Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard

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Who do you rank higher?

Elgin Baylor
18
64%
Kawhi Leonard
10
36%
 
Total votes: 28

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Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#1 » by 70sFan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:43 pm

I've heard a lot of people putting Kawhi already in top 5 SFs ever recently, but now after bitter moments for him I'd like to ask you all - has Kawhi done enough in his career to put him over Elgin Baylor?

Baylor still has significant longevity advantage, although their true primes are more comparable.

Baylor's true prime is 1959-63, before his body started to break down. Elgin also had his last dance season as a superstar in 1968, when he was a very strong second option to one of the best offensive teams of his era (and he played well in postseason overall).

Kawhi's prime is 2015-20, without 2018 season of course.

Kawhi is more efficient scorer and better defender (Baylor was good before injuries). Elgin is more creative offensive player and better playmaker.

Who would you rank higher on your all-time list?
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#2 » by Dutchball97 » Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:56 pm

This is a great comparison tbh. With LeBron, Bird, Dr J and KD being locks the battle for the 5th best SF is tough. Pippen also deserves a mention but I'd take both Baylor and Kawhi over him.

I'm not as high on Baylor as most people so I'm leaning towards Kawhi but I'm honestly not sure.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#3 » by No-more-rings » Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:12 pm

kawhi doesn't have enough longevity yet, give him 2 or 3 more years and that should be enough since he's simply a better player.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#4 » by Jaivl » Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:37 pm

I'm low on Elgin but come on lol
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#5 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:06 pm

70sFan wrote:I've heard a lot of people putting Kawhi already in top 5 SFs ever recently, but now after bitter moments for him I'd like to ask you all - has Kawhi done enough in his career to put him over Elgin Baylor?

Baylor still has significant longevity advantage, although their true primes are more comparable.

Baylor's true prime is 1959-63, before his body started to break down. Elgin also had his last dance season as a superstar in 1968, when he was a very strong second option to one of the best offensive teams of his era (and he played well in postseason overall).

Kawhi's prime is 2015-20, without 2018 season of course.

Kawhi is more efficient scorer and better defender (Baylor was good before injuries). Elgin is more creative offensive player and better playmaker.

Who would you rank higher on your all-time list?


You probably know I'm not a Baylor guy. From my perspective he spent about half of his career getting in West's way, during which they never got over the hump. I honestly don't remember who I put ahead last time I made a list, but passing Baylor on my list is not hard.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#6 » by freethedevil » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:07 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
70sFan wrote:I've heard a lot of people putting Kawhi already in top 5 SFs ever recently, but now after bitter moments for him I'd like to ask you all - has Kawhi done enough in his career to put him over Elgin Baylor?

Baylor still has significant longevity advantage, although their true primes are more comparable.

Baylor's true prime is 1959-63, before his body started to break down. Elgin also had his last dance season as a superstar in 1968, when he was a very strong second option to one of the best offensive teams of his era (and he played well in postseason overall).

Kawhi's prime is 2015-20, without 2018 season of course.

Kawhi is more efficient scorer and better defender (Baylor was good before injuries). Elgin is more creative offensive player and better playmaker.

Who would you rank higher on your all-time list?


You probably know I'm not a Baylor guy. From my perspective he spent about half of his career getting in West's way, during which they never got over the hump. I honestly don't remember who I put ahead last time I made a list, but passing Baylor on my list is not hard.

wasn't baylor a major reason why the lakers got worse after wilt joined?
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#7 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:08 pm

freethedevil wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
70sFan wrote:I've heard a lot of people putting Kawhi already in top 5 SFs ever recently, but now after bitter moments for him I'd like to ask you all - has Kawhi done enough in his career to put him over Elgin Baylor?

Baylor still has significant longevity advantage, although their true primes are more comparable.

Baylor's true prime is 1959-63, before his body started to break down. Elgin also had his last dance season as a superstar in 1968, when he was a very strong second option to one of the best offensive teams of his era (and he played well in postseason overall).

Kawhi's prime is 2015-20, without 2018 season of course.

Kawhi is more efficient scorer and better defender (Baylor was good before injuries). Elgin is more creative offensive player and better playmaker.

