RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)

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RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) 

Post#1 » by trex_8063 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:52 pm

2020 List
1. LeBron James
2. Michael Jordan
3. ???

Spoiler:
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This thread will be open ~48 hours, unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as an ultra-close vote with low turnout initially). Anticipate this thread concluding around 11-12 EST on Tuesday.

Arenas of competition to be considered are the NBA/ABA/BAA, and the NBL (back as far as '47); highschool, college, and international play are excluded (except perhaps as a "tie-breaker" consideration).
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#2 » by Ainosterhaspie » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:26 pm

1. Kareem Abdul Jabar
2. Bill Russell
3. Tim Duncan


The gold standard of quality longevity, Kareem was a key contributor to a title in 71 and 85. (By 87 his efficacy was finally diminished enough to give little credit in this discussion.) Elite offense, great defense at the most important defensive position. Edges Russell thanks to his longevity and being a better two way player.


Kareem has versatility and longevity edges over Russell, though didn't show the same level of dominance. This is probably in part to inferior support at times. Even with equal support, I'm not convinced Kareem dominates quite as much as Russell. The gap between the two us razor thin, but Kareem edges Russell for me.

--

Duncan will be up next for me due to longevity and high level play on both ends of the Court.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#3 » by Dutchball97 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:36 pm

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Kareem has it all. One of the best peaks ever, a long sustained prime and even then he didn't stop being a productive player well after most players usually retire. I rate MJ and LeBron higher because their individual dominance correlated better with their team success, while Kareem didn't have as much success during his prime in the 70s as you'd hope for someone of his talent.

2. Bill Russell - I think there are four players with strong GOAT arguments and Russell is one of them. He is the most succesful player of All-Time in terms of winning and even individually he's elite, winning multiple MVPs and generally being one of the best players in the league for his entire career. His dominance came for the most part because of his revolutionary defense. On the offensive end he was solid enough but there were always multiple players significantly better on that end than Russell. Even though his impact is immense, this relative gap in his game places him below the other GOAT candidates for me.

3. Tim Duncan - The #5 spot is where it'll start getting tough. I considered Shaq, Magic and Bird but it came down to Duncan and Wilt. Two players whose case couldn't be much more different. With Wilt you get the most dominant individual player of All-Time and Duncan gives you a long time of consistent greatness alongside one of the highest peaks ever. When Duncan's peak is comparable to Wilt but he won a lot more along the way, I got to give it to Duncan. Duncan's case in this debate looks the most comparable to Kareem and Russell's as well. Might change my mind when the #5 thread comes around but as it stands now Duncan is the clear frontrunner for me.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#4 » by drza » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:45 pm

(Alright. I wrote a monster post about Russell and Jordan to end last thread, but TRex closed the thread before I finished so I don't know how much it'll be seen. Instead, I'll re-post the Russell stuff here, and use this as my jumpoff for a likely Kareem-based post and comparison later in the thread (fingers crossed I'll have the time)

Bill Russell

I wrote in the #1 thread about some of my general thoughts on Russell
Spoiler:
https://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?p=85709394#p85709394); and viewtopic.php?p=85720485#p85720485
. It's always interesting to see how others react to a post after it's left my fingers, and to get the overall feel for the group's mindset on the whole. Thus far, with Russell in particular, I've noticed either a) a willingness to essentially stipulate Russell's in-era impact as (either potentially or definitely) the biggest ever while also giving demerits based on differences in era, or b) some question as to whether Russell really WAS worthy of as much credit as he's given for the Celtics' success due to the lack of granularity of information from the era.

Both mindsets have merit, are complicated, and therefore can be difficult to counter. I spent some time on the first in my first Russell post, so I'll spend some time on the latter here: how confidently can we estimate Russell's impact?

As I mentioned before (and likely will mention again in this project), my first really deep dive into Russell (and most of the historical players before my time) came in the Retro Player of the Year project Doc MJ initiated about a decade ago. Last post I stated this then jumped to the conclusion I reached that Russell really was the main engine behind that era of Celtics dominance, with a reference to the timeline of Celtics' team defenses, and how it correlated with Russell's absence and presence, as the only real support data. I'd done that for speed, and so-as not to bog down the point I was trying to make with words and numbers (yes, shockingly, I'm known to do that :P ). But, interestingly, I was called out for that pretty vigorously. So be it, let's dig a little deeper.

Russell's in-era impact, deeper dive
First, for any that haven't already, I'd strongly urge you to go through that RPoY project. Especially the "early years" (which were actually the later weeks of the project). Because the depth of discussion and data presented in that project, especially for the time in which we did it, was unparallelled in my opinion. It wasn't just a bunch of guys spouting box scores and ringzzz count. We had guys looking up and pasting newspaper articles describing individual games and thoughts at the time. Quotes from relevant books through the years, from NBA players and personnel from the era. Quotes from Russell's books. And a lot of genuine, innovative quantitative analysis that was well beyond the norm for even professional basketball analysts. Outside of having an NBA League Pass or databall-era stats from the 60s, I really felt like those discussions were enough to give me a much clearer insight into previous generations than I'd ever had before. Also, some really cool blogs/careers/analysts spawned from that project. Doc MJ had his blog up and going for awhile, and produced some really good content (that I'm likely to quote at various points throughout this project). And of course, Ben (known here as ElGee) kept going with those new analytics approaches and has put out a ton of good analysis since.

In fact, let's start with a quote that originally came from one of Russell's books but that I encountered on Doc MJ's blog, A Substitute for War:

"Bill understood that Wilt’s game was more vertical, that is, from the floor to the basket. Wilt’s game was one of strength and power…Bill’s game was built on finesse and speed, what he called a horizontal game, as he moved back and forth across the court blocking shots, running the floor, and playing team defense."


This concept of Horizontal Defense is key, here, because a) it tends to get overshadowed by the blocked shot and b) it's part and parcel of why I believe Russell's defense would've been hugely impactful, even today. Russell is one of (the?) innovators for jumping to block shots, and every mining of available game film yields cartoonish blocked shot rates for Russell in his career (like 8-9 blocks/game, regularly, type cartoonish). However, it's the horizontal element...the covering of large areas of the court, the help defense, the ability to blow-up the early attempts at the pick-and-roll that made Russell a 1-of-1 defender in his era and would still be successful today.

