ABA players are underrated, 10 underrated basketball players

Another basketball post! yay! In this post I want to talk about just how underrated ABA players.

For those of you who don’t know, the American Basketball Association or ABA, was founded as an alternative league to the NBA and at that time alot of players who felt that the NBA wasn’t paying them enough or too traditional took to the ABA which had a lot of modern rules like the 3 point range, a colored ball, etc

However, the ABA eventually merged with the NBA in 1976, but the NBA refuses to merge ABA player’s career records with the NBA, which is a disservice to former ABA players who later went to the NBA. As a result, several former great ABA players are underrated by the public both because ABA games were not readily televised back in the day, and because their career totals are not fully accounted for in the NBA.

Some of these great players include:

1. Mel Daniels

Mel Daniels
Mel Daniels

Has anyone ever heard of Mel Daniels? Well before I looked him up I haven’t. Probably the most underrated ABA player ever. He was a 6’9 Center that played for the Indiana Pacers, his awards include:
7 time ABA All Star
3 time ABA champion
2 time ABA MVP
1 time ABA all star game MVP
4 time All ABA first team
ABA Rookie of the Year
and his career averages: 18.4ppg/14.9rpg/1.8apg

Now tell me how someone like that could be forgotten? A 3 time champion and 2 time MVP and averaged 15 rebounds a game?? My awards based ranking places him as the 30th best player of all time (!!), right between Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Arizin.

2. Artis Gilmore

Artis Gilmore
Artis Gilmore

Along with Julius Erving, probably the greatest ABA player of all time. And yet he wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame until 2011. How is this possible? His awards:
11 time ABA/NBA All Star
3 time ABA champion
1 time ABA Finals MVP
1 time ABA MVP
1 time ABA all star game MVP
5 time All ABA first team
ABA Rookie of the Year
and averaged.. 18.8ppg/12.3rpg/2.4bpg

My awards based ranking places him as the 36th best player of all time (!!), right between Isiah Thomas and Dwight Howard. This guy should be a top 10 center of all time, but its always left out of conversations.

3. George McGinnis

George McGinnis
George McGinnis

He was one of the most important players in the ABA along with Julius Erving, yet he isn’t even in the Hall of Fame yet! How is that possible? His awards:

6 time ABA/NBA All Star
2 time ABA champion
1 time ABA MVP
3 time All ABA first team
and averaged.. 20.2ppg/11.0rpg/3.7apg

How can a former MVP and 2 time champion who averaged 20/11 be forgotten?? My awards based ranking places him as the 39th best player of all time, right between John Stockton and Willis Reed.

4. Rick Barry

Rick Barry
Rick Barry

Rick Barry does get acknowledge as one of the great small forwards, but I think not enough as he deserves. Look at his awards and stats:

12 time ABA/NBA All Star
2 time ABA/NBA champion
1 time NBA Finals MVP
9 time All ABA/NBA First Team
NBA All Star game MVP
NBA Rookie of the Year
1 time NBA scoring champion
and averaged.. 24.8ppg/6.7rpg/4.9apg

Rick Barry doesn’t get the credit he deserves. His stats and awards using my ranking makes him the 19th best player of all time, right between Karl Malone and Elgin Baylor. He has better stats than Kobe Bryant. He averaged 27 points a game in the playoffs. He lead the ABA AND NBA in scoring. He lead the Golden State Warriors to their only championship in 1975 almost by himself. He is one of the greatest players of all time, period, yet gets left off the all time nba fantasy draft. He is hardly ever mentioned by modern players. Most players place Scottie Pippen over him. Why??

5. Connie Hawkins

Connie Hawkins
Connie Hawkins

Connie Hawkins was basically another Julius Erving, except not remembered as much. Why not? He started kind of late in the NBA, due to the NBA banning him for a scandal that he wasn’t a part of, but his awards include:

5 time ABA/NBA All Star
1 time ABA Finals MVP
1 time ABA MVP
3 time All ABA/NBA First Team
and averaged.. 18.7ppg/8.8rpg/4.1apg

My awards based ranking places him as the 41th best player of all time, right between Willis Reed and Chris Paul. Again, no one talks about him or mentions him but the dude averaged 25/12 in the playoffs.

Other forgotten former ABA players include
6. Spencer Haywood, a former ABA MVP, averaged 20/10 yet isn’t in the hall of fame.
7. Roger Brown, an all but forgotten ABA star that averaged 17/6/4 for his career.
8. Billy Cunningham isn’t mentioned that much either, even though he is a former ABA MVP, 21/10 player, and one of the top 50 greatest of all time.
9. David Thompson, a former ABA player who averaged 22/3/4, scored 73 points in a game before, and one of the greatest dunkers of all time, is often forgotten.
10. Dan Issel, a 22/9 ABA player who helped Gilmore win his championship but isn’t mentioned amongst the great power forwards.

Awards based ranking of NBA players all time

Since stats don’t tell everything lets use an awards based ranking of the top 50 NBA players.

1) I’m going to start from the 1950s which means there’s no such awards like defensive player of the year, sixth man of the year, all nba third team, blocks leader or steals leader so I don’t count those.

