Horace Grant or Kevin Willis?

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Horace Grant or Kevin Willis? 

Post#1 » by TheBomb81 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:30 am

Who was the better player in their primes?
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Re: Horace Grant or Kevin Willis? 

Post#2 » by RCM88x » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:05 am

I'd take Horace Grant. Kevin Willis was sort of an empty stats player outside of one or two seasons, and even then he wasn't a top 20 player which Horace Grant probably was. Seems to just go with the flow of the team and never really stand out to make an impact, while Horace Grant definitely did in multiple cases.
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Re: Horace Grant or Kevin Willis? 

Post#3 » by Winsome Gerbil » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:08 am

Eh...primes are pretty close. In fact peak Willis might have had the edge -- was a massive rebounder and really stout defender of his own, as well as having a sturdy little jump hook post game. But generally I think you would take Grant ahead of him in most situations just because of Horace's perfect roleplayer game. He could fit almost anywhere as a + player.

Were a whole series of rugged 90s PFs who were in the same general range. Somehow this board has seized upon Horace as somehow being in a different class, but nobody who watched him play back then terribly thought so. Willis and HoGrant, and Thorpe and Dale and Anthony Davis, and Buck Williams, and A.C. Green, and Oakley and PJ Brown and Rodman as their dean etc. I miss those rugged warriors. The centers have adapted and become more versatile than ever to regain their footing, but the whole warrior class of PFs has been chased from the league by the rules changes and perimetermania.
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Re: Horace Grant or Kevin Willis? 

Post#4 » by trex_8063 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:35 pm

Horace Grant.


Kevin Willis certainly had more low-post scoring skills and was a beast of a rebounder. But Horace Grant was better at basically everything else.

Defensively, Kevin Willis was a fair/decent low-post defender (and as mentioned above a very good rebounder), but was relatively average team defender to my memory, and not a rim protector at all.
Although listed 7'0", his effective height was lower due to his relatively short arms; he garnered the nickname "T-Rex" as a result. I read one listing that his wingspan was just 6'10". For comparisons: Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard (both only 6'7") have 7'1.25" and 7'3" wingspans, respectively. Rudy Gobert (at a height of 7'1" is more comparable to Willis's height) has a wingspan of 7'9". Granted, all these guys have notably long arms. However, even DeMar DeRozan (not noted for freakish long arms), at 5" shorter than Willis, has a wingspan that is only 1" less than Willis's. This lack of length and a fairly un-noteworthy defensive IQ made him a mediocre defensive presence overall.

Grant, by comparison, was an intelligent team defender, outstanding pnr defender, physical post defender [with good length/reach] who also provided some fair rim protection (I think his standing reach is actually like an inch or so more than Willis's, despite being 2" shorter, fwiw).

Grant had nice hands and was a good finisher around the rim, a slightly better mid-range shooter, and a MUCH better passing big-man.

It's not a terrible comparison, but I'm very comfortably going with Grant.
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Re: Horace Grant or Kevin Willis? 

Post#5 » by Owly » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:04 pm

Winsome Gerbil wrote:Eh...primes are pretty close. In fact peak Willis might have had the edge -- was a massive rebounder and really stout defender of his own, as well as having a sturdy little jump hook post game. But generally I think you would take Grant ahead of him in most situations just because of Horace's perfect roleplayer game. He could fit almost anywhere as a + player.

Were a whole series of rugged 90s PFs who were in the same general range. Somehow this board has seized upon Horace as somehow being in a different class, but nobody who watched him play back then terribly thought so. Willis and HoGrant, and Thorpe and Dale and Anthony Davis, and Buck Williams, and A.C. Green, and Oakley and PJ Brown and Rodman as their dean etc. I miss those rugged warriors. The centers have adapted and become more versatile than ever to regain their footing, but the whole warrior class of PFs has been chased from the league by the rules changes and perimetermania.