Who would you rank higher on your all-time list?


You probably know I'm not a Baylor guy. From my perspective he spent about half of his career getting in West's way, during which they never got over the hump. I honestly don't remember who I put ahead last time I made a list, but passing Baylor on my list is not hard.

wasn't baylor a major reason why the lakers got worse after wilt joined?


Well, he and Wilt.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#8 » by 70sFan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:13 pm

No-more-rings wrote:kawhi doesn't have enough longevity yet, give him 2 or 3 more years and that should be enough since he's simply a better player.

I know where you come from, but I think that early 1960s Baylor is underrated due to his older version being inefficient and not a factor defensively.

Baylor was actually efficient in his prime and he improved in playoffs (and it's not like he faced weak competition). Besides, his playmaking is probably the most underrated aspect of his game - Elgin could and did play as a point forward in stretches (especially without West). His passing ability was outstanding for a forward and he could handle the ball as well as a guard. He wad very complete player, a bit like a bigger and more physical version of Kobe without his midrange game. Baylor also shot better from long range than from traditional midrange based on all games available of him (he was excellent long midrange shooter and quite poor from short midrange), so he gave his team spacing as well.

If he was as good defensively in his best seasons (1960-63) as he was in 1959/60 RS full game I have, then he should be at least considered over Kawhi because he's more dynamic and versatile offensive player.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#9 » by freethedevil » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:15 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
freethedevil wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
You probably know I'm not a Baylor guy. From my perspective he spent about half of his career getting in West's way, during which they never got over the hump. I honestly don't remember who I put ahead last time I made a list, but passing Baylor on my list is not hard.

wasn't baylor a major reason why the lakers got worse after wilt joined?


Well, he and Wilt.

would draymond not fitting with kd or curry be a good analogy?
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#10 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:23 pm

freethedevil wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
freethedevil wrote:wasn't baylor a major reason why the lakers got worse after wilt joined?


Well, he and Wilt.

would draymond not fitting with kd or curry be a good analogy?


Well I think KD would be the more appropriate analogy though the analogy isn't exact.

With Baylor, whether it was by his volition or not, instead of the Lakers re-orienting everything around West in around 1964, they let Baylor chuck for the next half decade. Baylor should have been finding a way to play that was less geared toward him acting as the offensive star.

With Wilt, you're literally talking about him getting petulant when asked to play the non-scoring, non-playing role he would eventually accept, which would then result in him winning a title in LA after he had destroyed the first coach's reputation.

With KD the issue isn't really the primacy or even the fact that he wasn't the best fit with the style of play but the fact that he started getting butthurt and then taking it out on the people around him he wanted so desperately to join.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#11 » by 70sFan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:24 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
70sFan wrote:I've heard a lot of people putting Kawhi already in top 5 SFs ever recently, but now after bitter moments for him I'd like to ask you all - has Kawhi done enough in his career to put him over Elgin Baylor?

Baylor still has significant longevity advantage, although their true primes are more comparable.

Baylor's true prime is 1959-63, before his body started to break down. Elgin also had his last dance season as a superstar in 1968, when he was a very strong second option to one of the best offensive teams of his era (and he played well in postseason overall).

Kawhi's prime is 2015-20, without 2018 season of course.

Kawhi is more efficient scorer and better defender (Baylor was good before injuries). Elgin is more creative offensive player and better playmaker.

Who would you rank higher on your all-time list?


You probably know I'm not a Baylor guy. From my perspective he spent about half of his career getting in West's way, during which they never got over the hump. I honestly don't remember who I put ahead last time I made a list, but passing Baylor on my list is not hard.

I know you're not, but I think it's way too simplistic way to look at their situation. I don't think Baylor and West primes really coexisted at any point. West made significant improvement in 1965 and Baylor wasn't himself since 1964. You can blame him for his lack of adaptability when he was past his prime (and I agree, Baylor shoulf have done better especially in 1969 and 1970), but it doesn't make his prime worse. He shouldn't have given West a supremacy before 1964, because West wasn't clearly better than him then. It was visible in 1962, when Lakers did much worse without him than with him when he missed time due to military service.

