Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown

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Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#1 » by 70sFan » Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:07 am

I decided to create this thread after a discussion with penbeast and DQuinn1575:

penbeast0 wrote:Maybe we could find a few from the San Antonio years too and some Kentucky footage for comparison. I was so sure he would be the second best center in the NBA for the next decade after the merger and he just wasn't (Moses came over from the ABA to take that role). I'm not as hardworking as Trex but I'm willing to look at game film from that era if it exists and try to see why Artis wasn't as dominant as it seemed he should be.


So let's do this! :) Let me know if you'd like to start this with chronological order and go from the earliest Colonels games, or would you like to start with Bulls ones.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#2 » by penbeast0 » Fri Nov 20, 2020 12:44 pm

I'd like to do 1 Kentucky game (as close to his Chicago period as we can so 75 or 76) then 1 Chicago game not from 77 (78 or 79), then we can look at earlier KY, 77 in Chi, and later career in San Antonio.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#3 » by 70sFan » Fri Nov 20, 2020 1:01 pm

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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#4 » by 70sFan » Fri Nov 20, 2020 1:05 pm

I'll also add 1979 game vs Nuggets to point out if there are any visible differences between these performances:

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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#5 » by Doctor MJ » Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:15 pm

Just wanted to say I really love this thread's existence. 70sFan, I know you've posed Gilmore film before and I've watched some, but giving us a chance to analyze with a particular question in mind is awesome, and I love how this has been generated from Top 100 project, to spin-off TS Add thread, to this. Will plan to dig into this later today.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#6 » by Doctor MJ » Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:49 pm

So, some thoughts:

I do think we see a pretty clear drop in motor from the ABA game to the NBA games, and I think that likely mattered a good deal. In the NBA games I saw so many transitions on both ends of the floor where Gilmore wasn't in the play. Sometimes I'd see his teammate start to run and he'd just be walking until he fell behind the camera's gaze.

I think that both in the ABA & NBA Gilmore seemed to have spotty awareness. It was almost like he was a security drone that would get "turned on" at certain points, and when that happened, you were in trouble. Try to challenge Gilmore directly and you were likely in trouble. Get the ball to Gilmore in his wheelhouse and he was often unstoppable while displayed nice touch and skill.

But on the other hand, there were times where it was like he was thinking "I'm guarding my man" when it really seemed like he should have been able to leave his man and block a shot or get a rebound. Additionally, he seemed fairly easy to take out of the play by having the man he was guarding drift away from the action - in fairness to Gilmore here, this is the whole conundrum of what to do as a big man when the man you're guarding has range, but with Gilmore there's a feeling that he wasn't so much balancing threats so much as he was just following his man around, and there were times where he ends up literally guarding a man on the perimeter.

I will say that I think Gilmore showed good movement and body control, and when he was out on the perimeter he didn't seem like dead meat at all, but he left a gaping whole by the rim.

Gilmore didn't seem comfortable trying to use his body to push other guys out of the way. I think that some of that is that he didn't have the widest frame and so it wasn't the case that he could just bump into other guys and send them flying. But there was also this tendency to let other guys wall him off, both from the opponent and from his own teammates. If he saw an opening, he'd fly in there and get the block or rebound, but when things were congested, he seemed bottled up.

I find myself reflecting on this conundrum:

How is it you can have a shot-blocker as good as Gilmore, that everyone knows controls the rim area when he's around it, and yet not seem to have much effect on opponent eFG%? Not saying he never had an effect, but as we go through the years, Gilmore seems to have a bigger effect on things like defensive rebounding or free throw prevention than he does on making guys miss shots. Why is that?

I can come up with theories plural, but I don't have confidence that I really understand what was happening.

I think myself thinking that Gilmore would have faired better in an age with more space, where "better" here means that he'd scale better than most other classic big man anchors. The spacing of the NBA has lowered the effectiveness of big men in general, but aside from the fact that Gilmore had a decent shooting stroke, and quickness in short bursts when traveling along a straight line which would allow him to have horizontal impact on defense, and I think it would simplify the traffic on the interior and make it easier for him to navigate.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#7 » by 70sFan » Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:11 am

Doctor MJ wrote:So, some thoughts:

I do think we see a pretty clear drop in motor from the ABA game to the NBA games, and I think that likely mattered a good deal. In the NBA games I saw so many transitions on both ends of the floor where Gilmore wasn't in the play. Sometimes I'd see his teammate start to run and he'd just be walking until he fell behind the camera's gaze.

