Judging playoff careers
- I don't suppose any of us are really so naive as to believe a team's
performance reflects equally on every member of that team.
For the Spurs, between their last (1999) championship and this
(2003) year, we've seen Tim Duncan fail to carry his team past the
Lakers. Is their a 'rap' due to Duncan? Or did his team fold up
around him, despite his heroic play?
It's not out of the question to gain a fair comparison of a player's
carryover from the regular season to the postseason. Even a player
like Bowen (who we all agree is better than his stats) can be judged
as 'improved' if his scoring goes from 6 ppg to 12 ppg, with an
The last 2 years, Duncan's playoffs have been even stronger than his
seasons (which were remarkably good, too). Yet his teammates went
into the tank.
There were a few years when Olajuwon's individual brilliance was
insufficient to carry the Rockets past the 1st round. Yet we can
pick out the 'underachievers' on the team.
Michael Jordan's early teams failed to make the 2nd round, due to
reduced contributions from the non-Jordan Bulls, while Michael
Winning in the playoffs happens when a Robert Horry comes up with
an 'extra' 3-4 ppg; and losing happens when a player won't or can't
Here's the chart I posted earlier:
player . RegS PlOf YBYDif
Duncan . 43.4 45.2 1.058
Ewing .. 39.0 36.9 .913
Garnett. 36.8 36.9 .962
Kemp . . 35.2 37.2 .980
K Malone 43.3 40.4 .963
Mourning 39.4 36.2 .898
Olajuwon 41.5 44.9 1.034
O'Neal . 48.0 46.8 .959
Robinson 44.8 41.4 .941
Webber . 38.6 34.7 .862
Daughrty 34.5 35.1 .954
Barkley. 41.4 40.9 1.010
Only 3 of these 12 posted playoff 'year-by-year differential' worse
than the historic average of .94 (Robinson was just at the average).
Yet a superstar like Karl Malone is commonly judged to
have 'underachieved' in the postseason. Among this group, he
appears to be about average.
I think the 'superstar' label comes with the baggage of
expectation. And if the star does NOT carry his team to at least
expectations, the onus is on his shoulders to atone for the
shortcoming in subsequent outings.