17. Moses Malone
I believe this will be my most controversial choice so far but I'm pretty confident in this pick.
His single season peak was tier 2 on overall for me. I'd put 1982 or 1983 Moses in the same tier as 2004 Garnett, even though I'd rate Garnett slightly higher. One of the things going for Moses though, his 3 season peak from 1980-81 to 1982-83 is definitely at the top level among the available names. He does not come short in peak, extended peak, prime and extended prime for me. His career resume is also massive.
He was one of the most skilled bigs on offense. His name rarely comes up among the best low post scorers but he literally had every move in his book and he was at least pretty good on some and great or best on most. Look at the players he thought; Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. Also he was at least as good as old man Duncan from mid range.
The arguments against him usually go such as this;
- "He wouldn't be that good in the modern times which utilize PnR far more."
Portability is very important, yes. But, TBH, this is like saying Oscar Robertson did not shoot enough threes to me. Don't see the point of penalizing a player for a play style that was not there in his time.
Also, one of the things that gets easily overlooked while thinking about Moses' portability is that he's quite possibly the greatest foul drawing big. That would make wonders in any era. I don't have the exact numbers right now because BBRef made their play index service paid but I know that Moses Malone before fell out of his prime made young Hakeem Olajuwon fouled out in majority of their h2h games. I wrote the exact numbers in the past on the forum, if I find, I'll edit this part.
- "He was a negative impact on defense."
This is flat out wrong and it's not about some preference unlike the previous point. If Moses Malone was a negative impact on defense, then how did the Sixers improved on defense after losing their best defender in order to get Moses?
1982 Sixers; 7th in DRtg with -3.0 rDRtg
1983 Sixers; 5th in DRtg with -3.8 rDRtg
The thing about his defense was, he was inconsistent. He had bad defensive seasons and good defensive seasons, in the end both sides would cancel out each other and I'd put down Moses Malone as an average defender. But I never get the point of talking about him as if he was Nowitzki who got way more traction than him so far.
- "He was not an impact player."
This is also one of the wrong assumptions about him. I think I watched enough games of him to get the sense of a very positive impact player.
Also there was a Dipper 13 thread at the time, showing on/off Rtg numbers for the '80s Sixers. I'm looking for that, couldn't find it so far. If anyone has the link, it'd be appreciated.
Edit; Found it.https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZxRM9p2dFil5w6s21VEB4HnQZJymEY8_2vej-jREuUo/edit#gid=459687126
Just look at the numbers he had in '83 and '85 in Philly. (I tend to consider 1984 of Moses as something like 2005 for Bryant, a down year but also an outlier.)
The only aspect I'd hold against him is his passing. He was not a black hole, he was a decent facilitator. Though his passing lacked in some sense and you wouldn't see him those cutting passes to a guard under the basket. That type of stuff was the only major gap in his game for me.
His skillset was great, his scoring volume was great, he had the proper impact on offense, he's among one of the greatest rebounders. We usually overlook rebounding, the neutral aspect of the game, in this offense and defense evaluations. His defensive inconsistencies and passing issues are there to be addressed surely but, his great qualities are enough for me to put him on 14th spot.
Note: I have been voting for Malone since the #12 thread for the #14 spot.18. George Mikan
To be honest, I probably even watched footages of Bob Pettit way more than Mikan, let alone Russell or other '60s legends. But Mikan's legacy and impact has to be in the top 20. I'll never be sure about his exact placement on the list but it's time I start to include him on my ballot.19. Julius Erving
Among remaining names, it's hard for me to put Barkley, Curry or Durant ahead of Erving for career value. Erving not replacing his ABA impact in NBA usually gets held against him but I don't see him as a worse player in 1977 compared to 1976 just because there was the merger. I just don't agree with that notion. Also, from 1980 to 1982, IMO his impact was nothing short of his successful days in ABA. Maybe his performance was a notch below. But I feel like that time frame before Bird's (and Magic's prime) is underrated and looking at those 3 seasons on overall, Kareem, Moses and Dr. J were all great and they were all-time level great. It's one of the time frames that's underappreciated for battle for the best player.