ABA players are underrated, top 10 underrated basketball players

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

Edit: I made a video about the top 10 underrated players here:

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.


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?
-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).