career he shared the backcourt with Norm Nixon and had great success in a two-PG lineup. Magic (like Bird) is one of the smartest players in the history of the game and I'm confident he'd thrive in almost any scenario.

Duncan is a better defender than KG, especially respective of their era. KG's quickness would be better suited for today's game, where post-defense is not as significant and being nimble enough to contain perimeter players is at a premium. That focus was not as important in the era they played in, and Duncan's skills were probably more valuable. Duncan is also one of the best help-defenders of all-time, and anchored defenses that had a lot of meh defensive players.

It just seems weird to me to put Garnett over Duncan based on defense. I've said this before but Duncan>>>>Garnett and it's not particularly close. Duncan won a bunch of titles and put together consistently kick-ass postseason runs. Garnett's teams underachieved for most of his career until he started playing with a bunch of perennial all-stars. Garnett vs Dirk is a better argument.
 

PedroKsBambino

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In Magic that isn't the case, he was a versatile player that could thrive off-ball, which he had to do while playing with Kareem. Earlier in his career he shared the backcourt with Norm Nixon and had great success in a two-PG lineup. Magic (like Bird) is one of the smartest players in the history of the game and I'm confident he'd thrive in almost any scenario.

Duncan is a better defender than KG, especially respective of their era. KG's quickness would be better suited for today's game, where post-defense is not as significant and being nimble enough to contain perimeter players is at a premium. That focus was not as important in the era they played in, and Duncan's skills were probably more valuable. Duncan is also one of the best help-defenders of all-time, and anchored defenses that had a lot of meh defensive players.

It just seems weird to me to put Garnett over Duncan based on defense. I've said this before but Duncan>>>>Garnett and it's not particularly close. Duncan won a bunch of titles and put together consistently kick-ass postseason runs. Garnett's teams underachieved for most of his career until he started playing with a bunch of perennial all-stars. Garnett vs Dirk is a better argument.
That’s simply untrue about Magic. He is the greatest PG of all time but any suggestion he didn’t need the ball or ever played materially off-ball only suggests you didn’t watch the nba then.
 

BaseballJones

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On the contrary, I think after his rookie year Bird was pretty demonstrably better than Kareem. That's entirely my point. And also remember the implications of that---Magic had the benefit of NOT being the focus of the defense until mid-late career; Bird was the focus from day 1.
Well hold on here let's parse this a little...

VORP, by year...

1979-80
- Kareem: 7.3
- Magic: 4.8
- Bird: 4.8

1980-81
- Kareem: 6.1
- Magic: 3.8
- Bird: 5.2

1981-82
- Kareem: 4.7
- Magic: 7.0
- Bird: 6.4

1982-83
- Kareem: 4.2
- Magic: 6.8
- Bird: 7.2

1983-84
- Kareem: 3.3
- Magic: 5.6
- Bird: 7.3

1984-85
- Kareem: 4.8
- Magic: 6.1
- Bird: 8.7

1985-86
- Kareem: 4.9
- Magic: 5.7
- Bird: 8.4

1986-87
- Kareem: 2.2
- Magic: 8.0
- Bird: 8.6

1987-88
- Kareem: 1.2
- Magic: 5.3
- Bird: 8.1

1988-89
- Kareem: 0.0
- Magic: 8.3
- Bird: 0.3

You won't get an argument from me about Bird being better than Magic, certainly at their respective best. But OVERALL, Kareem was better than either Magic or Bird. But using VORP as a guide, Kareem was better than either Magic or Bird in 1979-80 and 1980-81, but after that both Bird and Magic were better than Kareem. But Kareem still stands head and shoulders above either of them in the all-time rankings.

And don't forget...in 1979-80, Bird was 23 while Magic was 20. Enormous difference.
 

Kliq

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That’s simply untrue about Magic. He is the greatest PG of all time but any suggestion he didn’t need the ball or ever played materially off-ball only suggests you didn’t watch the nba then.
Ah shit, you know I think we've had this conversation before. Pass.
 

