The Good Old Days

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Do you miss the good old days?

Yes! Bring back the epic battles in the post!
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67%
No. I like the new faster, softer style of basketall.
2
33%
 
Total votes : 6

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 3:40 pm
The Good Old Days

It’s the most attractive lure in all of basketball. The center that can play with the all-around effect of a small forward. The big man who can shoot. The 7-foot guard. He is the absolute ruler of the hardwood. The perfect player. Basketball’s Holy Grail.

The lure of the perfect player is what drives the game of basketball. It is what every player dreams of becoming. And what power on earth could stop a player with Bird’s skills… and Shaq’s size?

Unfortunately, although many would like to claim a Messiah has arrived as the closest thing basketball has to “the perfect player”; the cold truth is that no such player exists. In fact, no such player has ever existed. Basketball has never had a big man with a complete set of honed skills like a guard.

Thus far, NBA players that lay claim to the above description can be classified into one of two categories: (1) Giants in Denial or (2) Flowery Big Men.

Giants in Denial, or GiD for short, have never been more present in the NBA than today. The current generation of basketball seems to breed it. Many describe the sensation as “European flare”, but big men who enjoy being big men (such as Andris Biedrins) create a contradiction to that title. Thus, the name “Giants in Denial” becomes a more appropriate (albeit, less flattering) alternative.

Giants in Denial

Troy Murphy, Golden State WarriorsThe sharp-shooting Murphy almost fools the rest of the NBA into believing he’s a gifted big man, by banging out over 10 rebounds a game on most nights. But what non-Warrior fans don’t realize is that Murphy (a 6’11” power forward – now center) couldn’t block a shot if his life depended on it. His swats hit rock bottom last season, in a career-high 34 minutes a night, at 0.4 blocks per game. Even his highest BPG season (the 28-game 2003 campaign) yielded 0.6 per night. Thus, in conclusion, Murphy can’t be fully considered a traditional big man because he doesn’t block shots. That means, although Murphy has the shooting skills of a guard, he’d make a bench-warming forward without them.

Mehmet Okur, Utah JazzOkur averaged career-highs in his 4th season last year. But, as with Murphy, the 6’11” center barely gathered 73 blocked shots last year (in 36 MPG - 82 games). Playing nearly 40 minutes a night, the towering Okur [i]almost blocked one shot per game last year (0.89)… but, with so many minutes to prove his case, only solidified his status as a GiD.[/i]

Raef LaFrentz, Portland TrailblazersLaFrentz is a little different from the Murphy/Okur types. They couldn’t block shots to save their lives, which Raef (who averaged 3 swats a night in ’01-’02) can. But the one thing they do have on LaFrentz is the rebounding category. Murphy averaged 10 boards a game last season. Okur averaged 9. Raef, as a starting center, averaged 5 (9 per 48, which is worse than most guards).

Brad Miller, Sacramento KingsSee Troy Murphy and Mehmet Okur… but add an inch to them. The 7-foot Miller averages a career 0.8 BPG (in 30 minutes). He is, perhaps, the finest example of an NBA cupcake: covered with sprinkles and soft in the middle.

Boris Diaw, Phoenix SunsBoris Diaw won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award last season. But prior to that? He spent 2 seasons in Atlanta (at point guard) and only blocked an average of 0.4 swats per game (in 21.5 minutes) against 6-foot competition. Pitiful.

The other type of 7-foot cupcake that the new generation has created is known as the “Flowery Big Man”. The ironic thing is; the FBM wasn’t created in the modern era (like the GiD).

Prior to the 2000’s, true NBA big men were in heavy supply. Darryl Dawkins kept the faith, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and, for the most part, players like Robert Parrish and Sam Perkins were a rarity. 7-footers who lived on midrange jumpers never ruled the paint. This is not to be confused with the Patrick Ewing’s and the David Robinson’s: those cats had post-game to spare, but could knock down the midrange when called upon. Entering the 1990’s, big men returned to their peak, with athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, and Hakeem Olajuwon taking over the league. The paint became an art form; the post-game was valued just as highly as the perimeter game. Basketball, in this era, reached its peak.

Entering the year 2000, big men would, seemingly, never be the same again. With Shaquille O’Neal known as the most dominant force in the league, teams had been frantically searching for ways to slow him down (since stopping him became, apparently, impossible). The answer showed it’s face in a playoff series against the Portland Trailblazers, when Arvidas Sabonis began knocking down 3-pointers instead of facing Shaq man-to-man in the key. Like a fuse catching fire, the NBA suddenly started demanding big men who could fire the long ball (or, at least, live in the midrange, rather than brawling in the paint). Today, FBM are more present than ever.

Flowery Big Men

Dirk Nowitski, Dallas MavericksOne may be compelled to argue that Dirk, indeed, has both the skills of a guard and a big man. Disregarding the fact that Nowitski’s “post-game” consists of a turn-around jumper (which includes a falling flop, praying for free throws), another smear can be seen in his game: his ability to block shots.

