How would Bird Do in Curry's Era?

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How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#1 » by ty 4191 » Thu Apr 8, 2021 10:14 am

I wanted to start a discussion of Larry Bird playing in the past 12 years. How would his skills translate to this era? How would he be utilized? Would he be more or less valuable than he was, playing 1980-1992? Etc.

To start, a few notes on shooting, especially 3 point shots:

--Once Bird started focusing on three point shooting (1985-1988, before he was crippled with injuries) he became BOTH the highest percentage shooter (.414) from 3 point range AND the guy who had the most attempts (787).

--Now just imagine another 6 foot 9 power forward doing that, who DIDN'T grow up with a 3 point line...

--Also, context, context, context. Nobody is allowed to play hard defense anymore, or hand check, wide open game. All the rules have changed since 1999-2000, progressively, to make today's offensive stats (shooting/perimeter shooting) incredibly easy for shooters, relative to the 1980's.

--Also, the advent of the Breakway Rim in (1981-1982) and then the DOUBLE Breakaway rim (2009-2010) changed the entire game, making it significantly easier for guards and shooters.

Career, League Adjusted 3 Point Percentage (100 is average), actual career 3 point percentage:


Craig Hodges 131 (.400)
Larry Bird: 127 (his actual 3 point percentage career was .376)
Dale Ellis: 121 (.403)

Steph Curry: 121 (433)
Steve Nash: 120 (.428)
Kyle Korver: 120 (.429)

Imagine Bird growing up with a 3 point line AND playing in today's league with the perimeter shooting game as cheap and easy as it is now.

1980-1992: 4.3 3P/G Attempted
2010-2021: 24.9 3P/G Attempted
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#2 » by Max123 » Thu Apr 8, 2021 10:49 am

For a crude starting point: I would imagine that Bird’s offense would be further enhanced by the spacing and emphasis on shooting the three; this would probably be beneficial to both his insane shooting and passing abilities. On defense I think he would regress though, also because of spacing. His defensive approach was to roam around the paint and make help plays like this but with the paint being less clogged today he couldn’t do this to the same extent at least. Also he could be more easily taken advantage of in one-on-one situations because of his slow foot speed now that it’s not as easy to force players into help defenders.


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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#3 » by penbeast0 » Thu Apr 8, 2021 12:30 pm

There would be more of a likelihood of him playing 4 instead of 3 which would help defensively too but yeah, if he still played the 3 (and even back then people were saying that Boston was starting two 4s and a 5) his defensive deficiencies would be even more pronounced.

Offensively, his 3 ball would be much more of a weapon, his post up skills and offensive rebounding (which were one of his strengths) would be less utilized by most modern coaches who don't think the same way.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#4 » by Cavsfansince84 » Thu Apr 8, 2021 9:34 pm

penbeast0 wrote:There would be more of a likelihood of him playing 4 instead of 3 which would help defensively too but yeah, if he still played the 3 (and even back then people were saying that Boston was starting two 4s and a 5) his defensive deficiencies would be even more pronounced.

Offensively, his 3 ball would be much more of a weapon, his post up skills and offensive rebounding (which were one of his strengths) would be less utilized by most modern coaches who don't think the same way.


Couldn't he be utilized much like how Jokic is now though? I think if coaches are smart enough today to run their offense through Jokic they would also find a way to do it with Bird when they see how great his passing skills are.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#5 » by kendogg » Thu Apr 8, 2021 11:24 pm

Defensive deficiencies lol he was all defense 3 straight seasons in a much more physical era before his back injury paving his mom's driveway by himself. He's not an uber athlete but neither is Draymond (both have a 28" vertical). However, Bird has an all-time great motor due to his insane work ethic, and is also all-time great in terms of reflexes and hand eye coordination, which netted him a lot of deflections or outright steals. He's also a better rebounder than Draymond. I think Bird would be a great defender today despite not being the best man defender. Team defense is simply more important today and that is Bird's specialty.

Offensively, Bird would absolutely feast and with his passing he could absolutely be utilized in a role similar to Jokic. Bird is the first member of the 50-40-90 club back when that was actually tough to do, unlike today with the spacing and top recruits being professionally trained before they reach high school. Bird would be the best or 2nd best shooter and offball player after Curry, and maybe the best passer as well. Bird has all of the offball tricks and motor that Curry does, but he's 7 inches taller. He also has a high quick release making him very hard to block.

He'd be arguably the best player in the league today and certainly an MVP level player.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#6 » by feyki » Thu Apr 8, 2021 11:55 pm

Could he get 30/10/10 with 50/40/90?
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#7 » by penbeast0 » Fri Apr 9, 2021 12:18 am

Cavsfansince84 wrote:
penbeast0 wrote:There would be more of a likelihood of him playing 4 instead of 3 which would help defensively too but yeah, if he still played the 3 (and even back then people were saying that Boston was starting two 4s and a 5) his defensive deficiencies would be even more pronounced.

