Old guys playing in different eras

Devizier

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It's the offseason now, and with two of the best players on the market out of commission it's going to be a weird and somewhat disappointing one.

So let's have some fun with a discussion that has been popping up in various threads. Take a crack at the following questions and try to be thoughtful about it:

1) Which players from past eras would be diminished in the modern game?
2) Conversely, which players from past eras would have flourished in the modern NBA?

Obviously we're talking about the league post the illegal defense changes and all the tactical changes that have accompanied these rule adjustments.

No need to answer both questions if you don't want. And let's try to hold off on obvious examples (like, we know that Mark Eaton wouldn't have a place in the modern NBA).
 

Plantiers Wart

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Pete Maravich would have been ridiculous with the 3pt shot and current pace. I mean, he was a one man fast break for the Hawks and his early days on the Jazz.

As a slower veteran version of himself, Pistol did play his final three seasons with the 3pt line. He managed to hit on 20 of the 30 he attempted in those three seasons. A career 67%. He averaged 24 points and 5 assists for his career, the numbers dropping with the last few years just hanging on.

Edited to put some meat on the bone
 
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BaseballJones

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Olajuwon would be a beast in today's game, given that he could shoot from 20 feet, was unstoppable in the post, and was an unbelievable defender both on the perimeter and around the rim. He wasn't huge (only 6'10") so his troubles (not that he had many) arose when the paint got so clogged with huge bodies, but in today's game, that's never an issue. He'd be dominant today.

I wonder about Kareem. Obviously an all-time great, and he'd be tough to handle today, but he'd be exposed in P&R defensive situations. Plus he wasn't an outside shooter at all, so his usefulness (still considerable) would only be on the block. I think his game works less well today than it did in the 70s and 80s.
 

Buck Showalter

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2) Conversely, which players from past eras would have flourished in the modern NBA?

I think Reggie Miller would have absolutely feasted in this current environment.

He's the one person that always comes into my mind when I see the accelerated reliance on the three-point attempt. Additionally, when I see the officials grant three free-throws to the likes of Curry and Harden (via their strategies to throw themselves into the defender) I wonder how Miller's 'loosey-goosey' wiry frame could be utilized in the same way.

Miller was "really" difficult to defend when he was on. His long arms and strange body-type forced the defender to 'over play' at times and get close to him to contend his shot-attempts. With a FT% that was always near or above 90% --- Miller would be a top 3 scorer in today's NBA (especially the way the game is officiated) in my opinion.
 

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I'd like to see how McHale would fair in today's game. His range of post moves would be something I'm not sure people could defend even today...but I wonder about how he'd do against more athletic players.

Edit: I also think the fast break and passing of the Celtics would still be effective today.
 

lars10

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Imagine Jordan getting the same free throw considerations as Harden. If you weren't allowed to touch him how would you have been able to guard him?

Edit: after review Harden has 8.5FTA/game and Jordan 8.2 over their careers.. But Jordan averaged 8.7 with the Bulls and Harden has averaged 10.2 with Houston.. he was really low at OKC.
 

Jake Peavy's Demons

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A topic I think often about!

2 players that come to my mind:

Arvydas Sabonis
Yao Ming

Yao didn't have much, if any, type of post-game until he worked with Patrick Ewing in the States. He took plenty of abuse down in the post.

Yao would be much more of a mid-range and deep offensive player in today's game, & who knows, he would've probably put up better counting stats.

Of course, you could make the argument that his conditioning may be too poor in today's pace-&-space era to truly reach his potential...
 

Buck Showalter

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I wonder about Kareem. Obviously an all-time great, and he'd be tough to handle today, but he'd be exposed in P&R defensive situations. Plus he wasn't an outside shooter at all, so his usefulness (still considerable) would only be on the block. I think his game works less well today than it did in the 70s and 80s.
I loved Kareem and thought he was incredibly dominant. His sky-hook may be the single most 'un-guardable' shot in the history of the NBA.

But I have to agree with you. Although still a significant talent, he's one example of an individual that would "not" benefit from today's NBA.
 

Kliq

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Jordan would probably be better if he grew up to play today's basketball because he would shoot more threes instead of contested twos and wouldn't get hammered as hard when he went to the basket.

Kevin Garnett would be better as a modern era five who could switch everything on defense and also shot more threes. A lot of guys who had killer mid-range games in their day would be better players now if they expanded to three-point range.

