Tag Archives: basketball

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.
1955 – Dolph Schayes
1956 – Paul Arizin
1957 – Bill Russell
1958 – Bob Pettit
1959 – Bill Russell
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 – Bill Russell

3) And some MVPs as well
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. Bill Russell
2. Michael Jordan
3. Wilt Chamberlain
4. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
5. Magic Johnson
6. Bob Cousy
7. Kobe Bryant
8. Tim Duncan
9. Julius Erving
10. Shaquille O’Neal
11. Lebron James
12. Bob Pettit
13. Larry Bird
14. Oscar Robertson
15. Moses Malone
16. Jerry West
17. Hakeem Olajuwon
18. Karl Malone
19. John Havlicek
20. Rick Barry
21. George Mikan
22. Allen Iverson
23. Kevin Garnett
24. Dolph Schayes
25. Elgin Baylor

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

Going by these, results who are the All-NBA teams of all time?
All time All-NBA First Team
1. Bob Cousy
2. Michael Jordan
3. Julius Erving
4. Tim Duncan
5. Wilt Chamberlain

All time All-NBA Second Team
1. Magic Johnson
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Lebron James
4. Bob Pettit
5. Bill Russell

All time All-NBA Third Team
1. Oscar Robertson
2. Jerry West
3. Larry Bird
4. Karl Malone
5. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

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!

Comparing Tim Duncan to other big men

Spurs just won the 2014 NBA Finals!! and they beat their opponents (the Miami Heat) by the largest combined margin in NBA history: 70 points. Pure dominance.

The greatest power forward of all time

The greatest power forward of all time

This is Tim Duncan’s 5th ring, and he’s still playing at a high level at 38 years old! Let’s look at some other players who have played for a long time and see how Duncan matches up (I’m using 37 as the threshold age here which was Wilt’s age when he retired):

Name FG% PPG RPG APG Age Year
Tim Duncan 0.502 17.8 9.9 2.7 37 2013
Kareem Abdul Jabbar 0.578 21.5 7.3 2.6 37 1984
Karl Malone 0.509 25.5 9.5 3.7 37 2000
Wilt Chamberlain 0.727 13.2 18.6 4.5 37 1973
Hakeem Olajuwon 0.458 10.3 6.2 1.4 37 2000
David Robinson 0.507 12.2 8.3 1.2 37 2002
Patrick Ewing 0.435 17.3 9.9 1.1 37 1999
Shaquille O’Neal 0.609 17.8 8.4 1.7 37 2009
Moses Malone 0.474 15.6 9.1 1.1 37 1992
Charles Barkley 0.477 14.5 10.5 3.2 37 2000
Robert Parish 0.580 15.7 10.1 1.3 37 1990
Elvin Hayes 0.472 16.1 9.1 1.8 37 1982
Artis Gilmore 0.619 16.7 8.5 1.4 37 1986
Kevin Garnett 0.496 14.8 7.8 1.1 37 2013

As you can see from this table, Wilt Chamberlain was an absolute beast, even in his late years! Aside from that, you can see why Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Karl Malone became the NBA’s all time leading scorer, and 2nd leading scorer respectively – they were putting up 20+ points when they were 37 years old! Tim Duncan actually compares quite favorably to Patrick Ewing when they were about the same age – though Duncan is a much better shooter. He is clearly up there when compared to other long lived big men.

Kobe Bryant is overrated

Disclaimer: First off, non-basketball fans can ignore this post, because this is a nerdy b-ball post and stats are coming up.

Hey, I'm Kobe. LeBron is better than me, but no one knows it yet.

Hey, I’m Kobe. LeBron is better than me, but most people don’t know it yet.

Ok, so Kobe Bryant is one of the most well-known basketball players on the planet. He’s practically god in China, and many fans, particularly Lakers fans put Kobe as one of the top 5 players of all time, and some even consider Kobe to be the greatest Laker of all time, or on par with Michael Jordan.

Edit: Looks like those guys over at Boxscore Geeks (one of my favorite bball sites) just wrote an article about how Kobe is overrated a few days after me. Good timing, heh.