Mooch

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David Robinson might be the most underrated superstar of the past 30 years. It's amazing that he doesn't get more love as a top 15 all time player on lists like these. If he doesn't lose a few years to the Navy, his numbers would look even better. Dude was a force on both ends of the floor. I'd take peak Robinson over peak Shaq, any day of the week.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Well hold on here let's parse this a little...

VORP, by year...

1979-80
- Kareem: 7.3
- Magic: 4.8
- Bird: 4.8

1980-81
- Kareem: 6.1
- Magic: 3.8
- Bird: 5.2

1981-82
- Kareem: 4.7
- Magic: 7.0
- Bird: 6.4

1982-83
- Kareem: 4.2
- Magic: 6.8
- Bird: 7.2

1983-84
- Kareem: 3.3
- Magic: 5.6
- Bird: 7.3

1984-85
- Kareem: 4.8
- Magic: 6.1
- Bird: 8.7

1985-86
- Kareem: 4.9
- Magic: 5.7
- Bird: 8.4

1986-87
- Kareem: 2.2
- Magic: 8.0
- Bird: 8.6

1987-88
- Kareem: 1.2
- Magic: 5.3
- Bird: 8.1

1988-89
- Kareem: 0.0
- Magic: 8.3
- Bird: 0.3

You won't get an argument from me about Bird being better than Magic, certainly at their respective best. But OVERALL, Kareem was better than either Magic or Bird. But using VORP as a guide, Kareem was better than either Magic or Bird in 1979-80 and 1980-81, but after that both Bird and Magic were better than Kareem. But Kareem still stands head and shoulders above either of them in the all-time rankings.

And don't forget...in 1979-80, Bird was 23 while Magic was 20. Enormous difference.
As I said, Kareem is better overall. But by Bird’s second year he was better than Kareem.

My comment on Kareem vs magic is that VORP doesn’t fully work to drive the comparison—-understates defense and overvalued assists (and high for a high-outlier like Magic is a big big deal). I didn’t feel it was clearly Magic’s team until 1987, though you can argue 85-86.

Not that writers have all the answers, but the voting on MVP and all-nba aligns with what I observed as well.
 

BaseballJones

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VORP by top 5 seasons....

Magic:

8.9 (89-90)
8.3 (88-89)
8.1 (90-91)
8.0 (86-87)
7.0 (81-82)

Bird:

8.7 (84-85)
8.6 (86-87)
8.4 (85-86)
8.1 (87-88)
7.3 (83-84)

Pretty damned close.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
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As I said, Kareem is better overall. But by Bird’s second year he was better than Kareem.

My comment on Kareem vs magic is that VORP doesn’t fully work to drive the comparison—-understates defense and overvalued assists (and high for a high-outlier like Magic is a big big deal). I didn’t feel it was clearly Magic’s team until 1987, though you can argue 85-86.

Not that writers have all the answers, but the voting on MVP and all-nba aligns with what I observed as well.
Not going to disagree. Just keep in mind that Magic entered the league as a 20-year old, while Kareem was still in his prime at age 32. Magic's own prime didn't really even begin until HE was 27 (88-89). Bird's prime also started about age 27 (83-84). Bird entering the league three years older and more mature than Magic is a huge factor in this. We think of them as peers, but that three year age difference is huge. Compared to Bird, when the two of them entered the league Magic was still just a kid.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Magic from 1987 on—when he could shoot—has a real case as being equal or better than Bird. The career question is whether that makes up for being well behind up until then (and surfing off Kareem first few years).

It’s not a metrics question or answer, IMO.
 

