What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured?

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What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#1 » by SOdisciple » Sun Aug 4, 2019 5:34 am

Say he remained healthy for the duration of his career and was able to continue to develop as a player, how good could he have been and where could he have ranked all-time?
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#2 » by Jiminy Glick » Sun Aug 4, 2019 6:05 am

Similar situation with Arvydas Sabonis for example if he was healthy and played in the NBA for his prime or part of his prime. Walton and Sabonis in my opinion were both better than Shaq, Olajuwon, and Ewing.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#3 » by euroleague » Sun Aug 4, 2019 7:11 am

He would've been the favorite to at least 3peat imo, making him the most dominant player in the 70s.

Quite possibly, the blazers could've continued their dominance into the 80s. Depending on whether they acquire any talent, Walton could've been considered the GOAT of his time over kareem and ditto Bird/Magic... although MJ would likely surpass him
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#4 » by ardee » Sun Aug 4, 2019 9:28 am

1977 was like his '09 LeBron season, he turned 27 in the 1980 season and would've been entering his prime as Kareem was exiting his.

His 27-32 stretch I imagine would probably compare favorably to the best primes ever. You'd have a clear alpha dog for the league in the first half of the 80s instead of random seasons where Kareem, Moses and Doc shared the conch until Bird took over in '84.

I really think if you project his improvement there's a good chance he is a top 5-6 player of all time.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#5 » by penbeast0 » Sun Aug 4, 2019 12:05 pm

euroleague wrote:He would've been the favorite to at least 3peat imo, making him the most dominant player in the 70s.

Quite possibly, the blazers could've continued their dominance into the 80s. Depending on whether they acquire any talent, Walton could've been considered the GOAT of his time over kareem and ditto Bird/Magic... although MJ would likely surpass him


I don't see enough talent around him to 3-peat once the normal "we won a ring and I want to get mine" attitude sets in. The 77 season was like the Billups led Detroit teams, an ensemble piece. I wouldn't be surprised with 2 rings in the weak 70s league but 3 is pushing it. On the other hand, he was a weird duck and it would matter about how his teams played around him, whether he got caught too publicly with the pot smoking, and whether he stayed dedicated to basketball (which I believe he would) as to how he ranked compared to Ewing, Moses, DRob, Hakeem, and Shaq. Knowing he was healthy, I would draft him 4th among all-time centers above any of those 5 but it could just be rose colored glasses after one season of catching lightning in a bottle.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#6 » by euroleague » Sun Aug 4, 2019 12:17 pm

penbeast0 wrote:
euroleague wrote:He would've been the favorite to at least 3peat imo, making him the most dominant player in the 70s.

Quite possibly, the blazers could've continued their dominance into the 80s. Depending on whether they acquire any talent, Walton could've been considered the GOAT of his time over kareem and ditto Bird/Magic... although MJ would likely surpass him


I don't see enough talent around him to 3-peat once the normal "we won a ring and I want to get mine" attitude sets in. The 77 season was like the Billups led Detroit teams, an ensemble piece. I wouldn't be surprised with 2 rings in the weak 70s league but 3 is pushing it. On the other hand, he was a weird duck and it would matter about how his teams played around him, whether he got caught too publicly with the pot smoking, and whether he stayed dedicated to basketball (which I believe he would) as to how he ranked compared to Ewing, Moses, DRob, Hakeem, and Shaq. Knowing he was healthy, I would draft him 4th among all-time centers above any of those 5 but it could just be rose colored glasses after one season of catching lightning in a bottle.


I disagree - he was arguably better in 78, with the team even more dominant when he played. They took 2 games from the Sonics even as a weakened team

Walton was only 25. If he stayed healthy, he likely would’ve started a dynasty in the West. From high school to college, he was arguably the best ever - he won over a 100 games straight over multiple years, winning championships every year. Wooden called him the best player he ever coached (over Kareem).

It seems pretty likely that team wins 78/79. I think the real question is if they would beat the Lakers in 80, not if they would 3 peat

Ps - can’t find the quote from Wooden on Walton


My all time ranking for centers, if Walton were healthy, would be
Wilt, Shaq, Hakeem/Kareem, Walton - for peaks, from what we saw. I’d imagine Walton having a Duncan like career except much better offensively because of his playmaking
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#7 » by penbeast0 » Sun Aug 4, 2019 12:30 pm

Remember that Walton went free agent to the Clippers for 79-80 (the league awarded Kermit Washington to the Blazers) who were a front office mess even then. This wasn't a surprise, Walton was a pretty strong advocate of player movement to get better contracts and the Blazers were definitely a small market, relatively small budget team. If the Blazer could keep Walton (and Lucas who was also unhappy) satisfied, at least they had the type of players who could play Ramsey's system well so there's a chance.