Offensively, his 3 ball would be much more of a weapon, his post up skills and offensive rebounding (which were one of his strengths) would be less utilized by most modern coaches who don't think the same way.


Couldn't he be utilized much like how Jokic is now though? I think if coaches are smart enough today to run their offense through Jokic they would also find a way to do it with Bird when they see how great his passing skills are.


He not only could be, he almost certainly would be. OF course, the Celtics ran their offense through him too which is how they could be successful with Dennis Johnson at the point as Dennis was more of a natural 2 guard.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#8 » by ty 4191 » Fri Apr 9, 2021 12:23 am

feyki wrote:Could he get 30/10/10 with 50/40/90?


It's quite possible. Defense is a total joke because of all the drastic defensive rule changes from 1999-2005.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#9 » by Owly » Fri Apr 9, 2021 8:44 am

ty 4191 wrote:I wanted to start a discussion of Larry Bird playing in the past 12 years. How would his skills translate to this era? How would he be utilized? Would he be more or less valuable than he was, playing 1980-1992? Etc.

To start, a few notes on shooting, especially 3 point shots:

--Once Bird started focusing on three point shooting (1985-1988, before he was crippled with injuries) he became BOTH the highest percentage shooter (.414) from 3 point range AND the guy who had the most attempts (787).

--Now just imagine another 6 foot 9 power forward doing that, who DIDN'T grow up with a 3 point line...

--Also, context, context, context. Nobody is allowed to play hard defense anymore, or hand check, wide open game. All the rules have changed since 1999-2000, progressively, to make today's offensive stats (shooting/perimeter shooting) incredibly easy for shooters, relative to the 1980's.

--Also, the advent of the Breakway Rim in (1981-1982) and then the DOUBLE Breakaway rim (2009-2010) changed the entire game, making it significantly easier for guards and shooters.

Career, League Adjusted 3 Point Percentage (100 is average), actual career 3 point percentage:


Craig Hodges 131 (.400)
Larry Bird: 127 (his actual 3 point percentage career was .376)
Dale Ellis: 121 (.403)

Steph Curry: 121 (433)
Steve Nash: 120 (.428)
Kyle Korver: 120 (.429)

Imagine Bird growing up with a 3 point line AND playing in today's league with the perimeter shooting game as cheap and easy as it is now.

1980-1992: 4.3 3P/G Attempted
2010-2021: 24.9 3P/G Attempted

As ever the time machine stuff depends on how you play it.

But just regarding the last, bolded point (and I think the points and stats after make an adjacent point regarding the culture and coaching around the three - and better) Bird didn't exactly grow up without a 3 point line. By his 11th birthday the local major league team - the Pacers - were going and competing in a league with a 3 (and fwiw, I think there's some indications Larry might have liked to stay local).
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#10 » by Jaivl » Fri Apr 9, 2021 9:32 am

feyki wrote:Could he get 30/10/10 with 50/40/90?

30/10/10 yeah, not sure about 50% on field goals with his new shot distribution.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#11 » by SinceGatlingWasARookie » Fri Apr 9, 2021 9:32 am

Removing this post as it could easily be misinterpreted..
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#12 » by SNPA » Fri Apr 9, 2021 3:14 pm

He’d be a top MVP candidate every year, just like he was in his day.

His defense would be better because he would be guarding 3&D PF’s and team defense is of higher importance and that’s his specialty. He’d also get more boards against small ball teams and he’d be the best passer in the league. It’d be ridiculous. He’d also still talk smack and would make some of these cream puffs cry.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#13 » by Laimbeer » Fri Apr 9, 2021 3:58 pm

He was best in his own era.

People are overrating his three point shooting and how it would translate. He did it on low volume at a time when it wasn't defended as well or as aggressively. It was basically stand still. His passing prowess was valuable because he could thread the needle in tighter confines. He'd almost always initiate his offense well within the three point line.

He was a good defender, but he's moving into an era of space, switching on the perimeter, and running down three point shooters. His shortfall was foot speed and quickness and this would be magnified.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#14 » by SNPA » Fri Apr 9, 2021 4:20 pm

Laimbeer wrote:He was best in his own era.

People are overrating his three point shooting and how it would translate. He did it on low volume at a time when it wasn't defended as well or as aggressively. It was basically stand still. His passing prowess was valuable because he could thread the needle in tighter confines. He'd almost always initiate his offense well within the three point line.

He was a good defender, but he's moving into an era of space, switching on the perimeter, and running down three point shooters. His shortfall was foot speed and quickness and this would be magnified.

