1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson

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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#81 » by TurinTurambar » Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:46 pm

Welp, oh well. I tried to talk about Magic and Larry at least. Maybe next time.

Have a nice day, though!
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#82 » by trex_8063 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:18 pm

TurinTurambar wrote:So there are a couple of myths I want to dispel right off the bat. The most annoying one by far right now is this idea that Magic was some ball dominant guy while Bird wasn't.

Here's what their career usage rates look like:

Magic: 22.3%
Bird: 26.5%

Magic's whole thing was how he would get rid of the ball. Calling him ball dominant in any context is absolutely ridiculous, and certainly no less so when compared to Bird.



fwiw, this is a misuse of usage. It doesn't measure time of possession of the ball, only what proportions of a team's possessions that the player in question is the one either shooting or turning the ball over.


Illustrative examples:
Most would describe Rajon Rondo as kind of ball-dominant, but his career usage is just 19.0% (that's actually BELOW league average).

Reggie Miller worked almost exclusively off-ball, tearing around the halfcourt rubbing his man off screens, trying to get open for a shot which usually went up almost immediately after catching the ball (otherwise he'd usually quickly get rid of the ball again)--->in fact from '97-'05, about 76.5% of his FG's were assisted.
VERY rarely was he the guy advancing the ball up the court, only occasionally was he working in isolation, and was never known for holding the ball on offense.
He was about as NON-ball-dominant a scorer as is possible; his average time in possession of the basketball [even in the half-court only] would be a mere fraction of Rondo's.......but his career usage is higher than Rondo's [21.6%].


EDIT: Ah, I see I'm late to the party on this point. Looks rather Quixotic to continue wrt it in this instance, from what I've subsequently read.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#83 » by TurinTurambar » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:25 pm

trex_8063 wrote:
TurinTurambar wrote:So there are a couple of myths I want to dispel right off the bat. The most annoying one by far right now is this idea that Magic was some ball dominant guy while Bird wasn't.

Here's what their career usage rates look like:

Magic: 22.3%
Bird: 26.5%

Magic's whole thing was how he would get rid of the ball. Calling him ball dominant in any context is absolutely ridiculous, and certainly no less so when compared to Bird.



fwiw, this is a misuse of usage. It doesn't measure time of possession of the ball, only what proportions of a team's possessions that the player in question is the one either shooting or turning the ball over.


Illustrative examples:
Most would describe Rajon Rondo as kind of ball-dominant, but his career usage is just 19.0% (that's actually BELOW league average).

Reggie Miller worked almost exclusively off-ball, tearing around the halfcourt rubbing his man off screens, trying to get open for a shot which usually went up almost immediately after catching the ball (otherwise he'd usually quickly get rid of the ball again)--->in fact from '97-'05, about 76.5% of his FG's were assisted.
VERY rarely was he the guy advancing the ball up the court, only occasionally was he working in isolation, and was never known for holding the ball on offense.
He was about as NON-ball-dominant a scorer as is possible; his average time in possession of the basketball [even in the half-court only] would be a mere fraction of Rondo's.......but his career usage is higher than Rondo's [21.6%].


Right, but I do notice every example being given here are polar extremes. Point guards with a tendency to dribble the air out of the ball like a Rondo or a Wall being compared to guys who epitomize off-ball play in Klay and Reggie.

It's still a valid thing to point out, and this will be like my third or fourth time saying that using usg% to get an indication of who has the ball in their hands the most isn't without flaws. Even if you want to go by game tape and the eye test, it's pretty easy to see that Magic wasn't really much like Rondo, and Bird really wasn't much like Reggie or Klay. In fact, Magic and Bird were a lot like each other.

Either way, again, this really isn't why 70's Fan started this thread, and it's functionally killed any chance of the possibility of having that conversation. For that, I owe him my apology.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#84 » by bwgood77 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:29 pm

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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#85 » by therealbig3 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:56 pm

mailmp wrote:Taking this from reddit:

Bird and Magic faced a common postseason opponent five times (1980-82, 1986, and 1988), and they went head-to-head three times (1984-85, 1987). Wonder how that went?

