Tatum or Ant?

Who would you rather build your team around?


  • Total voters
    213

lovegtm

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The perception is that Luka is a closer, where the optics for Tatum have been less flattering. How many games has he won late against the Celtics alone?

With Edwards, the argument will primarily be that he is an alpha male apex predator with a nasty streak unlike Tatum’s clean image and understated personality.
There really aren't any reasonable "count the winz" based arguments that put Luka over Tatum. Tatum has just had far, far more success with all types of teams and roles than Luka has.

It's not like the 2017-18 Celtics were a murderer's row--we look at them as that partly because of how far Tatum took them. You can say this for most of the teams he's been on.
 

pjheff

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There really aren't any reasonable "count the winz" based arguments that put Luka over Tatum. Tatum has just had far, far more success with all types of teams and roles than Luka has.

It's not like the 2017-18 Celtics were a murderer's row--we look at them as that partly because of how far Tatum took them. You can say this for most of the teams he's been on.
I don’t think it’s a “count the winz” contest but rather the perception of who you want to have with the ball in his hands for late and close situations.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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I'm not necessarily seeing the age difference being the deciding factor when comparing a 26 and 22-year old. So what, Tatum has 12 years left in his career and Edwards 16? It's not like they are both older and it is 4 years versus 8 years of production left. Tatum wouldn't have to change much to have a good old-man game, either.

As others have said, Tatum has shown more to date and therefore his supermax is not going to be a sunk cost. I think Edwards will hit a great peak, but just some of the off-court stuff (and some on-court like missing the opening tipoff last month) has me less than 100% certain. JT has none of those odors coming off him even when he was younger than Ant, the only time he's in the news is an odd/out of context quote or two.
 

lovegtm

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I don’t think it’s a “count the winz” contest but rather the perception of who you want to have with the ball in his hands for late and close situations.
That's fair. There are a couple valid observations that imo basketball analysis has gone way too far with:
- shot creation is the premium skill
- close and late is a uniquely important part of the game

The problem is that "premium skill" and "uniquely important" have come to mean "overwhelmingly critical to the exclusion of all else", and guys like Tatum get unfairly dinged for being really really good at everything else (and with not as huge a gap in those 2 as you'd think listening to commentary).
 

pjheff

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That's fair. There are a couple valid observations that imo basketball analysis has gone way too far with:
- shot creation is the premium skill
- close and late is a uniquely important part of the game

The problem is that "premium skill" and "uniquely important" have come to mean "overwhelmingly critical to the exclusion of all else", and guys like Tatum get unfairly dinged for being really really good at everything else (and with not as huge a gap in those 2 as you'd think listening to commentary).
I don’t disagree. That’s why I continue to emphasize the word “perception.” Fair or not, the Celtics generally and Tatum specifically are perceived to be soft and coming up short in key moments. Any “Tatum or alternate” debate is going to introduce a candidate who is reputed to be a more demonstrative alpha (Edwards) or a better closer (Doncic) until Tatum changes the narrative.
 

slamminsammya

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Tatum is probably better than Luka, i certainly believe so. But i have a hard time seeing the case that it’s a very large gap. Some folks here are acting like Luka is a much worse player or some kind of bum. I think him and Tatum are in the same echelon in the league of just not quite MVP guys.
 

m0ckduck

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This is the nuttiest thing I've read on this forum in at least *checks notes* well, 10 hours or so. But still - nuts!

Wemby is very tall, but also of a build that shouldn't put too much strain on his knees, and he's coming up in an era that understands far better about how to keep players like him on the court. Manute Bol, Ralph Sampson, even Shawn Bradley might as well be ancient history by comparison to a player entering the league in 2024. The guy isn't walking off the rec league courts into the NBA, either - he was a pro for FOUR YEARS in France, with a lower workload than an NBA season, certainly, but the guy was banging down in the post with grown-ass men since he was literally 15 years old. And nearing the end of his 5th pro season, he hasn't missed significant time to injury in any of them.

Anyway, unless one has a deep conviction that Wemby is inevitably going to get Embiid Knee in the immediate future, I don't see how one could possibly take even Tatum or Ant over him. He is a unique game-wrecker, the most unanswerable challenge on both ends of the court in the entire league, save perhaps Jokic. And he just turned 20! Would I trade Tatum for him this coming offseason? If I didn't let sentimentality get in the way, yeah, probably! Our window to get titles would be much extended with him on a rookie-scale contract the next 3 years and making 30% of the cap the 4 years after that, rather than Tatum at 35%. Tatum is "likely first-team all-NBA for the next 5-7 years", obviously an amazing player, but Victor is on the fast track to "maybe the greatest player in basketball history", it's a rung on the ladder that most players can't even reach for. And, while you can't just "find another Jayson Tatum" out there for trade, you can get a lot closer to him, as a two-way wing, than you can get to anyone resembling Wembanyama.

You'd take Ant Edwards over Victor Wembanyama, to build a team around? Wow. I'd understand the skepticism if he was still yet to enter the NBA, questioning if the hype was real, etc. But we've seen it for 70+ games now.
I'm more bearish on Wembanyama's health prospects than others, and maybe more so than is merited. My thing is, I'd like to see someone of his height enjoy a productive 10+ career before I (hypothetically) trade a top-6 perennially-healthy talent like Tatum for him. On your side of the argument is: Kareem, who enjoyed a long healthy career, and all the advances in medical understanding and certain specificities of Wemby's situation that bode well (e.g. that his build seems better suited to withstand NBA activities than previous giants, etc). And maybe in a decade, my skepticism will seem quaint while guys like Wemby and Chet are in the midst of long fruitful careers. But so far, the health record of really big guys with really big expectations has been spotty (Walton *, Yao, Sampson, Embiid). The "big expectations" part is important, too, because the physical strain on someone like Wemby is entirely different than on role players like Shawn Bradley or Mark Eaton, who just stood around and blocked shots, weren't expected to dribble up the court, change directions, etc etc, so I don't think these guys are useful data points.

