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Thursday, October 23, 2014

D’Antoni On Randolph

From NBC sports:

“He’s a multi-position player that has a world of talent whose athleticism is off the charts. He’s only played two years in the league and just turned 21. There’s a lot of positives and we’ll figure out where we fit him in, and figure out what the best position is for him, but he can play a lot of places. “

Under D’Antoni’s seven seconds or left, the idea of a pick and roll using Randolph as ball handler with Amar’e Stoudemire could be a devastating combo. He’ll need to improve in several areas, but with the work that D’Antoni was able to do with Boris Diaw at multiple possessions, there’s a good chance this could be one of the more exciting combinations in the league.

Randolph is full of untapped potential and needs the right opportunity to utilize what he has: versatility. There may be no better place for him than New York.

40 comments on “D’Antoni On Randolph

  1. Count Zero

    Who is D’Anotni? ;)

    Honestly — I’m excited to see how Randolph develops this season. The key will be how well he buys into D’Antoni’s philosophy and develops into a role that likely would not exist anywhere else.

  2. Z-man

    I am super excited about this guy. The similarity stats are very, very encouraging. Who will he become? Lamar Odom? Kevin Garnett? Marcus Camby? Josh Smith? None of the above? I think he will become a unique talent that will make the others around him better.

    What I hope is that AR, Amar’e and Gallo develop a synergy where they make each other better players. Considering that they are all a lanky 6′ 10″, yet their skillsets are very different, they could make for a pretty lethal front 3, especially if you move Gallo or Randolph to the 2 and put Turiaf on the weak side at the 5.

    Obviously, a stud PG would make a huge difference on this team, but we are going to be fun to watch. This is a young, athletic team with a coach that will let ‘em run wild. We may not beat the Heat, but I am confident that we will be very competitive, can beat any team on any given night, and will rock the Garden on many more occasions than not.

  3. Kevin McElroy

    I think we’re getting WAY ahead of ourselves talking about Gallo playing the 2 when he wasn’t even quick enough to defend threes on a lot of occasions last year. I love the dude and think his defense is underrated but quick guys can beat him off the dribble. Azu should have the 2 job to lose.

  4. Russ

    Kevin McElroy: I think we’re getting WAY ahead of ourselves talking about Gallo playing the 2 when he wasn’t even quick enough to defend threes on a lot of occasions last year.I love the dude and think his defense is underrated but quick guys can beat him off the dribble.Azu should have the 2 job to lose.  

    Gallo can’t play defense as a 2. If the Knicks got Melo, I could see Gallo at 2 and Melo at 3 on offense, and Gallo at 3 and Melo at 2 on defense.

  5. Robert Silverman

    I think the whole “Gallo playing the 2″ has to be viewed through the prism of D’Anot’s (sorry Mike K, had to go there), understanding of positional flexibility.

    What made the ’04-’05 Suns such an outlier is that they ran their 5 best guys out there, regardless of position. Was Qrich a SF or SG? Same goes for Johnson? Was Marion a 3 who playing the 4 or an undersized but true 4? Was STAT an undersized C? Did they run out 3 guards, one forward and one center? Or 4 forwards and one guard? Before that season, I distinctly recall the whispers/hubbub when MD’A starting hinting that Jake Voskuhl (yes, THE Jake Voskuhl) wouldn’t be their starting center and they’d be going “small”.

    It’s why I think he’ll do the same here. I think most folks would agree that the best four Nix are Felton, Gallo, Randolph, and Stat. If the 5th guy is Turiaf or Mozgov or Azubiuke or Walker or Chandler or whomever, that’s who’s gonna start, regardless of position.

  6. Z-man

    Gallo is not a 2 on defense, but he’s a matchup problem on the other end. Remember, D’Antoni’s take on D is that if his team scores more than the other team, then they played better D than the other team.

    For the first time in a while, we can create serious matchup problems for other teams in a variety of ways. Amar’e is a premier 4/5 and will get his 25 and 9 on most nights. Gallo and Randolph are going to be liberated by Amar’e’s offensive game. I really think that Amar’e is a monster offensive player and will actually be better in some ways in New York than he was in Phoenix.

    Seriously, what big men have Gallo and Randolph played with? Certainly nobody of the caliber of Amar’e. These two guys are young, long, and exciting players that are going to give other teams fits–Gallo from long range and Randolph from inside the arc. Not exactly the same as Howard-Lewis-Turkoglu, but probably not that far off either, especially on offense.

    Damn, I’m excited!!!

  7. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Z-man,

    Anyone would look good playing next to Howard. Randolph and Gallo might even receive eight-figures-a-year contracts for playing next to a big man of his caliber.

    What this team needs is Chris Paul. Not Carmelo, not Nash, not anyone but Chris Paul. We’re a 55 win team in 2012 if they land a healthy CP3. The shooting efficiency would be out of this world.

  8. Z-man

    Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis certainly didn’t look good vs. Celts next to Howard. Howard is very limited offensively, and it took a toll on the other guys. Statistically speaking, is Howard better than Amar’e as an all-around player? Take a close look at their stats:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=stoudam01&y1=2010&p2=howardw01&y2=2010

    Amar’e has the clear edge on O, Dwight the edge on D. Overall, I’d say they are pretty comparable. Broad statistical measures are certainly inconclusive, and may actually favor Amar’e. I would also say that there is more competition/depth at the PF spot than there is at the C spot right now.

    Agreed re: CP3, but likely ain’t gonna happen this year. The question for now is, how do things look for 2010-2011?

