No, I don’t think so. Nor do I think Baylor is a better player than Rick Barry or John Havlicek either.
I know a lot of oldheads might disagree with me and they all think Baylor was one of the best basketball players ever, and sure he was a great individual talent, but for me just judging from the perspectives of their careers, I don’t rank him as high as others do. To me, he’s the #7 SF all time after Lebron, Bird, Dr J, KD, Havlicek and Barry.
Here’s the reasons why Baylor’s career is dragged down:
-Baylor never won any MVPs in his career. But Baylor was up against centers like Wilt and Russell, how could he have won any MVPs you say? Well there are 2 non centers that won MVPs during Baylor’s career – Bob Pettit in 1959 and Oscar Robertson in 1964. So how is it that Pettit and Oscar won MVPs while centers like Russell and Wilt were there? Why couldn’t Baylor have?
-Baylor has no rings. Yes I know, he went up against Russell’s Celtics and they had a better team etc but still when you’re 0–8 in the Finals and the team does better and wins a ring after you retire, that is saying something right? Barry won a ring leading an underdog team to a championship. Dr J won 3 rings in his career – 2 in the ABA, 1 in the NBA. Havlicek was 8–0 in the Finals the exact inverse of Baylor’s Finals record. So how can I rank Baylor above those guys?
-Baylor was not an efficient player. In fact he was a shot chucker. He averaged 23.8 FGAs in his career, which accounts for his high 27.4 PPG scoring average. But the thing is.. he averaged 43% efficiency. As much as I criticize Kobe for his inefficiency, even Kobe was 2% more efficient than Baylor! and Baylor played closer to the basket than Kobe did – he was called ‘Mr Inside’ because he played in the interior! Why was he so inefficient when he closer to the basket? His teammate Jerry West who shot mostly from the perimeter (‘Mr Outside’) was 4% more efficient than him! There’s no excuse for that.
-Baylor was not a good defender. From watching the footage and hearing stories about him, he was lackluster on defense and didn’t make that much effort. Compared to these other SFs – Havlicek was one of the best perimeter defenders of his era. So was his teammate Jerry West. Dr J was a very solid rim protector and defender as well. Barry wasn’t great at defense but at least he was a great ball thief and led the league in steals before. Baylor has none of those defensive abilities.
I mean, I’m not trying to hate on the guy. He’s 10x All-NBA 1st team, and averaged 13.5 RPG while being 6′5. That’s incredible. But, putting into perspective.. he’s not better than Dr J, nor alot of the other SFs I mentioned. Dr J has more MVPs, more rings, more efficient, as good of a passer and was a better defender. John Havlicek has way more rings, was more clutch, a better passer and was a better defender. Rick Barry has a ring, FMVP, was a better shooter, better passer (he played point forward which Baylor is not capable of doing), and a slightly better defender.