[Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan

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[Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#1 » by Odinn21 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:00 pm

Hello.

Link to the project idea thread.

The project will contain 1v1 comparisons between the top 10 ever in the latest 3 top 100 project on RealGM which are LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Tim Duncan, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird.
There are 45 possibilities of 2 in 10, the project will have 90 days period to be concluded.

Things to follow;
- Reg. season and postseason play, both are included in evaluations.
- A simple 12/11/.../2/1 point system will be used for the project.
Evaluations will be based on the seasons, not the players direclty as an outcome of a single vote.
- Explanations are needed, even in short forms. (Though for a project like this, I'd appreciate long posts personally. Saying this as a voter, not the commissioner.)
- The time frame for each franchise is 2 days (from/to 10:00 EST).

Results on Google Sheets

The comparison order we'll be following;
Spoiler:
1. Bill Russell vs. Magic Johnson
2. Hakeem Olajuwon vs. Larry Bird
3. Michael Jordan vs. Wilt Chamberlain
4. LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Shaquille O'Neal

6. LeBron James vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
7. Michael Jordan vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
8. Shaquille O'Neal vs. Larry Bird
9. Tim Duncan vs. Magic Johnson
10. Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain

11. Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird
12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
13. LeBron James vs. Bill Russell
14. Tim Duncan vs. Wilt Chamberlain
15. Magic Johnson vs. Shaquille O'Neal

16. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Bill Russell
17. Shaquille O'Neal vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
18. Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird
19. LeBron James vs. Wilt Chamberlain
20. Michael Jordan vs. Tim Duncan

21. LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan
22. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Wilt Chamberlain
23. Tim Duncan vs. Larry Bird
24. Bill Russell vs. Shaquille O'Neal
25. Magic Johnson vs. Hakeem Olajuwon

26. LeBron James vs. Larry Bird
27. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Magic Johnson
28. Michael Jordan vs. Shaquille O'Neal
29. Bill Russell vs. Tim Duncan
30. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Hakeem Olajuwon

31. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Shaquille O'Neal
32. LeBron James vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
33. Bill Russell vs. Larry Bird
34. Michael Jordan vs. Magic Johnson
35. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Tim Duncan

36. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Larry Bird
37. Tim Duncan vs. Shaquille O'Neal
38. Bill Russell vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
39. LeBron James vs. Magic Johnson
40. Michael Jordan vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

41. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Larry Bird
42. LeBron James vs. Shaquille O'Neal
43. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Magic Johnson
44. Tim Duncan vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
45. Michael Jordan vs. Bill Russell


---

Spoiler:
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The issue with per75 numbers;
36pts on 27 fga/9 fta in 36 mins, does this mean he'd keep up the efficiency to get 48pts on 36fga/12fta in 48 mins?
The answer; NO. He's human, not a linearly working machine.
Per75 is efficiency rate, not actual production.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#2 » by falcolombardi » Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:25 pm

i think 2003 duncan is arguably #1 as it combines impressive team success, regular season dominance and post season excelence in a way i am not sure lebron seasons do ar the same time

if lower in team success importance compared to individual dominance then 2009 beats it but it would still be close, 2009 may be the best convo of reg season + playoffs dominance in lebron career despite the loss against orlando
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#3 » by No-more-rings » Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:48 pm

For me, Lebron probably ends up with 7 or 8 of these seasons but i don't necessarily expect that to be the consensus. I just feel like Lebron's average prime year is a cut above anything Duncan did outside of 02 and 03.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#4 » by falcolombardi » Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:54 pm

No-more-rings wrote:For me, Lebron probably ends up with 7 or 8 of these seasons but i don't necessarily expect that to be the consensus. I just feel like Lebron's average prime year is a cut above anything Duncan did outside of 02 and 03.


dont sleep on 2005-2007, those seasons still had all time great defense with solid offense and rebounding as well as strong intangibles
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#5 » by NbaAllDay » Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:17 pm

falcolombardi wrote:
No-more-rings wrote:For me, Lebron probably ends up with 7 or 8 of these seasons but i don't necessarily expect that to be the consensus. I just feel like Lebron's average prime year is a cut above anything Duncan did outside of 02 and 03.


