Top 10 Centers of All Time

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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#41 » by eminence » Fri Apr 30, 2021 3:22 am

*Mikan didn't play black players in the league (a few later in his career).

Exhibitions/other tournaments were much more common back then. Look to the World Professional Basketball Tournament or the Lakers series with the Trotters.
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#42 » by feyki » Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:31 am

Mikan's toughest match-up in the early 50's also was black. And he(Nat Clifton) could have been top 10 GOAT defensive player, if there are any data on those days defence.

And true, he was greater force than another player than in history, in those Harlem games. Don't remember, Harlem was arguably the best team in the USA.
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#43 » by ZeppelinPage » Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:26 am

penbeast0 wrote:From what I've seen, Ramsey wasn't a liability as a 2, but was a bit light and easily pushed around at the 3 in a day and age where a lot of the 3's were post-up scorers.


I honestly haven't seen many possessions with Ramsey defending post-up scenarios in the film I've watched, let alone film where he is struggling to defend them. Even if he was lighter, the offensive foul rules of the era made it difficult for players to back him down and push him around. I also think he had a bit of underrated strength to him for his height, he seemed to use his body well and wasn't afraid to make contact. Auerbach did not seem to mind Ramsey defending both Baylor and LaRusso in the series, and he doesn't have much trouble with either of them.

The '63 Game 6 Finals footage is a fantastic example of how pesky the Celtics help defense was on the perimeter, and it shows off how well they did at staying with their man and swiping/deflecting the ball. Heinsohn himself this game has a couple steals and a block on Jerry West.

Ramsey only allows a shooting foul and a transition jumper in the entire game, every other shot he forces a miss--and this is with him having to guard Elgin Baylor for a portion of the time he's on the floor. Ramsey also has 2 steals with many deflections--he looked great on help defense.

This possession in the '63 Finals is the only thing I could find most similar to Ramsey defending a post-up, guarding Elgin Baylor. But Elgin can't take full advantage of Ramsey's size and back him down and puts up a contested jumper:

Spoiler:
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Ramsey was usually defending jump shots. But he was quick enough to keep up with drives and had the reaction time to make it difficult for players, like this clip from '62 Finals:

Spoiler:
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Even with all the contact, he is able to keep up and contest the shot for a miss.

Here he is able to take some contact from prime Elgin Baylor and strip the ball:
Spoiler:
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#44 » by penbeast0 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:41 pm

Never heard of him being particularly strong; just high energy and able to come straight off the bench hot while others have to work their way into a rhythm. (Tea with honey!)
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#45 » by ty 4191 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:14 pm

Wilt Chamberlain, and nobody is close.
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#46 » by trex_8063 » Sat May 1, 2021 2:36 am

Sublime187 wrote:Even a guy like an Embiid would absolutely destroy that league whereas transporting Mikan to current day he would not be close to as dominant.


"...absolutely destroy that league..."
So....basically what Mikan did, yes?


That point made, I'd further stipulate that we don't know for sure what Embiid would do in that time period [if born let's say 65 years earlier].
Right now, Embiid has a modern skillset: just like thousands of other players do RIGHT NOW.
This is something NO ONE had in Mikan's time.

And we can pat our modern selves on the back all we want, but it's not because we're all so much more brilliant or evolved now than people were two generations ago. It's because players TODAY soak up the coaching, mentoring, game-shadowing, and training practices that are provided and facilitated for TODAY (things which weren't available or even conceived of THEN); as well as playing under the rules and officiating OF TODAY.

Players THEN soaked up the coaching, mentoring, "wisdom" and theory, and training habits that were present THEN [and only with the facilities and resources that were available then, too], while also playing under the rules/officiating OF THEN.

So would Embiid if he'd been born THEN.

He would also probably be about 40 lbs lighter, as weight training was neither facilitated nor encouraged [was even actively DIScouraged among basketball players].


And it's not like any solid black athlete destroyed the league in the old days.

I'd cite Ray Felix as the first obvious example…..

Ray Felix was a legit 6’11” (an inch taller than Mikan), with pretty decent reach and hand-size. Oh yeah, and if it wasn’t sufficiently implied, he was black (and a pretty good athlete, I believe).....
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He was the #1 draft pick in 1953.
As a rookie in ‘54 (Mikan’s final full season), Felix averaged 17.6 pts @ +4.9% rTS, 13.3 reb, 1.1 ast…...for a team that went 16-56 and had the worst defense in the league [+5.1 rDRTG].
Mikan, in the same year, despite playing about 5 fewer mpg averaged a team-high 18.1 pts @ +2.4% rTS, along with 14.3 reb, 2.4 ast, and while anchoring the 2nd-rated [-4.0 rDRTG] defense. Oh yeah, and they went 46-26 and won the title (Mikan averaged 19.4 pts @ +10.1% rTS, 13.2 reb, and 1.9 ast in the playoffs, while they held their division finals opponent to -5.8 ppg less than their rs average, and their finals opponent to -12.8 ppg less than their rs average).