People tend to focus on shot-blocking...so-called "rim protecting", as the primary defensive attribute of great defensive anchors. I'd argue that's completely not so, that in every era the horizontal defending big men have been more valuable defenders, and that in the current era it's still the case.

Wilt may have blocked as many shots as Russell, but Russell was the defensive force.

Kareem was a great shot-blocker, but Walton's ability to cover the court defensively (when healthy) allowed him to have a much greater impact at that end of the court.

Mark Eaton won DPoY awards, but give me the greater mobility and court coverage of Hakeem or Robinson any day.

Kevin Garnett, Ben Wallace and even Tim Duncan had the mobility and covered a wider area of the court than 3-time DPoY Dwight Howard would a few years later, setting them apart.

And Draymond Green was dominating defensive RAPM numbers a few years back and may deserve more than the one DPoY award he received.

As for putting some numbers to it. Well, first, I'd recommend you checking out ElGee's writeup of Russell in his rankings list ( https://backpicks.com/2018/04/02/backpicks-goat-3-bill-russell/ )...it's like a smorgasbord of videos, scouting, analysis and unique analytics. But focusing in on the numbers, despite the lack of databall-era stats, there are some compelling cases to be mae numerical for Russell's dominance:

1) As posted before, the Celtics' team defense was a historic dynasty, and the time scale of that dominance correlated almost exactly with Russell's career: https://elgee35.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/bill-russells-defensive-impact/

2) A quote from that ElGee writeup I just linked:
"He didn’t miss much time in his career, so WOWY numbers are hard to come by. Journalists and teammates always claimed that the Celtics fell apart without him; Boston was a 35-win team (-1.9 SRS) in 28 games he missed from 1958-69, and for the other 915 games of his career they played at a 59-win pace (6.4 SRS). This is a tiny piece of evidence – the years are spread out, teams change, and so on — but it echoes the same story as Russell’s other value signals."


3) Another passage from that link, talking playoffs defenses, that references a chart on team playoff results each year of each big man's career, where Russell has by-far the best score (7.7) where the next two best scores were the Spurs teammates (Robinson 5.1/Duncan 5.0) and Kareem was further down the list at 1.7, with Dirk at the bottom of the list at -1.5 (to give a sense of scale):

In the postseason, the defensive domination rolled on. Below, I’ve compared Russell’s playoff defenses to those of other all-time big men. The gray bubbles in Russell’s column are the Celtics individual performance in each year. Note that Boston never had a subpar defensive postseason with Russell, and that its worst playoff runs were clustered at the end of his career as a he slowed down


4) Most here are familiar with the concept of WOWY, and Ben's done a lot of stuff with regressed progressions of that concept (again, I recommend everyone checking out that work). But he also includes some work that he attributes to Zachary Stone, called Game-level adjusted Plus-Minus (GPM). Here's one of his brief writeups about GPM:
Spoiler:
Building off of the the same idea, Backpicks reader Zachary Stone has tackled historical games with a slightly different approach that I’ll call GPM (Game-level adjusted Plus-Minus). GPM is more analogous to “pure” RAPM in that each game result is a row in the equation, whereas WOWYR combines games and weights the lineups. The details of Zach’s version of GPM:

It uses only players who played at least 25 minutes per game during a season, so those games where Draymond Green is ejected early still count as a game played for him.
It uses a “replacement” player cutoff of 260 games. (The other studies below use 82 games.)
It’s run on data from 1957-2017.
(Technical detail: This version of GPM chose a lambda using the computationally expensive generalized cross-validation, not the chunkier k-fold method used for WOWYR in Part III.)
But there’s still the issue of time to consider. We don’t want the model thinking that Michael Jordan in his Wizard years is actually the Michael Jordan. So Zach ran the regression in 10-year slices, from 1957-66, 1958-67, 1959-68 and so on, and then grabbed each player’s best 10-year run. Finally, he scaled the results to allow for apples to apples comparisons across eras.

In theory, this will yield a better ballpark of those players with relatively consistent 10-year primes.


The standard, necessary disclaimer: this work is all done on much less granular data than the databall era, so where the stories don't mesh, I'd tend to give more weight to present-day analysis for present-day players than something like GPM or WOWYR. On the other hand, this approach gives us some quantified measures we can use that get the present and past players at least reasonably onto a common ground. Anyway, top GPM scores in history:

T1st: Russell, David Robinson & Steve Nash: 9.4
4th: Magic Johnson: 8.3
8th: Michael Jordan: 7.6
14. Kareem (6.2)

Now, to be fair and not just be cherrypicking, the same chart has his scaled WOWYR data, in which Russell and Kareem finished even closer:
1st: Magic Johnson (9.3)
4. Michael Jordan (8.3)
9. LeBron James (7.8)
15. Russell (5.9)
T18. Kareem (5.7)

The point here was in no way to use these metrics to try to pinpoint exactly where Russell rates vs Kareem historically. There's not enough accuracy for that level of delineation, IMO. Instead, with the examples I've shown here, I wanted to point out that there is actually a pretty in-depth set of quantitative analysis out there that is growing in sophistication that shows in a variety of ways that a) Russell really was, measurably, the catalyst of all that Celtics success...that it's not just nostalgia and quotes (though there's that too), but that every quantified approach we take yields similar results. Also, b)Russell's individual impact, when compared quantifiably, even with attempts made at normalizing the playing field, shows up at the very elite end of NBA history.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#5 » by Blackmill » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:10 pm

Responding to some stuff from thread #2 here.

drza wrote:(ETA: lol, TRex called the thread while I was typing this. I thought about that possibility and went to make a 'placeholder' post, but when I last hit 'preview' I saw that TRex had called the thread a minute earlier, so...yeah. I guess this whole post will be "after the final whistle", as it were. I'll also probably recycle the lion-share of it for my first Russell vs Kareem post next thread, so it can be seen. C'est la vie!)


Count me as another for whom the 2-day window makes things difficult. I understand the reason for it (and am not even arguing against it), I'm just pointing out why in this (and likely future) threads I may miss the actual heart of the argument. I'd intended to go for a big "Jordan vs Russell" post here, with MJ's entry a foregone conclusion (and LeBron already in) I figured this might be my only opportunity to do this. On the other hand, this thread is effectively over so I don't know if it's worth it to put in the time to really dig in at this point. :Shrugs: Let's just free-write and see where this goes.