TLDR, I'd put the over/under on top-level Wemby seasons at 6 (edit: including the one we just saw). That's the only reason I wouldn't trade Tatum or Ant for him.If you project his career over 12-15 years based on what we've seen so far, I agree there's no question that he's at the top of any trade value rankings.

* Walton was widely believed to be 7'2" despite being listed as 6'11"
 
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m0ckduck

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The love for Luka proves that the love for POINTZ will never die. I mean, he’s a great player. But he is nowhere near Tatum in terms of overall impact.
I feel it's a bit more nuanced . When I watch Luka racking up triple-doubles, bending defenses, and scoring at huge volume with high efficiency, I get why pundits have him higher than Tatum, even if I'm skeptical. It's also worth noting that DARKO has them very close.

The case for Luka would be that NBA basketball has tilted towards offense to a point where his genius on that end of the court outweighs the contributions of a balanced player like Tatum. The question is: has it really? Even after the officiating adjustment? To me, this postseason is a major referendum on Luka and whether his profile maps to "winning basketball." So far, over his Mavs career, we've had two first round exits, a run to the WCF (was fluky, but then many conference finals runs are fluky), and then last season's disgrace of missing the play-in altogether. If they again fail to go anywhere this postseason, then I agree serious people need to stop ranking him over Tatum. Right now, I feel it's a "jury still out" situation.

Edit: it's annoying to see Tatum included in conversations about whose legacy has the most to win/lose in this postseason. The correct answer to that question is: Embiid, Kawhi, Luka in some order. The former two need healthy, productive showings to remain in the top 10 player rankings IMO. Luka needs to win a round or two to stay in the top 5.
 
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lars10

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I feel it's a bit more nuanced . When I watch Luka racking up triple-doubles, bending defenses, and scoring at huge volume with high efficiency, I get why pundits have him higher than Tatum, even if I'm skeptical. It's also worth noting that DARKO has them very close.

The case for Luka would be that NBA basketball has tilted towards offense to a point where his genius on that end of the court outweighs the contributions of a balanced player like Tatum. The question is: has it really? Even after the officiating adjustment? To me, this postseason is a major referendum on Luka and whether his profile maps to "winning basketball." So far, over his Mavs career, we've had two first round exits, a run to the WCF (was fluky, but then many conference finals runs are fluky), and then last season's disgrace of missing the play-in altogether. If they again fail to go anywhere this postseason, then I agree serious people need to stop ranking him over Tatum. Right now, I feel it's a "jury still out" situation.

Edit: it's annoying to see Tatum included in conversations about whose legacy has the most to win/lose in this postseason. The correct answer to that question is: Embiid, Kawhi, Luka in some order. The former two need healthy, productive showings to remain in the top 10 player rankings IMO. Luka needs to win a round or two to stay in the top 5.
One thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is that, with the playoffs looming, this Celtics team has basically not been talked about other than to say they need to win it all. All saying that, yeah they’ve been great, but can this team go and win it all after failing so often.. a team with Tatum that has gone to at least the ECF 4 of the last 6 years. I haven’t noticed other teams or players getting talked about as that being a failure or weakness in the same way.

it also seems as though this team will win few end of season awards.. coach JM doesn’t seem like he’ll be considered.. they won’t have an mvp, no defensive player of the year, etc. A team that has utterly dominated the NBA this year has basically exhausted pundits into not talking about them at all… except for maybe their late game offense?
 

Jimbodandy

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I feel it's a bit more nuanced . When I watch Luka racking up triple-doubles, bending defenses, and scoring at huge volume with high efficiency, I get why pundits have him higher than Tatum, even if I'm skeptical. It's also worth noting that DARKO has them very close.

The case for Luka would be that NBA basketball has tilted towards offense to a point where his genius on that end of the court outweighs the contributions of a balanced player like Tatum. The question is: has it really? Even after the officiating adjustment? To me, this postseason is a major referendum on Luka and whether his profile maps to "winning basketball." So far, over his Mavs career, we've had two first round exits, a run to the WCF (was fluky, but then many conference finals runs are fluky), and then last season's disgrace of missing the play-in altogether. If they again fail to go anywhere this postseason, then I agree serious people need to stop ranking him over Tatum. Right now, I feel it's a "jury still out" situation.

Edit: it's annoying to see Tatum included in conversations about whose legacy has the most to win/lose in this postseason. The correct answer to that question is: Embiid, Kawhi, Luka in some order. The former two need healthy, productive showings to remain in the top 10 player rankings IMO. Luka needs to win a round or two to stay in the top 5.
Luka has missed the playoffs twice in his five years, not once. 40% of his career to date, watching. Another 40%, quick exit. He has made one playoff run in five years. You are correct that this year should be a measuring stick for him.

But as others have noted, most fans and most pundits simply don't pay attention to defense at all. Partly that's because they just don't understand it. Among most of us who played hoop growing up, we probably weren't coached much beyond variations of the 2-3 and the absolute basics of PnR before high school age and maybe even then. Guys that can create their own shot and hit a good efficiency, that shit we understand. We all either were that guy or played with that guy.

Truth hasn't changed though. Guys who give it all back at the other end struggle to win games. When you look at all of the all time great winners, they weren't that guy. They weren't all DPOY guys, but they weren't fucking turnstiles either.
 
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jon abbey

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I feel it's a bit more nuanced . When I watch Luka racking up triple-doubles, bending defenses, and scoring at huge volume with high efficiency, I get why pundits have him higher than Tatum, even if I'm skeptical. It's also worth noting that DARKO has them very close.