Kliq

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David Robinson might be the most underrated superstar of the past 30 years. It's amazing that he doesn't get more love as a top 15 all time player on lists like these. If he doesn't lose a few years to the Navy, his numbers would look even better. Dude was a force on both ends of the floor. I'd take peak Robinson over peak Shaq, any day of the week.
Shaq has somehow become really underrated. He bulldozed his way to a back-to-back-to-back titles (something nobody has done since, the kind of season-to-season grind that is really underrated) in an insane fashion and is probably the most overwhelming physical force in the history of modern sports. He has flaws that are obvious and easy to point out (poor free throw shooter, frequently was out of shape) but his resume is sparkling.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
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David Robinson might be the most underrated superstar of the past 30 years. It's amazing that he doesn't get more love as a top 15 all time player on lists like these. If he doesn't lose a few years to the Navy, his numbers would look even better. Dude was a force on both ends of the floor. I'd take peak Robinson over peak Shaq, any day of the week.
The Admiral is one of my all-time favorite athletes so you won't find too many people who are bigger Robinson fans than me. What hurts him is that WCF against Houston where Hakeem obliterated him. Now to be fair, Robinson averaged 23.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.2 blocks a game in that series. Which, going up against a HOF center in his (Hakeem's) prime is a remarkable stat line. It's just that Olajuwon averaged 35.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 4.2 blocks in that series. So it ends up being a knock against Robinson.
 

jon abbey

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The Admiral is one of my all-time favorite athletes so you won't find too many people who are bigger Robinson fans than me. What hurts him is that WCF against Houston where Hakeem obliterated him. Now to be fair, Robinson averaged 23.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.2 blocks a game in that series. Which, going up against a HOF center in his (Hakeem's) prime is a remarkable stat line. It's just that Olajuwon averaged 35.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 4.2 blocks in that series. So it ends up being a knock against Robinson.
Yeah, because Robinson was named regular season league MVP in the middle of that series, while a guy at his same position was obliterating him head-to-head, so that's what everyone remembers (it was the first thing I thought of when I saw someone rate Robinson over Shaq which to me is not close, Shaq was so dominant that the league had to legalize zone defenses again to try to slow him down).
 

BaseballJones

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Yeah, because Robinson was named regular season league MVP in the middle of that series, while a guy at his same position was obliterating him, so that's what everyone remembers (it was the first thing I thought of when I saw someone rate Robinson over Shaq which to me is not close, Shaq was so dominant that the league had to legalize zone defenses again to try to slow him down).
Yep. Robinson deserved the MVP award, but man it was rough seeing the league MVP get destroyed in the conference finals. Again, Robinson played great and maybe Hakeem puts up 45 a night against a lesser opponent - he was THAT good that series. But man, it ended up being a total mismatch, with the MVP on the wrong end of it.
 

Mooch

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Yeah, because Robinson was named regular season league MVP in the middle of that series, while a guy at his same position was obliterating him head-to-head, so that's what everyone remembers (it was the first thing I thought of when I saw someone rate Robinson over Shaq which to me is not close, Shaq was so dominant that the league had to legalize zone defenses again to try to slow him down).
Except that Robinson routinely got the better of Shaq when the Admiral was in his prime and healthy ('93-'97 or so.)
 

snowmanny

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And don't forget...in 1979-80, Bird was 23 while Magic was 20. Enormous difference.
I don’t understand the relevance of this, unless you were thinking of trading them for each other. Anyway, the Celtics improved by 32 games Bird’s rookie year.

Bird was ROY and then went 2-2-2-1-1-1 in MVP voting and was as good as anyone the next year. Then he was hurt a lot. And Magic’s shooting improved.
 