I was the other person wanting a longer window. I'm here for the discussion more than the result, and once a player is inducted, comparisons to him mostly leave the conversation. It's unfortunate and makes me feel like these threads are sometimes incomplete.

Vote (I know it's too late, but for posterity. Also, like last time, limiting my vote to players that have gotten legitimate mention thus far):

1. Russell
2. Jordan
3. Duncan


I know you've championed KG as much as any one. Is the emphasized line why you haven't voted for him or has your evaluation changed? I'm very tempted to vote for KG as one of my three votes in this next round.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#6 » by drza » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:32 pm

Blackmill wrote:Responding to some stuff from thread #2 here.

Spoiler:
drza wrote:(ETA: lol, TRex called the thread while I was typing this. I thought about that possibility and went to make a 'placeholder' post, but when I last hit 'preview' I saw that TRex had called the thread a minute earlier, so...yeah. I guess this whole post will be "after the final whistle", as it were. I'll also probably recycle the lion-share of it for my first Russell vs Kareem post next thread, so it can be seen. C'est la vie!)


Count me as another for whom the 2-day window makes things difficult. I understand the reason for it (and am not even arguing against it), I'm just pointing out why in this (and likely future) threads I may miss the actual heart of the argument. I'd intended to go for a big "Jordan vs Russell" post here, with MJ's entry a foregone conclusion (and LeBron already in) I figured this might be my only opportunity to do this. On the other hand, this thread is effectively over so I don't know if it's worth it to put in the time to really dig in at this point. :Shrugs: Let's just free-write and see where this goes.


I was the other person wanting a longer window. I'm here for the discussion more than the result, and once a player is inducted, comparisons to him mostly leave the conversation. It's unfortunate and makes me feel like these threads are sometimes incomplete.


Vote (I know it's too late, but for posterity. Also, like last time, limiting my vote to players that have gotten legitimate mention thus far):

1. Russell
2. Jordan
3. Duncan


I know you've championed KG as much as any one. Is the emphasized line why you haven't voted for him or has your evaluation changed? I'm very tempted to vote for KG as one of my three votes in this next round.


The former. For a couple reasons. For one, I've learned in past projects that KG can be polarizing, and I don't want to derail the discussion by bringing him into the votes unless/until I get a sense that people are ready to be receptive. Plus, of course, I've written a lot of KG content on here through the decades (I'm so old). But I haven't written a lot about LeBron vs MJ, or Russell vs MJ, or even Russell vs Kareem. So, I'm also exploring some of these while I'm here.

All that said, you know I think he's worthy of mention/votes anywhere in this project. And, like you, I'm in it for the discussion way more than the vote. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing your thoughts if/when you do start talking KG
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#7 » by limbo » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:37 pm

Do people believe Russell would've won more titles than Kareem if he played in his shoes?
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#8 » by trex_8063 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:25 pm

Blackmill wrote:I'll add some thoughts on Kareem.

Offense

Kareem's sky-hook was remarkably efficient. After adding some muscle in the mid-to-late 70s, it was a well above 50% shot in the half-court. He was most efficient when moving from the left block to the middle of the lane for a right-handed sky-hook. This particular shot Kareem probably converted at a near 60% rate during his peak years.

Because Kareem was so effective with this shot, he often post up on the left-side of the court, and defenders usually overplayed his move to the middle. This would give up opportunities for Kareem to go baseline for a layup or short four foot jumper.

[clipped]


One additional comment I'd like to make regarding Kareem's offensive presence is his underrated/understated lower body strength [as it pertains to getting to his spots in the post].
I've seen young Kareem [Lew] backing down the big Walt Bellamy. I recall watching one of the Laker/Celtics finals where Robert Parish was REALLY laying into him with everything he had: you could see him banging against Kareem, and leaning (his body literally at an angle) against Kareem trying to push him off his spot......and Kareem still inexorably backed him down to receive the pass where he [more or less] wanted it.

I think people miss that because he looks so thin in the upper body, but the man was SO strong in the lower body. In the era of short shorts, you can kinda see it: his thighs are thick and almost freakishly defined, kinda like Dave Cowens or Artis Gilmore.


On the topic of his sky hook and other hook shots of his.....
As many know, I've been doing a game log and shot location data project on old games/players. I don't have a ton logged for Kareem as of yet: just a little over three and a third games (all from '70 and '71 [including the entire game of his rookie debut]). So it's not much of a sample size yet, but I thought I'd share a little of what I have so far:

He's an EXTREME outlier in just how many of his shots come in the 3-10' range. For most players these are often high degree of difficulty (in traffic, heavily contested, often with contact, runners, etc); so for most players they do NOT comprise a huge proportion of their total shot attempts (at least not over any relevant sample size).
But for Kareem [so far], it's comprised 61.3% of his total attempts (again: these are the sky hooks and baby hooks from near the block, mostly).
And his accuracy (at least among anyone who takes shots in this range regularly) is elite: he's so far made 50% in my sample (23 of 46), which is awfully good (especially for that time-period) for what is basically isolation half-court offense.
There are a few other guys doing better, though they're all guys for whom shots in the 3-10' range comprise <18% of their total attempts (indicating more of their attempts here are "opportunistic"), and the samples are tiny. They're also all-time great scorers, for the most part (e.g. West, Havlicek, Sam Jones, Dolph Schayes).

Kareem's so far finished 80% of his shots at the rim, btw, though on fewer than half as many attempts as he takes in the 3-10' range (is 16 of 20 at the rim thus far).
He so far as a FTAr of .373.

His turnover economy thus far has been very acceptable, with a modified TOV% of 10.48%.


Blackmill wrote:Defense

Kareem was mobile. He couldn't defend point guards but he could certainly play on small forwards and some 2-guards (especially in his Bucks seasons). When defending a guard or SF, he would set his stance wide to be almost level with the defender, bring his hands out wide to prevent easy passes, and move like a much smaller player than he was. Even when he got beat, his length and stride allowed him to recover.


Just piggy-backing on this, I recall in either the 1976 of 1977 All-Star game [one or both is available on YouTube] watching Kareem switch on to a perimeter player on the pnr, and that player [forget who it was, but obviously an All-Star] tried to break him down off the dribble. But Kareem got way down in his stance as you described, moved laterally extremely well, and actually cut off the penetration and turned the guy back around the FT-line. Just super-impressive mobility for a man that size.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#9 » by penbeast0 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:40 pm

Since I have Russell as the GOAT, he's clearly my pick here. Vs. Kareem he was much more dominant (dominant here means key to team success) and in a tougher, less expansion weakened era.