The Clippers aren't a champion even with Walton, they are practically a model for selfish play (World B Free, Freeman Williams, the remains of Sidney Wicks, they even had Bad News Barnes on the roster) and their second best player that year was Sven Nater, a center who probably wouldn't play at the same time as Walton.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#8 » by Cavsfansince84 » Sun Aug 4, 2019 6:31 pm

I think he'd be widely seen as being in that top 10-15 range but would have been seen as top 7 before about 2010. Metric wise he doesn't seem that dominant so I think he'd be slightly underrated today much like he is now but still top 15.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#9 » by wojoaderge » Mon Aug 5, 2019 12:50 am

Clippers are still in San Diego
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#10 » by studcrackers » Mon Aug 5, 2019 1:27 am

penbeast0 wrote:Remember that Walton went free agent to the Clippers for 79-80 (the league awarded Kermit Washington to the Blazers) who were a front office mess even then. This wasn't a surprise, Walton was a pretty strong advocate of player movement to get better contracts and the Blazers were definitely a small market, relatively small budget team. If the Blazer could keep Walton (and Lucas who was also unhappy) satisfied, at least they had the type of players who could play Ramsey's system well so there's a chance.

The Clippers aren't a champion even with Walton, they are practically a model for selfish play (World B Free, Freeman Williams, the remains of Sidney Wicks, they even had Bad News Barnes on the roster) and their second best player that year was Sven Nater, a center who probably wouldn't play at the same time as Walton.


didn't he leave cause he was pissed at the medical staff?
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#11 » by No-more-rings » Mon Aug 5, 2019 2:59 am

Top 20.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#12 » by Johnlac1 » Mon Aug 5, 2019 3:02 pm

euroleague wrote:He would've been the favorite to at least 3peat imo, making him the most dominant player in the 70s.

Quite possibly, the blazers could've continued their dominance into the 80s. Depending on whether they acquire any talent, Walton could've been considered the GOAT of his time over kareem and ditto Bird/Magic... although MJ would likely surpass him

The Blazers would very probably have won another title or two in the late seventies, but the dynamic changed when the Celtics got Bird, the Lakers got Magic Johnson, and Philly got stronger.
The Blazers would probably have had to acquire another top player to compete with those three in the eighties.
But what people either forget or never mention is that the Blazers misfortunes started when Geoff Petrie's career came to an early end because of injuries. Petrie was considered by a number of people to be the best shooting guard in the league. Of course, David Thompson would rival or exceed him, but Petrie was in the top three to five shooting guards in the estimation of many people.
He was better than Lionel Hollins. He might have been the great scorer that Portland needed to complement Walton in the early eighties.
Portland has just never had much luck with keeping good players healthy.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#13 » by Johnlac1 » Mon Aug 5, 2019 3:19 pm

euroleague wrote:
penbeast0 wrote:
euroleague wrote:He would've been the favorite to at least 3peat imo, making him the most dominant player in the 70s.

Quite possibly, the blazers could've continued their dominance into the 80s. Depending on whether they acquire any talent, Walton could've been considered the GOAT of his time over kareem and ditto Bird/Magic... although MJ would likely surpass him


I don't see enough talent around him to 3-peat once the normal "we won a ring and I want to get mine" attitude sets in. The 77 season was like the Billups led Detroit teams, an ensemble piece. I wouldn't be surprised with 2 rings in the weak 70s league but 3 is pushing it. On the other hand, he was a weird duck and it would matter about how his teams played around him, whether he got caught too publicly with the pot smoking, and whether he stayed dedicated to basketball (which I believe he would) as to how he ranked compared to Ewing, Moses, DRob, Hakeem, and Shaq. Knowing he was healthy, I would draft him 4th among all-time centers above any of those 5 but it could just be rose colored glasses after one season of catching lightning in a bottle.


I disagree - he was arguably better in 78, with the team even more dominant when he played. They took 2 games from the Sonics even as a weakened team

Walton was only 25. If he stayed healthy, he likely would’ve started a dynasty in the West. From high school to college, he was arguably the best ever - he won over a 100 games straight over multiple years, winning championships every year. Wooden called him the best player he ever coached (over Kareem).

It seems pretty likely that team wins 78/79. I think the real question is if they would beat the Lakers in 80, not if they would 3 peat

Ps - can’t find the quote from Wooden on Walton


My all time ranking for centers, if Walton were healthy, would be
Wilt, Shaq, Hakeem/Kareem, Walton - for peaks, from what we saw. I’d imagine Walton having a Duncan like career except much better offensively because of his playmaking
For what it's worth the quote I read from Wooden was that he considered AJ the better player. But it's not like the difference was that great.
Like they were in the pros, Walton was the better player to plan a team game around, whereas AJ was the dominant scorer nobody could stop. Like Walton, AJ was also a tremendous defensive presence.
As far as the pros, picking one over the other depends on what kind of off. you want. AJ will be able to score more points individually if you need them, Walton was better for the team game but could still score pts. when necessary. If asked to Walton could have scored 25-30 ppg without too much trouble.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#14 » by XTC » Mon Aug 5, 2019 10:20 pm

I’ve never seen Walton play live.