dont sleep on 2005-2007, those seasons still had all time great defense with solid offense and rebounding as well as strong intangibles


This is definitely true of Duncan but it doesnt take awy from the fact that Lebrons had many elite level D seasons (not on the level of Duncan) combined with GOAT level offense. Its rough to compete against. This is simplistic but Lebrons offense in an all time sense outweighs duncans defense. Lebron defense imo is also on a higher tier than Duncans offense so it's hard for me to make a strong argument in favour of Duncan in most years.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#6 » by sansterre » Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:18 pm

Methodology: I took Win Shares, VORP, Backpicks BPM and Backpicks AuPM (the last two for both regular season and postseason). I did not use the Estimated Impact data because it only runs through 2015 and I wanted complete stats for anything I used. I adjusted the counting numbers for the '99, '12, '20 and '21 regular seasons to account for the shortened seasons. I adjusted BPM and AuPM for minutes played per game. I converted the postseason data into per-game numbers and multiplied it by 82, to make postseason performance loosely as valuable as the regular season. I was deeply aware that Duncan's defensive prowess is often not caught by box score data, so I made the formula 50% AuPM (10% Win Shares, 20% VORP, 20% Backpicks BPM, 50% AuPM). And here are the results:

1. '09 LeBron
2. '03 Duncan
3. '10 LeBron
4. '12 LeBron
5. '13 LeBron
6. '02 Duncan
7. '17 LeBron
8. '16 LeBron
9. '20 LeBron
10. '08 LeBron
11. '11 LeBron
12. '14 LeBron

I expected LeBron to dominate here. I didn't expect it to be by margins like this. I'm not convinced that AuPM helped Duncan much.

Postseason AuPM/G:

9s: LeBron 1
8s: LeBron 2
7s: LeBron 2, Duncan 1
6s: LeBron 2, Duncan 1
5s: LeBron 3, Duncan 1
4s: LeBron 1, Duncan 3
3s: LeBron 5, Duncan 4
2s: Duncan 4
1s: Duncan 3

I'm very open to the idea that this is underrating Duncan. But I'm using a postseason-heavy formula and LeBron is probably one of the best two postseason performers ever. And I'm also counting minutes as a weight and Duncan went comparably light minutes by 2004. And I'm pretty much ignoring team success. So as ugly as this is, and I'm always open to suggestions, this looks about right to me.

May God have mercy on my soul.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#7 » by No-more-rings » Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:35 pm

falcolombardi wrote:
No-more-rings wrote:For me, Lebron probably ends up with 7 or 8 of these seasons but i don't necessarily expect that to be the consensus. I just feel like Lebron's average prime year is a cut above anything Duncan did outside of 02 and 03.


dont sleep on 2005-2007, those seasons still had all time great defense with solid offense and rebounding as well as strong intangibles

I'm not sleeping on them, but they aren't goat level seasons and that matters when comparing him to Lebron. Duncan dealt with various injuries in 05 and 06 for one, and don't think his regular seasons were anything special. Honestly 01 is probably his clear 3rd best season for me.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#8 » by Narigo » Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:15 pm

1.2013 LeBron James
2.2012 LeBron James
3.2009 LeBron James
4.2010 LeBron James
5.2003 Tim Duncan
6.2002 Tim Duncan
7.2016 LeBron James
8.2014 LeBron James
9.2017 LeBron James
10.2004 Tim Duncan
11.2005 Tim Duncan
12.2018 LeBron James



Will write explanations later
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PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Sidney Moncrief
SF:
PF: James Worthy
C: Tim Duncan

BE: Robert Horry
BE:
BE:
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#9 » by Odinn21 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:28 pm

sansterre wrote:(10% Win Shares, 20% VORP, 20% Backpicks BPM, 50% AuPM).

So, anyone other than Jordan is at a disadvantage against James by design?

Win Shares? I mean, if that was Wins Added from PIPM, that's one thing. But WS?..
VORP? It means that DBPM is involved and according to DBPM, Jordan and James were on the same level as Olajuwon, Duncan, Garnett, Robinson, Mutombo, Wallace, etc.
B-BPM? More of the same with DBPM.