Bird would be interesting because he could conceivably be a small-ball 5 in today's NBA, and could theoretically be like Nikola Jokic on steroids.

Most of the pre-merger guys would be worse because a lot of them were ahead-of-their-time athletes that wouldn't stand out as much in the modern NBA. Jerry West would be interesting because of his absurd wingspan for a guard and would obviously benefit from the three point line.

People dumping on Kareem are probably remembering the end of his career when he was a mummy; young Kareem was quick and spry and wouldn't be that big of a detriment in the pick and roll.
 

ElUno20

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2) Michael Jordan. He'd average 20-25 free throws a game. Prime mj. Not 93-96 mj.
 
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Ale Xander

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1) Greg Kite, Mark West
2) Dan Majerle, Antoine Walker, Chris Mullin, Jeff Hornacek, Tracy McGrady, Danny Ainge
 

Bergs

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A topic I think often about!

2 players that come to my mind:

Arvydas Sabonis
Yao Ming

Yao didn't have much, if any, type of post-game until he worked with Patrick Ewing in the States. He took plenty of abuse down in the post.

Yao would be much more of a mid-range and deep offensive player in today's game, & who knows, he would've probably put up better counting stats.

Of course, you could make the argument that his conditioning may be too poor in today's pace-&-space era to truly reach his potential...
I would have loved to see Sabonis at his peak.
 

lars10

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Rodman would probably be too big an offensive liability to be as much of an asset as he was in the 90s.
I think the comp to him would be Artest? And pseudo Marcus Smart? Rodman didn’t need to score because of the teams he was on.. but I imagine his fairly unique skill set and the failure of modern teams to focus at all on boxing out would benefit him immensely.
 

DannyDarwinism

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Generally, I'd look at wings who could shoot and had the lateral quickness to defend the perimeter in today's game. Since three point rates were so low in the 80s, I'd maybe try to extrapolate shooting range by looking at FT%.

Outside of the guys already mentioned, 'd think I'd go with guys like:

Walter Davis
Rolando Blackmon
Marques Johnson
Adrian Dantley
Alvin Robertson
Fat Lever
Alex English
Sidney Moncrief
Dale Ellis (no shooting extrapolation necessary)
Mark Aguirre
Terry Cummings (pre injury)
 

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I think the comp to him would be Artest? And pseudo Marcus Smart? Rodman didn’t need to score because of the teams he was on.. but I imagine his fairly unique skill set and the failure of modern teams to focus at all on boxing out would benefit him immensely.
Maybe? I figured that in this era of spacing you can't really afford one guy who is absolutely zero threat to score. He'd still be an A+ defender and rebounder, but I'm not sure that would be enough to overcome his offensive deficiencies.
 

Devizier

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So my guy in the #2 category is Allen Iverson. He obviously had a lot of the physical attributes that would suit him well in the current game. Despite being a little dude he was strong as hell and had an unusually large wingspan, attributes that made him a pretty good defender albeit one who would still get abused on switches in the present league. His size disadvantage was particularly marked in an era that had the biggest players (by average height/weight) in NBA history and would be greatly reduced in the modern game. He was fast and would remain so even in the present league context. He was extremely aggressive driving to the basket and would probably find even more opportunities to score with modern floor spacing. The flip side of that is he wouldn't have gotten to the line nearly as often with fewer guys hacking on him, so there would be more pressure to finish at the rim, but he was a good finisher.

The biggest knocks on Iverson were his work ethic (no contest there), ball dominance -- still an issue but look at Harden for an example of how that can work in the modern league -- and his shot selection. He took a lot of difficult shots like runners and surprise, surprise, a ton of long twos (28% of all shots in his post '00 career). If he extended his range as so many of his modern counterparts have, he would have had just such a lethal game.

Plus we know that Iverson was a direct beneficiary of the hand check changes by virtue of the fact that two of his best offensive seasons (05-06 and 07-08) came after those revisions and at the end of his career.

Lastly, this is true for a lot of the old dudes, but AI would have been so much better if he wasn't playing 41 MPG.
 

Devizier

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I'd like to see how McHale would fair in today's game. His range of post moves would be something I'm not sure people could defend even today...but I wonder about how he'd do against more athletic players.

Edit: I also think the fast break and passing of the Celtics would still be effective today.
McHale would be a category one guy for me. He had the great post game but defenses would trap him to death and he was not a great passer. I think he'd hold up defensively, though. At least the younger, non-gimpy version.