The case for Luka would be that NBA basketball has tilted towards offense to a point where his genius on that end of the court outweighs the contributions of a balanced player like Tatum. The question is: has it really? Even after the officiating adjustment? To me, this postseason is a major referendum on Luka and whether his profile maps to "winning basketball." So far, over his Mavs career, we've had two first round exits, a run to the WCF (was fluky, but then many conference finals runs are fluky), and then last season's disgrace of missing the play-in altogether. If they again fail to go anywhere this postseason, then I agree serious people need to stop ranking him over Tatum. Right now, I feel it's a "jury still out" situation.

Edit: it's annoying to see Tatum included in conversations about whose legacy has the most to win/lose in this postseason. The correct answer to that question is: Embiid, Kawhi, Luka in some order. The former two need healthy, productive showings to remain in the top 10 player rankings IMO. Luka needs to win a round or two to stay in the top 5.
Even the WCF run, Luka missed the first three games of the 1st round and got picked up by Jalen Brunson scoring 72 in two wins, so DAL was up 2-1 when Luka came back.
 

the moops

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Folks outside of this forum throw around Raptor, Lebron, PER, RPM, and a whole bunch of other metrics. They're all worse than DARKO. We could use them though, if you'd prefer.
I think listing more than one, if not all is a helpful start. While everyone may have their all in one they like best, when all of them say a certain thing, that only strengthens the case. So if DARKO shows that Tatum is far superior to Luka, but all the others show the opposite or at least a similar player, then maybe we should be questioning the outlier more than we do.
 

Devizier

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So if DARKO shows that Tatum is far superior to Luka, but all the others show the opposite or at least a similar player, then maybe we should be questioning the outlier more than we do.
With Luka and Tatum, the numbers don’t diverge that much, and the divergence is interesting only in why these metrics are different.

But the general gist is that you have Jokic, a gap to Giannis and a smaller gap to a cluster of guys that includes Embiid, Tatum, Doncic, etc.

The players that are really interesting from an advanced stats standpoint are Jaylen and White.
 

Jimbodandy

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I think listing more than one, if not all is a helpful start. While everyone may have their all in one they like best, when all of them say a certain thing, that only strengthens the case. So if DARKO shows that Tatum is far superior to Luka, but all the others show the opposite or at least a similar player, then maybe we should be questioning the outlier more than we do.
Yeah agreed. I wrote that in a follow-up post that I try to point to two or three of the better ones to paint a picture. I think that we're all in agreement on this. Hoop metrics have come miles in just the last few years, which is awesome, but you need to bring multiple data sets into it.
 

Kliq

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I definitely think Tatum is being underrated as I listen/read a lot of end-of-the-year stuff talking about MVP voting and All-NBA.

One of the major reasons I think is simply because Tatum's ability this year has been undervalued because the team is so good. I do think that if Tatum was a tad more selfish, and he was averaging 30 ppg or a career high in scoring, the narrative would be different because he was doing "more" and his team ran away with the #1 seed, even if the Celtics as a team were not as well-off.

What Tatum has done is not nearly as attention-grabbing. He's unselfishly taken a more reduced role on offense in order to empower his teammates, making room for Porzingis, giving White more of the ball, and letting Jaylen do his thing. Those sacrifices have made the Celtics a deeper, richer team with more confident players, and been 100% the correct move from a team perspective, and it has largely come at the cost of his own counting stats.

That's really, really HARD to do. Especially for a superstar in their 20s on the cusp of perhaps winning the MVP if he averages a career high in scoring. Many great players would simply convince themselves that since they are the best player, them taking on a bigger role would be the best way for the team to improve year-over-year. Tatum has shown a willingness to instead come to the mature assessment that sacrificing his own personal glory to empower his teammates is the best way to improve from last year, and he is right.

I was listening to the Lowe Post, and Zach and his guest were both talking about Jalen Brunson making first-team All-NBA. That isn't a knock on what Brunson has done...but I think it is easier for a great player to just take more shots and score more points. It's way harder for a player to be less ball-dominant, to be involved in the offense more as a screener, as a distraction cutter, etc. and open the avenue for teammates to thrive.
 

Jimbodandy

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I definitely think Tatum is being underrated as I listen/read a lot of end-of-the-year stuff talking about MVP voting and All-NBA.

One of the major reasons I think is simply because Tatum's ability this year has been undervalued because the team is so good. I do think that if Tatum was a tad more selfish, and he was averaging 30 ppg or a career high in scoring, the narrative would be different because he was doing "more" and his team ran away with the #1 seed, even if the Celtics as a team were not as well-off.

What Tatum has done is not nearly as attention-grabbing. He's unselfishly taken a more reduced role on offense in order to empower his teammates, making room for Porzingis, giving White more of the ball, and letting Jaylen do his thing. Those sacrifices have made the Celtics a deeper, richer team with more confident players, and been 100% the correct move from a team perspective, and it has largely come at the cost of his own counting stats.

That's really, really HARD to do. Especially for a superstar in their 20s on the cusp of perhaps winning the MVP if he averages a career high in scoring. Many great players would simply convince themselves that since they are the best player, them taking on a bigger role would be the best way for the team to improve year-over-year. Tatum has shown a willingness to instead come to the mature assessment that sacrificing his own personal glory to empower his teammates is the best way to improve from last year, and he is right.

I was listening to the Lowe Post, and Zach and his guest were both talking about Jalen Brunson making first-team All-NBA. That isn't a knock on what Brunson has done...but I think it is easier for a great player to just take more shots and score more points. It's way harder for a player to be less ball-dominant, to be involved in the offense more as a screener, as a distraction cutter, etc. and open the avenue for teammates to thrive.
Great post. And great assessment.