All primes chosen attempting to give the best stats possible

Horace Grant was better
Horace Grant:
7 year prime '91-97
PER: 18.3
WS/48: .181

Kevin Willis:
7 year prime 87-94 (missed '89 - given an additional playing year)
PER: 17.2
WS/48: .124

Otis Thorpe
87-93
PER: 16.8
WS/48: .139

Dale Davis
96-2002
PER: 15.7
WS/48: .145

Antonio Davis
96-2002
PER: 15.1
WS/48: .127

Buck Williams
83-89 (86-92)
PER: 16.7 (15.6)
WS/48: .127 (.136)

A.C. Green
88-94
PER: 15.9
WS/48: .149

Charles Oakley
91-97
PER: 13.8
WS/48: .143

PJ Brown
98-2004
PER: 15.4
WS/48: .153

Grant leads in all. No one is terribly close in both. No one is super-close in either. The closest in each (Willis for PER, Brown for WS/48) lags clearly in the other area.


Horace Grant was thought of as better (and was better)
But what about defense, which the boxscore doesn't quantify well. Well Buck Williams outdoes him in defensive accolades (2 1st team, 2 2nd - to Grant's 4 2nd), the rest lag behind. A clumsy tool but somewhat useful for perceptions of them.

Rick Barry Scouting Bible Overall Grade (from after 89-96 seasons)

Horace Grant: B+, A-, A+, AA, AA, AA, AA, AA

Of the rest only Oakley (once: after 89), Willis (once: after 94) and Williams (twice: AAA after 90, AA after 91) ever got a AA or above overall grade. Cumulatively the rest of the pack have less than Grant by himself (now some aren't getting all their best years, Brown especially is essentially from a different era). Only Williams has a claim to having a similar prime by this measure if you both take that AAA at face value and assume some similar high grades in the 80s (though only an A in '89 so even this is far from a given and as noted Williams simply wasn't as productive as Grant).

What about money as a proxy for the esteem in which they were held - a crude tool: even more so because of the cap's trajectory over time. That said, Grant out-earns all but those whose prime extends into the more lucrative 2000s (Davis, Davis and Brown) mostly comfortably so.

Regarding any suggestion Willis was remotely in Grant's league as a defender, his defensive grade peaks at A, and drops as low as D (also 2 Cs and a B-: all worse than Grant's worst grade [B after 89]), where Grant has 5 AAA defensive grades.
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Re: Horace Grant or Kevin Willis? 

Post#6 » by penbeast0 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:57 pm

In fact, if you want to rate those guys overall, Grant, Buck Williams, and Rodman are a clear step ahead of the others (not in any particular order). All are marginal top 100 candidates, Rodman (the most controversial) could go much higher.

Oakley, Green, and Thorpe would probably be the next three.

Then the two Davis's (who I always conflate, whether correctly or no) and Brown.

I'd take Willis last though his offensive game was better than the three in the last category because of his defense. I thought the nickname was "Alligator Arms" rather than "TRex" but I could be misremembering or people could have used both. He actually reminded me more of another Indiana big man, Herb Williams, than he did the Davises though Herb's defense was also probably a bit better.
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Re: Horace Grant or Kevin Willis? 

Post#7 » by sp6r=underrated » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:02 pm

penbeast0 wrote:In fact, if you want to rate those guys overall, Grant, Buck Williams, and Rodman are a clear step ahead of the others (not in any particular order). All are marginal top 100 candidates, Rodman (the most controversial) could go much higher.

Oakley, Green, and Thorpe would probably be the next three.

Then the two Davis's (who I always conflate, whether correctly or no) and Brown.

I'd take Willis last though his offensive game was better than the three in the last category because of his defense. I thought the nickname was "Alligator Arms" rather than "TRex" but I could be misremembering or people could have used both. He actually reminded me more of another Indiana big man, Herb Williams, than he did the Davises though Herb's defense was also probably a bit better.


I remember alligator arms too.

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