Following on my previous post, I have some other category two guys like Sam Perkins and Detlef Shrempf as proto-modern bigs.
 

reggiecleveland

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I would have loved to see Sabonis at his peak.
This is my hobby horse, I guess, but I think the game in the after life or a time warp, and you can make two all time teams, you have to include him. He just dominated david robinson in the goodwill games.

When I talk to guys that played for Canada in the 8Os and they talk about the best guy they ever saw the rule is OTS )other than Sabonis) and the list includes Karl Malone, Barkely, Ewing, The Admiral, a college age Jordan, etc. Their take was he dominated both ends was a better shot blocker than Ewing or Robinson, and better scorer and passer than anybody else. They said they saw him to the Blake Griffin dunk where he threw the ball down from a few feet away from the rim, as a sort of victory cigar when games were out of hand. Another story has it in some gym at the end of a shoot around a Soviet guy dunked it and the French team (the coach was paranoid about the rim being level, etc ) accused them of trying to mess up the rim Sabonis casually shattered the board. Guys say stuff about him like "Hey if he had only been 7 feet he would have been the best but he was 7-3 or 7-4.

Apparently he was kind of legendary Paul Bunyan/Andre the Giant figure off the court flipping over cars, lifting up random heavy objects like mailboxes, holding pitchers of beer like they were shot glasses, etc.

Sabonis shot a fair number of threes, and fought with the Soviet coaches about it, and was only allowed to shoot them if they were losing. Hubie Brown at a clinic (at peak Lakers Dynasty)was asked who could have guarded Shaq and only Wilt and Sabonis came to mind as guys that could have physically handed both Shaq's strength and quickness.
 

lars10

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McHale would be a category one guy for me. He had the great post game but defenses would trap him to death and he was not a great passer. I think he'd hold up defensively, though. At least the younger, non-gimpy version.

Following on my previous post, I have some other category two guys like Sam Perkins and Detlef Shrempf as proto-modern bigs.
The only reason I think McHale would still do well is that not many, if any, players today utilize multiple pump fakes... People are so much more focused, imo, on big blocks that they go up into the air early. Players would probably adjust, but he also had a fake and step back fadeaway that was extremely difficult to block because of his length.

Watching highlights right now.. man the overall jumping ability is so much lower... and man the rims sound like they're rock solid. Re: trapping though.. who does that leave open if they collapse down on him? Because he did pass ok out of the post and Ainge, DJ or Larry would be wide open...or he could pass to Parrish who would probably be weak side as well...fun thought exercise.
 

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The only reason I think McHale would still do well is that not many, if any, players today utilize multiple pump fakes... People are so much more focused, imo, on big blocks that they go up into the air early. Players would probably adjust, but he also had a fake and step back fadeaway that was extremely difficult to block because of his length.

Watching highlights right now.. man the overall jumping ability is so much lower... and man the rims sound like they're rock solid. Re: trapping though.. who does that leave open if they collapse down on him? Because he did pass ok out of the post and Ainge, DJ or Larry would be wide open...or he could pass to Parrish who would probably be weak side as well...fun thought exercise.
McHale would not doubt be able to pick and pop today. He was hitting a lot of Js at the limit bigs were allowed to shoot 18 feet or so, later in his career. He was a great agile defender and had the much coveted length coaches talk about. He often guarded guys too quick for Bird, and locked up some pretty quick 3s.

Bird and McHale would be really good today, just McHale would play 5 and Bird 4.

Lebron would be even better (scary) in the handcheck era. His strength would be way more of an asset, and allowed to handcheck he would smother almost everybody on d. Lebron is probably the most sure fire guy to be successful in any era.
 

lars10

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Thought of two other guys:

1. Bill Russell. I'd like to think that he would still be dominant, but I think he'd be too small for the 5 in todays game.. but I never saw him play.
2. Tony Kukoc.. I think fairly well overlooked because of the other two guys...but he was pretty good off the bench with them.

edit: watching a an old clip and Gary Payton is saying that John Stockton was the hardest player he ever had to guard.. harder than Jordan... two players there I'd also like to see in today's game.
 
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lars10

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McHale would not doubt be able to pick and pop today. He was hitting a lot of Js at the limit bigs were allowed to shoot 18 feet or so, later in his career. He was a great agile defender and had the much coveted length coaches talk about. He often guarded guys too quick for Bird, and locked up some pretty quick 3s.