According to DBPM of BBRef and Backpicks, James peaked higher than Duncan on defense. I mean...

AuPM? Well AuPM is a unique situation for Duncan that I'm going to say Taylor still couldn't work it out;
sansterre wrote:Postseason AuPM/G:

9s: LeBron 1
8s: LeBron 2
7s: LeBron 2, Duncan 1
6s: LeBron 2, Duncan 1
5s: LeBron 3, Duncan 1
4s: LeBron 1, Duncan 3
3s: LeBron 5, Duncan 4
2s: Duncan 4
1s: Duncan 3

It is unique for Duncan because Duncan's role and situation varied bit more than James. He was the workhorse next to Robinson and he got shafted in initial raw +/- data because he was the workhorse, then he was basically all the team had and had goat level +/- numbers, then he was the centrepiece of a trio system but got to play lesser minutes than before but #2 he was still the most used player.

https://sites.google.com/site/rapmstats/2005-rapm
As far as I know, this was Engelmann's rs only RAPM numbers collected by colts18.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZW5UBk5BwcrEhh4mEsWl_H1Y9QGTaMPaT4v6dSEIBIo/
This was Engelmann's rs+ps RAPM for single seasons recorded by Goldstein.

2005 numbers;
Ginobili +5.4 and Duncan +3.4 in Taylor's ps AuPM numbers.
Ginobili +6.4 and Duncan +6.0 in Engelmann's rs RAPM numbers.
Ginobili +6.7 and Duncan +8.5 in Engelmann's rs+ps RAPM numbers.

This is top 20 seasons in values (RAPM scale changes over time) between these 2 names in Engelmann's rs+ps PI-RAPM work;
Image
And while it's still top heavy for James, it's not like James dominates every single thing.

sansterre wrote:I'm very open to the idea that this is underrating Duncan. But I'm using a postseason-heavy formula and LeBron is probably one of the best two postseason performers ever.

You're underrating Duncan because the statistical tools you're using giving a head start to James by their designs, especially the box score driven ones since they're basically putting Duncan and James on the same foot on D.

This is another source, based on Engelmann's 14 year RAPM;
https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/dsmok1/viz/BPMvs_RAPM/BoxPlusMinusvs_14YearRAPM
Should highlight how box score metrics doing a disservice to Duncan on D.

Also, maybe Duncan wasn't one of the top 2 or 3 playoff performers ever but he was arguably top 5, I've shown you how and why before. As a postseason performer, Duncan is one of the very few names James doesn't have a significant edge over.
The issue with per75 numbers;
36pts on 27 fga/9 fta in 36 mins, does this mean he'd keep up the efficiency to get 48pts on 36fga/12fta in 48 mins?
The answer; NO. He's human, not a linearly working machine.
Per75 is efficiency rate, not actual production.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#10 » by sansterre » Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:52 pm

Odinn21 wrote:

Even if I only used AuPM I'd get:

1. '09 LeBron
2. '03 Duncan
3. '17 LeBron
4. '10 LeBron
5. '12 LeBron
6. '02 Duncan
7. '20 LeBron
8. '13 LeBron
9. '16 LeBron
10. '01 Duncan
11. '15 LeBron
12. '07 LeBron

I will admit that the RAPM stats are interesting, particularly that BPM seems to underrate Duncan by +2.5 a season. Which suggests that Duncan should probably be higher than I'm showing. But that data set ignores the latter half of LeBron's career, which means it may not be super-reliable for him. I'll poke around.

All of this said, you are aware that the data pattern here is that you are rejecting every metric that doesn't like the player you like as much as you do.