Now, I’m a big LA Laker fan, but even then, I think Kobe is incredibly over-rated by the vast majority of the public (in fact he got voted in this year’s all-star game despite being injured). Why? Lets take a look at his stats and his overall resume:

Why is Kobe overrated?
from Basketball-reference.com
-Regular season: He averages 25.5 points a game, 5.3 rebounds a game and 4.8 assists a game.
-Playoffs: He averages 25.6 points a game, 5.1 rebounds a game, and 4.7 assists a game.
-His field goal percentage for his whole career is a measly .454 (45%), and his three point percentage is .335 (33%). Those are not outstanding numbers for someone who is a top 5 player.
-His first three championships are because of Shaq, period. Shaq was just so dominant, that I think an average shooting guard could have won those three championships from 2000-2002 playing with Shaq. Remember Shaq was often double or triple teamed, giving a guard better looks.
-Kobe is a ball hog, period. The years he led in scoring (2006,2007) he also not coincidentally had a high number of field goal attempts as well. His career assists average is only 4.8, which is lower than Allen Iverson’s assists average (6.2), who most people consider selfish as well.
-Kobe is consistently not clutch, despite there being a popular misconception that he is. In fact he only shot .413 (41%) from the field during the 2004 playoffs, and .405 (40%) from the field against the celtics in 2008, the years that the Lakers lost the Finals.

Comparison with Michael Jordan
So, a lot of people want to compare Kobe to Michael Jordan. Ok, lets do that:

Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant
16 seasons 18 seasons
Career stats: 30.1 ppg/6.2 rpg/5.3 apg Career stats: 25.5 ppg/5.3 rpg/4.8 apg
True FG%: .569 (56.9%) True FG%: .555 (55.5%%)
6 Championships 5 Championships
6 Finals MVPs 2 Finals MVPs
10 Scoring titles 2 Scoring titles
1 Defensive Player Of The Year 0 Defensive Player Of The Year
5 MVPs 1 MVP

…As you can see, Jordan beats Kobe at every category, despite playing less seasons. Also, Kobe’s first 3 championships was because of Shaq. Jordan’s 6 championships were all his. So, there’s no argument here. Jordan is better in every way.

Comparison with other Legends
The worst thing about Kobe is that he’s inefficient. Let’s compare him to some other legends:

Kobe Bryant Magic Johnson Oscar Robertson Lebron James Jerry West Larry Bird
Career stats 25.5/5.3/4.8 19.5/7.2/11.2 25.7/7.5/9.5 27.6/7.3/6.9 27.0/5.8/6.7 24.3/10.0/6.3
Field Goal % .555 .610 .564 .581 .550 .564

…So when we compare to other legends that are great shooters, Kobe actually has the worst field goal percentage, as well as coming up the lowest rebounds per game, and assists per game when compared to Oscar, Magic, LeBron, Bird, and Jerry West (in addition to Jordan).

Comparison with other shooting guards (who were former scoring leaders)

Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan Dwayne Wade George Gervin Jerry West Pete Maravich Allen Iverson
Career stats 25.5/5.3/4.8 30.1/6.2/5.3 24.4/5.0/6.0 26.3/5.4/2.8 27.0/5.8/6.7 24.2/4.2/5.4 26.7/3.7/6.2
Field Goal % .555 .569 .568 .564 .550 .500 .518

Comparison with forwards (who were former scoring leaders)

Kobe Bryant Rick Barry Adrian Dantley Alex English Bernard King Dominique Wilkins Tracy McGrady Lebron James Kevin Durant Carmelo Anthony
Career stats 25.5/5.3/4.8 25.6/6.7/4.9 24.3/5.7/3.0 21.5/5.5/3.6 22.5/5.8/3.3 24.8/6.7/2.5 19.6/5.6/4.4 27.5/7.2/6.9 27.4/6.9/3.5 25.2/6.5/3.1
Field Goal % .555 .525 .617 .550 .561 .536 .519 .581 .600 .547

Kobe is not that great
So when people tell me they think Kobe is the greatest player, or a top 5 player, or greatest Laker, I’m like Are you kidding me??, Kobe is the result of great marketing, and he’s a top 10 player because of his competitiveness, but definitely not a top 5 player.

And when people say he’s the greatest Laker, I mean c’mon, if Magic Johnson shot the ball more, he would score way more than Kobe, since his field goal % is a full 7% higher than Kobe’s. Not to mention, Magic lead the Lakers to 9 NBA Finals, never caused any locker-room issues, and averaged more than twice as many assists, but anyways, you get my point. I’m not even gonna mention other Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, Elgin Baylor, or Wilt Chamberlain because obviously their stats would blow Kobe’s out of the water.

So in conclusion, gimme a break; Kobe’s over-rated, he’s not as good as people think he is, and he’s not a top 5 player (Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Wilt and Magic are my picks). And definitely not the greatest Laker (Magic Johnson is).