Bird and McHale would be really good today, just McHale would play 5 and Bird 4.

Lebron would be even better (scary) in the handcheck era. His strength would be way more of an asset, and allowed to handcheck he would smother almost everybody on d. Lebron is probably the most sure fire guy to be successful in any era.
LeBron's size in the 80s and 90s and truly being allowed to use it would be scary. His combo of size and strength would be punishing even more then.
 

reggiecleveland

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Thought of two other guys:

1. Bill Russell. I'd like to think that he would still be dominant, but I think he'd be too small for the 5 in todays game.. but I never saw him play.
2. Tony Kukoc.. I think fairly well overlooked because of the other two guys...but he was pretty good off the bench with them.
I used to think that about Russell until Ben Wallace was doing so well. Also Russell was a really long 6-10. There is a weird thing in listed heights that they converge around 6-9, maybe 6-10 today. Guys under 6-9 lie to be taller. Guys bigger want to be thought of as skilled. KD for example is paranoid about being called a 7 footer. I remember Russell in his 60s comparing reach, etc with McHale and was a bit longer. Russell like 6-9 because it made the gap between him and Wilt w=see greater, and enhanced anything he could accomplish against Wilt.


Edit Lebron
Lebron is really on Wilt's level of athletic once in ever three or four generations force of nature. I mean what sport couldn't he do? Hard not to imagine him being better than Gronk if he had played football. He was top rated WIDEOUT at 6-8 230 in high school. I will stick up for guys from the era when I played, the guys I wanted to get a chance to play against, and I hope the Lakers go 0-82, but Lebron is godlike.
 
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PedroKsBambino

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McHale regularly defended small forwards for the Celtics, in the 1980s so I think he'd be fine defensively. Later in his career he developed a jumper, and he had the FT%, so I think he'd be a guy who would be very valuable still---just would look different offensively as the game changed. Think Mark Gasol's evolution into a jump-shooter (well, he doesn't jump but you get the idea). Or Al Horford's.

I have thought of AI as the precursor to Russell Westbrook. Not quite as focused on rebounding but even a better pure athlete and even more fearless driving to the hoop. That's the guy I'd look at to see what AI would be like today.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I used to think that about Russell until Ben Wallace was doing so well. Also Russell was a really long 6-10. There is a weird thing in listed heights that they converge around 6-9, maybe 6-10 today. Guys under 6-9 lie to be taller. Guys bigger want to be thought of as skilled. KD for example is paranoid about being called a 7 footer. I remember Russell in his 60s comparing reach, etc with McHale and was a bit longer. Russell like 6-9 because it made the gap between him and Wilt w=see greater, and enhanced anything he could accomplish against Wilt.
I wouldn't underestimate Bill Russell's athleticism, and thus his ability to adjust and still have impact today. Here's an article on it:

https://hoopslab.rotowire.com/post/162891705296/bill-russells-athleticism-and-potential-for-max

I think it's possible he'd be even more impactful today---the game is much more designed for that kind of speed, and he has a first-rate basketball mind as well. Sure, more other guys are close in athleticism now but I think it's pretty likely he'd be the best defender and rebounder in the game and right there behind Jokic as the best big-man passer.

Plus, let's face it---that guy is the greatest winner in the history of American team sports. Jordan and Brady's records pale in comparison. I'm not betting he wouldn't have figured it out until I see it.
 

Kliq

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David Robinson would be interesting because I don’t think bigs were emancipated enough during his career to fully take advantage of his skills. Hakeem was a better player, but Hakeem’s skills were better for that era of “dump it inside and go to work”. I’d love to see Robinson in the modern era setting screens, catching lobs, passing from the high post, grabbing a rebound and leading the fast break, and facing a guy up and blowing past him off the dribble. I think he’d be like a super-in-shape Joel Embiid.
 

The Social Chair

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I'd like to see how McHale would fair in today's game. His range of post moves would be something I'm not sure people could defend even today...but I wonder about how he'd do against more athletic players.