I also have Wilt over Kareem and that's a lot more controversial. Again, I have Wilt's prime as being in a tougher era than Kareem's prime but that's not the main reason. Wilt was just more dominant both individually and in a team context. Not to take anything away from Kareem who is the only other reasonable choice to me for top 4 of all time but Wilt was more athletic, stronger, a little bigger, and more of a defensive presence. Kareem was more skilled, more efficient (even relative to era I believe) and more consistent plus he has that big longevity bonus (which I put less weight on than many).

The key stat here for me is Wilt's dominance v. everyone but Russell. He won over 80% of his playoff series against all other competition and he did it playing a variety of different roles for very different coaches. He couldn't beat out Russell but then I have Russell as the GOAT so that's less of an issue than Kareem's teams not dominated the 70s the way I thought they should. Both had teammates play below their abilities, there didn't seem to be the "Shaq effect" that people used to talk about when Shaq was playing of teammates getting a lot more easy shots and higher efficiency when playing with either (though there are moments -- Tom Meschery averaging 20+ppg in the playoffs one year for example).

But when I think of them going head to head, I think Wilt's stronger defense and defensive rebounding (prime Jabbar was great at both but not as good as Wilt) would just give me a stronger chance to win more titles as the best player -- in either the 60s, 70s, or even the early 80s.

1. Russell
2. Chamberlain
3. Abdul-Jabbar
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#10 » by trex_8063 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:42 pm

drza wrote:Bill Russell

.........


This concept of Horizontal Defense is key, here, because a) it tends to get overshadowed by the blocked shot and b) it's part and parcel of why I believe Russell's defense would've been hugely impactful, even today. Russell is one of (the?) innovators for jumping to block shots, and every mining of available game film yields cartoonish blocked shot rates for Russell in his career (like 8-9 blocks/game, regularly, type cartoonish).


Regarding film analysis on Russell, I mentioned above (as it pertained to Kareem) of the game log/shot-location project I've been doing for older players/games. My sample on Russell includes a couple full games and several partial games which add up to about 4.65 games [all of them in the ps, fwiw]. They are as follows:

4/18/62 (ps; ~25% of game)
4/24/63 (ps)
4/24/64 (ps; 2nd half)
4/18/65 (ps; 25% of game)
3/30/66 (ps; 2nd half)
4/28/66 (ps; 40% of game)
4/9/67 (ps; 2nd half)
4/6/69 (ps)
5/5/69 (ps; 4th Q)

In that sample I have him blocking 22 total shots (for an average of about 4.7 bpg), though certainly there are other shots altered, and I do log the occasional "great defensive hustle play" for plays that I feel need recognition for their exceptional effect, but which doesn't otherwise have a place on a boxscore.
There's one such play I logged that way in game 6 of the 1963 Finals [v LAL], which MIGHT have been "recorded" as a block by other sources: Jerry West tries to penetrate a bit and then pull-up for a shot on the left short corner, but Russell is like lightning in his response and goes for the swat. It almost looks like a block, BUT at the last second [as he's falling back] you can see West reconsider and try to pass back out (ultimately turning it over); I cannot tell for certain if Russell made contact with the ball (he might have).
But since West seems to reconsider and try to adjust to a pass, I don't see how that can be credited as a block (at any rate that would still leave his per game average at <5).

If you know of OTHER publicly available video content on Russell, please please let me know of it.
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SF-R. Barry (67-70)/Bruce Bowen (04-06)
PF-Ho Grant (92-94)/D. Cowens (74-76)
C-D. Robinson (94-96)/Kevin Willis (92-94)
Bill Sharman (coach)
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#11 » by Odinn21 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:47 pm

drza wrote:ElGee

I like his work, but it's not to be trusted entirely because his mathematical processes are not great. Some of them aren't even good, let alone great.

For example I used his work, stating O'Neal leading one of the best offensive postseason dynasties, in this very project. But I did that while knowing +8 rORtg is not the same in 1971 and 1985 and 2000 and 2015.

Many of these processes are either linear or done with least square adjustment. Both disregards distributions. The gap between 2 to 3 and 3 to 4 are different in least square adjustment. There's little to none t-test or similar methods to check the quality.

I'm not saying to diminish the quality of his work. His work and results are more contextual than what one can find on BBRef. It's also massive. I'm saying these to point out even his work shouldn't be regarded entirely to build opinions.

This message also is not direct at you personally. Just wanted to give my two cents about approach and perception regarding statistical works.

---

Back to my vote, it's obvious that I'll be voting for Abdul-Jabbar and Russell. But I'd like to get some opinions / feedback about Tim Duncan vs. Wilt Chamberlain.

What I see is;
Comparable single season peak. It's very hard to favour one over the other for me. A toss up. I'd think it's '67 Chamberlain with the slightest / the tiniest edge, but a tie basically.
When I think of 10 or 12 seasons between them, Chamberlain gets slightly but clearly ahead. His average prime level was slightly better I'd say.
Longevity is basically a wash. In fact, I might favour Chamberlain over Duncan. Duncan was 36 in 2012 playoffs and Chamberlain was 3 months away from turning 36 in 1972 playoffs. Surely, Duncan added 3 quality seasons to his career after that age. But Chamberlain did it in the '70s.
In terms of aspects, Chamberlain was the better offensive hub, though I find Duncan's offensive skills better due to his repertoire being better. Not saying Duncan was better than Chamberlain on offense, just saying his scoring was more versatile. Chamberlain peaked higher on defense (arguably) but Duncan has a clear edge on overall defensive production (heck, he probably is only 2nd to Russell in this category). Chamberlain was better at grabbing boards.
What makes Duncan's case is that he's the ultimate team leader to have (again, along with Russell).
He also had the better career resume. I'm not particularly big on this. Just when I think about if I were that player, yeah I'd want a damn good career resume. Also one could argue Chamberlain having 2 more MVPs would make him the one with the better resume.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#12 » by drza » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:03 pm

trex_8063 wrote:
drza wrote:Bill Russell

.........