The uneducated will fall back on Dirk’s numbers: a career 1.1 BPG in 37 minutes a night. This evidence is effectively destroyed when one takes the following into account: Dirk is 2 inches taller than his average competition! The average NBA power forward (rounded up nicely by GiD and FBM) is now a whopping 6’10” in height. In fact, the tallest PFs are 7’0” tall (Dirk’s height). His competition has never been higher up than he has. This doesn’t even take into account players like Udonis Haslem (6’8”), Antawn Jamison (6’9”), or Elton Brand (6’8”) who lack up to 4 inches on Dirk!

When the evidence is all on the table, the case becomes more clear. Dirk Nowitski’s shot-blocking skills are over-rated… and, therefore, he is a Flowery Big Man.


Tim Duncan, San Antonio SpursDuncan’s San Antonio mentor (David Robinson) made the midrange a weapon of his. Duncan lives there. Big Tim has been quoted saying he prefers not to dunk and that he’d much rather knock down a turn-around jumper. The ‘master of the bank shot’ doesn’t seem to realize that he’s a hearty 260 pounds – one of the few men in the league capable of putting a body on Shaquille O’Neal. Duncan is, perhaps, the worst kind of FBM: he [i]has the post game to be one of the league’s best paint players – like Garnett and Brand – but he seldom uses it. Wasting talent has never been a good thing.[/i]

Yao Ming, Houston RocketsYao is, currently, the league’s tallest player. After the retirement of Shawn Bradley (7’6”), the 7’4” Chinaman because the league’s largest athlete. And, still, Yao refuses to utilize his ability to nearly dunk the ball without jumping. By merely planting himself under the basket, Yao could average close to 30 points a contest on lay-ups and free-throws alone. But the Shanghai native, instead, camps himself out in the midrange, where his natural ability is, like Duncan, wasted. Too bad.

And, so, the search goes on for the perfect NBA player. With a few more inches to his 6’9” frame, Magic Johnson could very well have been the only player in history to qualify for the title. But, instead, he must simply settle as “the closest thing” to it.

Some fans enjoy this new Euro-fad in the NBA. But others of us enjoy a good post-game. A mano y mano match-up between two titans, using their backs, elbows, and forearms like giant clubs. With Shaq and Zo, seemingly, on the way out, some of us believe the Golden Era in the NBA will leave with them. So long as players like Nenad Kristic and Brad Miller rule the paint, there will always be us fans who dream about the old days.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:48 am
Good read... although, what's the point of it?. That there are no perfect players inside?. 'Cos they never existed, and never will. It's true that Magic may have been the closest to that ideal... but everybody has some kind of flaw that makes them... well, not perfect.

There's one thing I don't agree, tho. Tim Duncan has a wonderful inside game. The fact that he doesn't dunk much doesn't mean anything. An inside game means that the players have the ability to score inside, be it through dunks, layups, shots or whatever. Moves matter too. If he can score inside, who cares how he prefers to do it?.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:38 am
:mrgreen:


Maybe those bigmen just haven't been deflowered





Seriously, it would have been better to write about the fastest guards ever and how today there are probably more than ever. Guys like Iverson and Parker are incredibly quick
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:04 am
TMC wrote:There's one thing I don't agree, tho. Tim Duncan has a wonderful inside game. The fact that he doesn't dunk much doesn't mean anything. An inside game means that the players have the ability to score inside, be it through dunks, layups, shots or whatever. Moves matter too. If he can score inside, who cares how he prefers to do it?.

It's not just 'how'... it's "how much" he scores inside. The vast majority of Duncan's points come from outside of the paint; which is a shame, since he has the ability to score inside at will.

It's like calling Mike Dunleavy a good shooter. He has the ability; but we seldom see it. Tim Duncan could be an amazing inside scorer; but we mostly find him shooting turnarounds and banks.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:45 am
For tim duncan the stats speak for themselves:
In the 2005 season duncan took 706 shots within 5 feet of the hoop (interestingly enough that's exactly the same number shaq took. obviously duncan played more minutes and took more total shots so that doesn't mean too much), capitalizing on 406 of them. That same season he took 477 shots further out than that, making 168 of them. Clearly this is a guy whose main game is inside. And Yao took all of 24 shots further than fifteen feet from the hoop last season. His tendency to shoot from the side is what makes them look further.

I can't defend Dirk Noshowski, except to say that despite his flowery tendencies he is still a superstar and I would pick him before any PF/C in the league except KG for next season.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:11 pm
I'm not discounting the skills of these players; I'm merely remarking on the trend that big players are hovering towards. Any player that can give you 15 (or more) and 10 is an asset, make no mistake. But the style of play that current generation players are showing is met with a bit of hesitency from a man like myself.

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Some would claim that these big men have a one-up on traditional players because of their range. Some people claim these players are "more skilled". I think that's BS. The post game, in itself, is a craft to be learned.

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Tell me Kevin McHale, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were less talented players because they didn't have an 18-footer like Duncan. It's not possible. It isn't true.