  9. Z-man

    Amar’s teams are also 8-1 vs. Howard’s head to head, including 3-1 in the past 2 years. Amar’e hasn’t exactly played with great frontline players either, except maybe Marion, who hasn’t done much since leaving Phoenix. I suppose we’ll get a better feel for how their counterparts in the front line matter this year.

    Remarkably, they have played very similar total minutes and total playoff games.

  10. nicos

    On Gallo at the 2: if the Knicks run the same defense as last year where they switched every screen on the perimeter, the difference between the 2 and the 3 isn’t that great- no matter who Gallo starts out on, he’s going to get switched onto 2’s (and 1’s!) fairly often so he’s going to have to get better at moving his feet. He did come a long way defending the perimeter over the course of last year so hopefully he’ll continue that improvement. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Randolph guarding 1’s a fair amount with Felton covering the two- D’Antoni loves putting a long guy on the 1 (see Jeffries and Diaw), for better or worse. I’d actually like to see the Knicks play an aggressive trapping 3/2 zone with Randolph at the top, TD and Felton on the wings, and Turiaf and Amar’e on the baseline for about 10 minutes a night- I think they’d force a ton of turnovers and really be able to get out and run.
    On Randolph and the P & R: One of the reason’s the traditional pick and roll (the 1 or the 2 handling the ball and a 4 or 5 setting the pick) is that once the screen is set you have 2 mismatches- a big being forced to guard a smaller, quicker 1/2 and a little guy forced to try to keep a 4 or 5 from diving to the basket. If Randolph’s running it with Amar’e those mismatches are much less dramatic- not saying it couldn’t still be successful (if Randolph has the passing skills to deliver the ball) but I’m not sure it’s ideal.

  11. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Because there are a limited number of minutes to be allocated to players by a coach, a player who performs exceptionally well in the short-term (one season, perhaps– think T-Mac) can be argued to be more valuable than a player who is simply above-average for a long time. That same principle of a limited resource applies to player salary, as well: that’s why A-Rod may be ~40% more productive than the average baseball player (according to OPS+), but is paid ~800% of the average player’s salary.

    I say this because I believe that comparing their career numbers isn’t quite the best way of pitting them against one another. Let’s look at their numbers during the beginning of their “peak” years, at age 24:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=stoudam01&y1=2007&p2=howardw01&y2=2010

    With a doubled BLK/36 (and a higher AST%?), I don’t think there’s any debate here. The shooting efficiency is quite similar and the rebounding numbers are in Howard’s favor as well. I don’t think there’s a metric on here that favors Amar’e. Shooting efficiency?

  12. carlhil2

    The Honorable Cock Jowles, i can take SOMETHING out of those stats, Amar’e had the better play-off stats, i am GEEKED, PEACE!

  13. Z-man

    I disagree with your conclusion that there isn’t any debate. Howard is clearly a better shot blocker. Neither of them are great passers, so the assist % is negligible. Their regular season PER is less than 1 point apart and Amare’s playoff PER in the example you cited is much higher, as are playoff points, rebounds and FT% (a huge stat in playoffs!) Do the higher TS%, FT% and 3.4 total scoring differential balance out the 1.4 blocks and 3.2 rebounds? Probably not, but the overall differential is not as significant as your statement in #8 would have us believe. Both are very, very good, but not all-time great players. Dwight’s lack of a polished, versatile offensive game and poor FT% are serious liabilities, especially in the later rounds of the playoffs. Amar’e’s questionable P&R defense and rebounding are limitations for him.

    This is not to say that Amar’e is better than, or even equal to Howard. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to trade them straight up for one another. I just think that they are much closer than you are suggesting, and that Amar’e potential ability to make Randolph and Gallo look better is not that far removed from Dwight’s.

  14. carlhil2

    i pitted AR against C, Bosh for their first two seasons and, per 36 mins. a game, AR slayed Bosh, for some reason, i think that Bosh is a little over rated!

  15. slovene knick

    On Randolph and the P & R: One of the reason’s the traditional pick and roll (the 1 or the 2 handling the ball and a 4 or 5 setting the pick) is that once the screen is set you have 2 mismatches- a big being forced to guard a smaller, quicker 1/2 and a little guy forced to try to keep a 4 or 5 from diving to the basket.If Randolph’s running it with Amar’e those mismatches are much less dramatic- not saying it couldn’t still be successful (if Randolph has the passing skills to deliver the ball) but I’m not sure it’s ideal.  

    Looking at Nash and Amar’e in Phoenix there was almost always that Amar’e had a clear path to the rim on a bonce or a lob pass from Nash who draw both defenders on him and less switching and creating mismatches…and let me get blasphemous…I think it was Amar’e who is the one to get more credit for this to happen.He sets a block pushes his defender and in the right moment goes lightning quick to the paint loosing his defender.When there was no third one to defend the paint….well you know that’s what we want to see this year.
    Ok, your PG has to be quick, pick right time and method for passing and also has to be known for scoring with J’s and slashing to draw and confuse the defenders.
    That was the case with Lee and Duhon with a little lesser outcome.
    And now Mike has to install something like this with Amar’e, Felton, Randolph….
    Creating mismatches is in my opinion more a case in a slow and more methodical(halfcort) offense then the Knicks are about to run this year.Last season the only mismatches that were created was setting it for Gallo to score over guards with his back to the rim. .

  16. Ted Nelson

    “I think most folks would agree that the best four Nix are Felton, Gallo, Randolph, and Stat.”

    Guess I’m not “most folks…” Given Felton’s career TS% of .493 I think I’ll pass on him as a clear top 4 anything. I believe and hope Toney Douglas will outplay Felton this season; although, he probably won’t get more minutes. Azubuike, Chandler, and maybe even one of Timo/Turiaf could be better, too.