Ale Xander

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I think a true ranking is hard to consider given the various different roles these players served and the eras they played in. Some quick back of the napkin assessments:

1. Michael Jordan
2. Bill Russell
3. LeBron James
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
5. Magic Johnson
6. Larry Bird
7. Tim Duncan
8. Shaquille O'Neal
9. Wilt Chamberlain
10. Kevin Durant
11. Jerry West
12. Hakeem Olajuwon
13. Elgin Baylor
14. Oscar Robertson
15. Steph Curry
16. Moses Malone
17. John Havlicek
18. Kobe Bryant
19. Dirk Nowitzki
20. Kevin Garnett
21. Bob Pettit
22. Bob Cousy
23. Dwyane Wade
24. Charles Barkley
25. Isiah Thomas
Thomas over Stockton?
rationale?
 

the moops

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The Pantheon: Jordan, LeBron, Kareem, Wilt, Russell
Among the Deities: Magic, Bird, Curry, Oscar, Duncan, Shaq
The Demigods: Durant, Olajuwon, Robinson, Kobe, K. Malone, West, M. Malone, Dr J, Baylor
The Heroes: Barkley, Isiah, Havlicek, Hayes, Stockton, Gervin, Garnett, Paul, Frazier, Nash
I like this. I would move Durant, Kobe, and Garnett up a level
 

Sausage in Section 17

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And Duncan was a superior PF to Malone without question. I'd rate Duncan as the best PF of all time. YMMV, of course.
I'm not going to take one thing away from Tim Duncan. However, I'd say it is definitely not a clear cut debate.

Tim Duncan vs. Karl Malone


REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS
Tim Duncan Player Karl Malone
19 (1997-2016) Seasons 19 (1985-2004)
1,392 Games Played 1,476
19.0 Points 25.0
10.8 Rebounds 10.1
3.0 Assists 3.6
2.2 Blocks 0.8
50.6% Field Goal % 51.6%
69.6% Free Throw % 74.2%
24.2 PER 23.9
206.4 Win Shares 234.6
15x All-Star Games 14x
15x All-NBA 14x
2x MVP 2x
5x NBA Titles
3x NBA Finals MVP
15x All-Defensive, ROY, All-Rookie Other Awards 4x All-Defensive, All-Rookie
2020 Hall of Fame Induction 2010


DECADE OF DOMINANCE
Tim Duncan Player Karl Malone
1997-2005, 2006-2008 Decade of Dominance 1987-1993, 1994-1998
744 Games Played 816
21.9 Points 27.9
11.9 Rebounds 10.9
3.1 Assists 3.4
2.5 Blocks 0.8
51.0% Field Goal % 53.4%
68.9% Free Throw % 75.1%
25.3 PER 25.7
130.4 Win Shares 149.2
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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Simmons wrote in his book that people in the future will compare Duncan and Malone's stats and conclude that Malone is better. And they will be wrong because stats don't tell the whole story.
 

Sausage in Section 17

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I'd settle for Duncan was a better defender, or all around player, but Malone was the best offensive PF of all time.

And Duncan's case is aided by the fact that he always had a better supporting cast around him.
 

Kliq

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I'd settle for Duncan was a better defender, or all around player, but Malone was the best offensive PF of all time.
If you value longevity over winning titles than Malone is one of the three best players in history. I'd say the best offensive PF of all time was Dirk.
 

Sausage in Section 17

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If you value longevity over winning titles than Malone is one of the three best players in history. I'd say the best offensive PF of all time was Dirk.
Since titles are a team accomplishment, I am disregarding them in terms of assessing individuals.

edit- I'm not sure where you're coming from with the Nowitzki comp. He played 2 more years than Malone, and Malone outranks him in virtually every statistical category, except FT and 3Pt. %.
 
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Ale Xander

killed off Vin Scully
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Oct 31, 2013
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Since titles are a team accomplishment, I am disregarding them in terms of assessing individuals.

edit- I'm not sure where you're coming from with the Nowitzki comp. He played 2 more years than Malone, and Malone outranks him in virtually every statistical category, except FT and 3Pt. %.
If you count passing ability and range, both Dirk and Barkley were better offensive players. Give them Stockton and then it’s a fair fight. When Barkley finally found a very good PG, he was MVP.
 

