What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time?

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What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#1 » by ceiling raiser » Wed Jan 25, 2023 11:06 pm

Been thinking about this hypothetical a lot.

Honestly I think they would benefit significantly from being rivals.

Say Wilt starts with the Lakers the same year (69-70), stays for five years, goes to the Sixers thereafter. I’m assuming Moses ends up somewhere else here, so Wilt plays with Dr. J.

On the other hand, Kareem is on the Bucks until 74-75 like in OTL. No reason to change what happened with him.

I believe the following occur:

(1) They face off early on, Kareem wins 2-1
(2) Wilt and J win at least once in 77-79
(3) Both guys probably retire around the same time

Biggest change is, I think both are viewed as greater players.

Russell wins an extra title but I wonder if he’s viewed as more of a Mikan/Pettit type of pioneer, and discredited among fans and pundits.

Wilt probably benefits early on from better coaching and focusses on defense.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#2 » by migya » Thu Jan 26, 2023 2:15 am

Chamberlain would be truly seen as the GOAT. Kareem wouldn't be quite at his level on either end. Chamberlain would rule the 70s, breaking records, though probably not quite as high l He probably wins 6 or 7 mvps and 5-8 championships. Think he also plays at least 17 years as Kareem played so much.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#3 » by Vox Populi » Thu Jan 26, 2023 2:54 am

I think Wilt benefits from this more than Kareem. The main reason being Wilt would have the opportunity to learn and include portions of Kareem's skill set into his own repertoire. He would probably be more refined on offense if they were playing against each other from the same young age.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#4 » by No-more-rings » Thu Jan 26, 2023 2:56 am

All hell would break loose.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#5 » by capfan33 » Thu Jan 26, 2023 4:04 am

Would probably hurt Kareem and benefit Wilt in terms of perception largely because Wilt wasn't a great matchup for Kareem. But I think it would be really fascinating to watch Goliath vs. Goliath as opposed to Russell's David.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#6 » by dygaction » Thu Jan 26, 2023 4:17 am

Wilt would win a little more but no where those crazy outlier numbers, so not sure that helps him in legacy; Kareem would be challenged more in 70s but most of his chips were in 80s anyways. Russell might be impacted as well if the league wanted to split Celtics in a 60s without Wilt.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#7 » by 70sFan » Thu Jan 26, 2023 6:16 am

We would get a lot of amazing Wilt vs Kareem matchups and probably a bit more prime Wilt footage, so that would be cool :)

I don't see this affecting Kareem that much to be honest. Yeah, he probably wouldn't have won 6 MVPs, but that's not why I rank him so high.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#8 » by OhayoKD » Thu Jan 26, 2023 11:21 am

Kareem's a better player in the absolute I think and Wilt had outsized impact because of when he played. Both get hurt in terms of sheer impact on winning(kareem now has a legitimate rival) but Wilt probably moreso. Having a legitimate rivalry like russell-wilt may have other benefits though
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#9 » by OhayoKD » Thu Jan 26, 2023 11:23 am

migya wrote:Chamberlain would be truly seen as the GOAT. Kareem wouldn't be quite at his level on either end. Chamberlain would rule the 70s, breaking records, though probably not quite as high l He probably wins 6 or 7 mvps and 5-8 championships. Think he also plays at least 17 years as Kareem played so much.

So you think wilt matches up to kareem better than he did against Russell?
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#10 » by migya » Thu Jan 26, 2023 11:42 am

OhayoKD wrote:
migya wrote:Chamberlain would be truly seen as the GOAT. Kareem wouldn't be quite at his level on either end. Chamberlain would rule the 70s, breaking records, though probably not quite as high l He probably wins 6 or 7 mvps and 5-8 championships. Think he also plays at least 17 years as Kareem played so much.

So you think wilt matches up to kareem better than he did against Russell?


Yes. Kareem isn't the defender Russell was and Chamberlain played well against Kareem late in his career.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#11 » by kendogg » Thu Jan 26, 2023 3:47 pm

Russell wasn't the problem for Wilt. It was that Russ's teammates (and coaches) were better than his. The 60's Celtics were as stacked as the 2017 Warriors. Whether Wilt wins more in the 70's/80's than in the 60's/70's depends on what team he ends up on, but not having to face the 60's dynasty Celtics means he has a higher chance of winning chips.

