cecilthesheep wrote:This time gap between his offensive and defensive peaks is exactly what makes Ewing so tough for me. I've wanted to put him on my ballot for some time but there's no individual year I can justify as being all-around better than a few other guys on my list. If Ewing's best offensive and best defensive years were combined, he'd likely be several spots higher.
I've seen several people express this opinion, but the difference in offensive output is markedly less pronounced once you adjust for pace and style of play. The 1990 Knicks played at a league average pace. The Riley Knicks played at a bottom 5 pace every year. That will greatly deflate the appearance of unadjusted box score production. Once we factor that in, Ewing's offensive numbers look much more comparable with his 1990 season, and in 94 (my pick for his peak), he actually turns out better in a few categories (assists and offensive rebounds). Meanwhile, Ewing was an elite defender for the majority of his career, but he was all time level great (in that both the 93 and 94 Knicks are both top 5 non-Bill Russell lead defenses ever) during some of the years where his offensive production was in line with his 1990 season. Let's look at some adjusted numbers for 90,92,93 and 94.
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Pace avgPace rawPPG PPGper100 Rp100 Ap100 Sp100 Bp100 rTS scr% dRTG
90: 98.2 98.3 28.6 36.2 13.8 2.8 1.2 5.0 +6.2 26.4 103
92: 92.9 96.6 24.0 32.3 15.1 2.6 1.4 4.0 +3.2 23.6 98
93: 94.5 96.8 24.2 33.1 16.6 2.6 1.3 2.7 +1.0 23.8 94
94: 92.8 95.1 24.5 33.7 15.4 3.1 1.6 3.8 +2.3 24.9 93
So, while the raw ppg difference between 90 and the 92-94 seasons appears to be about 4.5-5 points, once adjusted for pace, the difference between 90 and 94 specifically is only 2.5 points, and the scr% is only at a 1.5% differential between those two years. His efficiency was clearly the best in 90, but he was above league average in efficiency each year, so it's not like he only had one season where he shot the ball well. 1990 has the edge in blocks, but again, when we adjust for pace the difference is less than the raw box score totals (5.0 to 3.8, vs 5.9 Blk% to 5.1 Blk%). In 94 though, we see Ewing comes out better in rebounding, assists, steals and has a -10 in dRTG compared to 1990. I would think the slight difference in points generated (2.5 on +3.9rTS) is ultimately outweighed by the uptick in rebounding rate and the massive improvement in dRTG. 1994 Ewing is giving you about 93% of 1990 Ewing's offense, and about 111% of his (measurable) defensive impact (probably more than that, actually). Ok....but that's just the regular season. What about the playoffs?
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Games rawPPG PPGper100 Rp100 Ap100 Sp100 Bp100 rTS scr% dRTG
90: 10 29.4 37.5 13.4 4.0 1.7 2.6 +4.2 27.8 112
92: 12 22.7 32.0 15.7 3.2 0.8 3.6 -2.9 25.1 100
93: 15 25.5 33.6 14.4 3.2 1.5 2.7 0 25.8 103
94: 25 21.9 29.1 15.6 3.5 1.7 4.0 -3.3 24.6 94
So, the first thing we need to note is the major increase in games played in 94 compared to the other years. His defense is still the best by far in 94, but even his per100 scoring looks below his usual level. What's up with that? Well, part of it is that the Knicks were scoring ~10 points per game less as a team in the 94 playoffs than they did in the regular season (By comparison, the 90 Knicks only scored ~3 points per game less in the playoffs). This is because in 94 (even with Jordan's retirement), the avg team dRTG of the Knick playoff opponents was about as strong as it was in the next strongest year, but extended to 2 additional series and 13 extra games. We see this reflected in that even though his raw ppg and his per 100 are down, his scr% is still almost identical to what it was during the regular season. And this is with
his abysmal offensive performance against Houston factored in.
Here are the team dRTG's faced by Ewing and the Knicks for the aforementioned years
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Rd1(Opp dRTG/rank) Rd2 Rd3 Finals Avg Avg Opp rdRTG
90: BOS(107.9/12th) DET(103.5/2nd) X X 105.7 -2.4
92: DET(105.3/6th) CHI(104.5/4th) X X 104.9 -3.3
93: IND(110.1/21st) CHA(109.7/19th) CHI(106.1/7th) X 108.6 +0.63
94: NJ(104.9/10th) CHI(102.7/6th) IND(104.2/8th) HOU(101.4/2nd) 103.3 -3
If we eliminate the Houston series, Ewing's playoff scoring in 94 looks closer to what we would expect on a per game basis: 23.1 ppg on 54.4 TS with a scr% of 26.6. In fact, his (through three rounds) 1994 playoff 26.6 scr% is much
closer to his 1990 playoff scr% of 27.8 than his 1990 playoff dRTG of 112 is to his 1994 dRTG of 94. It's unfortunate he struggled so much offensively in that series to the point where it brings down his entire postseason scoring production (especially his efficiency). He truly did have an excellent defensive series in the Finals however -- and even though he shot the ball poorly, he still was
his team's leading scorer for the series, and the Knicks outscored the Rockets combined over all 7 games.