I think that every one of the top 6 deserve some credit for adapting their games to their teammates and the structure laid down by CJM and staff. Nobody more than JT though. He elevates his teammates more than everyone else.
 

Smokey Joe

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I definitely think Tatum is being underrated as I listen/read a lot of end-of-the-year stuff talking about MVP voting and All-NBA.

One of the major reasons I think is simply because Tatum's ability this year has been undervalued because the team is so good. I do think that if Tatum was a tad more selfish, and he was averaging 30 ppg or a career high in scoring, the narrative would be different because he was doing "more" and his team ran away with the #1 seed, even if the Celtics as a team were not as well-off.

What Tatum has done is not nearly as attention-grabbing. He's unselfishly taken a more reduced role on offense in order to empower his teammates, making room for Porzingis, giving White more of the ball, and letting Jaylen do his thing. Those sacrifices have made the Celtics a deeper, richer team with more confident players, and been 100% the correct move from a team perspective, and it has largely come at the cost of his own counting stats.

That's really, really HARD to do. Especially for a superstar in their 20s on the cusp of perhaps winning the MVP if he averages a career high in scoring. Many great players would simply convince themselves that since they are the best player, them taking on a bigger role would be the best way for the team to improve year-over-year. Tatum has shown a willingness to instead come to the mature assessment that sacrificing his own personal glory to empower his teammates is the best way to improve from last year, and he is right.

I was listening to the Lowe Post, and Zach and his guest were both talking about Jalen Brunson making first-team All-NBA. That isn't a knock on what Brunson has done...but I think it is easier for a great player to just take more shots and score more points. It's way harder for a player to be less ball-dominant, to be involved in the offense more as a screener, as a distraction cutter, etc. and open the avenue for teammates to thrive.
Thank you. One of the things that has bugged me this post season is the lionization of Embiid because he has averaged more then a point per minute. This puts him with the likes of perennial NBA “champion” Wilt Chamberlain. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that you get to averaging a point a minute by taking as many shots as you can while you are on the floor (ie being a ball hog). Meanwhile, serious NBA podcasters are going “Tsk Tsk” about Tatum’s chances of 1st team NBA because his counting stats are down.
There has been a shift in NBA commentary away from team success to individual success.
 

lovegtm

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I definitely think Tatum is being underrated as I listen/read a lot of end-of-the-year stuff talking about MVP voting and All-NBA.

One of the major reasons I think is simply because Tatum's ability this year has been undervalued because the team is so good. I do think that if Tatum was a tad more selfish, and he was averaging 30 ppg or a career high in scoring, the narrative would be different because he was doing "more" and his team ran away with the #1 seed, even if the Celtics as a team were not as well-off.

What Tatum has done is not nearly as attention-grabbing. He's unselfishly taken a more reduced role on offense in order to empower his teammates, making room for Porzingis, giving White more of the ball, and letting Jaylen do his thing. Those sacrifices have made the Celtics a deeper, richer team with more confident players, and been 100% the correct move from a team perspective, and it has largely come at the cost of his own counting stats.

That's really, really HARD to do. Especially for a superstar in their 20s on the cusp of perhaps winning the MVP if he averages a career high in scoring. Many great players would simply convince themselves that since they are the best player, them taking on a bigger role would be the best way for the team to improve year-over-year. Tatum has shown a willingness to instead come to the mature assessment that sacrificing his own personal glory to empower his teammates is the best way to improve from last year, and he is right.

I was listening to the Lowe Post, and Zach and his guest were both talking about Jalen Brunson making first-team All-NBA. That isn't a knock on what Brunson has done...but I think it is easier for a great player to just take more shots and score more points. It's way harder for a player to be less ball-dominant, to be involved in the offense more as a screener, as a distraction cutter, etc. and open the avenue for teammates to thrive.
Love the post.

And it isn't just that he's taken a "step back": the whole offense is doing more with less. They do a ton of cool stuff with movement and screening that reduces the need for individual PnR/dribbling prowess, while yielding overall team offensive efficiency that guys like Luka can only dream of.

There are a LOT of similarities to what Kerr did in implementing the Warriors split-cut/off-ball offense, and I predict Tatum and CJM will get a ton of retroactive kudos for it if the Cs win a title. Until then, they are both unfairly underrated, due to a lack of basketball understanding in the media outside of JJ and a couple others.

(Even Lowe has gotten sadly lazy; JJ has blown by him in analysis quality.)
 

bigq

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I definitely think Tatum is being underrated as I listen/read a lot of end-of-the-year stuff talking about MVP voting and All-NBA.

One of the major reasons I think is simply because Tatum's ability this year has been undervalued because the team is so good. I do think that if Tatum was a tad more selfish, and he was averaging 30 ppg or a career high in scoring, the narrative would be different because he was doing "more" and his team ran away with the #1 seed, even if the Celtics as a team were not as well-off.

What Tatum has done is not nearly as attention-grabbing. He's unselfishly taken a more reduced role on offense in order to empower his teammates, making room for Porzingis, giving White more of the ball, and letting Jaylen do his thing. Those sacrifices have made the Celtics a deeper, richer team with more confident players, and been 100% the correct move from a team perspective, and it has largely come at the cost of his own counting stats.

That's really, really HARD to do. Especially for a superstar in their 20s on the cusp of perhaps winning the MVP if he averages a career high in scoring. Many great players would simply convince themselves that since they are the best player, them taking on a bigger role would be the best way for the team to improve year-over-year. Tatum has shown a willingness to instead come to the mature assessment that sacrificing his own personal glory to empower his teammates is the best way to improve from last year, and he is right.