This concept of Horizontal Defense is key, here, because a) it tends to get overshadowed by the blocked shot and b) it's part and parcel of why I believe Russell's defense would've been hugely impactful, even today. Russell is one of (the?) innovators for jumping to block shots, and every mining of available game film yields cartoonish blocked shot rates for Russell in his career (like 8-9 blocks/game, regularly, type cartoonish).


Regarding film analysis on Russell, I mentioned above (as it pertained to Kareem) of the game log/shot-location project I've been doing for older players/games. My sample on Russell includes a couple full games and several partial games which add up to about 4.65 games [all of them in the ps, fwiw]. They are as follows:

4/18/62 (ps; ~25% of game)
4/24/63 (ps)
4/24/64 (ps; 2nd half)
4/18/65 (ps; 25% of game)
3/30/66 (ps; 2nd half)
4/28/66 (ps; 40% of game)
4/9/67 (ps; 2nd half)
4/6/69 (ps)
5/5/69 (ps; 4th Q)

In that sample I have him blocking 22 total shots (for an average of about 4.7 bpg), though certainly there are other shots altered, and I do log the occasional "great defensive hustle play" for plays that I feel need recognition for their exceptional effect, but which doesn't otherwise have a place on a boxscore.
There's one such play I logged that way in game 6 of the 1963 Finals [v LAL], which MIGHT have been "recorded" as a block by other sources: Jerry West tries to penetrate a bit and then pull-up for a shot on the left short corner, but Russell is like lightning in his response and goes for the swat. It almost looks like a block, BUT at the last second [as he's falling back] you can see West reconsider and try to pass back out (ultimately turning it over); I cannot tell for certain if Russell made contact with the ball (he might have).
But since West seems to reconsider and try to adjust to a pass, I don't see how that can be credited as a block (at any rate that would still leave his per game average at <5).

If you know of OTHER publicly available video content on Russell, please please let me know of it.


It's not video content, but it's I believe a compendium of notes from people that scored Russell video: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fRFgkADAK80/VkG0j3zRocI/AAAAAAAAHTA/swVybP9vvpE/s0-Ic42/Russell%252520blocked%252520shots%252520135g.jpg

I've played with the numbers before, but I just eye-balled and tallied up 188 blocks over 20 games between the start of the 61-62 seasons to like November of 63, including playoffs, for an average of 9.4 blocks/game in that stretch (assuming no math mistakes for trying to do in my head).
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#13 » by penbeast0 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:35 pm

limbo wrote:Do people believe Russell would've won more titles than Kareem if he played in his shoes?


Probably, yes. I think Kareem might have won more titles than Kareem if it was all done over too. However, I don't think that's a particularly relevant question any more than it would be asking if Jordan would have won more titles playing center for the Bucks. That wasn't the team situation that Russell was put into and developed within the context of any more than it was that way for Jordan. The question is how far did those players maximize their situations in an all-time context.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#14 » by Owly » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:40 pm

drza wrote:
trex_8063 wrote:
drza wrote:Bill Russell

.........


This concept of Horizontal Defense is key, here, because a) it tends to get overshadowed by the blocked shot and b) it's part and parcel of why I believe Russell's defense would've been hugely impactful, even today. Russell is one of (the?) innovators for jumping to block shots, and every mining of available game film yields cartoonish blocked shot rates for Russell in his career (like 8-9 blocks/game, regularly, type cartoonish).


Regarding film analysis on Russell, I mentioned above (as it pertained to Kareem) of the game log/shot-location project I've been doing for older players/games. My sample on Russell includes a couple full games and several partial games which add up to about 4.65 games [all of them in the ps, fwiw]. They are as follows:

4/18/62 (ps; ~25% of game)
4/24/63 (ps)
4/24/64 (ps; 2nd half)
4/18/65 (ps; 25% of game)
3/30/66 (ps; 2nd half)
4/28/66 (ps; 40% of game)
4/9/67 (ps; 2nd half)
4/6/69 (ps)
5/5/69 (ps; 4th Q)

In that sample I have him blocking 22 total shots (for an average of about 4.7 bpg), though certainly there are other shots altered, and I do log the occasional "great defensive hustle play" for plays that I feel need recognition for their exceptional effect, but which doesn't otherwise have a place on a boxscore.
There's one such play I logged that way in game 6 of the 1963 Finals [v LAL], which MIGHT have been "recorded" as a block by other sources: Jerry West tries to penetrate a bit and then pull-up for a shot on the left short corner, but Russell is like lightning in his response and goes for the swat. It almost looks like a block, BUT at the last second [as he's falling back] you can see West reconsider and try to pass back out (ultimately turning it over); I cannot tell for certain if Russell made contact with the ball (he might have).
But since West seems to reconsider and try to adjust to a pass, I don't see how that can be credited as a block (at any rate that would still leave his per game average at <5).

If you know of OTHER publicly available video content on Russell, please please let me know of it.


It's not video content, but it's I believe a compendium of notes from people that scored Russell video: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fRFgkADAK80/VkG0j3zRocI/AAAAAAAAHTA/swVybP9vvpE/s0-Ic42/Russell%252520blocked%252520shots%252520135g.jpg

I've played with the numbers before, but I just eye-balled and tallied up 188 blocks over 20 games between the start of the 61-62 seasons to like November of 63, including playoffs, for an average of 9.4 blocks/game in that stretch (assuming no math mistakes for trying to do in my head).

IF that's from video then some people have got an awful lot of 1950s games (and 60s games) and done the tallying and put in the public domain.

I've seen:
1 game from the 40s (1949 Baltimore v Washington- maybe February 19, 1949) incomplete (33 minutes 50 secs runtime)
1 game from the 50s (1950 New York v Fort Wayne - Jan 7, 1950) incomplete (34 minutes)
Then from the 60s a handful of again mostly incomplete games - always Celtics playoff games up to 67-68, almost always finals; though I think 70sfans stuff has changed this).

I do not know, but my suspicion (and I know some have done this) would be that these are taken from newspaper reports or other contemporaneous sources.

Edit: I should note that the absence of field goal attempts is a (I would suggest near certain) marker of an old newspaper boxscore, anyone tracking a game would include such information, though the inverse does not apply (occasionally the text of the article might see fit to give attempts and the text is likely where a block count would come from).
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#15 » by ZeppelinPage » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:55 pm

Odinn21 wrote:
drza wrote:ElGee

I like his work, but it's not to be trusted entirely because his mathematical processes are not great. Some of them aren't even good, let alone great.