    @12 THCJ

    I don’t follow… You can’t judge a player based on their career? Let’s look at one arbitrarily chosen season and ignore the problems with a small sample size and season-to-season variability… The second part of your argument does not necessarily follow the first and I don’t understand what you’re saying about coaches having limited minutes to allocate.

    If you instead took Amare’s 07-08 season you’d be saying Amare is clearly better than Howard was in 09-10. You cannot simply look at one season’s numbers and conclude who is a better player. That said, I’ll take Dwight Howard. Just saying that a one season sample size is inconclusive.

    @14 Z-Man

    I agree with most of your larger points, but as far as all-time greats… Howard is going to be 25 next season and he’s been one of if not the best bigman in the NBA for a few seasons… There’s a good chance he goes down as an all-time great. He’s going to be a first ballot HOFer with good health. I think you’re exaggerating his offensive limitations.

  17. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Here’s a made-up example in PER, a metric that is normalized:

    Player 1 Player 2

    Year 1 15.0 10.0
    Year 2 15.0 25.0
    Year 3 15.0 10.0

    Which player is more valuable? Because the NBA is seen as a league where a team must either win a championship or be considered a failure, a short-term, high-peak productivity player is more important than a player whose play is average, but steady over the course of several years. Like in baseball, a player’s value grows exponentially as his productivity grows in a linear fashion. Thus, a player’s early years aren’t very important to consider. His peak is.

  18. Frank

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Here’s a made-up example in PER, a metric that is normalized: Player 1Player 2
    Year 1 15.0 10.0
    Year 2 15.0 25.0
    Year 3 15.0 10.0Which player is more valuable? Because the NBA is seen as a league where a team must either win a championship or be considered a failure, a short-term, high-peak productivity player is more important than a player whose play is average, but steady over the course of several years. Like in baseball, a player’s value grows exponentially as his productivity grows in a linear fashion. Thus, a player’s early years aren’t very important to consider. His peak is.  

    then you probably should have used each player’s best season. In 07-08 Amare’s PER was 27.6 with a ridiculous 65.6% TS and 28.2% usage rate. All things considered it’s very difficult to know who is the better player. Obviously Superman is better on defense, and there’s no question Amare is better on offense. At his peak, Amare was/is the most efficient scorer in the league, and considering he did it in 07-08 without shooting 3s and with a 28 usage is even more impressive.

    If we could only merge the two…

  19. Kevin McElroy

    nicos: On Gallo at the 2: if the Knicks run the same defense as last year where they switched every screen on the perimeter, the difference between the 2 and the 3 isn’t that great- no matter who Gallo starts out on, he’s going to get switched onto 2?s (and 1?s!) fairly often so he’s going to have to get better at moving his feet.He did come a long way defending the perimeter over the course of last year so hopefully he’ll continue that improvement.Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Randolph guarding 1?s a fair amount with Felton covering the two- D’Antoni loves putting a long guy on the 1 (see Jeffries and Diaw), for better or worse.  

    co-sign. Great point.

  20. Z-man

    @18 & 19
    I think we are digressing from the main point I tried to make, which is that Dwight doesn’t necessarily make the players on his team any better than Amar’e does. I will give you that Howard is the overall better player right now, but the difference is not that significant. Regarding the future, it is clear that Dwight has more upside, more prime years to look forward to, and less injury concerns.

    I do think, however, that Howard currently has significant offensive limitations that were exploited by the Celts. Howard was often covered one-on-one by Perkins, with good help D but very little double-teaming. Granted, Perkins is a tough interior defender, but should have been no match for an “all-time great” on a team with lots of offensive options. I can’t imagine Perkins slowing down Ewing, Hakeem, or Kareem without lots of double-teaming. He also was not much of a passer in that series, getting 4 assists in 6 games w/ heavy minutes. He had 18 blocks, but 21 turnovers. Most importantly, he shot 39/71 from the FT stripe for just under 55%, which makes him an offensive liability in crunch time. Clearly he is on his way to being an all-time great rebounder and shot-blocker. Clearly, his presence in the back of a defense makes the perimeter defenders better. But, to this point in time, he has been at best, marginally better than Amar’e on an overall statistical basis. And if Amar’e continues his rate of production, he will certainly be a first ballot HOF power forward, although I doubt he will ever be considered an all-time great.

  21. Ted Nelson

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Here’s a made-up example in PER, a metric that is normalized: Player 1Player 2
    Year 1 15.0 10.0
    Year 2 15.0 25.0
    Year 3 15.0 10.0Which player is more valuable? Because the NBA is seen as a league where a team must either win a championship or be considered a failure, a short-term, high-peak productivity player is more important than a player whose play is average, but steady over the course of several years. Like in baseball, a player’s value grows exponentially as his productivity grows in a linear fashion. Thus, a player’s early years aren’t very important to consider. His peak is.  

    That’s a totally fantastical example, though. This doesn’t happen in reality. In reality 99% of the time guys are a whole lot more consistent than your 10-25-10 example. Neither Amare nor Howard has followed that path, but if either has it’s Amare (who has missed an entire season).

    I don’t think your point that one year is more important than a career follows from this point. If a guy is good year-after-year he increases your chances of winning a title, because you can contend year after year after year. How often has a below-average player suddenly become a super-star for a season and led his team to a championship??? Maybe in steroid era baseball…

    I disagree strongly with championship or nothing angle, anyway. Solid playoff teams increase their revenues through ticket sales, playoff revenue, more nationally televised games, etc… Title or nothing is a fallacy.

  22. Ted Nelson

    Z-man: at Howard is the overall better player right now, but the difference is not that significant. Regarding the future, it is clear that Dwight has more upside, more prime years to look forward to, and less injury concerns.