Edit: I also think the fast break and passing of the Celtics would still be effective today.
The 80s players would need to learn to dribble with their offhand.
 

reggiecleveland

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David Robinson would be interesting because I don’t think bigs were emancipated enough during his career to fully take advantage of his skills. Hakeem was a better player, but Hakeem’s skills were better for that era of “dump it inside and go to work”. I’d love to see Robinson in the modern era setting screens, catching lobs, passing from the high post, grabbing a rebound and leading the fast break, and facing a guy up and blowing past him off the dribble. I think he’d be like a super-in-shape Joel Embiid.
Robinson was the best body and athlete for his time too. Watch vets talk about hi, 'Nice guy" "good team mate" "too unselfish" all euphemisms for soft. There is an "it" stars need and he didn't have it. He was so insanely talented he could get by, but in big matcups, like young Sabonis he usually got worked. I don't think there is any circumstance in which Hakeem doesn't just annihilate Robinson. I have never ever seen a matchup of two supposed superstars where one just asskicked the other like Hakeem and the Admiral.
 

lars10

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The 80s players would need to learn to dribble with their offhand.
You think today’s players are better fundamentally than those from the 80s? I’d be interested to see how they’d compare at things like dribbling.. my impression from watching is that today’s nba is far worse on the fundamentals and makes up for it with athleticism. Things like pump fakes, catching the ball hugh and not bringing the ball down as a center, boxing out and focusing more on the player and then the ball (which seems to be all but forgotten)

When I watch Curry for instance.. sometimes I think he relies too much on how pure a shooter he is.. instead of taking a well balanced shot every time he seems to take a lot of off balance shots..almost as if he’s challenging himself. He makes a lot of unnecessary behind the back or difficult passes that would have got there as a simple chest or bounce pass.

This is anecdotal though.. I don’t recall players dribbling worse back then, but perhaps higher dribbles.. it would be interesting to review.
 

slamminsammya

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You think today’s players are better fundamentally than those from the 80s? I’d be interested to see how they’d compare at things like dribbling.. my impression from watching is that today’s nba is far worse on the fundamentals and makes up for it with athleticism. Things like pump fakes, catching the ball hugh and not bringing the ball down as a center, boxing out and focusing more on the player and then the ball (which seems to be all but forgotten)

When I watch Curry for instance.. sometimes I think he relies too much on how pure a shooter he is.. instead of taking a well balanced shot every time he seems to take a lot of off balance shots..almost as if he’s challenging himself. He makes a lot of unnecessary behind the back or difficult passes that would have got there as a simple chest or bounce pass.

This is anecdotal though.. I don’t recall players dribbling worse back then, but perhaps higher dribbles.. it would be interesting to review.
I think this take comes from a genuine place but is not at all correct. What a "fundamental" skill even is evolves with the game. I know we've had this discussion many times in this subforum but watch the ballhandling in the 80s and try to tell me with a straight face that today's players are not lightyears ahead. Shooting is a fundamental - again I'd argue they are way more skilled today. Same with intelligent (read, team aware) defensive positioning. That's fundamental. Lightyears ahead now.
 

BaseballJones

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The only reason I think McHale would still do well is that not many, if any, players today utilize multiple pump fakes... People are so much more focused, imo, on big blocks that they go up into the air early. Players would probably adjust, but he also had a fake and step back fadeaway that was extremely difficult to block because of his length.

Watching highlights right now.. man the overall jumping ability is so much lower... and man the rims sound like they're rock solid. Re: trapping though.. who does that leave open if they collapse down on him? Because he did pass ok out of the post and Ainge, DJ or Larry would be wide open...or he could pass to Parrish who would probably be weak side as well...fun thought exercise.
Offensively, McHale would have been just fine. He'd have been impossible to stop. Defensively, he already got the matchup with the opposing team's best forward - that meant he often had to guard Worthy or Dominique, who were all-time great scorers that were both athletic as hell, quick, and strong. I think he'd have been fine in today's game. DJ, on the other hand, would have had a world of trouble. Not a good outside shooter at all (despite making the occasional big shot), and though he was a great defender, he was more strong than quick, and today's rules would have worked against him in that regard.
 

BaseballJones

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I think this take comes from a genuine place but is not at all correct. What a "fundamental" skill even is evolves with the game. I know we've had this discussion many times in this subforum but watch the ballhandling in the 80s and try to tell me with a straight face that today's players are not lightyears ahead. Shooting is a fundamental - again I'd argue they are way more skilled today. Same with intelligent (read, team aware) defensive positioning. That's fundamental. Lightyears ahead now.
Ball handlers look so much better today because they're allowed to do things that were illegal in the 70s and 80s. When you had to dribble on the top of the ball, maybe along the side, but that's it, it's much harder to control the ball then when they allow you to manipulate it like they let these guys do. Never mind the Eurostep, which was absolutely, 100% illegal back then, as well as the big jump stop, not to mention a move like Cousins had last night where he literally took four steps to rumble into the lane, side-stepping two defenders, and laying it in. Legal today, very much not legal back then.