Edit: I realize this will skew the numbers in favor of offensive players, but there’s simply no way to account for defensive statistics when they weren’t recorded back in the day. No blocks, no steals from such defensive players as Russell, Wilt, West, Frazier, 4 years of Kareem, Thurmond, etc. It wouldn’t be fair to those guys to record it for modern players but not them.

2) I’m going to give some imaginary Finals MVPs to players before 1969 so that Finals MVPs can be properly accounted for.
1952 – George Mikan
1953 – George Mikan
1954 – George Mikan
1955 – Dolph Schayes
1956 – Paul Arizin
1957 – Bob Cousy
1958 – Bob Pettit
1959 – Bob Cousy
1960 – Bill Russell
1961 – Bill Russell
1962 – Bill Russell
1963 – Bill Russell
1964 – Bill Russell
1965 – Bill Russell
1966 – Bill Russell
1967 – Wilt Chamberlain
1968 – Sam Jones

3) And some MVPs as well
1952 – Paul Arizin
1953 – Dolph Schayes
1954 – Bob Cousy
1955 – Bob Cousy

4) the following rules:
All star selections are worth 1 point.
All star MVPs are worth 2 points.
All NBA second team selections are worth 1 point.
All NBA first team selections are worth 2 points.
Rebounding/Scoring/Assist titles are worth 3 points
Rookie of the Year is worth 2 points
Championships are worth 3 points
MVPs and Finals MVPs are worth 5 points
ABA awards will be treated as NBA awards to be fair to ABA players

The results are, surprisingly, very close to what you would expect, except some players (like Bob Cousy and Bob Pettit) are vastly underrated by the public, and some players (like Reggie Miller and Patrick Ewing) are overrated by the public. The scores range from a measly 5 (Reggie Miller) to a staggering 146 (Michael Jordan).

Surprisingly, it also lets us see which players are essentially equal with each other. Oscar Robertson is about as good as Bob Pettit in terms of greatness. Rick Barry, Jerry West and Karl Malone are about equal. Allen Iverson and Sam Jones are about equal. Or Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Or Willis Reed and Isiah Thomas. Or Dave Cowens and Wes Unseld. Or Charles Barkley and Dwayne Wade. These sound about right to me.

You can download the results here:
awards and stats based ranking

Top 25 scoring results (top 25 players all time)
1. Michael Jordan
2. Bill Russell
3. Wilt Chamberlain
4. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
5. Bob Cousy
6. Magic Johnson
7. Kobe Bryant
8. Tim Duncan
9. Julius Erving
10. Shaquille O’Neal
11. Lebron James
12. Larry Bird
13. Moses Malone
14. Bob Pettit
15. Oscar Robertson
16. John Havlicek
17. Hakeem Olajuwon
18. Jerry West
19. Karl Malone
20. Rick Barry
21. John Stockton
22. Kevin Garnett
23. Dolph Schayes
24. Sam Jones
25. Allen Iverson

This is somewhat what people expect, besides Cousy and Jones being ranked so high possibly due to their championships, and surprisingly, Julius Erving over Bird/Lebron possibly due to his ABA credentials.

Edit: When we take stats into account as well as awards, who are the top 25 all time?
1. Wilt Chamberlain
2. Michael Jordan
3. Bill Russell
4. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
5. Bob Cousy
6. Magic Johnson
7. Lebron James
8. Kobe Bryant
9. Shaquille O’Neal
10. Bob Pettit
11. Julius Erving
12. Tim Duncan
13. Larry Bird
14. Oscar Robertson
15. Moses Malone
16. Jerry West
17. Hakeem Olajuwon
18. Karl Malone
19. Rick Barry
20. Elgin Baylor
21. John Havlicek
22. George Mikan
23. Allen Iverson
24. Kevin Durant
25. Dolph Schayes

If we go with this approach, we can see that Wilt not surprisingly tops the list over Jordan, but even then its close. Bob Pettit and Lebron move up even higher, and we get Elgin Baylor and Kevin Durant on the list thanks to their superior stats.

Going by these, results who are the best guards, forwards and centers of all time?
Top 10 Guards
1. Michael Jordan
2. Bob Cousy
3. Magic Johnson
4. Kobe Bryant
5. Oscar Robertson
6. Jerry West
7. John Stockton
8. Sam Jones
9. Allen Iverson
10. Jason Kidd/Steve Nash (tie)

Top 10 Forwards
1. Tim Duncan
2. Julius Erving
3. Lebron James
4. Larry Bird
5. Bob Pettit
6. John Havlicek
7. Karl Malone
8. Rick Barry
9. Kevin Garnett
10. Dolph Schayes

Top 10 Centers
1. Bill Russell
2. Wilt Chamberlain
3. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
4. Shaquille O’Neal
5. Moses Malone
6. Hakeem Olajuwon
7. George Mikan
8. David Robinson
9. Willis Reed
10. Artis Gilmore

All-NBA 50s/60s Team:
Guards: Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson
Forwards: Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor
Center: Wilt Chamberlain
Combined points: 829

All-NBA 70s Team:
Guards: George Gervin, Walt Frazier
Forwards: Julius Erving, Rick Barry
Center: Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Combined points: 681

All-NBA 80s Team:
Guards: Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas
Forwards: Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins
Center: Moses Malone
Combined points: 645

All-NBA 90s Team:
Guards: Michael Jordan, John Stockton
Forwards: Karl Malone, Charles Barkley
Center: Hakeem Olajuwon
Combined points: 706

All-NBA 00s Team:
Guards: Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson
Forwards: Tim Duncan, Lebron James
Center: Shaquille O’neal
Combined points: 735

So 50s/60s > 00s > 90s > 70s > 80s which is interesting considering most people think the 80s is the most competitive decade.