There is another aspect of that situation - West respected Baylor, he respected his game so much that he'd never give up on taking how great Baylor was. They were friends off the court and West was happy with their fit on the court. I think that lack of more fluid change of roles after 1964 is caused by both men to be honest.

In the end - it's not like Baylor prevented Lakers from reaching greatness. LA did fine with Baylor being 2nd option in 1968, they were arguably the best offensive team of the decade in that season and I don't buy that Baylor hurt them then.

He had some poor seasons (in 1964 and 1965) when he struggled to adjust after injuries and some weak seasons (1966, 1967, 1969) when it was clear that he didn't play in optimal role. I agree with that, but it doesn't change the fact that he was a great player.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#12 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:28 pm

70sFan wrote:
No-more-rings wrote:kawhi doesn't have enough longevity yet, give him 2 or 3 more years and that should be enough since he's simply a better player.

I know where you come from, but I think that early 1960s Baylor is underrated due to his older version being inefficient and not a factor defensively.

Baylor was actually efficient in his prime and he improved in playoffs (and it's not like he faced weak competition). Besides, his playmaking is probably the most underrated aspect of his game - Elgin could and did play as a point forward in stretches (especially without West). His passing ability was outstanding for a forward and he could handle the ball as well as a guard. He wad very complete player, a bit like a bigger and more physical version of Kobe without his midrange game. Baylor also shot better from long range than from traditional midrange based on all games available of him (he was excellent long midrange shooter and quite poor from short midrange), so he gave his team spacing as well.

If he was as good defensively in his best seasons (1960-63) as he was in 1959/60 RS full game I have, then he should be at least considered over Kawhi because he's more dynamic and versatile offensive player.


You're right that he improved in the playoffs early in his career efficiency-wise, and that's a good thing, but in the regular season the issue isn't really that he started shooting less efficient but that the league got better and he got a teammate that was much better than he was and yet he didn't show an ability to adapt.

And I'd note that while he was more efficient in the playoffs early in his career, we're not talking like he was actually efficient by the standards that would become the norm a few years later. While it's important to grade players on a curve, I think talking as if he demonstrated the ability to be "efficient" is overstating things. If it were a matter of him adopting a more efficient approach in the playoffs because he recognized the importance of it, we'd expect to see evidence of this later in his career.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#13 » by 70sFan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:29 pm

I'd also like to ask not to bring back 1969 again in this thread, if that's possible. This topic is well known and highly discussed a lot of times and I don't think it has a lot to do with this thread.

Of course if you disagree, you are free to continue but I don't think it will give us any valuable insight to Kawhi vs Elgin discussion.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#14 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:40 pm

70sFan wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
70sFan wrote:I've heard a lot of people putting Kawhi already in top 5 SFs ever recently, but now after bitter moments for him I'd like to ask you all - has Kawhi done enough in his career to put him over Elgin Baylor?

Baylor still has significant longevity advantage, although their true primes are more comparable.

Baylor's true prime is 1959-63, before his body started to break down. Elgin also had his last dance season as a superstar in 1968, when he was a very strong second option to one of the best offensive teams of his era (and he played well in postseason overall).

Kawhi's prime is 2015-20, without 2018 season of course.

Kawhi is more efficient scorer and better defender (Baylor was good before injuries). Elgin is more creative offensive player and better playmaker.

Who would you rank higher on your all-time list?


You probably know I'm not a Baylor guy. From my perspective he spent about half of his career getting in West's way, during which they never got over the hump. I honestly don't remember who I put ahead last time I made a list, but passing Baylor on my list is not hard.

I know you're not, but I think it's way too simplistic way to look at their situation. I don't think Baylor and West primes really coexisted at any point. West made significant improvement in 1965 and Baylor wasn't himself since 1964. You can blame him for his lack of adaptability when he was past his prime (and I agree, Baylor shoulf have done better especially in 1969 and 1970), but it doesn't make his prime worse. He shouldn't have given West a supremacy before 1964, because West wasn't clearly better than him then. It was visible in 1962, when Lakers did much worse without him than with him when he missed time due to military service.