For example I used his work, stating O'Neal leading one of the best offensive postseason dynasties, in this very project. But I did that while knowing +8 rORtg is not the same in 1971 and 1985 and 2000 and 2015.

Many of these processes are either linear or done with least square adjustment. Both disregards distributions. The gap between 2 to 3 and 3 to 4 are different in least square adjustment. There's little to none t-test or similar methods to check the quality.

I'm not saying to diminish the quality of his work. His work and results are more contextual than what one can find on BBRef. It's also massive. I'm saying these to point out even his work shouldn't be regarded entirely to build opinions.

This message also is not direct at you personally. Just wanted to give my two cents about approach and perception regarding statistical works.


I'm inclined to agree, Odinn. He has some great use of stats and goes in-depth with his analytics, but sometimes you need context. His page on Wilt was filled with assumptions, low-sample sizes and flat out incorrect claims that have no hard evidence. I feel like a lot of people throw that analysis around on the internet and it is frustrating to correct people because so many don't make their own actual research into these kinds of things.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#16 » by Doctor MJ » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:00 pm

drza wrote:
Spoiler:
(Alright. I wrote a monster post about Russell and Jordan to end last thread, but TRex closed the thread before I finished so I don't know how much it'll be seen. Instead, I'll re-post the Russell stuff here, and use this as my jumpoff for a likely Kareem-based post and comparison later in the thread (fingers crossed I'll have the time)

Bill Russell

I wrote in the #1 thread about some of my general thoughts on Russell viewtopic.php?p=85709394#p85709394); and viewtopic.php?p=85720485#p85720485. It's always interesting to see how others react to a post after it's left my fingers, and to get the overall feel for the group's mindset on the whole. Thus far, with Russell in particular, I've noticed either a) a willingness to essentially stipulate Russell's in-era impact as (either potentially or definitely) the biggest ever while also giving demerits based on differences in era, or b) some question as to whether Russell really WAS worthy of as much credit as he's given for the Celtics' success due to the lack of granularity of information from the era.

Both mindsets have merit, are complicated, and therefore can be difficult to counter. I spent some time on the first in my first Russell post, so I'll spend some time on the latter here: how confidently can we estimate Russell's impact?

As I mentioned before (and likely will mention again in this project), my first really deep dive into Russell (and most of the historical players before my time) came in the Retro Player of the Year project Doc MJ initiated about a decade ago. Last post I stated this then jumped to the conclusion I reached that Russell really was the main engine behind that era of Celtics dominance, with a reference to the timeline of Celtics' team defenses, and how it correlated with Russell's absence and presence, as the only real support data. I'd done that for speed, and so-as not to bog down the point I was trying to make with words and numbers (yes, shockingly, I'm known to do that :P ). But, interestingly, I was called out for that pretty vigorously. So be it, let's dig a little deeper.

Russell's in-era impact, deeper dive
First, for any that haven't already, I'd strongly urge you to go through that RPoY project. Especially the "early years" (which were actually the later weeks of the project). Because the depth of discussion and data presented in that project, especially for the time in which we did it, was unparallelled in my opinion. It wasn't just a bunch of guys spouting box scores and ringzzz count. We had guys looking up and pasting newspaper articles describing individual games and thoughts at the time. Quotes from relevant books through the years, from NBA players and personnel from the era. Quotes from Russell's books. And a lot of genuine, innovative quantitative analysis that was well beyond the norm for even professional basketball analysts. Outside of having an NBA League Pass or databall-era stats from the 60s, I really felt like those discussions were enough to give me a much clearer insight into previous generations than I'd ever had before. Also, some really cool blogs/careers/analysts spawned from that project. Doc MJ had his blog up and going for awhile, and produced some really good content (that I'm likely to quote at various points throughout this project). And of course, Ben (known here as ElGee) kept going with those new analytics approaches and has put out a ton of good analysis since.

In fact, let's start with a quote that originally came from one of Russell's books but that I encountered on Doc MJ's blog, A Substitute for War:

"Bill understood that Wilt’s game was more vertical, that is, from the floor to the basket. Wilt’s game was one of strength and power…Bill’s game was built on finesse and speed, what he called a horizontal game, as he moved back and forth across the court blocking shots, running the floor, and playing team defense."


This concept of Horizontal Defense is key, here, because a) it tends to get overshadowed by the blocked shot and b) it's part and parcel of why I believe Russell's defense would've been hugely impactful, even today. Russell is one of (the?) innovators for jumping to block shots, and every mining of available game film yields cartoonish blocked shot rates for Russell in his career (like 8-9 blocks/game, regularly, type cartoonish). However, it's the horizontal element...the covering of large areas of the court, the help defense, the ability to blow-up the early attempts at the pick-and-roll that made Russell a 1-of-1 defender in his era and would still be successful today.

People tend to focus on shot-blocking...so-called "rim protecting", as the primary defensive attribute of great defensive anchors. I'd argue that's completely not so, that in every era the horizontal defending big men have been more valuable defenders, and that in the current era it's still the case.

Wilt may have blocked as many shots as Russell, but Russell was the defensive force.

Kareem was a great shot-blocker, but Walton's ability to cover the court defensively (when healthy) allowed him to have a much greater impact at that end of the court.

Mark Eaton won DPoY awards, but give me the greater mobility and court coverage of Hakeem or Robinson any day.

Kevin Garnett, Ben Wallace and even Tim Duncan had the mobility and covered a wider area of the court than 3-time DPoY Dwight Howard would a few years later, setting them apart.

And Draymond Green was dominating defensive RAPM numbers a few years back and may deserve more than the one DPoY award he received.

As for putting some numbers to it. Well, first, I'd recommend you checking out ElGee's writeup of Russell in his rankings list ( https://backpicks.com/2018/04/02/backpicks-goat-3-bill-russell/ )...it's like a smorgasbord of videos, scouting, analysis and unique analytics. But focusing in on the numbers, despite the lack of databall-era stats, there are some compelling cases to be mae numerical for Russell's dominance:

1) As posted before, the Celtics' team defense was a historic dynasty, and the time scale of that dominance correlated almost exactly with Russell's career: https://elgee35.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/bill-russells-defensive-impact/

2) A quote from that ElGee writeup I just linked:
"He didn’t miss much time in his career, so WOWY numbers are hard to come by. Journalists and teammates always claimed that the Celtics fell apart without him; Boston was a 35-win team (-1.9 SRS) in 28 games he missed from 1958-69, and for the other 915 games of his career they played at a 59-win pace (6.4 SRS). This is a tiny piece of evidence – the years are spread out, teams change, and so on — but it echoes the same story as Russell’s other value signals."