I was listening to the Lowe Post, and Zach and his guest were both talking about Jalen Brunson making first-team All-NBA. That isn't a knock on what Brunson has done...but I think it is easier for a great player to just take more shots and score more points. It's way harder for a player to be less ball-dominant, to be involved in the offense more as a screener, as a distraction cutter, etc. and open the avenue for teammates to thrive.
I do think this speaks to Tatum prioritizing getting a championship this season over individual accolades. I believe he has said he would love to win an MVP however I think all of the top 6 are well aligned that an NBA championship is what all of them are focused on.
 

Jimbodandy

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Thank you. One of the things that has bugged me this post season is the lionization of Embiid because he has averaged more then a point per minute. This puts him with the likes of perennial NBA “champion” Wilt Chamberlain. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that you get to averaging a point a minute by taking as many shots as you can while you are on the floor (ie being a ball hog). Meanwhile, serious NBA podcasters are going “Tsk Tsk” about Tatum’s chances of 1st team NBA because his counting stats are down.
There has been a shift in NBA commentary away from team success to individual success.
Wilt's a great example of how much people loved pointz then and still do. And why team ball beats pointz.
 

the moops

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Thank you. One of the things that has bugged me this post season is the lionization of Embiid because he has averaged more then a point per minute. This puts him with the likes of perennial NBA “champion” Wilt Chamberlain. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that you get to averaging a point a minute by taking as many shots as you can while you are on the floor (ie being a ball hog).
When you score as efficiently as Embiid did this year of course you want him hogging the ball. The dude was a goddamn beast this year when he was healthy. They were 31-8 with Embiid this year. A better winning percentage than the 1st place, best record in the league Boston Celtics
 

Kliq

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Thank you. One of the things that has bugged me this post season is the lionization of Embiid because he has averaged more then a point per minute. This puts him with the likes of perennial NBA “champion” Wilt Chamberlain. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that you get to averaging a point a minute by taking as many shots as you can while you are on the floor (ie being a ball hog). Meanwhile, serious NBA podcasters are going “Tsk Tsk” about Tatum’s chances of 1st team NBA because his counting stats are down.
There has been a shift in NBA commentary away from team success to individual success.
I think a lot of pundits, and certainly social media accounts, are a lot more impressed with a player who has a mediocre supporting cast and winning 50 games, like Brunson, than a player with a great supporting cast and winning 64 games. It's more interesting of a narrative to talk about one guy dragging people to success, as opposed to someone playing perfectly in a well-oiled machine.

Regarding the Wilt comparisons--with the exception of Michael Jordan, winning scoring titles is generally not conducive to winning a championship. In short, the guys who win scoring titles are typically guys who play on weak teams which allows them to take a lot of shots--or they are ball-dominant players that don't play winning basketball all of the time.

Since the introduction of the shot clock, the only players to ever win the scoring title and the NBA title in the same year are Jordan (6 times) and Shaq in 2000.

It's obvious when you think of players like Bird, LeBron, Durant or Curry, who probably could have easily won more scoring titles than they did (Bird never won any) if they wanted to, but were more focused on playing team basketball and not taking a billion shots per game.
 

Euclis20

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When you score as efficiently as Embiid did this year of course you want him hogging the ball. The dude was a goddamn beast this year when he was healthy. They were 31-8 with Embiid this year. A better winning percentage than the 1st place, best record in the league Boston Celtics
Both the stats and the record were influenced by when and where Embiid (and the Sixers) chose to play him. Remember when the entire NBA public was blaming him for ducking Jokic and the Nuggets in Denver? That didn't come out of nowhere. 24 of his 39 games this season were at home. Before his season altering knee injury, he sat out games against Minnesota, New Orleans, Boston, Miami, Orlando and Sacramento (and of course, Denver). No dodging anyone in the playoffs, so we'll see how that goes.
 

GoJeff!

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I think a lot of pundits, and certainly social media accounts, are a lot more impressed with a player who has a mediocre supporting cast and winning 50 games, like Brunson, than a player with a great supporting cast and winning 64 games. It's more interesting of a narrative to talk about one guy dragging people to success, as opposed to someone playing perfectly in a well-oiled machine.

Regarding the Wilt comparisons--with the exception of Michael Jordan, winning scoring titles is generally not conducive to winning a championship. In short, the guys who win scoring titles are typically guys who play on weak teams which allows them to take a lot of shots--or they are ball-dominant players that don't play winning basketball all of the time.

Since the introduction of the shot clock, the only players to ever win the scoring title and the NBA title in the same year are Jordan (6 times) and Shaq in 2000.

It's obvious when you think of players like Bird, LeBron, Durant or Curry, who probably could have easily won more scoring titles than they did (Bird never won any) if they wanted to, but were more focused on playing team basketball and not taking a billion shots per game.
And even Jordan noticeably decreased his scoring during the title runs compared to previous years. He just scored so much that he continued to win scoring titles despite shooting less.
 

benhogan

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When you score as efficiently as Embiid did this year of course you want him hogging the ball. The dude was a goddamn beast this year when he was healthy. They were 31-8 with Embiid this year. A better winning percentage than the 1st place, best record in the league Boston Celtics
I'd say the Embiid 76ers are slightly better than those juggernaut Bucks we were warned about to start the season
 

lovegtm

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When you score as efficiently as Embiid did this year of course you want him hogging the ball. The dude was a goddamn beast this year when he was healthy. They were 31-8 with Embiid this year. A better winning percentage than the 1st place, best record in the league Boston Celtics
Embiid was REALLY good when healthy, and so were the Sixers. But people are memory-holing a bit how cupcakey their early schedule was.
 