Ray Felix would go on to peak as a nothing more than a good limited-minute role player [more or less] when actually playing for passably decent teams.

Ray’s 3rd season [‘56] coincides with the year Mikan came out of retirement for part of the season [a pinch hobbled from previous injuries-->which is why he'd retired in the first place]. Felix played limited minutes for a 35-37 [dead-last defensively] Knick team, while averaging 12.3 pts @ +4.8% rTS, with 8.7 reb and 0.7 ast.

For comparison, washed up Mikan [in slightly less playing time] averaged 10.5 pts @ -0.3% rTS, 8.3 reb, 1.4 ast; his team was 19-18 [.514] in the games he played, but 14-21 [.400] in the games he missed.


I might also cite Walter Dukes as an example: he was a legit 7'0", similar in build and athleticism to JaVale McGee, perhaps [or a bit better??].
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Dukes entered the league in 1955, was a 25-yr-old rookie during the same season Mikan came briefly out of retirement. Dukes averaged 7.8 pts @ +3.3% rTS, 7.4 reb, 0.7 ast for a team that was dead-last defensively and on pace for about 40 wins in an 82-game schedule (though they were doing WORSE in the 60 games he played: on pace for about 37 wins when he played, but going 8-4 in the twelve games he missed).

Dukes would peak as about a 15 pts/13-14 reb player while nearly averaging fouling out per 36 minutes (seriously averaged 5.5 PF/36 for his entire career). He topped 40% FG% only twice [never reached 41%], and was -1.3% rTS for his career. Every single team he played for had a losing record, and most of them were below average defensively.


idk......these implications that any big, black athlete would crush the league back then just don't really hold to scrutiny.
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#47 » by eminence » Sat May 1, 2021 2:43 am

trex_8063 wrote:Ray’s 3rd season [‘56] coincides with the year Mikan came out of retirement for part of the season [a pinch hobbled from previous injuries-->which is why he'd retired in the first place].


I'd just like to point that this is just a wee bit of understatement, between '54 and the '56 comeback Mikan had his left kneecap removed (not replaced).
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#48 » by trex_8063 » Sat May 1, 2021 5:19 pm

eminence wrote:
trex_8063 wrote:Ray’s 3rd season [‘56] coincides with the year Mikan came out of retirement for part of the season [a pinch hobbled from previous injuries-->which is why he'd retired in the first place].


I'd just like to point that this is just a wee bit of understatement, between '54 and the '56 comeback Mikan had his left kneecap removed (not replaced).


Oh wow. I admit I was unaware of this; I knew that the toll of numerous injuries (and among them I vaguely recall a fractured patella [knee cap], unless I'm mistaken??) was a huge part of why his first retirement occurred by age 30. I didn't know the extent of it, though (and didn't want to inadvertantly over-state things [and lose credibility]). That's crazy.

So yeah, the broader point is perhaps even stronger in light of that.

I don't know why it's so hard for some to acknowledge that George Mikan was simply an outstanding player, regardless of era. Race is a part of it, imo. Even if the REST of the league was just as white as it was, but Mikan himself were black, I somehow don't think there would be as much doubt and reserve about how good he was.
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#49 » by Owly » Sat May 1, 2021 6:30 pm

penbeast0 wrote:
Prokorov wrote:
Yes. I think it makes them significantly less meaningless. especially when that talent is disproportionately stacked on 1 team and the talent overall was at an all-time low. They beat a terrible team in the finals. a team that likely goes like 12-70 in todays league.


Which terrible team? The one with Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan and other HOF players Clyde Lovellette and Slater Martin? The one with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor? The one with Wilt? 11 titles, you might want to be a bit more specific.

And let's look at that talent. The early Celtics had Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Tom Heinsohn and 6th man Frank Ramsey as their top 4 outside of Russell. Big names but Cousy, Sharman and (better than Heinsohn) Ed Macauley had been a mediocre to above average team before Russell finishing 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, and 2nd OUT OF 4 teams in the East the 4 years prior.

I will as ever note the '57 pre-Russell (pre-Ramsey) sample has Boston as the best team in the league. I'm somewhat of a skeptic on Macauley especially regarding his D (and I'd also note the generally higher level of production all round for centers at that time).