3) Another passage from that link, talking playoffs defenses, that references a chart on team playoff results each year of each big man's career, where Russell has by-far the best score (7.7) where the next two best scores were the Spurs teammates (Robinson 5.1/Duncan 5.0) and Kareem was further down the list at 1.7, with Dirk at the bottom of the list at -1.5 (to give a sense of scale):

In the postseason, the defensive domination rolled on. Below, I’ve compared Russell’s playoff defenses to those of other all-time big men. The gray bubbles in Russell’s column are the Celtics individual performance in each year. Note that Boston never had a subpar defensive postseason with Russell, and that its worst playoff runs were clustered at the end of his career as a he slowed down


4) Most here are familiar with the concept of WOWY, and Ben's done a lot of stuff with regressed progressions of that concept (again, I recommend everyone checking out that work). But he also includes some work that he attributes to Zachary Stone, called Game-level adjusted Plus-Minus (GPM). Here's one of his brief writeups about GPM:
Building off of the the same idea, Backpicks reader Zachary Stone has tackled historical games with a slightly different approach that I’ll call GPM (Game-level adjusted Plus-Minus). GPM is more analogous to “pure” RAPM in that each game result is a row in the equation, whereas WOWYR combines games and weights the lineups. The details of Zach’s version of GPM:

It uses only players who played at least 25 minutes per game during a season, so those games where Draymond Green is ejected early still count as a game played for him.
It uses a “replacement” player cutoff of 260 games. (The other studies below use 82 games.)
It’s run on data from 1957-2017.
(Technical detail: This version of GPM chose a lambda using the computationally expensive generalized cross-validation, not the chunkier k-fold method used for WOWYR in Part III.)
But there’s still the issue of time to consider. We don’t want the model thinking that Michael Jordan in his Wizard years is actually the Michael Jordan. So Zach ran the regression in 10-year slices, from 1957-66, 1958-67, 1959-68 and so on, and then grabbed each player’s best 10-year run. Finally, he scaled the results to allow for apples to apples comparisons across eras.

In theory, this will yield a better ballpark of those players with relatively consistent 10-year primes.


The standard, necessary disclaimer: this work is all done on much less granular data than the databall era, so where the stories don't mesh, I'd tend to give more weight to present-day analysis for present-day players than something like GPM or WOWYR. On the other hand, this approach gives us some quantified measures we can use that get the present and past players at least reasonably onto a common ground. Anyway, top GPM scores in history:

T1st: Russell, David Robinson & Steve Nash: 9.4
4th: Magic Johnson: 8.3
8th: Michael Jordan: 7.6
14. Kareem (6.2)

Now, to be fair and not just be cherrypicking, the same chart has his scaled WOWYR data, in which Russell and Kareem finished even closer:
1st: Magic Johnson (9.3)
4. Michael Jordan (8.3)
9. LeBron James (7.8)
15. Russell (5.9)
T18. Kareem (5.7)

The point here was in no way to use these metrics to try to pinpoint exactly where Russell rates vs Kareem historically. There's not enough accuracy for that level of delineation, IMO. Instead, with the examples I've shown here, I wanted to point out that there is actually a pretty in-depth set of quantitative analysis out there that is growing in sophistication that shows in a variety of ways that a) Russell really was, measurably, the catalyst of all that Celtics success...that it's not just nostalgia and quotes (though there's that too), but that every quantified approach we take yields similar results. Also, b)Russell's individual impact, when compared quantifiably, even with attempts made at normalizing the playing field, shows up at the very elite end of NBA history.


Very well put and I see things similarly.

Also, hey Drizza! It's really awesome to have you back. Love when I see your work on the big stage too!

And thanks for namechecking ASFW! It's nice that anyone remembers from back then. :)
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#17 » by trex_8063 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:27 pm

Owly wrote:
drza wrote:
trex_8063 wrote:
Regarding film analysis on Russell, I mentioned above (as it pertained to Kareem) of the game log/shot-location project I've been doing for older players/games. My sample on Russell includes a couple full games and several partial games which add up to about 4.65 games [all of them in the ps, fwiw]. They are as follows:

4/18/62 (ps; ~25% of game)
4/24/63 (ps)
4/24/64 (ps; 2nd half)
4/18/65 (ps; 25% of game)
3/30/66 (ps; 2nd half)
4/28/66 (ps; 40% of game)
4/9/67 (ps; 2nd half)
4/6/69 (ps)
5/5/69 (ps; 4th Q)

In that sample I have him blocking 22 total shots (for an average of about 4.7 bpg), though certainly there are other shots altered, and I do log the occasional "great defensive hustle play" for plays that I feel need recognition for their exceptional effect, but which doesn't otherwise have a place on a boxscore.
There's one such play I logged that way in game 6 of the 1963 Finals [v LAL], which MIGHT have been "recorded" as a block by other sources: Jerry West tries to penetrate a bit and then pull-up for a shot on the left short corner, but Russell is like lightning in his response and goes for the swat. It almost looks like a block, BUT at the last second [as he's falling back] you can see West reconsider and try to pass back out (ultimately turning it over); I cannot tell for certain if Russell made contact with the ball (he might have).
But since West seems to reconsider and try to adjust to a pass, I don't see how that can be credited as a block (at any rate that would still leave his per game average at <5).

If you know of OTHER publicly available video content on Russell, please please let me know of it.


It's not video content, but it's I believe a compendium of notes from people that scored Russell video: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fRFgkADAK80/VkG0j3zRocI/AAAAAAAAHTA/swVybP9vvpE/s0-Ic42/Russell%252520blocked%252520shots%252520135g.jpg

I've played with the numbers before, but I just eye-balled and tallied up 188 blocks over 20 games between the start of the 61-62 seasons to like November of 63, including playoffs, for an average of 9.4 blocks/game in that stretch (assuming no math mistakes for trying to do in my head).