I have seen some old school footage, and every time I’ve seen him play I’ve always thought he played eerily similiar to Tim Duncan. I would add that I think Walton is the better defensive player, while Duncan is the better scorer.

But both seemed to be the most fundamentally skilled big men in NBA history. For those who have seen Walton play, would you say this is a sound comparison ?
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#15 » by penbeast0 » Tue Aug 6, 2019 1:41 am

I never thought they looked similar though both were good fundamental players. Walton was more a passing hub with more traditional center game outside of his lovely interior passing game; more stationary offensively than Duncan, more physical defensively. Duncan had that off the glass game offensively and was more active, less focused on getting/denying position in the post. That's why he could play PF as well as he did. They didn't have the same feel somehow. The guy who reminded me of a poor man's Walton (offensively anyway) was Brad Miller.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#16 » by Johnlac1 » Tue Aug 6, 2019 2:36 pm

XTC wrote:I’ve never seen Walton play live.

I have seen some old school footage, and every time I’ve seen him play I’ve always thought he played eerily similiar to Tim Duncan. I would add that I think Walton is the better defensive player, while Duncan is the better scorer.

But both seemed to be the most fundamentally skilled big men in NBA history. For those who have seen Walton play, would you say this is a sound comparison ?
I never saw Walton play live either, but I saw him more often on tv than AJ. The first time I saw AJ play was his last game in college in '69 for the national title. Believe it or not, there was no nationally televised college game of the week in those days. And they didn't televise the Final Four nationally either until '69.
When I watched Walton at UCLA on tv, he was doing things I'd never seen centers do before. In a game against Wisconsin, my team, at times he led the fast break as well as destroying Wisconsin's two pretty good centers, the Hughes twins, Kim and Kerry. And as yet nobody has matched his 21-22 fg attempts in a game. And it was for the national title.
There wasn't an aspect of the game Walton didn't excel at....scoring, passing, defending, shot-blocking, rebounding, he did it all. He could even hit 12-15 foot jump shots maybe the weakest aspect of his game.
His career altering injuries probably caused a decline in the interest in the league in the late seventies chiefly by preventing classic head to head matchups against AJ similar to the Russell-Chamberlain matchups of the previous decade.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#17 » by Doctor MJ » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:17 pm

SOdisciple wrote:Say he remained healthy for the duration of his career and was able to continue to develop as a player, how good could he have been and where could he have ranked all-time?


I mean, he had his peak during Kareem's prime and he was better at impacting the scoreboard than Kareem was. So, take Walton, give him Kareem's health and longevity, and I give you a very strong GOAT contender.

That probably seems crazy to a lot of people, but it shouldn't be crazy to think that if, say, Jokic were also the best defender in the league, he'd be the best player in the league. I don't actually think Walton as we saw him in the pros was as good as Jokic at offense, partly because Jokic was an even better passer, but also because I think injuries had already taken a major toll on Walton's scoring game by the time 1977 rolled around. Take those issues entirely away and in Walton you have something absolutely fierce.

Also, I don't think people realize how much better Portland was than its rivals during Walton's healthy '77-78 season. This was a team absolutely destined to be a dynasty. They'd have 3-peated from '77 to '79, and would have been at least in the conversation through the '80s if Walton remains a healthy force.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#18 » by Doctor MJ » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:19 pm

XTC wrote:I’ve never seen Walton play live.

I have seen some old school footage, and every time I’ve seen him play I’ve always thought he played eerily similiar to Tim Duncan. I would add that I think Walton is the better defensive player, while Duncan is the better scorer.

But both seemed to be the most fundamentally skilled big men in NBA history. For those who have seen Walton play, would you say this is a sound comparison ?


I don't see Walton that way. For me the signature Walton play is a frenetic defensive player where he skies for the rebound and launches a fast break with an outlet pass before he hits the ground. Walton had the kind of lightning-BBIQ that encouraged his team to speed up because he processed the context so quickly, and Duncan was much more of a slow & steady turtle by comparison.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#19 » by Jaivl » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:49 pm

Well it depends on the league environment around him. He could have won a bunch, but we've seen how a superior version in KG panned out.
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Re: What if Bill Walton had never gotten injured? 

Post#20 » by KobesScarf » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:18 am

77 Blazers were the youngest Championship team ever. I think they win 3 or 4 more rings

Also Lucus would of been a top 40 all time player and top 7 PF

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