Not that I'm generally anti-Russell (and certainly not dismissive of him) but some pro-Russell and "impact" arguments do tend to ignore this.

Whilst tangential to your point, the East featured 5 teams in some of the years noted and was the tougher conference once it was down to 4.

More of my skepticism on Macauley from me in thread 4 of the top 100 project
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LA Bird- wrote:The Celtics were an elite playoffs offense with trash defense until Russell came along and then they became a poor playoffs offense with elite defense. There is a clear offense-defense tradeoff and while they certainly won that exchange, the offensive decline is not insignificant. If Russell was really mostly responsible for all that defensive improvement and not much of the blame for the offensive decline, he should be rating out with GOAT impact by far immediately upon his arrival but as we have seen from his rookie season WOWY (+1.5 MOV difference), this was not the case.


I do want to point out that the Celtics traded away Ed Macauley to get Russell.

Macauley can be argued to have been the Celtics best offensive player, and was certainly an essential part of the Celtics' offensive dynasty.

Worth noting also Macauley played center for the Celtics. So when you think of Russell "hurting the offense", make sure to put the caveat "hurting the offense in comparison to one of the great offensive 5's of the era". The fact that people would even say that rookie Russell matched Macauley overall would by itself be kind of an amazing success. The fact that everyone thinks the team got considerably better with Russell is of course a much bigger deal still.

Edit to add a bkref link:
https://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_1956_adj_shooting.html

That's the leader board for TS Add in '55-56. You'll see that Macauley ranks 6th in the league just behind teammate Sharman. Go back to previous years and Macauley is even stronger - which granted you could argue he was on the back half of his career, but just saying Macauley was a big deal.

The counterweight to this point (arguably supported by Boston's start in '57 with Heinsohn, without Macauley [and no arrival yet of Russell or Ramsey, nor fwiw Hagan, who was set to arrive but packaged in the Russell deal] and with hodgepodge of centers/bigs - without digging deep into the offense defense splits) is that Macauley might have been giving it all back (and more) on D. He's listed as 6-8, 185 on basketball-reference, I've seen 190 in Sachare's HoF affiliated 100 Greatest Basketball Players of All Time.

An imperfect source but Robert Kalich's Basketball Rating Handbook (from 1969, but encompassing some retired legends) rated his D as a 3 out of 10. And I guess those ratings are something like at peak (Oscar scores 147 out of 150 total - i.e. across 15 categories).

He arrival doesn't seem to directly hurt the Hawks D at least in the rankings. [edit: actually their relative D Rtg gets worse by 1.6, there are other changes - though one is adding Slater Martin, a supposedly good defender - and Russell may be moving the league average].

Net (can't always get O-D splits) upon arrival in the league his team gets worse despite his efficient scoring from day 1 (and league expansion). They had retained their three most productive WS players from the previous season. Celtics do get better with his arrival, but not massively so (-1.74 SRS to -0.41 SRS), from a low baseline and they add Cousy and Auerbach at the same time.
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#50 » by feyki » Tue May 4, 2021 10:21 am

penbeast0 wrote:Wilt does get penalized for playing in the 60s, probably more than he should . . . and Kareem probably less for playing in the 70s/early 80s when expansion watered down the league. But they are guys who would be great in ANY era.


1954 NBA Finals:

Dolph Schayes - 9,3 PPG, %44.4 TS

George Mikan - 18,1 PPG, %51,8 TS
.


1959 ECF:

Bill Russell - 19,1 PPG, 26,7 RPG, %48,6 TS

Dolph Schayes - 28,4 PPG, 13,1 RPG, %50,6 TS
.
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Re: Top 10 Centers of All Time 

Post#51 » by LA Bird » Tue May 4, 2021 1:54 pm

feyki wrote:
penbeast0 wrote:Wilt does get penalized for playing in the 60s, probably more than he should . . . and Kareem probably less for playing in the 70s/early 80s when expansion watered down the league. But they are guys who would be great in ANY era.


1954 NBA Finals:

Dolph Schayes - 9,3 PPG, %44.4 TS

George Mikan - 18,1 PPG, %51,8 TS
.


1959 ECF:

Bill Russell - 19,1 PPG, 26,7 RPG, %48,6 TS

Dolph Schayes - 28,4 PPG, 13,1 RPG, %50,6 TS
.

Imagine trying to make a point about era strength by looking at series stats for someone who only averaged around 20 minutes and was playing with a cast on a broken wrist.

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