You've done a good job providing some documentation that Duncan has been underrated and I'll do my due diligence but it's an awkward position.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#11 » by falcolombardi » Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:00 pm

sansterre wrote:
Odinn21 wrote:

Even if I only used AuPM I'd get:

1. '09 LeBron
2. '03 Duncan
3. '17 LeBron
4. '10 LeBron
5. '12 LeBron
6. '02 Duncan
7. '20 LeBron
8. '13 LeBron
9. '16 LeBron
10. '01 Duncan
11. '15 LeBron
12. '07 LeBron

I will admit that the RAPM stats are interesting, particularly that BPM seems to underrate Duncan by +2.5 a season. Which suggests that Duncan should probably be higher than I'm showing. But that data set ignores the latter half of LeBron's career, which means it may not be super-reliable for him. I'll poke around.

All of this said, you are aware that the data pattern here is that you are rejecting every metric that doesn't like the player you like as much as you do.

You've done a good job providing some documentation that Duncan has been underrated and I'll do my due diligence but it's an awkward position.


there are valid reasons to dislike boxscore metrics compared to plus/minus ones

they can be kind of arbitrary
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#12 » by No-more-rings » Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:09 pm

I'd probably go with this.

1. 2012 Lebron- Underrated Lebron season, killed the regular season got his 3rd mvp, broke through and won the title with 4 dominant series, had probably the best game of his career against Boston in game 6 against the league's top defense. People like to dock this version for his jumper being inconsistent but if you watched the playoffs it didn't matter since he couldn't really be guarded anyway.

2. 2009 Lebron- Insane regular season capped off by a goat level playoff run, statistically I think is the goat run for a 3 series run or more

3. 2003 Duncan- Monster 2 way force, driving force for the Spurs on both ends on their way to the title

4. 2013 Lebron- With a stronger finals performance this would be his best season for me, but he showed passiveness and inability to just penetrate the Spurs paint at will, so it's hard to ignore that.

5. 2002 Duncan- Similar season to 03, just a bit worse with his passing I think

6. 2010 Lebron- Lebron left a lot to be desired with how he played against Boston, don't know if it was injury, frustration with teammates, or he just got in his own head I don't know but this seems like a problem that on and off effected Lebron for a number of years

7. 2017 Lebron- By this point Lebron was clearly sacrificing some defense for offense, but was still a positive on that end for sure

8. 2016 Lebron- Goat level finals performance, but don't think his regular season was goat level like some of his others

9. 2014 Lebron- Coasted on defense in the regular season, come postseason seemed a little more worried about how efficient his scoring was than what was necessarily best for the team offense

10. 2018 Lebron- Along with 2017 was his offensive peak, but 2018 in particular Lebron just didn't care about defense, still took a mediocre team to the finals

11. 2001 Duncan- Prefer 01 to his 05-07 years because his motor was higher, and was capable of a higher offensive load from night to night

12. 2007 Duncan- Seemed healthier and more consistent than 04, 05 or 06

Some will wonder why 2020 Lebron isn't on there, but let's be real here he lost at least half a step from his peak years, and it would be more obvious if he was playing with 09-2013 kind of spacing.

I'm not totally confident on the order, but confident in those being the 12 seasons.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#13 » by Odinn21 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:09 pm

sansterre wrote:All of this said, you are aware that the data pattern here is that you are rejecting every metric that doesn't like the player you like as much as you do.

You can call it that way and it'd be right if I did not provide such reliable works/documents.

I mean if you went ahead with saying such thing, I'll say this;
You're doing a lot better than looking at BBRef player profile pages and taking the numbers at a face value. But you're still only doing statistical work and deduction from stats. I mean you're doing a decent job at giving benefit of the doubt when stats might go in one way but you're not sure about it and you can't call the extents. You're also not calling any important moments or cut-off in seasons, how those stats are came to being, how much variance there's between 2 players at hand in stats (things like Duncan's assists having the highest value among the low post players in his time and James' assists having a comparable value to Nash's assists, and how we should compare these 2 things, etc).