Captaincoop

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At their best there is a zero percent chance I would take Magic over Bird. Zero. If you want to give Magic a bunch of credit for holding up for a few extra years, fine, but it's not like one guy played for 20 years and the other was a flash in the pan. They both had full careers, and in their primes, Bird was better.
 

Sausage in Section 17

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Kobe over LeBron? No way.
I can be convinced to your point. It gets hard to think about these things, especially in the more modern NBA era where are the most dynamic players are essentially positionless. Even though I know he has incredible guard skills, I struggle to think of LeBron as a guard, but yes putting him in over Kobe makes sense, as Kobe was mostly an elite scorer, whereas LeBron is perhaps the most dynamic all around player of all time.

Which is why I would probably make LeBron the sixth man off the bench. Whatever you need more of at the time, he can sub in and give it to you.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
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At their best there is a zero percent chance I would take Magic over Bird. Zero. If you want to give Magic a bunch of credit for holding up for a few extra years, fine, but it's not like one guy played for 20 years and the other was a flash in the pan. They both had full careers, and in their primes, Bird was better.
To each his own. But this is where the age difference I referenced earlier matters. It's not just that Magic "held up a few extra years". It's that he entered the league at age 20 while Bird was 23, so they hit their primes at different times - both around age 27 but obviously Magic's prime started three years later than Bird's. So it's not just that Magic held on longer; that's when their primes were. You can't in any way "discredit" Magic for that or blow it off like it's nothing. It's almost literally the whole point. Because Magic at his very best came at a time when Bird's best was already past. And it's actually arguable whether Magic's best was better than Bird's. At worst, it's DAMNED close.

Now I prefer Bird over Magic and think his best was a little better. But it's really really REALLY close and no slam dunk at ALL.
 
Mar 26, 2014
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I can be convinced to your point. It gets hard to think about these things, especially in the more modern NBA era where are the most dynamic players are essentially positionless. Even though I know he has incredible guard skills, I struggle to think of LeBron as a guard, but yes putting him in over Kobe makes sense, as Kobe was mostly an elite scorer, whereas LeBron is perhaps the most dynamic all around player of all time.
I don't think anyone thinks of LeBron as a guard, and that's fine. Since he's the greatest SF of all-time he should probably be a SF on any all-time team.

Looking back at your list, you inexplicably put Jordan at SF even though Jordan is the greatest SG of all time.

Drop Kobe, put Jordan at SG where he belongs, and insert LeBron at SF. With one move your all-time team gets considerably better.
 

Sausage in Section 17

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I don't think anyone thinks of LeBron as a guard, and that's fine. Since he's the greatest SF of all-time he should probably be a SF on any all-time team.

Looking back at your list, you inexplicably put Jordan at SF even though Jordan is the greatest SG of all time.

Drop Kobe, put Jordan at SG where he belongs, and insert LeBron at SF. With one move your all-time team gets considerably better.
Yes. Thanks!
 

Seels

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Jul 20, 2005
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I think a true ranking is hard to consider given the various different roles these players served and the eras they played in. Some quick back of the napkin assessments:

1. Michael Jordan
2. Bill Russell
3. LeBron James
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
5. Magic Johnson
6. Larry Bird
7. Tim Duncan
8. Shaquille O'Neal
9. Wilt Chamberlain
10. Kevin Durant
11. Jerry West
12. Hakeem Olajuwon
13. Elgin Baylor
14. Oscar Robertson
15. Steph Curry
16. Moses Malone
17. John Havlicek
18. Kobe Bryant
19. Dirk Nowitzki
20. Kevin Garnett
21. Bob Pettit
22. Bob Cousy
23. Dwyane Wade
24. Charles Barkley
25. Isiah Thomas
I mostly agree with this. I'd probably switch Garnett and Robertson, and would probably move Kareem to 2 or 3.

One thing I'll say for sure -- this is around where Kobe should be, and the general twentysomething NBA fans who put Kobe top 10, or incredibly, top 3, are out of their minds.