70sFan wrote:I also want to point out one very underrated aspect of offense - resiliance. It might be true that Kareem-led team would never reach the heights of Harden-led for example, but in playoffs you have to deal with various defensive schemes - all focused on you. If there is anything that Kareem proved in his long career, it's that his offense couldn't be game planned against. When you start your career in the 1960s and you win FMVP in 1985 - all without major adjustments in his play (outside of some age-related nuances) - you prove that nothing could stop you.
Tell me, what is the way to slow down Kareem? You could try zone defense, but Kareem dealt with zones pretty well in the 1970s when it wasn't outlawed. Maybe modern soft doubles and trapping could confuse Kareem for a moment, but with his experience I doubt it'd be a plan against him. You can't front 7'2 monster who moved like a SF either - this is a suicide. You can try to outscore his team by playing small but Kareem was probably the best ever at killing small lineups. Leaving shooters wide open and clogging the paint isn't something Kareem didn't see either - the paint was crowded in the early 1970s on every possession.
It's not coincidence that Kareem was the best scorer in the league for 15 years, all while leading good and elite offenses. I understand that a lot of things is different now than then, but a lot of things were different in 1970 than in 1985. Kareem got older and slower, the league got more used to him and tried many new ways to stop him and nothing worked.
Not to mention that Kareem wasn't just a post player - he was very skilled. He had good handles for someone 7'2 who had to play within 1970s rules. He could run the break by himself and finish it with posters or eurostep layups. He didn't shoot a lot, but he had decent shooting touch. His finishing ability is unrivaled by anyone else. His faceup game wasn't utilized a lot for obvious reasons, but I've seen him beating players off the dribble as well. He's very good passer who knew how to use spacing around him better than any center.
I know it can create another discussion and disagreements, but when you look at Kareem skillset, Giannis ends up quite lame in comparison. Giannis is outstanding driver and finisher, but he has no in-between game, his vision is definitely worse than Kareem's and it's easy to gameplan against him with right personel. Yet he's 2 time MVP despite all limitations. I know, I know - he plays more on perimeter but that's the reason why he has it so tough in playoffs. I'm positive that we'd see Kareem doing more perimeter work in 2020, but in the end he always has reliable options to get points and create opportunities for others.
I think you make great points here, but I think it's hyperbolic to talk about Kareem moving like a SF. Dude was outquicked by Bill Walton, and why Walton was quick, I certainly wouldn't call him "quick like a guard".
Kareem was exceptionally coordinated and quicker than the average bear, but he wasn't super fast-twitch.