You had a formula resulting with 2008 James in there, over 2014 James, and not 2007 Duncan, then called it "looks about right". I don't think I'm talking as a fan when I'm critical of such ranking.
The issue with per75 numbers;
36pts on 27 fga/9 fta in 36 mins, does this mean he'd keep up the efficiency to get 48pts on 36fga/12fta in 48 mins?
The answer; NO. He's human, not a linearly working machine.
Per75 is efficiency rate, not actual production.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#14 » by Dutchball97 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:15 pm

Duncan's 02 and 03 peak seasons can compete with the best and his longevity is also among the most elite ever but I think the main thing holding him back from the GOAT convo is that his prime wasn't that outstanding compared to other top 10 players. This project should give us a more defined answer to that though but I wouldn't be surprised to see him lose the majority of his match ups.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#15 » by Odinn21 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:24 pm

Dutchball97 wrote:Duncan's 02 and 03 peak seasons can compete with the best and his longevity is also among the most elite ever but I think the main thing holding him back from the GOAT convo is that his prime wasn't that outstanding compared to other top 10 players. This project should give us a more defined answer to that though but I wouldn't be surprised to see him lose the majority of his match ups.

If anything, I think this project will go to show that how important durability is. Duncan's 3 seasons in the middle of his prime do not look that great because he had health worries (missed 13 games in 2004, 15 games in 2005 and played through a reduced mobility for 90% of 2006 rs due to a jogger's heel).

It's obvious that Duncan did not have as many stand-out seasons as Jordan, James, Abdul-Jabbar and also probably Russell had. Especially with the durability issues he had. But other than those 4, I think it's a fair game against any of the 5 left.

I'm expecting a similar situation for O'Neal too since he had even more durability issues than Duncan.
The issue with per75 numbers;
36pts on 27 fga/9 fta in 36 mins, does this mean he'd keep up the efficiency to get 48pts on 36fga/12fta in 48 mins?
The answer; NO. He's human, not a linearly working machine.
Per75 is efficiency rate, not actual production.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#16 » by DQuinn1575 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 7:44 pm

Odinn21 wrote: (things like Duncan's assists having the highest value among the low post players in his time and James' assists having a comparable value to Nash's assists, and how we should compare these 2 things, etc).



Why do we think Duncan's assists have higher value than other low post players?
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#17 » by Odinn21 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 7:54 pm

I think this is our first comparison in the project that both players were part of the data-ball tracking.

These are how they did in Engelmann's rs+ps PI-RAPM numbers for reasonable candidates for this project (might do this every time we have a comparison with such 2 players).

Duncan's RAPM values and top 5/10/20 averages in those seasons;
Image

James' RAPM values and top 5/10/20 averages in those seasons;
Image

Duncan's residuals to top 5/10/20 in direct values;
Image

James' residuals to top 5/10/20 in direct values;
Image

Duncan's residuals to top 5/10/20 in percentages;
Image

James' residuals to top 5/10/20 in percentages;
Image

Now, James' RAPM footprint in 2009-12 & 2015-16 is just massive. As is Duncan's footprint in 2001-05.
James' footprint in 2014 and 2017 is looking similar to Duncan's footprint in 2007. These are also great.

Surely there's more than enough to say James > Duncan in RAPM but I think Duncan holds his own enough to put up a fight for

---

Moving onto anomalies in those seasons;
Duncan wasn't fully healthy in 2004 and 2005 seasons.
James had bizarre psychological situations in 2010 and 2011 (I'm not criticising James as "he quit" for 2010 here. It was just obvious that he was distracted and that translated into some performance and impact issues.)

Interestingly both players have 2 not that appealing seasons each. I mean it's very hard to put 2011 James over 2014 James or 2004 Duncan over 2007 Duncan.

---

Top 7 seasons for LeBron James;
2012
2013
2009
2016
2014
2010
2011/2017/2020

Top 7 seasons for Tim Duncan;
2003
2002
2007
2001
2005
2006/1999
1999/2004

Some thoughts I have;