There is another aspect of that situation - West respected Baylor, he respected his game so much that he'd never give up on taking how great Baylor was. They were friends off the court and West was happy with their fit on the court. I think that lack of more fluid change of roles after 1964 is caused by both men to be honest.

In the end - it's not like Baylor prevented Lakers from reaching greatness. LA did fine with Baylor being 2nd option in 1968, they were arguably the best offensive team of the decade in that season and I don't buy that Baylor hurt them then.

He had some poor seasons (in 1964 and 1965) when he struggled to adjust after injuries and some weak seasons (1966, 1967, 1969) when it was clear that he didn't play in optimal role. I agree with that, but it doesn't change the fact that he was a great player.


I think it's fine to say that what I've expressed is too simplistic. It's certainly missing nuance.

I think one of the key things here is that if we're talking about peak vs peak, this is Kawhi. And if you're giving Baylor the edge based on longevity, then you are surely giving him credit for time during West's prime when he shouldn't have been shooting so much. Baylor's only got 5 really impressive years and then the drop off is harsh. Kawhi's got 4 really impressive years, and that doesn't include his first all-star season or the first Finals MVP.

Re: West respected Baylor. Absolutely, I think that much of what happened here is that the team just left it up to the two stars, who learned to play together while Baylor was the established star, and so there wasn't anyone there to say "Elgin, this is Jerry's team now. You have to change how you play."

Re: don't buy that Baylor hurt them. Wording is tricky here. Baylor not playing the right role hurt the team compared to what they would have achieved, and this may well have kept them from winning a championship, but it's not like the team would have been better off without him. It's just that most give Baylor credit for an extra half decade of being a "Top 5 player" where his actual quality in practice was nothing at all close to what we modern observers would think of as "Top 5 worthy". A better analogy would probably Westbrook these past few years with George and Harden, and I'll just say that these years aren't really adding to Westbrook's longevity for me.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#15 » by 70sFan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:41 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:You're right that he improved in the playoffs early in his career efficiency-wise, and that's a good thing, but in the regular season the issue isn't really that he started shooting less efficient but that the league got better and he got a teammate that was much better than he was and yet he didn't show an ability to adapt.

But he did start shooting less efficient, before 1968 (which I believe was his "last hurrah" season) he shot worse from the field and was less efficient overall than in 1960-63. You can argue that he didn't adjust to the league, but it's not coincidence that he had his most efficient season just before troubles with knees and he became much worse in the season when these problems started.

And I'd note that while he was more efficient in the playoffs early in his career, we're not talking like he was actually efficient by the standards that would become the norm a few years later.

He actually was decently efficient in 1960-63 playoffs though. He was 54 TS% in 1960, 53 TS% in 1961 and over 50 TS%, all on ridiculous volume. I mean, that's not bad at all for someone of his style in a league that didn't suit him at all.

While it's important to grade players on a curve, I think talking as if he demonstrated the ability to be "efficient" is overstating things. If it were a matter of him adopting a more efficient approach in the playoffs because he recognized the importance of it, we'd expect to see evidence of this later in his career.

I think it's much simpler - Baylor was very athletic in his prime. Not for his era, he was very athletic period. He lost a lot of physical advantages that made him great because of injuries. He was still good enough to be an all-star level without elite athleticism, but he had a hard time to adjust (and coaches probably didn't help him either, with not limiting his role).
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#16 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:41 pm

70sFan wrote:I'd also like to ask not to bring back 1969 again in this thread, if that's possible. This topic is well known and highly discussed a lot of times and I don't think it has a lot to do with this thread.

Of course if you disagree, you are free to continue but I don't think it will give us any valuable insight to Kawhi vs Elgin discussion.


I should probably stop talking in this thread because I'm so negative on Baylor. Y'all have heard my opinion, wise or foolish. :beer:
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#17 » by 70sFan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:03 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
70sFan wrote:I'd also like to ask not to bring back 1969 again in this thread, if that's possible. This topic is well known and highly discussed a lot of times and I don't think it has a lot to do with this thread.

Of course if you disagree, you are free to continue but I don't think it will give us any valuable insight to Kawhi vs Elgin discussion.