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How many starving Warrior fans were thrilled to see Ike Diogu give Mehmet Okur the spin move for a layup last season? And then come back with a slick up-and-under... and then follow THAT up by giving Okur the slip on a nasty pump fake! I know I'm not the only one who found this amusing. Post play is fun because it's a lost art. It's a skill that not many modern players lay claim to.

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Sure, letting loose from anywhere on the floor is an entertaining style of play... but so is a man-to-man battle in the post. What was the '94 Finals about? Was it New York versus Houston? Or was it Dream against Ewing, beating it out against one another in the middle?

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Duncan may have taken a majority of his shots inside of five feet from the basket, but I'll guarentee you that they weren't predominantly dunks, lay-ups, or baby hooks. They were, most likely, turn-around jumpers (judging by his playing style). If you find a stat to revoke that claim, I'll more than happily admit my fault. But I watch Tim Duncan a lot (his Spurs get a lot of air time on ESPN and TNT). And Duncan isn't exactly a traditional big man, no matter how you swing it.

As far as Yao, it's not all his fault. Van Gundy's system requires him to swim outside and set picks for the smaller guys. I just wish Yao wouldn't linger outside so often when he isn't being used.

But don't mistake this post as a slam against any of the players listed above. I respect the game of every player I mentioned (I may not like them - Dirk, Okur, LaFrentz - but I respect them).

Anyways, TMC asked 'what the purpose of this article was'. I guess it's just a dirge to the old times. Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning's clocks are about to stop ticking. And when they leave the league, I think something goes with them. Sure, Elton Brand and Ike Diogu will still be around to keep the faith... but it's almost like shooting fish in a barrell against the modern NBA cupcakes. Unless they're playing each other, there's no real challenge involved in the post. I guess I'm just going to miss a part of the game that, for now at least, won't be around for much longer.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:32 am
I've got a theory about this issue. It's all Kevin Garnett's fault. His success has made every kid to want to become a new KG, to be able to have a "broader" game and play several positions, hence losing the essence of dominant big men.

KG was the first to really break the mold and become a model for those young kids... and we're paying the consequences.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:50 am
I don't even know if that's the case. Garnett was drafted in 1996... and, prior to that, nobody had ever really seen him play. A lot of the guys I'm talking about (Dirk, Duncan, Murph, ect) were established college players when Garnett revolutionized the forward position.

I dunno if Garnett's the reason everyone started playing out more; but he was certainly one of the first major next gen stars to start doing it.

But you can't blame Garnett for Nowitski and Okur. Those guys have been playing soft ball their whole life.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:58 am
#32 wrote:But you can't blame Garnett for Nowitski and Okur. Those guys have been playing soft ball their whole life.


Yeah, but that's the european mentality. Here (not always, but most often than not), if you're a star on one side of the court, you don't work as hard on the other. KG wasn't a big influence for european bigs.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 6:17 am
David Robinson was not exactly a power player! He was extremely talented and successful but tended to drive around opponents instead of overpower them
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:49 pm
What's your point? He was still a post player.

This is exactly what I'm talking about; we've gotten to a point where people don't even remember what the post game was like (sans Shaq, Wilt, Mourning).

Kevin McHale was far from being a powerhouse. But would you consider him a non-post player?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:51 pm
#32 wrote:What's your point? He was still a post player.

This is exactly what I'm talking about; we've gotten to a point where people don't even remember what the post game was like (sans Shaq, Wilt, Mourning).

Kevin McHale was far from being a powerhouse. But would you consider him a non-post player?



McHale was a great post player and had a zillion moves!!!! He had a great jumpshot as well but he is known as the greatest post player in nba history because of his great post moves!

David robinson was never known for his post moves but rather his great jump shot, great first step, speed and athleticism
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:08 pm
To me, it doesn't matter how they score as long as they rebound, play good defense, and contribute a little bit on the scoring end as well.

Troy Murphy can take 3's if he wants as long as it doesn't ruin the offense and he gets rebounds. I guess to you it's more fun to see post play.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:39 am
John Patrick wrote:To me, it doesn't matter how they score as long as they rebound, play good defense, and contribute a little bit on the scoring end as well.

Troy Murphy can take 3's if he wants as long as it doesn't ruin the offense and he gets rebounds. I guess to you it's more fun to see post play.


It's about balance, also. If Murphy and the rest of the team stays shooting threes all games, the team won't win much. There needs to be some sort of balance. Inside players provide that.

I don't care much how they score, as long as they are a threat to score inside.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:55 am
migya wrote:David robinson was never known for his post moves but rather his great jump shot, great first step, speed and athleticism

I disagree; David Robinson is regarded as a tradional center. His jump shot was a weapon of his, but it would never outrank a dunk, a lay-up, or an inside finish. If Robinson had the opportunity to drive and finish, he would. Duncan, on the other hand, has been quoted saying he'd rather shoot the ball than dunk.

People forget, just because a guy has range, like Ewing and Robinson, doesn't make them any less of a post player.
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