IF that's from video then some people have got an awful lot of 1950s games (and 60s games) and done the tallying and put in the public domain.

I've seen:
1 game from the 40s (1949 Baltimore v Washington- maybe February 19, 1949) incomplete (33 minutes 50 secs runtime)
1 game from the 50s (1950 New York v Fort Wayne - Jan 7, 1950) incomplete (34 minutes)
Then from the 60s a handful of again mostly incomplete games - always Celtics playoff games up to 67-68, almost always finals; though I think 70sfans stuff has changed this).

I do not know, but my suspicion (and I know some have done this) would be that these are taken from newspaper reports or other contemporaneous sources.


I would tend to think this is the case as well. And fwiw, I get the feeling such reporting attempted to sensationalize things, from time-to-time.

Sometimes even the **official stat-keeping was highly suspect, as I've found in logging these games (I think because of the limited number of stat-keepers, and the utter absence of any replay [+/- perhaps a bias toward sensationalizing the "hometown hero"???]).

**the most striking example of this was in game 7 of the '70 Finals (the "I think we see Willis coming out of the tunnel!" game). The official box has Frazier as accruing 19 assists......I counted just 9 for him in that game. I've gone back thru most of it, and there aren't but maybe two other instances where----if you're extremely liberal with the interpretation of an assist [e.g. "I'll ignore that the guy took FOUR dribbles before scoring"]----you could credit him for an additional assist.
As further evidence that I'm not being overly stingy on this point, I'd also note the "official" box for that game credits Dick Barnett with just two assists.......I credited him for five.
Bill Bradley is credited with five assists for that game......I credited him with six.
I'm guessing some of their assists were mis-credited to Walt Frazier. Which is something I think happened with regularity in those days:


In ^^this video of game 7 from the 1966 Finals (about 40% of the game included) where they have Sam Jones and Satch Sanders in the studio to comment, Sam Jones at one point [after Tom had grabbed a rebound] asks something like "how many rebounds you have in that game?"; Tom Sanders makes some off-hand reply about "Russell probably got most of my rebounds".

So I must admit I always harbour a pinch of skepticism when reading some of these totals.

MOST of the games on that chart for Russell are NOT the games I've logged. There are only a few exceptions:

a) Game 6 of the 1963 Finals: that chart credits him for 8 blocks; I only credit him for 7, HOWEVER, that's the game with the play I described above. I could easily see how someone WOULD credit that as a block (I initially did myself; it's only after multiple replays that I saw it looked like West [realizing he'd be swatted] trying to redirect it into a pass).

b) Game 7 of the 1962 Finals: only 25% of the game is available on video for logging; in that 25% of the game I counted 1 block for Russell. The chart credits him with 8 blocks, with a note saying "at least 8 blocks".

c) Game 7 of the 1966 Finals: this is the video linked above (~40% of the game included). In that 40% I don't credit him with ANY blocks; the chart says he had 11 in this game.


Certainly no confirmation of inaccurate totals, however example C in particular perhaps casts a little doubt on it.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#18 » by limbo » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:58 pm

penbeast0 wrote:
limbo wrote:Do people believe Russell would've won more titles than Kareem if he played in his shoes?


Probably, yes. I think Kareem might have won more titles than Kareem if it was all done over too. However, I don't think that's a particularly relevant question any more than it would be asking if Jordan would have won more titles playing center for the Bucks. That wasn't the team situation that Russell was put into and developed within the context of any more than it was that way for Jordan. The question is how far did those players maximize their situations in an all-time context.


You don't think Kareem maximized his situation to the best of his own individual ability in the 70's? Yet he came out of the decade with only one championship. Just glancing at the numbers Kareem seemed to separate himself from the rest of the field in the 70's to a bigger degree than Russell was able to in the 60's. Like, Kareem in '72 posted the highest mark recorded for single season OWS while also being the clear cut best defender for the #1 ranked defense that year... and he didn't win the title. Similarly in 1973. He records another Top 25 season in OWS and leads an elite defense, and fails to win the title (although this time is was due to his own poor performance).

Regardless, when Kareem had comparable help to Russell, he led some of those early 70's Bucks teams to like 11.90 SRS and 10.50 SRS seasons as the clear cut best player... So questioning his ability to 'maximize his situation in an all-time context' seems a bit suspect in this case. I realize the goal is to win championships, not necessarily dominate your competition in the RS to historic degrees, but maybe that had a lot to do with the environment itself, which was likely more tougher in general compared to the early and mid 60's (which makes Kareem and the Bucks regular season dominance even more impressive contrasted to Russell). Unless you think the early and mid 60's had better teams then the early 70's which had the Knicks, Lakers, Celtics and some other decent teams in there like the Bulls. Oh, and i forgot to mention Russell had to win a total of TWO Playoff series to secure the title for most of his career. Kareem was kind of unlucky that his roster with the Bucks peaked simultaneously with the old guard of Knicks, Lakers and Celtics still being at their apex. The league started getting a bit weaker again in the mid 70's with those teams getting Father Time'd but it coincided with Kareem having his most brutal supporting casts ever. Once he finally got a couple of useful pieces back Portland, Seattle and Washington were already the new guard. Then once he got Magic he went 3/6, i believe? At the tail end of his prime, before defaulting into more of a supportive character. Not that bad of a record, considering the loses were against a super-stacked Philly in 1983 and an elite Boston squad in 1984 and Houston once, lol, he got fluked by a 3-game series...

So that's why i've asked this question. Kareem was basically the best player in the league every year in the 70's outside of maybe two where you could argue like McAdoo or Walton/Moses... In the early 70's he was lapping the competition by an insane amount in some of those years, being the clear cut best offensive player in the league while playing elite defense by most accounts. For anyone believing Bill Russell would've done a better job than Kareem and squeezed more titles in his position, you'd need to believe Russell would need to have like three times as much defensive impact on the game as the best defensive players at the time (Wilt, Kareem, Cowens) because we know Russell is not coming anywhere near carrying a team offensively.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#19 » by Eddy_JukeZ » Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:08 pm

limbo wrote:Do people believe Russell would've won more titles than Kareem if he played in his shoes?


I'm not so sure he would honestly.

I might have to reevaluate my ranking of Russell and up him to #3.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #3 

Post#20 » by lebron3-14-3 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:28 pm

3) Kareem
4) Bill Russell
5) Shaq

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