    In 1980 (against the 76ers) Magic put up 21.5/11.6/8.7 on 57.3 field goal percentage, versus Bird’s 22.2/13.8/3.2 on 44.0 field goal percentage / 48.2% true shooting;

    In 1981 (against that 40-42 Rockets team), Magic (in three games) put up 17.0/13.7/7.0 on 38.8 field goal percentage, versus Bird’s aforementioned 15.3/15.3/7.0 on 41.9 field goal percentage;

    In 1982 (again against the 76ers), Magic put up 16.2/10.8/8 on 53.3 field goal percentage, versus Bird’s 18.3/14.1/7.3 on 41.2 field goal percentage / 44.9% true shooting;

    In 1984 (against each other), Magic put up 18.0/7.7/13.6 on 61.2% true shooting, versus Bird’s 27.4/14.0/3.6 on 59.5% true shooting;

    In 1985 (again against each other), Magic put up on 18.3/6.8/14.0 on 56.9% true shooting, versus Bird’s 23.8/8.8/5.0 on 52.7% true shooting;

    In 1986 (against the new Rockets), Magic put up 22.2/6.8/16.2(!!) on 60.2% true shooting, versus Bird’s 24.0/9.7/9.5 on 57.8% true shooting;

    In 1987 (once more against each other), Magic put up 26.2/8.0/13.0 on 59.0% true shooting, versus Bird’s 24.2/10.0/5.5 on 53.4% true shooting;

    And in 1988 (against the Pistons), Magic put up 21.1/5.7/13.0 on 67.6% true shooting, versus Bird’s 19.8/12.2/6.8 on 44.8% true shooting.

So by my count that is four years where Magic is clearly better (1980, 1982, 1987, and 1988), one where Bird is better (incredibly, somehow 1981 Magic fell short of the dirt-low standards of 1981 Bird), and three all at Bird’s peak where they are comparable (if we are splitting hairs, I would take Bird’s performance in 1984, Magic’s in 1986, and less assuredly Magic in 1985). Add in the total lack of discussion when it comes to 1989-91 Magic versus Bird, and Bird’s abysmal flameout in 1983, and their general playoff averages, I do not really see a case that Bird was better than Magic when it mattered, even if he was indeed a better regular season player for the first seven years.


“Scalability” and the defensive advantages of middle-career Bird does not overwrite that.


I think focusing on Bird’s TS% and concluding he played worse misses the point when it comes to Bird. Especially when he’s on much higher volume most of the time, and he wasn’t turning the ball over as much as Magic. Magic as a 20 ppg scorer was always extremely efficient with regards to TS%, if you compared his stat line to Jordan’s, he would have a higher TS%.

That’s not to say Bird was playing amazing in those series where he had a 45% TS or whatever, but why are we concluding for sure that Magic was better than Bird in 85-87 in the playoffs? Because Bird had a lower TS% and averaged less assists? So what? And when you’re talking about their earlier career, like 1980-1983 or so, Magic wasn’t even the best offensive player on his team, while Bird clearly was, that makes a big difference when you’re comparing stat lines.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#86 » by trex_8063 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:32 pm

SNPA wrote:
mailmp wrote:I am not saying it is logically inconsistent, I am saying it is completely vacuous. And the point is that is a clear analogy. Perhaps you would prefer Paul versus Magic? After all, Paul is of course a 9/10 offensive player and a much better defender, and with better longevity!

No one is using this x/10 thing you keep doing. I’m not clear what value it adds.

I posted accolades and stats showing Bird’s defensive superiority.



But you also said:

SNPA wrote:But taking two players of different positions and roles and grabbing box score stats from a handful of series and claiming superiority from it is pretty weak.


If the defensive box-stats (which as another poster noted: can be horridly noisy in their ability to actually identify the good defenders anyway) matter when comparing them defensively---even though they play different positions/roles defensively----how can one then justify hand-waiving away an offensive superiority in the other direction based upon differing role/position?
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#87 » by mailmp » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:34 pm

There was a notable scoring gap in 1985 and 1984, two years I acknowledged as close (and one I said Bird deserved the advantage). Magic did have less responsibility from 1980-83, but he also did not disappoint the way Bird repeatedly did.

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