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Sports

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.

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Sports

NBA’s most dominant players of all time – ranking

I love to crunch statistics and data – and here I’ve compiled the most dominant single seasons of most NBA superstars, calculated by taking the total of the average number of points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game, since 1977. The reason I chose 1977 is because it was the first year after the league consolidated from the NBA-ABA split. And thus the level of competition became higher. Also modern rules started to take effect from that time. So unfortunately, I don’t have players like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Jerry West, Walt Frazier, Oscar Robertson, etc ranked since they played before 1977, and the numbers were exaggerated back then especially for rebounds. And yes, I realize this penalizes players like John Stockton and Tim Duncan who didn’t have a dominant season and were very consistent, but this list is for players who had very high ceilings, but it puts into perspective how many superstars had great single seasons before they got injured (Grant Hill, Bernard King, Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber, Pete Maravich are all prime examples).

But here is the list of most dominant single seasons for NBA superstars since 1977 (columns are in order, name, dominant year, PPG, RPG, APG, position played):

The most dominant single seasons for NBA superstars, ranked
The most dominant single seasons for NBA superstars, ranked

Couple things to note here:
-Shaq was incredibly dominant in 2000, beating even 1987 Jordan. I mean, 29.7 PPG and 13.6 RPG is just incredible. What a beast.
-Chris Webber’s 2001 season and Tracy McGrady’s 2003 season are monstrous: these guys deserve to go into the hall of fame for those seasons alone.
-Some players most people have not heard of: Bob McAdoo, Adrian Dantley, Bernard King, Artis Gilmore, Bob Lanier, Alex English.. there were alot of players back in the late 70s/early 80s who were very dominant offensively, and very dominant defensively, but were lost in the books after Magic/Bird arrived on the scene.
-Bill Simmons considers a score over 42 eligible for ‘Level 4/Pantheon’ level greatness. Of course, thats an average over an entire career.
-Players with no standout season but consistent performance like John Stockton and Tim Duncan are not represented well on here. Doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic players, just means they didn’t have as high peaks.

Here are the greatest single season performances of NBA players, by position:

Point Guard
1) Magic Johnson (1987) – 23.9/6.3/12.2
2) Isiah Thomas (1985) – 21.2/4.5/13.9
3) Gary Payton (2000) – 24.2/6.5/8.9
4) Chris Paul (2009) – 22.8/5.5/11.0
5) Kevin Johnson (1990) – 22.5/3.6/12.2

Shooting Guard
1) Michael Jordan (1987) – 37.1/5.2/4.6
2) Kobe Bryant (2006) – 35.4/5.3/4.5
3) Allen Iverson (2006) – 33.0/3.2/7.4
4) Dwayne Wade (2009) – 30.2/5.0/7.5
5) Pete Maravich (1977) – 31.1/5.1/5.4

Small Forward
1) Lebron James (2010) – 29.7/7.3/8.6
2) Larry Bird (1988) – 29.9/9.3/6.1
3) Tracy McGrady (2003) – 32.1/6.5/5.5
4) Bernard King (1985) – 32.9/5.8/3.7
5) Adrian Dantley (1981) – 30.7/6.4/4.0

Power Forward
1) Karl Malone (1990) – 31.0/11.1/2.8
2) Charles Barkley (1988) – 28.3/11.9/3.2
3) Kevin Garnett (2004) – 24.2/13.9/5.0
4) Bob McAdoo (1978) – 26.5/12.8/3.8
5) Chris Webber (2001) – 27.1/11.1/4.2

Center
1) Shaquille O’Neal (2000) – 29.7/13.6/3.8
2) David Robinson (1994) – 29.8/10.7/4.8
3) Moses Malone (1981) – 27.8/14.8/1.8
4) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1977) – 26.2/13.3/3.9
5) Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) – 27.3/11.9/3.6

…And just for fun, here’s the pre-1977 statistics too:

Greatest single season performances, pre-1977
Greatest single season performances, pre-1977

Will you take a look at that? How ridiculous was 1962 that five of the greatest pre-1977 players (Russell, Chamberlain, Baylor, Robertson, Bellamy) all peaked in that year??? And just take a look at Wilt/Elgin’s stats… its just ridiculous.