    I do think, however, that Howard currently has significant offensive limitations that were exploited by the Celts. Howard was often covered one-on-one by Perkins, with good help D but very little double-teaming. Granted,

    I’m not sure how you quantify making others better. However, Howard makes others a lot better on defense being the center. If his interior scoring doesn’t make others better, how does Amare’s? With Amare to some extent we’re still waiting to see if it was Nash making him better or he can stand on his own. If you put Howard on the Suns, you don’t think his scoring numbers look like Amare’s?

    In the playoffs this season Howard had a usage of 26 and a TS% of .606. Last season his TS% was .634. You might be confusing his teammates failures with his own. No matter what Dwight Howard does he cannot make Vince Carter not shoot a TS% of .506 in the playoffs, for example. Or Rashard Lewis from having a PER of 14.2. Howard does turn it over too much. Amare is not a great playmaker, though, so I’m not sure why you think he makes others better than Howard does.

    Perkins is one of the best defensive Cs in the league.

    “I can’t imagine Perkins slowing down Ewing, Hakeem, or Kareem without lots of double-teaming.”

    You’re remembering things the way you want to remember them. Ewing’s career playoff TS% was .517 and his high was .560. 25 years old was the very first time he even made the playoffs. i.e. at Howards age he had never even been to the playoffs.

    Hakeem and Kareem had some great playoff performances including early in their careers, but their career playoff TS% marks were .569 and .571.

    When he retires Howard is going to be a first ballot HOFer.

  23. Caleb

    Orlando puts out a lineup with Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter and JJ Redick… with one pretty good bench defender (Pietrus)… and they have the best defense in the league. You can’t just look at the number of blocks – without Howard, the Magic’s D is probably around the league average. That’s five points a game he’s saving them, ballpark.

    No criticism of Amare, who probably IS a better offensive player, but he’s not 5 ppg better. Dwight’s value on defense is less obvious, but gigantic. He’s clearly a top-5 player in the league, maybe top-2.

    If you factor in durability, age and size (big players keep more value as they get older) – you could make an argument that Howard is the most valuable player in the league – #1 trade value, as Bill Simmons would put it.

    (Although not if you buy Mr. Cock Jowles.)

  24. Z-man

    There is no question that Dwight is the best defensive player in the league, and WAY better than Amar’e on D. I will also concede that the gap is bigger on D in Dwight’s favor than it is on O in Amar’e’s favor. As such, Howard is a better all-around player, I’ve already said that. Is he a top-2 player? Not for me. Top 5? Probably. Is he an all-time great? Defensively and all-around, probably. Strictly offensively, not even close.

    Amar’e’s offensive stats are pretty remarkable. He is the active career leader in TS% as a relatively high volume offensive player. Howard scores at a much lower volume, and last year took 87% of his shots close to the basket vs. 50% for Amare; his eFG% on the remaining 13% is a putrid 25%. So Howard basically needs to be right at the basket to score, and if you foul him on the way there he is a poor FT shooter. That is a problem against a decent defensive team with a good defensive center. Does he make up for it on the defensive end and then some? Absolutely, but he is without question a very flawed offensive player with very limited ways to score. For what it’s worth, according to 82games.com, his 2009-10 “clutch” stats are indicative of this, as his FG% goes way down to 53.8% and his FT% hovers at 50% in the last 5 minutes of close games/OT. In comparison, Amar’e’s are at 62% and 77%, respectively.

    Chances are, Amar’e will also be a first ballot HOFer if he has a 3-4 more years in line with his career stats and then 3-4 declining years.

  25. Ted Nelson

    Z-Man,

    I don’t disagree with your take that Amare’s offense is better than Howard’s.

    I think Howard will go down as an all-time great. The best bigman of his era. Amare probably something close to that as well.

    I think your criticism of Howard’s offense goes too far. He scores almost as much as Amare (Howard’s usage last 3 seasons = 24, 26, 24; Amare’s = 28, 24, 27) at a similarly efficient rate. To say that a guy who scores 19 pts/36 at a TS% of .630 is an offensive liability is just overkill to me. He’s a traditional C, so I’m not turned off by his % of close shots. His TOs are a problem and he’s not an incredible scorer, but he’s the best scorer on a top 5 offense.

    If Howard is not the second best player in the league, who is and why?

  26. Z-man

    I don’t know what “traditional C” implies, but it certainly shouldn’t imply that you are completely one-dimensional offensively. Dwight Howard is not a threat to shoot outside of 10 feet. Even down low, he is not a polished post player. Perkins is a good post defender, but Howard is taller, longer, faster, quicker, and jumps higher. If Howard could just hit an open 15 footer, there is no way that Perkins could defend him one-on-one.

    If he is the best bigman of his era, it is largely by default. There is not a single big man in his prime that is a lock for the HOF or even a legit perennial all-star, other than Howard. Most teams are playing either PFs (e.g. David Lee) or limited specialist players (e.g Dalembert, Perkins) at the 5. Bynum, Bogut and Lopez are developing and could get there, but for the most part, Howard does not have much competition at C. He certainly will not go down as one of the top 10 centers of all time unless he upgrades his offensive repertoire.

    For the next 5 years, I would absolutely rather have LeBron, Durant and Wade over Howard. Pau Gasol is very close. All of these guys are good to excellent defenders and are multi-dimensional offensively. Might take John Wall on a hunch :-)

  27. carlhil2

    if P, Gasol is close, than so is Amar’e. their career averages per 36 mins favor Amar’e, he leads in EVERY stat, except blocks, 1.5 for STAT, 1.7 for Gasol, i think that STAT will hold his own against all the bigs in the east.