- I was expecting any season other than 2002 and 2003 of Duncan to be underrated. 2007 was a season he dominated from start to finish. The Spurs were a 58W team but they were a 63.8 Pythagorean Win team, they had +9.2 NRtg season (which was a mark higher than the 2nd placed Mavs by 1.6), they were top 5 on both ends (#5 on O with +3.3 and #2 on D with -5.9).
The Suns were the only properly strong team they faced in the playoffs. Duncan a 27/14 and 4 blocks series on 60% ts. Surely, it was a weird series with Horry's hip-check, up until that point, Ginobili was having a very rough series with 12/5/4 on 42% ts and had only 1 decent game in 4 games, in those 4 games Duncan carried the Spurs with 29/14 and 3 blocks on 61% ts, and the series was tied at 2-2.
Then the Spurs continued to dominate the competition they faced like they did in the regular season.
It was a very complete season. I mean, in a way, this season was like Magic's 1987 in terms of how it played out and I don't think people would deny 1987 Magic from a top 12 in such comparison.
It also goes to show how Duncan was robbed of greater seasons with multiple injury issues in the 3 prior seasons.

- James' regular season motor and effort got lower after 2014, it got too low in 2018. Yeah, he was still a goat level force in the playoffs but it's very hard to put it on the same level as 2007 Duncan.

- There's a certain appeal of deep postseason runs, James was always in the NBA Finals. But there's a huge discrepancy between the competition Duncan faced in the Western Conference and the competition James faced in the Eastern Conference in the 2nd half of the 2010s.
Duncan was playing his NBA-Finals level opponents in the 2nd round or in the conference finals. I mean, it was such a weird time that the teams with the 2 best records in the league played against each other in the 2nd round in 2006. Duncan had one of his top 3 single playoff series performances against the Mavs, he was 32/12/4/1/3 on 61.5% ts and the reason why we are not looking Duncan's 2006 as we do James' 2018 (not entirely great rs but great ps is what I mean) is that the competition and the playoffs design.

The weighted average NRtg for the teams Duncan faced in the 2nd rounds and in the CFs from 2001 to 2007; 5.4 NRtg (11 series)
The weighted average NRtg for the teams James faced in the 2nd rounds and in the CFs from 2012 to 2018; 3.6 NRtg (14 series)

And the actual level Duncan played against was slightly higher than that 5.4 NRtg mark because 2001-04 Lakers were notorious for underperforming in the regular seasons.

Simply put; I very much doubt that James would have had this many appealing seasons with constant NBA Finals showings if he was playing in the Western Conference of the 2000s.

---

I might come back to this post with some footage but I think it's been very extensive enough. :D I should just put my rankings right now because I got tired, lol.

1. 2003 Tim Duncan
2. 2012 LeBron James
3. 2013 LeBron James
4. 2009 LeBron James
5. 2002 Tim Duncan
6. 2016 LeBron James
7. 2014 LeBron James
8. 2007 Tim Duncan
9. 2001 Tim Duncan
10. 2010 LeBron James
11. 2017 LeBron James
12. 2005 Tim Duncan

Top 5 is pretty cramped up and close. It was kind of weird to put 2003 Duncan and 2002 Duncan 4 spots apart from each other but this was the top 5 looked the most sensible.

The rest is basically dominated by James because aside from 2007 and 2001, Duncan wasn't healthy enough. My hottest take is that 2005 Duncan was actually that better than 2020 James to make up for missed games. He was having a goat level regular season (very much like 2016 Curry minus the hype) and even though he wasn't 100% in the playoffs, he was still good enough. Many people remember that rough NBA Finals series against the Pistons but Duncan was having a 25/12/3 run until the finals, he was on par with his usual and then even though his efficiency took a dive against the Pistons which was a historically great defense, he still kept the Spurs offense going with his scoring gravity, he was getting doubled nearly every time he touched the ball and his playmaking value was exceptional along with his goat level defense.
The issue with per75 numbers;
36pts on 27 fga/9 fta in 36 mins, does this mean he'd keep up the efficiency to get 48pts on 36fga/12fta in 48 mins?
The answer; NO. He's human, not a linearly working machine.
Per75 is efficiency rate, not actual production.
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#18 » by falcolombardi » Mon Sep 13, 2021 8:03 pm

No-more-rings wrote:I'd probably go with this.

1. 2012 Lebron- Underrated Lebron season, killed the regular season got his 3rd mvp, broke through and won the title with 4 dominant series, had probably the best game of his career against Boston in game 6 against the league's top defense. People like to dock this version for his jumper being inconsistent but if you watched the playoffs it didn't matter since he couldn't really be guarded anyway.