Again, more or less what you would expect. If you have any feedback about these rankings please comment!

Life in Korea, 2014: Year in Review

Wow, it’s Christmas time already. Time passes by so fast. Merry Christmas everyone, and have a happy new year.

As many of you know, I’ve completed my transition to Korean life, since I sacrificed a lot to move here, I am determined to make good use of my time year.

A few things I want to say about life in Korea compared to life in Western culture. One thing is that gender roles are very separated here, another thing is that people really care about appearances here, and lastly, there’s less individuality here than in America/Canada.

Firstly, I appreciate that gender roles are very clear and distinct here. You don’t have to worry about making a possibly sexist remark, or having feminists complain about something controversial, because it’s very clear here that men have an advantage over women. And Korean women accept it and don’t complain about it. As a guy this makes it much easier to live here.

Secondly, when people care about appearances, society is better for it. Would I rather live in a place where people dress up all the time, where women wear high heels all the time, to a place like Silicon Valley where people can come to work unshaved and in their pajamas? Yes I would. I can compliment a girl on her appearance here and she will react positively to it, whereas in America if I called a girl pretty she would probably glare at me. I never got called handsome when I was in America/Canada, but here I do get compliments sometimes, which is very nice.
We often associate caring about appearance with the word “shallow” which has a negative meaning in western culture. But caring about appearance is not a bad thing. Caring about appearance too much is a bad thing sure, but caring about looking good and hygiene and stuff is generally a good thing and people look much better and cleaner because of it.

Lastly, if you’ve seen different kpop groups on TV, you can see how similar they dress and act. The same is true of Korean society. Everyone dresses and acts similar. Of course, everyone has a distinct personality as well, but there’s less individualism as in Western culture, and more of a group culture here. Doing things alone isn’t very common here. Korean women might have less personality than Western women, but in general they are very nice, polite and dedicated to their boyfriends, and care more about their appearance, so you know more or less what you are getting with them.

Ok, so now onto my annual year in review.

2014: Year in Review

-Found a job that lets me work remotely
-BitTorrent helped my career experience a lot
-Korean improved
-Rented my SF apartment out to my good friend
-Found my own place in Korea!

-Financial situation unchanged
-Bedbug infestation which hurt (both physically and financially)
-Nothing new with relationships
-Made very few good friends
-Unexciting year in general

Let me start the summary by comparing this year to the previous 2 years:

2012 was probably the most exciting year of my life. I was still new to California, I went to language exchange meetups, made a lot of good friends, traveled to almost all the good places on the west coast (SF, Napa, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Stanford, Berkeley, Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, Point Reyes, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA, San Diego), work at my company Switchfly was flexible, and I often hung out with my good co-worker friend to play badminton, tennis or video games after work. That whole year from the beginning where I toured my brother across SF, to the end where I spent Christmas and New Years in San Diego with a Korean girl, was amazing. If I had any year I could go back to my life, it would be 2012.

2013 was a year of ups and downs. I went to a lot of parties and clubs, met a lot of people, went to Korea for the first time, went to Vancouver, and got a job at BitTorrent. On the other hand, I suffered a lot of financial loss, a lot of heartbreak, and in general was disappointed with that year compared to 2012.

This year in comparison to 2013, is a year of steadiness. Not a lot of exciting things happened this year, mostly because I was focused on two main goals: 1) Improve my Korean and 2) get to Korea. Ever since I came back from Korea in Sept 2013, I found California very uninspiring, and needed some motivation.
So for the majority of this year, I was hanging out with my good American friend who I met at a meetup, didn’t meet a lot of good friends, went to very few clubs and parties, studied Korean a lot, went to Korea for one week in May, and focused on my goals a lot. So compared to the ups and downs of 2013, this year 2014 was basically a straight line, until the last 4 months, where I went to Toronto, found a job that lets me work remotely, dealt with a bedbug infestation, property tax, SFMTA towing citation, paperwork for renting out my place, ramped up my Korean with a tutor, said goodbye to my SF friends, took out a 1/3rd of my savings to fund my move, found a place in Korea with very limited Korean, and settled down in Korea working from a different time zone. All of that in the last 4 months of this year.

So yeah, this year was relatively unexciting compared to the last 2 years, but at least I achieved my goals by the end of the year, and that’s all that really matters.

Tong Zou's Work and Ramblings