Head to head, Wilt can match with Kareem easily. Wilt is a better defender than Kareem, and just as good of an offensive player. Wilt also had great touch in the post out to ~10ft at least, and clearly has more of a power game that he could utilize more in the 70's/80's than the 60's. Kareem's range was more like 15ft, but that really doesn't matter when you are as strong as Wilt. Wilt was the only person to block Kareem's skyhook, and that was an old Wilt vs a young Kareem. At the same age Wilt would have even more of an athletic edge.

Wilt would feast in the late 70's early 80's. It was a more physical league at that point, and also putting on muscle was seen as a good thing as opposed to earlier times where the consensus is that muscle will ruin your ability to shoot and brutes have no place in the league.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#12 » by penbeast0 » Thu Jan 26, 2023 6:04 pm

OhayoKD wrote:
migya wrote:Chamberlain would be truly seen as the GOAT. Kareem wouldn't be quite at his level on either end. Chamberlain would rule the 70s, breaking records, though probably not quite as high l He probably wins 6 or 7 mvps and 5-8 championships. Think he also plays at least 17 years as Kareem played so much.

So you think wilt matches up to kareem better than he did against Russell?


Much. Oh Offense, WIlt's stats against Kareem will still be just fine, as they were against Russell. Maybe a bigger rebounding edge but Russell's impact on Wilt wasn't so much slowing down Wilt but being able to play Wilt and still challenge other players and recover as you can see from Wilt's teammates looking so bad against the Celtics while Wilt still looked like Wilt. But on defense, Wilt had trouble with the few guys who could physically move him off his spots (Thurmond and Moses are the main two I can think of). Wilt was arguably the strongest man relative to his peers to ever play in the NBA making his defensive matchup against Kareem very favorable stylistically. Wilt also was a guy who would coast, or play for specific stats (points, assists, etc.) because he was just so much more physically than his rivals, but not against Kareem. This would force him to bring his A game (as he did against Russell), playing at the top of his abilities. Russell's quick hands gave Wilt problems knocking away entry passes, leaving Wilt less shots, though Wilt still made the shots at an equivalent level once he got the ball. Kareem's defense was more using his intelligence to stay in front of his man and his height to bother the opponent; we don't know how Wilt will play against that but if it forces him to shoot less fadeaways and attack the basket more using his strength advantage to power inside, that will only help Wilt's game.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#13 » by Cavsfansince84 » Thu Jan 26, 2023 9:03 pm

I think Wilt plays more like 40-45mpg most years and settles into being a 28-30ppg/16-18 type player through most of his prime(with blocks numbers included which helps). I think this also hurts Russell quite a bit not getting to beat Wilt's teams and in how we perceive his competition back then. People will say how Russell was just lucky he never had to face Wilt and Kareem.
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Re: What if Wilt and Kareem came into the league at the same time? 

Post#14 » by Chicago76 » Thu Jan 26, 2023 9:17 pm

Wilt’s biggest problem was that he was so gifted in a relatively early era of the game. Basketball didn’t really understand how to use him to maximize team impact. He was extremely efficient relative to era with monster usage for that time in the first half of his career, but due to how he was used it was kinda like subtraction by addition in terms of team O impact. That’s a bit unfair. He wasn’t negative offensively but given his outsized production, there wasn’t much lift there in terms of team impact. Hannum changed that. He understood how to use Chamberlain and got him to buy in.

Chamberlain entering the league around 69/70 with the benefit of those things would have been a monster. Mid 20s scoring with extreme efficiency, 20+ boards, 5-6 assists. Buckets on put backs, running the floor, in the halfcourt out of both the high and low post. Passing/facilitating out of the high post. Better understanding of how to integrate him with teammates offensively so he’s not forced into as many touches, giving him more energy/focus on D. He wouldn’t have posted the gaudy 40-25-7 type of stat lines, but he would have been a much more effective player.

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