I think that both in the ABA & NBA Gilmore seemed to have spotty awareness. It was almost like he was a security drone that would get "turned on" at certain points, and when that happened, you were in trouble. Try to challenge Gilmore directly and you were likely in trouble. Get the ball to Gilmore in his wheelhouse and he was often unstoppable while displayed nice touch and skill.

But on the other hand, there were times where it was like he was thinking "I'm guarding my man" when it really seemed like he should have been able to leave his man and block a shot or get a rebound. Additionally, he seemed fairly easy to take out of the play by having the man he was guarding drift away from the action - in fairness to Gilmore here, this is the whole conundrum of what to do as a big man when the man you're guarding has range, but with Gilmore there's a feeling that he wasn't so much balancing threats so much as he was just following his man around, and there were times where he ends up literally guarding a man on the perimeter.

I will say that I think Gilmore showed good movement and body control, and when he was out on the perimeter he didn't seem like dead meat at all, but he left a gaping whole by the rim.

Gilmore didn't seem comfortable trying to use his body to push other guys out of the way. I think that some of that is that he didn't have the widest frame and so it wasn't the case that he could just bump into other guys and send them flying. But there was also this tendency to let other guys wall him off, both from the opponent and from his own teammates. If he saw an opening, he'd fly in there and get the block or rebound, but when things were congested, he seemed bottled up.

I find myself reflecting on this conundrum:

How is it you can have a shot-blocker as good as Gilmore, that everyone knows controls the rim area when he's around it, and yet not seem to have much effect on opponent eFG%? Not saying he never had an effect, but as we go through the years, Gilmore seems to have a bigger effect on things like defensive rebounding or free throw prevention than he does on making guys miss shots. Why is that?

I can come up with theories plural, but I don't have confidence that I really understand what was happening.

I think myself thinking that Gilmore would have faired better in an age with more space, where "better" here means that he'd scale better than most other classic big man anchors. The spacing of the NBA has lowered the effectiveness of big men in general, but aside from the fact that Gilmore had a decent shooting stroke, and quickness in short bursts when traveling along a straight line which would allow him to have horizontal impact on defense, and I think it would simplify the traffic on the interior and make it easier for him to navigate.

Some fantastic takes, thanks for that! I hope to find enough time this weekend to comment your post as well as share some of my observations.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#8 » by DQuinn1575 » Sat Nov 21, 2020 1:01 am

70sFan wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:So, some thoughts:

I do think we see a pretty clear drop in motor from the ABA game to the NBA games, and I think that likely mattered a good deal. In the NBA games I saw so many transitions on both ends of the floor where Gilmore wasn't in the play. Sometimes I'd see his teammate start to run and he'd just be walking until he fell behind the camera's gaze.

I think that both in the ABA & NBA Gilmore seemed to have spotty awareness. It was almost like he was a security drone that would get "turned on" at certain points, and when that happened, you were in trouble. Try to challenge Gilmore directly and you were likely in trouble. Get the ball to Gilmore in his wheelhouse and he was often unstoppable while displayed nice touch and skill.

But on the other hand, there were times where it was like he was thinking "I'm guarding my man" when it really seemed like he should have been able to leave his man and block a shot or get a rebound. Additionally, he seemed fairly easy to take out of the play by having the man he was guarding drift away from the action - in fairness to Gilmore here, this is the whole conundrum of what to do as a big man when the man you're guarding has range, but with Gilmore there's a feeling that he wasn't so much balancing threats so much as he was just following his man around, and there were times where he ends up literally guarding a man on the perimeter.

I will say that I think Gilmore showed good movement and body control, and when he was out on the perimeter he didn't seem like dead meat at all, but he left a gaping whole by the rim.

Gilmore didn't seem comfortable trying to use his body to push other guys out of the way. I think that some of that is that he didn't have the widest frame and so it wasn't the case that he could just bump into other guys and send them flying. But there was also this tendency to let other guys wall him off, both from the opponent and from his own teammates. If he saw an opening, he'd fly in there and get the block or rebound, but when things were congested, he seemed bottled up.

I find myself reflecting on this conundrum:

How is it you can have a shot-blocker as good as Gilmore, that everyone knows controls the rim area when he's around it, and yet not seem to have much effect on opponent eFG%? Not saying he never had an effect, but as we go through the years, Gilmore seems to have a bigger effect on things like defensive rebounding or free throw prevention than he does on making guys miss shots. Why is that?