  28. Ted Nelson

    Z-Man,

    You are right, Dwight Howard is a worthless offensive basketball player and did not, in fact, average 19 pts/36 at a TS% of .630 last season. His career numbers are not 17.6 pts/36, .603 TS% and ORB% of 12. His defense is not that valuable. He is clearly worse than all the guys who played before him because that’s how you remember it. Kendrick Perkins is also a worthless defender and could not be as good as the defensive centers from other eras. All great points.

    I guess Bill Russell was also not a great center because he wasn’t great offensively. I guess Shaq wasn’t because his defense wasn’t dominant. Who are these mythical top 10 centers who had no holes in their games?

    Seriously, multi-dimensional is overrated. Dwight Howard doesn’t have a jumper but he scores a high volume at a high efficiency. His biggest offensive shortcoming are his TOs. Shaq’s jumper was/is only marginally better than Dwight’s and he was/is a terrible FT shooter too, and he is one of the top offensive Cs of all time. Wilt Chamberlain was also a poor shooter… also a top offensive center. Bill Russell wasn’t a good FT shooter. If Dwight played with a premier perimeter player and the same supporting cast, he’d have a couple of rings at 24 years old. It’s not his fault Vince Carter never lived up to his potential in his whole career and fell apart in the playoffs last season. If he played with LeBron, Wade, or Kobe and had 2 rings right now to go with his two DPOYs at 24 years old I bet you’d be calling him an eventual top 10 center in the history of basketball. He’s a dominant defender and a dominant interior scorer. He is the biggest reason his team is in contention for a title year-in-year-out. I would be surprised if he doesn’t go down as a top 10 center of all time. Again, he won’t turn 25 years old until the middle of next season.

    Dwight Howard is not a wing player, so it’s hard to compare him straight up to one and say he’s limited offensively. You could say the same about Shaq or most great centers. Which one of those guys did all the things your average wing does?

    I would actually say that there is quite a bit of talent among bigmen these days. The game has changed and moved away from lumbering bigs with traditional post-games, but I don’t know that there’s any less talent in the front-court than other eras.

  29. Z-man

    “You are right, Dwight Howard is a worthless offensive basketball player and did not, in fact, average 19 pts/36 at a TS% of .630 last season. His career numbers are not 17.6 pts/36, .603 TS% and ORB% of 12. His defense is not that valuable. He is clearly worse than all the guys who played before him because that’s how you remember it. Kendrick Perkins is also a worthless defender and could not be as good as the defensive centers from other eras. All great points.”

    Come on, Ted. How can I have a reasonable discussion with you if your tone devolves to this level? Are you capable of reading my posts completely and without mangling my points beyond recognition? I said flawed and limited, not worthless. I said absolutely nothing that devalues his defense; in fact, I said he will probably be an all-time great defensively. I said that Perkins is a very good post defender, but would not be able to stop Howard if he could hit an open 15 footer (jumper, set shot, banker, or otherwise.).

    I did not respond to you by saying, “You are right, Perkins is Ben Wallace, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell all wrapped in one.” I did not say, “You are right, Dwight Howard is by far the best center of all time, would have averaged 70ppg and 50 rpg in Wilt’s day, and would have 5 rings by now if only he wasn’t playing with D-League scrubs like Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter/Hedo Turkoglu, and Jameer Nelson, as opposet to the multiple HOFers Ewing played with and the horrible competition he played against.”

    You know why I didn’t respond that way? Because that wasn’t what you said, or implied. Because I took the time to read your points carefully, and value them, and respectfully disagree with them along certain lines (which is important because we probably agree on more points than we differ on.) Because I can differentiate between a respectable difference of opinion where both parties are using stats to back up their arguments, and a “putting words in your mouth-fest” that clutters up other blogs. I appreciate your extended responses, and would hope that you’d afford me the same courtesy.

    Assuming that Howard puts up 7-8 more years with similar stats to this year’s but w/o any championships, I would still prefer Kareem, Hakeem, Russell, Wilt, Shaq, Ewing, Robinson, Moses, and Duncan (who is really more of a C than a PF) over Howard. I would also take a healthy Bill Walton. If he can expand his offensive game somewhat, I would ultimately place him higher. If he wins multiple championships and is his team’s leader, I would place him higher. For now, I wouldn’t. There are qualities like B-ball IQ, leadership, clutch play/killer instinct, versatility, and the ability to make those around you better players, that Dwight can improve upon. Based on annual stats for an extended period, Wilt is the greatest center of all time, hands down; but many put Russell above him on the list mainly on the basis of championships and intangibles. Who’s right?

  30. Ted Nelson

    Z-Man,

    The reason I took such a tone is because I felt the same way… How can we have a reasonable discussion with you making ridiculous claims and not substantiating them. You have said that Howard is an offensive liability to the point where he cannot be considered a great C. I strongly disagree.

    I responded the way I did because you have literally said that Howard is so limited on offense that he’s a liability to his team and is not on track to be an all-time great. You blamed him for Orlando’s post-season failings when teammates played far, far worse. (Again, Howard cannot make shots or grab rebounds or make stops for others.) You have decided that today’s bigmen are not comparable to yesterday’s with absolutely no objective bases for doing so. I was being ridiculous on purpose to demonstrate my point.