Smokey Joe

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When you score as efficiently as Embiid did this year of course you want him hogging the ball. The dude was a goddamn beast this year when he was healthy. They were 31-8 with Embiid this year. A better winning percentage than the 1st place, best record in the league Boston Celtics
And their team is in 7th place in the East and has to navigate the play-in. Do you think that they may have been in a better position if they hadn’t built their offense around maximizing their beast? Are you going to base your season on Embiid being healthy?
 

the moops

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And their team is in 7th place in the East and has to navigate the play-in. Do you think that they may have been in a better position if they hadn’t built their offense around maximizing their beast? Are you going to base your season on Embiid being healthy?
They have no other option do they? The rest of their team is not talented enough to win games without Embiid. The scheme is likely irrelevant.

Embiid is an incredible basketball player. Some of yall should appreciate that and not try and find any tiny reason to disparage him.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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With Luka and Tatum, the numbers don’t diverge that much, and the divergence is interesting only in why these metrics are different.

But the general gist is that you have Jokic, a gap to Giannis and a smaller gap to a cluster of guys that includes Embiid, Tatum, Doncic, etc.

The players that are really interesting from an advanced stats standpoint are Jaylen and White.
Think Embiid was above Giannis before he got hurt.

They have no other option do they? The rest of their team is not talented enough to win games without Embiid. The scheme is likely irrelevant.

Embiid is an incredible basketball player. Some of yall should appreciate that and not try and find any tiny reason to disparage him.
Agree that Embiid is an incredible basketball player, really amazing to watch. He's doing stuff that isn't that far off from Wemby but he's doing it at 80 pounds (or so) heavier. He's also been let down by his coaches, his teammates, and (most of all) management.

Still, one would have thought he would have had a better playoff resume than he has now.
 

benhogan

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They have no other option do they? The rest of their team is not talented enough to win games without Embiid. The scheme is likely irrelevant.

Embiid is an incredible basketball player. Some of yall should appreciate that and not try and find any tiny reason to disparage him.
Everyone agrees Embiid is an incredible player... when healthy.

The majority of Embiid disparagement is due to all the injuries, especially when good teams show up or the weather turns nice.

He's also a player who gets very little criticism for a lack of post-season success. How many MVPs have we seen never make it past the 2nd round in their career? Even Derrick Rose made it to the ECF
 

lovegtm

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Everyone agrees Embiid is an incredible player... when healthy.

The majority of Embiid disparagement is due to all the injuries, especially when good teams show up or the weather turns nice.

He's also a player who gets very little criticism for a lack of post-season success. How many MVPs have we seen never make it past the 2nd round in their career? Even Derrick Rose made it to the ECF
Tatum gets more criticism for having made 4 ECFs and a Finals than Embiid does for having never played a minute in any of those. And Embiid has been on some very talented teams.
 

Euclis20

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Everyone agrees Embiid is an incredible player... when healthy.

The majority of Embiid disparagement is due to all the injuries, especially when the good teams show up or the weather turns nice.

He's also a player who gets very little criticism for a lack of post-season success. How many MVPs have we seen never make it past the 2nd round in their career? Even Derrick Rose made it to the ECF
The baffling part is that his playoff resume isn't like Chris Paul's (prior to going to Houston). Like Embiid, CP3 was a top 5 player who for whatever reason couldn't get out of the 2nd round. Unlike Embiid, CP3's personal playoff stats were similar (or better) to his regular season totals: 21.4/4.7/9.4 with 2.2 steals and a .583 TS% in the playoffs, vs 19.1/4.3/10.2 with 2.3 steals and a .584 TS% in the regular season over that same period (2008-2017). Chris Paul got quite a bit of shit for never making it to the final four (as the main guy in NO and LA) despite being considered the best point guard in the league, at least until Steph Curry started winning MVPs, even though his personal performance was still quite good. Embiid is demonstrably worse in the playoffs, but there's always an excuse (injuries), or it's always someone else's fault (Simmons, Harden, Doc). Now that Embiid has surpassed Paul's regular season achievements with an MVP, it's even more odd. If Embiid continues to play and the Sixers lose in the east to anyone other than Boston, he should be killed by the media. Will he? Probably not.

Tatum gets more criticism for having made 4 ECFs and a Finals than Embiid does for having never played a minute in any of those. And Embiid has been on some very talented teams.
First thing's first did their weekly player rankings, and this was the "playoff" version:

81108

There's a whole lot to laugh about on this thing, but Embiid and Butler being two rungs ahead of Tatum (and Tatum being on the same level as a bunch of guys who've won fuck all in the playoffs) is laughable. Joel Embiid is 30, and he's gone deep in the playoffs despite playing next a bunch of all-star level guys (Simmons, Butler, Harden, Maxey).
 

InstaFace

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Embiid is an incredible basketball player. Some of yall should appreciate that and not try and find any tiny reason to disparage him.
Are you kidding? We have an entire chapter of the Lebron Haters Club (on-court conduct only) in this forum. In Steve Nash's heyday the jokes about his defense flew far and wide. About the only players today who inspire unanimous admiration here are Jokic and Curry.

And let's just say Embiid provides well more material in that regard than some other Haterade Salesmen of the Year candidates.
 

slamminsammya

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Can’t folks just enjoy greatness? Embiids game logs this year pre injury have some absolutely monster games against the best defenses in the league. He dropped 51 on minnesota.
 

Smokey Joe

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Are you kidding? We have an entire chapter of the Lebron Haters Club (on-court conduct only) in this forum. In Steve Nash's heyday the jokes about his defense flew far and wide. About the only players today who inspire unanimous admiration here are Jokic and Curry.