I can come up with theories plural, but I don't have confidence that I really understand what was happening.

I think myself thinking that Gilmore would have faired better in an age with more space, where "better" here means that he'd scale better than most other classic big man anchors. The spacing of the NBA has lowered the effectiveness of big men in general, but aside from the fact that Gilmore had a decent shooting stroke, and quickness in short bursts when traveling along a straight line which would allow him to have horizontal impact on defense, and I think it would simplify the traffic on the interior and make it easier for him to navigate.

Some fantastic takes, thanks for that! I hope to find enough time this weekend to comment your post as well as share some of my observations.


So I watched the ABA game against the Pacers, and at half-time checked the board and read your comments, and thought - yes sounds pretty spot on. I was surprised at the beginning of the game that Artis came out and guarded Elmore so much on perimeter, and looked better than I thought doing it. I was also somewhat surprised that he wasn't better on the defensive boards, and that at imes looked a little lost. (Also not sure why Elmore started and then disappeared, and why Dan Roundfield all of a sudden shows up in the 4th quarter to look pretty darned good)
Then the third quarter started and wow - great follow up dunk to start, and then Indiana decided to have Darnell Hillman challenge Artis - Hillman was 6-9, a great Afro and a great dunker - Artis swatted things away and Hillman couldn't do anything against him. Artis also came alive on the offensive end, and the first 3-4 minutes or so of the half were pretty darn impressive.
But I just watched him cut to the hole, they pass him the ball, he drops it, and then misses the shot. Next play down he blocks a Robisch dunk.
And that is when he seems to be at his best here - when they go and challenge him - Hillman a number of times, Robisch trying to dunk. But when he wasn't challenged, he seemed kind of complacent, not really challenging Billy Knight who threw up a few circus shots, and was the scoring star of the game.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#9 » by Doctor MJ » Sat Nov 21, 2020 1:40 am

A thought:

I wonder if offenses basically just figured out how to mitigate for Artis. When he was a rookie maybe they were just playing as the always had and he was slaughtering everyone.

But over time teams try different things. Find some things that work a little better, and knowledge spreads because everyone wants a better approach to the A Train.

The world adapts to him and he’s unable to adapt beyond a certain point. He remains valuable for a very long time, but he doesn’t have the projectile arc we expect to see because of the success of the adaptation against him.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#10 » by penbeast0 » Sat Nov 21, 2020 2:12 am

I won't have time to do anything serious in terms of watching until next week, enjoying the comments though.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#11 » by homecourtloss » Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:24 am

Doctor MJ wrote:Just wanted to say I really love this thread's existence. 70sFan, I know you've posed Gilmore film before and I've watched some, but giving us a chance to analyze with a particular question in mind is awesome, and I love how this has been generated from Top 100 project, to spin-off TS Add thread, to this. Will plan to dig into this later today.


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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#12 » by SinceGatlingWasARookie » Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:38 am

20 second impressive video of Artis with springyness is his legs that he would not have in the 1980s, blocking a Kareem skyhook.

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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#13 » by Doctor MJ » Sun Nov 22, 2020 5:33 am

SinceGatlingWasARookie wrote:20 second impressive video of Aritis with springyness is his legs that he would not have in the 1980s, blocking a Kareem skyhook.



He got hops, but goaltending, no?
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#14 » by SinceGatlingWasARookie » Sun Nov 22, 2020 5:56 am

Doctor MJ wrote:
SinceGatlingWasARookie wrote:20 second impressive video of Aritis with springyness is his legs that he would not have in the 1980s, blocking a Kareem skyhook.



He got hops, but goaltending, no?


I think the ball was near the peak of it's arch. It probably was starting to come down but I want the refs to let that be a block.
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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#15 » by colts18 » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:19 am

OT a bit but it's still 70s related.

Is it me does the backboards and/or rims from the 1970s look slightly off compared to the modern game. From looking at the players shoot, it seems more difficult to shoot back in the day. I don't think we can fully attribute that to skill. It could be the cameras from that era playing tricks on me too.


Take a look at this charge that Kareem took in 1977 (7:50 in the video). :lol: There is no way this is called a charge in today's NBA. That's a blocking foul for sure. Shows you how different the game was back then.

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Re: Artis Gilmore journey - defensive breakdown 

Post#16 » by 70sFan » Thu Nov 26, 2020 10:29 pm

Hi, I want to say that this thread is not dead. I just don't have much time recently, maybe I will make a longer post next week.

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