    “Kareem, Hakeem, Russell, Wilt, Shaq, Ewing, Robinson, Moses, and Duncan”

    Wilt Chamberlain and Shaq… Neither could/can shoot. Shaq’s D was never dominant.
    Bill Russell’s offensive game was very limited.
    Ewing was not an efficient scorer for most of his career.

    re: championships… Shaq won Championships with Kobe and D Wade. Robinson with Duncan and Duncan with Robinson, Manu, and Parker. Russell had great Celtics teams that continued winning Championships after he retired. Kareem won with Oscar Robertson and Magic. Ewing never won one. Malone won with Julius Erving.
    Hedo is not that good. VC is very good, but clearly not Duncan, Robinson, Big O, Magic, Wade, Kobe, or Julius Erving. VC totally dropped the ball in last season’s playoffs, not Howard. Howard had two 30 pt games and 28 pt game against Boston, but I guess Kendrick Perkins totally locked him down. Rashard Lewis is also not an all-time great and also had a poor 09-10 playoff performance.

    I believe you are being subjectively biased and yearning for glory days that you have built up to be something they never were. The kid is 24 and you’ve already decided he can’t be great because he hasn’t won a championship by 24 years old when only 3 guys on your list did that, while also playing with HOF all-time greats.

    If Miami wins the next 7 Championships and Dwight never gets a supporting cast to compete with them, is that really the only thing you are going to base judging his entire career on? Being on a Championship roster does not mean you were the reason your team won. Never winning a championship does not make you any worse. This is a team sport.

    Again, I feel like this is a ridiculous conversation to even be having. You will take every C who played before 1980 and a PF over Howard. I will put Howard right in there with him based on his merits. Fine.

  31. Z-man

    Ted,
    “Wilt Chamberlain and Shaq… Neither could/can shoot”

    Right off the bat, your statement about Wilt is utterly absurd, and displays a complete ignorance of the history of the game, or at least an unwillingness to do some serious research. Geez, talk about making ridiculous claims and not substantiating them! Look at his career stats, especially to how the shooting percentages ranked in the league:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/chambwi01.html

    In a 14 year career, he lead the league in FG% 9 times. That these %’s were low compared to today is about the era, not the players, and it is pretty well established that shooting % stats don’t translate. (Are you going to say next that Jerry West was a poor shooter because he only shot over 50% one year?)

    Wilt already had a diversified finesse offensive game at age 24. To quote one source:
    “Chamberlain was the first of professional basketball’s dominating seven-footers. At 7’1″, 275 pounds, he towered over the competition and could overpower most opponents near the basket. His long, high-waisted body made the nickname “Wilt the Stilt” inevitable. Yet Wilt played a finesse game. He liked to score with fadeaway jumpers or with his trademark “dipper” shot — a soft, back-handed finger roll — rather than dunks.”

    This video demonstrates the fadeaway jumpers, etc., that added to Wilt’s repertoire, especially early in his career:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QmhTWmAaBc

    He is mentioned in the wikipedia definition of “fadeaway” along with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant

    Need more? Here’s a statement from a book re: Russell and Chamberlain:

    “But now, with Chamberlain in the league, sportswriters were wondering if the Russell Era was coming to an end, if the defensive style of play Russell personified would yield to the singularly muscular offensive style of Wilt Chamberlain, whose fadeaway jump shot was almost impossible to defend against”

    Russell himself joked that “in the year Chamberlain averaged 50 points a game (at the ripe old age of 25) he only averaged 38 against us. That would have been the highest scoring average in history at that time.” Consider that the Celts and Phila played each other 12 times that season, and 7 more times in the playoffs, and that Chamberlain averaged 38ppg against arguably the best defensive center of all time. Are you seriously going to compare Kendrick Perkins to an “in his prime” Bill Russell? Do you honestly think that Perkins could have held a 24yo Chamberlain to 3-10 shooting in 2 playoff games? Please.

    I could go ahead and do this for others I mentioned above, but you obviously have no interest in moving beyond your own experience. To you, the players from the past were a bunch of stiffs who couldn’t shoot and would be lost in today’s game. You are right, it is a ridiculous conversation to be having, as your lack of knowledge regarding the game’s history prevents you from appreciating players from the past.

    Regarding your last paragraph, in case you were unaware of this, Ewing, Robinson and Hakeem played in the 1990’s, and Shaq and Duncan played mainly in the 2000’s. In fact, the players I named span every decade since the 50’s.

  32. Ted Nelson

    Z-Man,

    This is ridiculous and a waste of time. Howard is a very good player and on his way to a great career.

    “Right off the bat, your statement about Wilt is utterly absurd, and displays a complete ignorance of the history of the game, or at least an unwillingness to do some serious research. Geez, talk about making ridiculous claims and not substantiating them!”

    Erroneous. I said that in reference to your claims about Howard’s jump shot. FG% is irrelevant. If you want to use FG% as a measure of shooting accuracy… Howard led the league last season at .612. FG% is not only a worthless stat in the first place, but also worthless to this discussion.
    Look at Wilt’s career FT%… He wasn’t hitting tons of mid-range Js and stretching the defense.
    “he towered over the competition and could overpower most opponents near the basket. His long, high-waisted body made the nickname “Wilt the Stilt” inevitable. Yet Wilt played a finesse game. He liked to score with fadeaway jumpers or with his trademark “dipper” shot — a soft, back-handed finger roll — rather than dunks.”
    He wasn’t taking long-range Js. He was operating in the post. Who cares if he preferred finger-rolls or dunks?

    “This video demonstrates the fadeaway jumpers, etc., that added to Wilt’s repertoire, especially early in his career:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QmhTWmAaBc

    REALLY???? I’m really trying not to be snarky or whatever, but REALLY??? He doesn’t take a single shot from outside the paint in that entire video. Not a single solitary time. 75-90% of the shots in that video come within a foot of the basket. About 1/2 the shots are dunks. Wilt was an interior force, he didn’t have any range on his J and he didn’t really need it. He couldn’t hit FTs. Sound like someone in today’s game?
    Please step it up if you want to call me out.