And let's just say Embiid provides well more material in that regard than some other Haterade Salesmen of the Year candidates.
You know….there is a difference between complaining about players and complaining about how the media treats the players.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I don’t disagree. That’s why I continue to emphasize the word “perception.” Fair or not, the Celtics generally and Tatum specifically are perceived to be soft and coming up short in key moments. Any “Tatum or alternate” debate is going to introduce a candidate who is reputed to be a more demonstrative alpha (Edwards) or a better closer (Doncic) until Tatum changes the narrative.
I would argue that of course it is fair. The Celtics came up short in each of the past 2 years and Tatum's play was erratic and sometimes bad in key moments.
I definitely think Tatum is being underrated as I listen/read a lot of end-of-the-year stuff talking about MVP voting and All-NBA.

One of the major reasons I think is simply because Tatum's ability this year has been undervalued because the team is so good. I do think that if Tatum was a tad more selfish, and he was averaging 30 ppg or a career high in scoring, the narrative would be different because he was doing "more" and his team ran away with the #1 seed, even if the Celtics as a team were not as well-off.
I disagree almost completely with this. Yes, Tatum might be getting more in-season credit if he were putting up better stats (not that there is anything wrong with the stats he is putting up), but at the end of the day the most helpful thing he can do in pursuit of winning an MVP someday is win a title. Or have another huge step up in his overall level of play, but I'm skeptical that he has another leap like that in him).

Once he wons, if he wins, he'll forever be seen as a winner. Until he does, he'll be seen as a guy who is just not quite good enough. (Especially in light of the significant effort Stevens has made to build around him in recent years).
Thank you. One of the things that has bugged me this post season is the lionization of Embiid because he has averaged more then a point per minute. This puts him with the likes of perennial NBA “champion” Wilt Chamberlain. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that you get to averaging a point a minute by taking as many shots as you can while you are on the floor (ie being a ball hog). Meanwhile, serious NBA podcasters are going “Tsk Tsk” about Tatum’s chances of 1st team NBA because his counting stats are down.
There has been a shift in NBA commentary away from team success to individual success.
Everyone agrees Embiid is an incredible player... when healthy.

The majority of Embiid disparagement is due to all the injuries, especially when good teams show up or the weather turns nice.

He's also a player who gets very little criticism for a lack of post-season success. How many MVPs have we seen never make it past the 2nd round in their career? Even Derrick Rose made it to the ECF
Embiid is an excellent case study, because he is somewhat similar to Tatum in being an elite player who has tended to underperform in terms of team playoff success. Only somewhat similar, because Embiid is actually a more dominant regular season player than Tatum yet far less of a playoff difference maker. Tatum reached the ECF 4 times in his first 6 years, on a range of different teams with Brown and (until this year) Smart the only constants. Joel Embiid, regular season MVP candidate that he is, has never taken his team to the ECF let along won an ECF. I think Embiid is a guy who, for all his talent, can be stopped when it counts. Tatum has one final hurdle he needs to figure out how to clear; Embiid can't even get that far.
 

lars10

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I would argue that of course it is fair. The Celtics came up short in each of the past 2 years and Tatum's play was erratic and sometimes bad in key moments.

I disagree almost completely with this. Yes, Tatum might be getting more in-season credit if he were putting up better stats (not that there is anything wrong with the stats he is putting up), but at the end of the day the most helpful thing he can do in pursuit of winning an MVP someday is win a title. Or have another huge step up in his overall level of play, but I'm skeptical that he has another leap like that in him).

Once he wons, if he wins, he'll forever be seen as a winner. Until he does, he'll be seen as a guy who is just not quite good enough. (Especially in light of the significant effort Stevens has made to build around him in recent years).


Embiid is an excellent case study, because he is somewhat similar to Tatum in being an elite player who has tended to underperform in terms of team playoff success. Only somewhat similar, because Embiid is actually a more dominant regular season player than Tatum yet far less of a playoff difference maker. Tatum reached the ECF 4 times in his first 6 years, on a range of different teams with Brown and (until this year) Smart the only constants. Joel Embiid, regular season MVP candidate that he is, has never taken his team to the ECF let along won an ECF. I think Embiid is a guy who, for all his talent, can be stopped when it counts. Tatum has one final hurdle he needs to figure out how to clear; Embiid can't even get that far.
Look at the history of the NBA and players like GA (26), Jordan (28), LeBron (27), etc.. they didn’t win a championship this young or were this age.. and they definitely didn’t get as far into the playoffs as Tatum and Brown haveas consistently as they have.

Tatum’s game evolved both of the last two seasons.. he’s far stronger going to the rim now.. and he’s just entering his prime years. He may not have another huge leap, but there’s definitely more room to grow.

he talked this year about how he knows he could average 30+ per game, he’s already done it in his career, but he’s not this year for the good of the team.

As Mike said.. just win this thing, will you? Then we can put this all to bed.
 

lovegtm

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Look at the history of the NBA and players like GA (26), Jordan (28), LeBron (27), etc.. they didn’t win a championship this young or were this age.. and they definitely didn’t get as far into the playoffs as Tatum and Brown haveas consistently as they have.

Tatum’s game evolved both of the last two seasons.. he’s far stronger going to the rim now.. and he’s just entering his prime years. He may not have another huge leap, but there’s definitely more room to grow.

he talked this year about how he knows he could average 30+ per game, he’s already done it in his career, but he’s not this year for the good of the team.

As Mike said.. just win this thing, will you? Then we can put this all to bed.
Yes, I think the right way to look at it is:

Tatum had a couple chances to do something extremely rare and be the best guy on a title team before age 27. He didn't quite get there, but to think that should be a knock on him is kind of insane imo. It's not like he was playing with superteams during that team. Most of his teams look a lot better in hindsight because he was on them.

I'll be as disappointed as anyone if they don't win this thing, and at a certain point he does need to get it done. But the standard he's been held to, relative to other players and his age peers is completely ludicrous.
 

