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1278Re: [APBR_analysis] Re: Ballhogs - Dominique Wilkins

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  • Michael K. Tamada
    Sep 12, 2002
      On Fri, 13 Sep 2002 bchaikin@... wrote:

      We'll have to agree to disagree about Wilkins and for that matter McHale;
      you raise some interesting other issues:

      [...]

      > "....He's the type of player who like McAdoo with the Lakers or Aguirre with
      > the Pistons could be a role player on a championship team, but you don't
      > build championship teams around players like Wilkins..."
      >
      > in his prime bob mcadoo was the best the game had to offer. in the early to
      > mid 1970s people were talking about him as one of the absolute greatest ever
      > in the history of the game - he was the best scorer in the league, a high
      > percentage shooter, and many many at the time called him the best shooting
      > big man ever to play the game. the only player comparable to him at that same
      > time was jabbar, and he too was in his very prime. mcadoo didn't get to the
      > lakers until his 10th year in the league....

      McAdoo's tough to judge, and had one of the more complex careers of any
      NBA player. He got what 1, 2 MVP awards -- and pretty much deserved them.
      But his post-Buffalo career showed the limitations in his game. He was a
      much better offensive player than Wilkins, and you're correct that he
      literally was the best scorer in the game for a couple of seasons. And
      in his best seasons he rebounded decently and even blocked shots.

      But.

      His post-Buffalo career revealed the weaknesses in his game, and even in
      his glory years at Buffalo we're looking at a bigger, better (much
      better) version of Dominique. Let's look first at his Buffalo years:
      Jack Ramsey centered the team's offense around McAdoo -- by itself, who
      could argue with that decision? But they never went far in the
      playoffs...partly that may have been due to having other teams that were
      just plain better than them. But it's not as if he had chumps for
      teammates: Jim McMillian had been a starter on one of the best teams
      ever, the 1972 Lakers. Garfield Heard went to the finals as a starter
      with Phoenix. Randy Smith was an all-star. Ernie D -- well okay, there's
      a defensive hole there, but he was a top notch point guard offensively.

      But too much focus on McAdoo means that the offensive skills of Smith and
      McMillian don't get fully utilized. Those were good Buffalo teams, but
      not great ones. And he wasn't a defensive whiz in the manner of a Jabbar
      or a Cowens.

      And after he left Buffalo, and wandered throughout the wilderness of New
      York, New Jersey, Boston, and Detroit, with at best modest success (and
      often abject failure) at each stop, teams discovered that they were not
      getting the 30-point per game scorer they thought they were getting. Sure
      he was capable of doing it, but do you want to unbalance your team's
      offense so much just so he can get his points? Worse, if he's not scoring
      30 points per game for you, he's not good enough in other areas of the
      game to contribute to your team.

      In just the right situation, and with a good coach, McAdoo could be
      useful. He proved that with the Lakers -- note that he was only a role
      player though. I'm sure you're correct that that was his 10th year in
      the league -- but so what? 32 years is not old for a true superstar
      (actually, didn't he leave college a year early?): I believe Dr. J was
      about that age when he won his NBA MVP (granted he didn't really deserve
      it, it was more of a salute to him than a true MVP award, but he WAS still
      an all-pro caliber player). Russell was still winning championships in
      his 13th year in the league. Etc.

      As a leading player, as opposed to role player, again with a good coach
      and in the right situation, McAdoo could be an excellent player, as in
      Buffalo. But it had to be just the right situation, with the team
      revolving around his offense. And even when the team did revolve around
      his offense (I believe that's what the Knicks tried) most teams found
      little success with him.

      So in a way McAdoo's MVP awards were like Iverson's (although McAdoo
      was a much better player; the high scoring and high shooting percentages
      that you cite were real, and McAdoo probably did deserve his MVP award).
      One can't deny his accomplishments when he was the focus of the team, at
      least if the team was well-coached and had the right complementary
      players. But such a team, devised to revolved around McAdoo, can be no
      more successful than a team devised to revolve around Alan Iverson.

      It can be a good team, but not more than that. To win a championship with
      a McAdoo, he has to be a complementary player, not the focus of the team.

      > aguirre was an offensive player, and i think a worse defender than wilkins...

      No question that Wilkins was better than Aguirre, but I still put them
      into the same category: if you build your team around a player like
      that, you can have a good team, but not a great one. On a great team
      (such as Detroit 1988 and 1989) players like Aguirre will be only role
      players.

      > if wilkins had ever had a center in atlanta comparable to parish while in his
      > prime, and another starter that was a superb defender, i certainly think he
      > could have played in a championship - easily. christ - don't you remember
      > that playoff game between the celtics and hawks where bird and wilkins went
      > head to head the whole game? i think both had 40+ points in that game (i
      > don't remember when it was but i just saw it on ESPN classics). he had the
      > heart of a lion and the talent to win...

      I certainly do remember that game, I was living in Boston at the time.

      Chuck Person did the same thing in a playoff game. Big deal. That
      doesn't make Chuck Person a championship caliber player. (Well, he was
      certainly good enough to play on a championship team, in fact maybe he did
      with San Antonio, but again, as a role player. Person's not up there with
      the Duncans and Robinsons of the world. Neither was Wilkins. Wilkins
      was better than Person though.)

      And MikeG's posting of Wilkins' playoff stats were very revealing. Take
      away that historic game and Wilkins' stats start getting abysmal. He was
      137 for 300 in the 1988 playoffs (your website is working for me now,
      thanks). I think you or someone posted that he was 19-23 in that historic
      game? Which means he was 118-277 in the other games, 43% shooting.
      Iversonish statistics (maybe worse than Iverson's when we consider that
      NBA FG percentages were higher then). Hmm, in fact 43% is Wilkins' career
      playoff average.

      [...]

      > probably my two biggest ballhogs would be john drew and freeman williams, and
      > possibly john williamson. both had fairly high touches/min, drew rarely
      > passed because if he wasn't shooting he was getting fouled. your offense
      > stopped when he got the ball. williams and williamson just shot from anywhere
      > at anytime. neither played any D...

      100% agreement here. I'd mentioned Williams in a post just before this,
      but I forgot about Drew and Super John Williamson.

      > strictly guns - players who shot alot, had failey high poss facts, rarely
      > drove the lane, didn't play much D include john long, rex chapman, darrell
      > griffith, dale ellis (great shooter tho and did drive more than the others),
      > dell curry, dennis scott

      Yes, gunners all, although did Chapman and Long really use up that many
      possessions? What is much less clear is whether they deserve the title
      ballhog. Ellis in particular: that was his role with the team. Catch and
      shoot. The Sonics probably pleaded with him NOT to do anything else with
      the ball, because whenever he tried to dribble it or pass it, bad things
      would happen (except for passes that he dumped back to the PG near
      midcourt).

      Also, using the definition that you opened with (I've deleted
      it, it's the one about a ballhog being the kind of guy you don't want to
      pass to because he will (a) always shoot it and (b) usually miss it),
      Ellis doesn't meet that definition, because (b) definitely does not apply
      to him, not in his prime with Seattle. Nor McHale. Wilkins on the other
      hand...

      Crap, I said I was going to move on from Dominique and talk about other
      issues. Sorry. But thanks for raising those other issues, which are
      interesting.


      --MKT
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