    ” Are you seriously going to compare Kendrick Perkins to an “in his prime” Bill Russell?”

    Do I think Perkins is one of the best defensive centers of all time? Not really. Never said that. He’s one of the best in the game today. He’s 25 years old. I never once compared him to Bill Russell, but as you say it’s near impossible to compare players across generations. Russell played at a totally different time.

    “I could go ahead and do this for others I mentioned above, but you obviously have no interest in moving beyond your own experience. To you, the players from the past were a bunch of stiffs who couldn’t shoot and would be lost in today’s game. You are right, it is a ridiculous conversation to be having, as your lack of knowledge regarding the game’s history prevents you from appreciating players from the past.”

    You are on record saying Wilt Chamberlain was a great jump shooter and as evidence provided a video highlight reel in which he took not 1 single jump shot, and I know nothing about the game. I certainly don’t know everything, but I know Wilt was an interior force. I know that at 24 Howard is on his way to being an all-time great NBA center. I know that every player on your list had flaws in his game.

    “Regarding your last paragraph, in case you were unaware of this, Ewing, Robinson and Hakeem played in the 1990?s, and Shaq and Duncan played mainly in the 2000?s. In fact, the players I named span every decade since the 50?s. ”

    Again, you’re right… Dwight Howard is not great. Even though he’s the best bigman in the game and only 24 he will never go down with Patrick Ewing as a great C. The best bigmen in the league for all 5 decades since the ’50s were great, but somehow things have changed to the point where basketball players are worse and Howard is not going to be an all-time great.
    I typed 1980 instead of 1990, clearly I know nothing about basketball because I made a typo…

  33. Z-man

    “You are on record saying Wilt Chamberlain was a great jump shooter…”

    Please find for me where I once use the term jump shot, for either Howard or Wilt? I am talking specifically about shots in the 10-15 foot range, any kind of shot. If you do some research, you will find that Wilt took and made a ton of these. I specifically said that “Dwight Howard is not a threat to shoot outside of 10 feet. Even down low, he is not a polished post player.” This is beyond dispute, and was referred to again and again by the commentators during the Celts series. By Howard’s age, Wilt had several go-to moves in the post that he shot at a high percentage, which made him impossible to defend one on one. The dunk was from 0-5 feet. The “dipper” finger roll was from 5-10 feet. The fadeaway and the hook were from 10-15 feet. What is Howard’s signature shot that can be counted on at a high % for 20+ shots a game vs. tough defense? The dunk? Truth is, he doesn’t have one yet. He was often forced into ugly jump hooks by Perkins and did not seem to make too many. He also turned the ball over (he certainly didn’t pass effectively, having 4 assists in 6 games).

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-090513

  34. Ted Nelson

    Because NBA commentators are never wrong…

    I am not saying Dwight Howard is as good an offensive player as Wilt Chamberlain. I’m not saying he is *the best* center of all-time. I am saying that it is very likely that he will be considered as one of the top 10 centers to play the game… and all-time great… when he retires in 10+ seasons. You specifically said that because Howard is limited offensively outside of 10 feet and is a poor FT shooter he will never be in the company of those great centers of yesterday… thing is that Wilt and Shaq couldn’t his FTs either. Neither operated outside of 10 feet much. (Show me this research that says Wilt was a prolific scorer outside the paint… I admit that I haven’t seen any numbers either way, but I’m willing to bet his domination came on what 82games classifies as “inside” shots… which is what you knock Howard for.) Bill Russell was a limited offensive player. Ewing wasn’t a very efficient scorer for most of his career. I can see saying that despite being a great defender Ben Wallace’s offense was too bad for him to make the top 10. Howard’s offense is infinitely better than Ben’s, though, and better than some of the top 10 you list, and his defense is right up there with any center of all-time.

    Somehow Dwight Howard has no post moves and is not a polished player and has no moves that can score against good defense, yet he somehow manages to score 20 pts/36 at a TS% of .600 (and you can argue that having multiple scorers around him decreases his usage a bit compared to having one scorer and several role players the way Shaq did or few scorers the way, say, Ewing did… not going to turn him into Wilt Chamberlain, but might bump him up to 22-24 pts/36). I realize that commentators hate on Howard; however, I see this as pretty similar to calling David Lee nothing more than a hustle player in the same way Eduardo Najara is a hustle player. Howard is the best scorer on one of the best offenses in basketball. Are the other-worldly passing skills of Jameer Nelson (sarcasm) the reason Howard looks so good? I don’t think so. The guy is able to physically dominate in the paint in a manner similar to Shaq or Hakeem or Wilt before him. He’s not as good offensively as those three, but he’s certainly better defensively than Shaq. He’s a Hakeem level defender, a Bill Russell.

    He can’t score against good defenses, but somehow while being totally locked down by Kendrick Perkins he managed to use 20 possessions per game on shot attempts and score 22 ppg at a TS% of .584… not an offensive force at all, though. It was probably Howard’s terrible 22 pts on .584 TS% that lost that series and not Rashard Lewis hitting only 22% of his 3s scoring 8 ppg on a TS% of .406, and not Vince Carter scoring 13.7 ppg on a TS% of .458. VC playing like new teammate Chris Duhon didn’t hurt the team at all, and Lewis playing epically worse than Duhon didn’t hurt them either. Or maybe Jameer Nelson’s 17 ppg on a TS% of .559 was actually somehow better than Dwight Howard’s 22 ppg @ .584… Howard is an offensive force. Boston decided to let Howard get his while using KG to shut Lewis. Worked. They might have doubled Howard and kept him to, say, 15 ppg on a .550 TS%, but whoever they left open–Lewis, Carter, Nelson, Redick/Pietrus/Barnes–could have completely lit them up. Orlando doesn’t have a 2nd great player, but they have a bunch of good scorers you don’t want to leave open. Howard could have played better in that series. He was terrible in Game 3. He turned the ball over too much. He came close to his season numbers, though, against what proved to be the 2nd best team in the league. His scoring really wasn’t the problem.