So, outside of the one series against Houston, it doesn't look like his 94 offensive contributions were so far below his 1990 levels (especially when adjusting for strength of playoff defense faced), that it outweighs his overall play on both sides of the court. And when you consider that in 94 Ewing's key rotational teammates missed a combined 164(!) games compared to only 21 the previous year, and that despite that, the Knicks only won 3 fewer regular season games, had an arguably better defense AND were about as close to winning a championship as you can be without actually holding the trophy....you have to think it's because of the overall high level of Ewing's on court play. As good as 90 Ewing was, I'm not sure that if you swap him in for 94 Ewing on a team that had 164 missed player games, that they would fare as well or better, and to me, I think that is the key point in why I'd lean toward 94 as his best overall year. Leadership and experience count, even if they don't show up on a stat sheet.
liamliam1234 wrote:I would still like to hear the case for 1990 Ewing/Barkley over Giannis. I think DatAsh said Barkley had “two to three times” the offensive impact, and I cannot really see support for that by their actual production. But everyone else has kind-of glossed over it.
First, I have to say that Giannis's per 100 numbers for this past season look really
good, to the point where I think I was actually under rating his impact. That being said, he does still have certain limitations to his game that I think make him a little bit easier to neutralize than either Ewing or Barkley. Giannis has some of the same flaws as Robinson in that you can't just give Giannis the ball anywhere on the court and say "go score 2 points to win the game"....maybe even to a greater degree than Robinson at this stage in his career, because Robinson had a decent mid range jumpshot. Dominating on (mostly) sheer athleticism and effort is great in the regular season, but you need guys who can create something out of nothing on offense the deeper you advance into the playoffs.
I also think with regard to Barkley specifically, that Giannis' assist numbers are a tad overvalued, and that Barkley was better at creating scoring opportunities for teammates that otherwise would not have materialized, even if Giannis racks up more assists just by finding the man who is already open. The way teams defend Giannis makes it easier for him to move the ball to where it naturally should go, but Barkley was better at making the play no one saw coming. In 3 years or so this may be a moot point, because I don't think we've actually seen peak Giannis yet, but I'd still rather have any version of 90-94 Ewing or Barkley with the ball in their hands to win a playoff game on offense, and in Ewing's case I'd also feel better about him making a game winning defensive stop. Even though 90 wasn't Ewing's defensive peak, he was still a really good defensive player -- not just in the post, but he was exceptional at switching onto perimeter players on the pick and roll and blocking/altering three pointers.
No-more-rings wrote:I’m not sure about Barkley vs Giannis, but for me Ewing still was a better defender than Giannis, and if his scoring game gets shut down i don’t think it’s as detrimental as if it happens to Giannis. On offense Giannis is better sure, but being a dpoy caliber guy in a league where Gobert, and Draymond are the top suspects compared to a league with Drob, Hakeem, Rodman, etc. isn’t really the same.
What supports Ewing being a DPoY-calibre player in 1990? That is my point. People are selecting 1990 because of Ewing’s offence, even though his defence was clearly a ways off his 1993-94 peak and was probably the worst defensive year of his career... so what makes his offence + defence better than Giannis’s that year?
The Knicks weren't great as a team defensively in 1990, but Ewing was an elite defensive presence since his college days. In 90 he averaged a combined 5 blocks + steals a game. Compare that to a combined 2.8 blocks and steals a game for Giannis last year. Even if we adjust for pace, Giannis has a combined 5.7 stl + blk % last season compared to Ewing's combined 7.1 stl + blk % in 1990. Ewing's blk % alone (5.9) is greater than Giannis' combined blk + stl %. They were probably equal as man defenders with respect to their positions, but Ewing was the better rim protector and was probably just as good if not better switching out on the perimeter. Giannis last season and Ewing in 90 also had roughly the same number of DWS (5.5 to 5.3) despite Giannis team winning 15 more games. And again....this is the best defense we've seen yet from Giannis compared to a defensive year of Ewing's that isn't even one of his top 5.
Anyway....here are some clips of Ewing utterly dominating on both sides of the court throughout the 94 playoffs for anyone still unaware of just how well he played in 94 compared to 90.
Rd1: @ New Jersey, game 4 (36 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 5 blocks)
Rd2: @ Chicago, game 3 (34 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks -- personal 8-0 run in the last 1:30 to tie the game)
Rd3: vs Indiana, game 7 (24 points, 22 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 5 blocks -- game winning putback)
Finals: vs Houston, game 5 (25 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 8 blocks)
Giannis is special, but I don't think he's reached this level of domination yet. In fact, quite a few players already voted in never quite reached this level of domination. This is also why I can't rank someone like Nash ahead of Ewing. Nash could dominate the game on one side of the ball, but Ewing could dominate the game on both sides.
I'll try to make a formal vote in a separate post later, I just wanted to make a thorough case here for anyone doubting 94 as Ewing's overall peak. I can still see a case for 90, because of his efficiency and athleticism (and how much you want to ding him for his shooting woes against the Rockets), but some people are voting 93 and that just doesn't make sense to me.