2. 2009 Lebron- Insane regular season capped off by a goat level playoff run, statistically I think is the goat run for a 3 series run or more

3. 2003 Duncan- Monster 2 way force, driving force for the Spurs on both ends on their way to the title

4. 2013 Lebron- With a stronger finals performance this would be his best season for me, but he showed passiveness and inability to just penetrate the Spurs paint at will, so it's hard to ignore that.

5. 2002 Duncan- Similar season to 03, just a bit worse with his passing I think

6. 2010 Lebron- Lebron left a lot to be desired with how he played against Boston, don't know if it was injury, frustration with teammates, or he just got in his own head I don't know but this seems like a problem that on and off effected Lebron for a number of years

7. 2017 Lebron- By this point Lebron was clearly sacrificing some defense for offense, but was still a positive on that end for sure

8. 2016 Lebron- Goat level finals performance, but don't think his regular season was goat level like some of his others

9. 2014 Lebron- Coasted on defense in the regular season, come postseason seemed a little more worried about how efficient his scoring was than what was necessarily best for the team offense

10. 2018 Lebron- Along with 2017 was his offensive peak, but 2018 in particular Lebron just didn't care about defense, still took a mediocre team to the finals

11. 2001 Duncan- Prefer 01 to his 05-07 years because his motor was higher, and was capable of a higher offensive load from night to night

12. 2007 Duncan- Seemed healthier and more consistent than 04, 05 or 06

Some will wonder why 2020 Lebron isn't on there, but let's be real here he lost at least half a step from his peak years, and it would be more obvious if he was playing with 09-2013 kind of spacing.

I'm not totally confident on the order, but confident in those being the 12 seasons.


2020 lakers had some of the worst spacing in the last decade champions

they shot like 32% from 3
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#19 » by sansterre » Mon Sep 13, 2021 8:04 pm

Odinn, I'm looking at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZW5UBk5BwcrEhh4mEsWl_H1Y9QGTaMPaT4v6dSEIBIo/ and it lines up pretty reasonably with the bastketball-reference BPM; it has certain seasons as higher (2003 is eye-bleedingly high) but the average between the two is almost identical. The https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/dsmok1/viz/BPMvs_RAPM/BoxPlusMinusvs_14YearRAPM is impressive . . . but I don't know where those numbers are coming from. Where is the data that shows Duncan with a +7.9 RAPM?
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Re: [Project:Primes of the top 10 ever] List the top 12 seasons between LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan 

Post#20 » by Odinn21 » Mon Sep 13, 2021 8:06 pm

DQuinn1575 wrote:
Odinn21 wrote: (things like Duncan's assists having the highest value among the low post players in his time and James' assists having a comparable value to Nash's assists, and how we should compare these 2 things, etc).



Why do we think Duncan's assists have higher value than other low post players?

Ah, that study was a courtesy of pbpstats.com which provides assists numbers and also how many points those assists led to. Duncan's assists were more valuable because they translated into more 3 point shots than the other low post players.

A quick example;
https://www.pbpstats.com/totals/nba/player?Season=2004-05&SeasonType=Playoffs&TeamId=1610612759
If you switch to Assists on Table Data, you'll see that Duncan made 63 assists leading to 156 points, 30 of 63 led to three pointers. That means 47.6% of the time, Duncan assisted a three. For a low post player, that's quite high.
By the way, that was one of the high points for Duncan. It was not the norm for him.

Looking at numbers from 2001 to 2007, Duncan assisting a three rate was around 25.9% in regular seasons. However it was 31.8% in the playoffs. The only other player who was having similar rates among high usage low post players was Shaquille O'Neal. I think Duncan was ahead of O'Neal just barely with 0.1 or 0.2% gap.
The issue with per75 numbers;
36pts on 27 fga/9 fta in 36 mins, does this mean he'd keep up the efficiency to get 48pts on 36fga/12fta in 48 mins?
The answer; NO. He's human, not a linearly working machine.
Per75 is efficiency rate, not actual production.

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