    Perkins might not be an all-time great defender. However, he’s a physical specimen. He went into his senior season of HS ranked just behind LeBron based on his size/athleticism before concerns about his weight and offensive skill pushed him to the late 1st round. He’s one of the best defensive Cs in the league and only 25 years old. Against most other Cs I think it’s fair to say Howard would have made them pay more for not doubling him. And whether through luck or Celtics D, Orlando’s shooters were unable to make many shots.

  35. Z-man

    I suppose it boils down to where Dwight will end up on the list. In my opinion, it will be determined by where he goes as an offensive player. Howard recognizes this himself, and apparently is spending time with Hakeem to work on his post moves. I understand that he is young, but he has been in the league for 6 full seasons. Will he improve? Probably, but I don’t think he ever has the overall impact of Chamberlain, Russell, Kareem, Hakeem or Shaq, mainly due to his offensive limitations. I would also put Duncan above him as a C, where he played nearly half his minutes. Hopefully we can agree Duncan would have been just as much, if not even more, of an all-time great if he played center his entire career. Here are some links from 82games.com regarding Duncan’s dominance as a center, where he played nearly half of his minutes in his prime:

    http://82games.com/04SAS14C.HTM
    http://82games.com/03SAS15C.HTM
    http://82games.com/02SAS12C.HTM

    I could see him being roughly equal to David Robinson and eclipsing the others. I guess that makes him an all-time great. Still, even assuming that he makes a marginal upgrade in his offensive repertoire, I would take a number of other guys ahead of him in their primes for a 7-game series, including Robinson, Ewing, and Walton. You might question Ewing, but I think if you replace Ewing with Howard in the 1994 finals, the Knicks get swept. Just my opinion.

  36. Ted Nelson

    It’s pretty hard to compare players across eras and often similar players within the same era and decide exactly who is better… That’s why I say I think Howard will go down as an all-time great. Exactly where he falls on that list is debatable. And a lot of the debate becomes subjective.

    With the Ewing example, for instance, maybe Ewing post-having working knees was a better fit in the dead-ball ’90s with his size and strength and maybe Howard is a better fit in the current era with his athleticism and quickness. I think Howard does have very good post moves, and otherwise wouldn’t be able to score so efficiently. They’re not traditional back-to-the-basket post moves, but the game has changed. He can get better at scoring, sure, but is already very good. He does things that Ewing simply would not have been able to do once his knees started to go. I also think you are overrating Ewing as an offensive player and underrating the Knicks team defense. The Knicks were clearly a defensive team. They won games because they had one of the best defenses of all-time for several years (the best in absolute terms really). Their offense was more a liability than anything. Howard is an excellent defensive player with more mobility and versatility than most of the guys on your list. I could just as easily say that with a more efficient scorer and more athletic/versatile defender like Howard the Knicks win the Finals, and again there’s no way to say for sure.

    All the great Cs had their strengths and their weaknesses relative to one another. That’s why I wouldn’t say Howard is or is not better than player x, unless it’s painfully obvious. I would just say that at 24 he’s right there with the greats. His defense and rebounding are probably up towards the top of the list (defense overall is hard to say, would put Russell at the top in rebounding… people say he couldn’t have gotten so many boards in the modern era, but Rodman averaged 15-18.7 rpg throughout the 90s). His offense is not at the top at this point, but if you balance the two out I’d put him towards the middle of the pack (if he keeps up close to the same production for 7+ more seasons… could get better or worse going forward of course).

    I don’t really buy the 6 full seasons argument. Are you to take Howard’s 19 and 20 year old seasons coming out of high school and compare them at face value with Ewings 23 and 24 year old seasons after playing top NCAA comp? There’s no way to say how the guys who went to college would have played their first 3 or 4 NBA seasons. I’m not going to bother trying.

    I’m also not just talking about Howard improving. Right now he’s great. All-time great. Bill Walton never once had a season that topped Howard’s PER at 23 or WS/48 at 23 and 24 yo. Ewing never topped his 23 or 24 yo WS/48 and only his 23 yo PER once at 27 yo. Moses Malone topped his PER and WS/48 once each, also at 27 yo. Hakeem tied his WS/48 once and topped his PER twice. Duncan never topped his top PER or WS/48 before 25 yo. Robinson was 24 yo his 1st NBA season. If he retired today Dwight Howard would already go down as an all-time great in terms of peak value. When you consider that most of the guys on your list peaked in their later 20s… Howard should be right in the thick of the conversation if he stays pretty healthy.

    I still think you are selling Dwight short based on his teammates. Using Championships as a criteria is just not fair for comparing individual players. It’s apples and oranges. Championship are a team accomplishment.

    Bill Walton played 3/4 the minutes in 12 seasons that Howard has played in 6… good luck having Walton healthy for your 7 game series.

    I think you’re underrating/ignoring defense. Howard can’t impact the game because of his offense, but we’ll just ignore Shaq’s defense all together because he won 4 rings?

    His offense is limited, but Bill Russell’s was not?

    Kareem’s team lost in the ’74 Finals to a Celtics team whose Cs were listed at 6-7 and 6-9… does that mean he didn’t make his teammates better and isn’t a Champion?

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