And we haven't even mentioned the Harden style step back move or the Giannis and Kawhi plow-into-you-and-move-you-backward-only-to-freeze-mid-step move that 100% would have been called a travel back then and is clearly allowed today.

Watch Isiah Thomas or Tim Hardaway handle the basketball in some of their highlight videos. Their ball handling was spectacular, without violating the rules. They'd be insane playing with today's rules.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Ball handlers look so much better today because they're allowed to do things that were illegal in the 70s and 80s. When you had to dribble on the top of the ball, maybe along the side, but that's it, it's much harder to control the ball then when they allow you to manipulate it like they let these guys do. Never mind the Eurostep, which was absolutely, 100% illegal back then, as well as the big jump stop, not to mention a move like Cousins had last night where he literally took four steps to rumble into the lane, side-stepping two defenders, and laying it in. Legal today, very much not legal back then.

And we haven't even mentioned the Harden style step back move or the Giannis and Kawhi plow-into-you-and-move-you-backward-only-to-freeze-mid-step move that 100% would have been called a travel back then and is clearly allowed today.

Watch Isiah Thomas or Tim Hardaway handle the basketball in some of their highlight videos. Their ball handling was spectacular, without violating the rules. They'd be insane playing with today's rules.
Spin moves would be travels back then too.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Off the top of my head, Anthony Mason would not sniff a pro contract today. Kiki Vanderweghe would be a max player.

I think Steph Curry would have had a great but short career. Greg Monroe would have been sought after if he played in the 1990s.
 

Big John

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Players who would be diminished: Patrick Ewing, Bob Lanier, Willis Reed, Wes Unseld, Shaquille O'Neal. They would get pick and rolled to death.

Players who would flourish: Robertson (he would be James Harden on steroids), Sam Jones (among others)
 

lars10

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Players who would be diminished: Patrick Ewing, Bob Lanier, Willis Reed, Wes Unseld, Shaquille O'Neal. They would get pick and rolled to death.

Players who would flourish: Robertson (he would be James Harden on steroids), Sam Jones (among others)
Who guards Shaq in the modern nba?
 

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Maybe Ralph Sampson would fare better today? Athletic, mobile, could get out and cover on the perimeter as he did playing the 4 with Hakeem. Only shot 48% from field and 66% from the line but in today’s game have to think he wouldn’t have been simply stuck down low and would have developed skills that better suited his athletic ability. That playoff winning catch and shoot in one motion against the Showtime Lakers is a play not many 5s could make in any era.

As for Russell, I think he would have been great. Defense and rebounding, quick enough to cover on perimeter. Not much of s shooter in either era.

One more i’ll Toss out. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Was too small in his era, I think his quickness and shot would have excelled today.

Ok. Just one more - Tiny Archibald.
 

jimv

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Feb 5, 2011
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Maybe this has been brought up but players from previous eras worked on the aspects of their game that were important at that time. Kareem spent a lifetime working on his post footwork and skyhook. No coach would have him working on 20 footers.

As an all-time great I'm pretty certain he would have developed a nice jumper if he put in the time
 

Bernie Carbohydrate

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Maybe this has been brought up but players from previous eras worked on the aspects of their game that were important at that time. Kareem spent a lifetime working on his post footwork and skyhook. No coach would have him working on 20 footers.

As an all-time great I'm pretty certain he would have developed a nice jumper if he put in the time
I agree -- and with the poster above about Mummy Kareem. The 80s Kareem we saw with the Showtime Lakers was the late, slower version, trailing the play, taking his time getting into the post and relying on the hook. He was the Lakers offense when the fast break -- Magic sprint-dribbling ahead with Worthy on one wing and Byron Scott on the other -- failed. I think 70s Kareem would thrive in today's NBA, and he'd have learned early to work on the midrange-and-out shooting that draws the opposing big man away from the hoop, the way Antetokounmpo has learned he needs to hit the three enough to make defenses guard him on the wing.