Ehhh...he wouldn’t be asked to defend guys like Dominique anymore. He’d be on guys like the Morris brothers. And Bird at PF and small ball center isn’t the least mobile player around. There are lots of guys playing minutes in today’s game that are slower.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#15 » by feyki » Yesterday 4:35 pm

Jaivl wrote:
feyki wrote:Could he get 30/10/10 with 50/40/90?

30/10/10 yeah, not sure about 50% on field goals with his new shot distribution.


Yep, too many threes makes his fg worse, but his TS would raise. Correct question would be that could Bird get over of %65 TS.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#16 » by HeartBreakKid » Yesterday 4:42 pm

Bird is a tough shot maker type of player, I don't think he would get as much of a boost from weaker defenses as other stars who relied more on getting to the rim and stuff. I don't see him getting 30 points on 66 TS%, that doesn't seem like it's his game unless he's just going Steph Curry crazy from 3 pointland.

Dirk never averaged anywhere near 66 TS%, and even in 2011 he was only a 23 PPG type of guy. He never did those things in the playoffs either.

Late 00s and early 10s are a more defensive era than today, but not by that much I would think - and I see Dirk at worse as an equal scorer to Bird.


I suppose the basis would be comparing him to Jokic who is a 26/9 guy on 64 Ts%. Not sure if it's a given Bird would put up the same numbers or better - different styles. Regardless, I don't see why he would need to, he never cared about scoring a ton of points. I guess if he was on a team with not many scoring options he might get 30 points, but it's not really the way to use Bird.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#17 » by Leslie Forman » Yesterday 5:09 pm

He is one of the very, VERY few players from the past that I think would be better in the current analytics and zone D era.

And that's saying a lot considering he was winning MVPs and is already an absolute hands down consensus top-10 GOAT.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#18 » by feyki » Yesterday 5:34 pm

HeartBreakKid wrote:Bird is a tough shot maker type of player, I don't think he would get as much of a boost from weaker defenses as other stars who relied more on getting to the rim and stuff. I don't see him getting 30 points on 66 TS%, that doesn't seem like it's his game unless he's just going Steph Curry crazy from 3 pointland.

Dirk never averaged anywhere near 66 TS%, and even in 2011 he was only a 23 PPG type of guy. He never did those things in the playoffs either.

Late 00s and early 10s are a more defensive era than today, but not by that much I would think - and I see Dirk at worse as an equal scorer to Bird.


I suppose the basis would be comparing him to Jokic who is a 26/9 guy on 64 Ts%. Not sure if it's a given Bird would put up the same numbers or better - different styles. Regardless, I don't see why he would need to, he never cared about scoring a ton of points. I guess if he was on a team with not many scoring options he might get 30 points, but it's not really the way to use Bird.


Dirk was very close to play with %65 TS 09/11 span. As you know, he averaged 30 PPG with %70+ TS in the WCF.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#19 » by nate33 » Yesterday 5:57 pm

Max123 wrote:For a crude starting point: I would imagine that Bird’s offense would be further enhanced by the spacing and emphasis on shooting the three; this would probably be beneficial to both his insane shooting and passing abilities. On defense I think he would regress though, also because of spacing. His defensive approach was to roam around the paint and make help plays like this but with the paint being less clogged today he couldn’t do this to the same extent at least. Also he could be more easily taken advantage of in one-on-one situations because of his slow foot speed now that it’s not as easy to force players into help defenders.


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I agree on offense. Bird would be awesome, basically a Jokic/Klay Thompson hybrid.

I disagree about his defense declining though. First of all, Bird would play PF today, not PF. But more importantly, nobody really guards 1-on-1 in space anymore. It's all about funneling your opponent away from the middle and hopefully forcing them to settle for a long 2. Defense today is primarily focused on functioning within a team concept rather than individually locking your man down. Help defense is more important than man defense, and Bird's help defense was exceptional.
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Re: How would Bird Do in Curry's Era? 

Post#20 » by LA Bird » Yesterday 8:01 pm

Prime Bird will still be MVP or top 3 depending on the season but OP seems to be too biased against today's game.

Re: League relative 3pt shooting. It's easier to stand out when the rest of the league is shooting 25% from 3, just as it's easier for Mikan to dominate more relative to his peers at the start of the NBA than a superstar in later eras can. Shooting 40% from 3 in a 25% league doesn't mean you will be shooting 56% from 3 in a 35% league. It's probably unlikely you will even be shooting 50%. The room for separation gets smaller once the league as a whole catches up on a new trend, not bigger.

Re: Hand checking. Some people always talk about hand checking like every defense has 5 Rodmans hacking people every possession of the game. Here is a highlight video of Bird's threes - where is the hand checking?



Hand checking is the story people agree to tell each other over and over until they forget that it's mostly a lie. If this was a clip of a player shooting 3s today, the TV analysts would be complaining about how the defense is so soft and weak now compared to back in their days when real men hand checked.

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