I should probably stop talking in this thread because I'm so negative on Baylor. Y'all have heard my opinion, wise or foolish. :beer:

No, you shouldn't! As much as we disagree in some cases, I always like discussing with you and you always provide valuable point of view. I agree with you in a lot of things about Baylor, I just think that he was different player in his best seasons. You view his overall career as more telling and that's fair (and probably more objective approach than mine).

I think that more footage would help us a lot in this case (like with many others). I have only seen two prime Baylor games (one from 1959 and the other from 1963) and I really like what I saw. Then we have like 5 (or something like that) incomplete games from 1965-70 period and Baylor just doesn't look the same. He still showed flashes of brilliance, but he forced things a lot more and he just didn't play the same way.

The only thing I'm impressed about old Baylor is his passing (he was excellent secondary playmaker, much better than most give him credit for). Young Baylor showed so much more in this limited sample.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#18 » by 70sFan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:18 pm

By the way, if anyone wants to see a sample of prime Baylor play - thanks to trex we now have decent collection of play by play data from 1960s here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/d/1eHqVY37SuynDT9KuaLpxHGqNVZnfLEWd7yPLM_H014s/htmlview#
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#19 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:26 pm

70sFan wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
70sFan wrote:I'd also like to ask not to bring back 1969 again in this thread, if that's possible. This topic is well known and highly discussed a lot of times and I don't think it has a lot to do with this thread.

Of course if you disagree, you are free to continue but I don't think it will give us any valuable insight to Kawhi vs Elgin discussion.


I should probably stop talking in this thread because I'm so negative on Baylor. Y'all have heard my opinion, wise or foolish. :beer:

No, you shouldn't! As much as we disagree in some cases, I always like discussing with you and you always provide valuable point of view. I agree with you in a lot of things about Baylor, I just think that he was different player in his best seasons. You view his overall career as more telling and that's fair (and probably more objective approach than mine).

I think that more footage would help us a lot in this case (like with many others). I have only seen two prime Baylor games (one from 1959 and the other from 1963) and I really like what I saw. Then we have like 5 (or something like that) incomplete games from 1965-70 period and Baylor just doesn't look the same. He still showed flashes of brilliance, but he forced things a lot more and he just didn't play the same way.

The only thing I'm impressed about old Baylor is his passing (he was excellent secondary playmaker, much better than most give him credit for). Young Baylor showed so much more in this limited sample.


I appreciate that 70sfan. :)

Re: Baylor's passing. I think what's tough here is it's not that Baylor never made great passes - dude was very clearly channeling the Globetrotters with some of his play - but that so much depends on his actual efficiency, and we don't have all the data. What we know from later players is that flashiness can be a sign of elegance-beyond-mere-proficiency (Magic) or it can be just foolish risks (Pistol), and thus it's hard to know how to evaluate a guy with limited footage.

Obviously, I'm a skeptic. I see him having efficiency issues in his scoring relative to context, and I see a tendency for his team's play to live and die based on his teammate's presence rather than his own despite retaining primacy. To me that makes the most likely conclusion that Baylor had a tendency toward play that was more problematic than ideal, but it's possible that this isn't the case.
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Re: Higher on all-time list: Elgin Baylor vs Kawhi Leonard 

Post#20 » by freethedevil » Wed Sep 16, 2020 10:29 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
freethedevil wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
Well, he and Wilt.

would draymond not fitting with kd or curry be a good analogy?


Well I think KD would be the more appropriate analogy though the analogy isn't exact.

With Baylor, whether it was by his volition or not, instead of the Lakers re-orienting everything around West in around 1964, they let Baylor chuck for the next half decade. Baylor should have been finding a way to play that was less geared toward him acting as the offensive star.

With Wilt, you're literally talking about him getting petulant when asked to play the non-scoring, non-playing role he would eventually accept, which would then result in him winning a title in LA after he had destroyed the first coach's reputation.

With KD the issue isn't really the primacy or even the fact that he wasn't the best fit with the style of play but the fact that he started getting butthurt and then taking it out on the people around him he wanted so desperately to join.

I meant theoretoically if their playstyles didn't mesh. Their play did mesh, coz dray meshes with everyone lol.


A 60's enthuiasist i talked to said the lakers should have just trraded baylor for complimentary pieces.

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