Speaking of bigs, Artis Gilmore doesn't play in today's NBA, but Earl Cureton makes 100 million as an athletic big who can switch on the perimeter.

Scott Wedman shot 33% from three in an era when people didn't understand the offensive potential of that shot. I imagine Bill Fitch yelling at him in practice each time he missed one and deriding the three-ball as a gimmick. These days Wedman is a long-range gunner shooting 40% from the arc and he'd get paid like Jimmy Butler.
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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Robinson was the best body and athlete for his time too. Watch vets talk about hi, 'Nice guy" "good team mate" "too unselfish" all euphemisms for soft. There is an "it" stars need and he didn't have it. He was so insanely talented he could get by, but in big matcups, like young Sabonis he usually got worked. I don't think there is any circumstance in which Hakeem doesn't just annihilate Robinson. I have never ever seen a matchup of two supposed superstars where one just asskicked the other like Hakeem and the Admiral.
Hakeem really took it to Robinson in that one playoff series in 1995, but Robinson still put up a line of 23.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.2 blocks. The guy played great - just ran into an absolute monster at a time when Hakeem was just in another world.

Head to head, their numbers are very, very comparable:

42 games played head to head.

Robinson: 48.8% FG, 14.3 FGA, 19.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.2 steals, 3.3 blocks, 30-12 record
Olajuwon: 44.1% FG, 20.0 FGA, 21.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 steals, 3.4 blocks, 12-30 record

So yes, Hakeem was just in another zone in that playoff series - one of the most incredible performances I've ever seen, especially considering the caliber of his opponent, but head to head, the two of them were absolute equals. It's a total myth that Robinson didn't have "it", or that Hakeem was the more dominant player. That one series, yes, no doubt, an all-time great performance by Olajuwan. But throughout their careers? It's just not true.

For the record, if we're using head to head numbers to determine "ass kicking", then you should take a look at Wilt vs. Russell.

For comparison, using only the stats that were kept in Russell/Chamberlain's days:

Robinson vs. Hakeem
Robinson: 30-12 (.714), 48.8% FG, 19.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists
Olajuwon: 12-30 (.286), 44.1% FG, 21.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists

Russell vs. Chamberlain
Russell: 57-37 (.606), 37.0% FG, 14.2 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists
Chamberlain: 37-57 (.394), 48.8% FG, 29.9 points, 28.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists

Chamberlain dominated Russell one on one FAR more than Olajuwon dominated Robinson. And Robinson's team beat Olajuwan's team at a higher rate than Russell's beat Chamberlain's.
 

The Social Chair

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You think today’s players are better fundamentally than those from the 80s? I’d be interested to see how they’d compare at things like dribbling.. my impression from watching is that today’s nba is far worse on the fundamentals and makes up for it with athleticism. Things like pump fakes, catching the ball hugh and not bringing the ball down as a center, boxing out and focusing more on the player and then the ball (which seems to be all but forgotten)

When I watch Curry for instance.. sometimes I think he relies too much on how pure a shooter he is.. instead of taking a well balanced shot every time he seems to take a lot of off balance shots..almost as if he’s challenging himself. He makes a lot of unnecessary behind the back or difficult passes that would have got there as a simple chest or bounce pass.

This is anecdotal though.. I don’t recall players dribbling worse back then, but perhaps higher dribbles.. it would be interesting to review.
I strongly disagree. Modern players are much better shooters, play in more complicated systems, and their skill level blows an 80s player out of the water. I'm not sure what those teams would do against a Giannis, Durant, or Kawhi. Harden might average 45 a game in 1984.



The video in this tweet is obviously a joke (and taken out of context) but it actually does do a good job highlighting how Magic Johnson only drives with his right hand. Can you imagine if Bird tried to back down Kawhi from just below the 3 point line?

The defense is also slow and gives up a ton of space.
 

Cellar-Door

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I think the only guys who would be better would be guys who were great shooters, Bird, Kerr, etc. Because taking so many more 3s a game would be a huge asset.

I think the guys who were physically superior in their era, Jordan for example would be much worse. Defenses are much better, both in terms of scheme and athleticism. Jordan was 6'6" and one of the best athletes of his generation, he mostly played against less athletic smaller guys than himself, and against truly basic defensive screens with rules that benefited ISO. If he played now, his average defender is just as big and arguably as athletic as him, there are more complex schemes, a slight uptick in FTr doesn't make up for that.