BaseballJones

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First thing's first did their weekly player rankings, and this was the "playoff" version:

View attachment 81108

There's a whole lot to laugh about on this thing, but Embiid and Butler being two rungs ahead of Tatum (and Tatum being on the same level as a bunch of guys who've won fuck all in the playoffs) is laughable. Joel Embiid is 30, and he's gone deep in the playoffs despite playing next a bunch of all-star level guys (Simmons, Butler, Harden, Maxey).
Well, Murray was enormous in Denver winning the NBA title last year.
 

Kliq

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Another reason I think Tatum has been underrated by the national media is that he doesn't really transcend any archetype. Jokic, Doncic, Giannis and Embiid are all fairly unique players in NBA history, and put up certain statistical lines, or make highlight plays, that turn heads and make people feel like they are seeing something historic. Tatum is really just a very good version of a player we have seen a lot before in NBA history, which makes him feel ordinary and less exceptional, even if from a results perspective he is arguably just as exceptional.
 

jezza1918

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Yes, I think the right way to look at it is:

Tatum had a couple chances to do something extremely rare and be the best guy on a title team before age 27. He didn't quite get there, but to think that should be a knock on him is kind of insane imo. It's not like he was playing with superteams during that team. Most of his teams look a lot better in hindsight because he was on them.

I'll be as disappointed as anyone if they don't win this thing, and at a certain point he does need to get it done. But the standard he's been held to, relative to other players and his age peers is completely ludicrous.
I've never (intentionally) bookmarked a post in my 20ish years on this site. Until now. This is probably the most succinct take on all this, and I plan on revisiting it often and sending it to people as necessary should things get dire the next couple months. That said, here's to hoping for a 16 game win streak!
 

lovegtm

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I've never (intentionally) bookmarked a post in my 20ish years on this site. Until now. This is probably the most succinct take on all this, and I plan on revisiting it often and sending it to people as necessary should things get dire the next couple months. That said, here's to hoping for a 16 game win streak!
I should also give a huge disclaimer: Tatum absolutely could have become one of those Young Winners. If he had been the 3rd-best player against GSW, they probably have a title now. He's not beyond criticism in any way, but winning titles young is hard, and lots of stuff goes wrong.
 

lexrageorge

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I should also give a huge disclaimer: Tatum absolutely could have become one of those Young Winners. If he had been the 3rd-best player against GSW, they probably have a title now. He's not beyond criticism in any way, but winning titles young is hard, and lots of stuff goes wrong.
I am convinced that the 2024 version of Tatum schools Wiggins and wins that GSW series. And the 2024 Celtics would win that series in a straight sweep.
 

jezza1918

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I should also give a huge disclaimer: Tatum absolutely could have become one of those Young Winners. If he had been the 3rd-best player against GSW, they probably have a title now. He's not beyond criticism in any way, but winning titles young is hard, and lots of stuff goes wrong.
Yeah I mean that's exactly how I read your post anyway, but appreciate the disclaimer. One thing that really gets to me is when people take the stance about their player/team "___ player or ___ team isn't good or mentally tough enough to win." Especially prematurely. It's the easiest stance to take as a sports fan...because more often than not you are proven right, and you get to celebrate and say "see, I told you." But if you are proven wrong, and your guy/team wins you also get to celebrate! End mini rant.
Tatum is special, the development curve we've all gotten to witness is special. Let's all enjoy the ride and save the excessive futuristic handwringing for later. Note: not that criticism is unwarranted of course...it's just the prognostications that really grind mind gears.
I am convinced that the 2024 version of Tatum schools Wiggins and wins that GSW series. And the 2024 Celtics would win that series.
Since it's impossible to say with 100% certainty this is true, Ill stop at 99%...
 

the moops

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Another reason I think Tatum has been underrated by the national media is that he doesn't really transcend any archetype
He is likely going to be first team all-NBA for the third straight year. How the hell is being rated one of the 5 best players in the league considered underrated?
 

slamminsammya

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Another reason I think Tatum has been underrated by the national media is that he doesn't really transcend any archetype. Jokic, Doncic, Giannis and Embiid are all fairly unique players in NBA history, and put up certain statistical lines, or make highlight plays, that turn heads and make people feel like they are seeing something historic. Tatum is really just a very good version of a player we have seen a lot before in NBA history, which makes him feel ordinary and less exceptional, even if from a results perspective he is arguably just as exceptional.
Embiid also feels like a guy we’ve seen before in my opinion
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Look at the history of the NBA and players like GA (26), Jordan (28), LeBron (27), etc.. they didn’t win a championship this young or were this age.. and they definitely didn’t get as far into the playoffs as Tatum and Brown haveas consistently as they have.
NBC Sports Boston with a refresher on when superstars win their titles: https://www.nbcsportsboston.com/nba/boston-celtics/nba-history-jayson-tatum-champion-celtics-playoffs/604355/

Another reason I think Tatum has been underrated by the national media is that he doesn't really transcend any archetype. Jokic, Doncic, Giannis and Embiid are all fairly unique players in NBA history, and put up certain statistical lines, or make highlight plays, that turn heads and make people feel like they are seeing something historic. Tatum is really just a very good version of a player we have seen a lot before in NBA history, which makes him feel ordinary and less exceptional, even if from a results perspective he is arguably just as exceptional.
I think this is a great observation. JT isn't a "unicorn" like LBJ or KD or Steph or even Kawhi to some extent. He's not the best passing wing but he's really good at it. He's not the best shooting wing, but he's really good at it. He's not the best defensive wing but he's really good at it.

Assuming he wins at least one title, it will be interesting to see where he ranks on the all-time lists.
 

lovegtm

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I am convinced that the 2024 version of Tatum schools Wiggins and wins that GSW series. And the 2024 Celtics would win that series in a straight sweep.
This is also why guys tend to only break through once they're older.