Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kobe and Jordan are wrong, rings don't equate to greatness



To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Kobe Bryant agreed with Michael Jordan’s recent comment that “five beats one every time I look at it.” Two of the most famed NBA champions agree that titles define a player’s greatness. But look a little deeper into that comment and the validity begins to unravel...

If the simple claim that “five beats one” held true, then surely six or more championship titles beat five, right? This means that players like Robert Horry, Scottie Pippen, more than a handful of players from the 60s Celtics are better than Kobe Bryant. Derek Fisher and Steve Kerr would be considered equal to Kobe. I have a strong feeling that it’s going out on a limb to say that Kobe and Jordan would say few (if any) of those players are on their level.

Realistically, greatness is not easy to define and will always involve subjectivity. No single statistic or award can put a player over the top as the single greatest or even one of the greatest. Part of the reason that Jordan is hailed as the greatest of all time is because of his dominance in so many categories (MVPs, regular season success, statistics, and yes, championships, too). It takes a well-rounded effort to be mentioned in the GOAT debate. Four point guards have more career assists than Magic Johnson but the Laker superstar is nearly unanimously regarded as the greatest point guard of all time. Thirteen players have at least as many championship titles as Michael Jordan, but he is nearly unanimously regarded as the greatest player of all time.

I have been in many a debate regarding Kobe Bryant even here on Bases and Baskets (check out my comparisons of him to Michael Jordan and LeBron James for two). Like many, I am not convinced that he is even in the same discussion with Michael Jordan even though he only has one fewer ring than Jordan. The main reason that I will reiterate here: for three of those championship titles, Kobe Bryant was not the best player on the team!

If we apply the same logic as to why Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and others don’t belong anywhere near the debate for greatest NBA players of all time then three of Kobe’s rings are tainted. He was not the best player on his team. The Finals MVPs in the Lakers three-peat: Shaq 3, Kobe 0. Now, what I am not saying is that Kobe Bryant was a useless, interchangeable piece that had the luxury of riding on Shaq’s back. In Game 4 of the 2000 Finals, Kobe came back from an ankle injury that sat him out of the previous game to put up 28-5-4. In the 2001 Finals, he had back-to-back 30 point shows. And so on.

What Kobe had was the luxury of playing with other great players. This is what it takes to win an NBA championship. Basketball is a team game with five players on the floor and 12 on the team and it takes a team to win a ring—not just a singularly great player. LeBron James nearly did it in 2007 with Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and a host of other average players…if you could call them that. But the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs took LeBron James and made him look like the average one. San Antonio swept those NBA Finals, 4-0. Even Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen and other capable players to fill out the other four positions on the court.

The flip side of the coin is John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley, three players that co-founded the list that nobody wants to be on: great players to never win a ring. The truth is that they are, in fact, great players to never win a ring. You put them on teams with better players or in different eras and they would have probably gotten a ring. So what do you do? Account for their other accomplishments and value them above players like Adam Morrison who have won a ring.

Now, let’s talk LeBron since he was the main subject of the original comment by Michael Jordan. LeBron does only have one ring at this point, and the simple math does show that five is more than one. But that does not mean that five “beats” one and certainly does not prove that (as our discussion thus far has elucidated) five is “greater” than one.

Like already mentioned, greatness is subjective. As such, it involves things like hypothetical scenarios, and one I find particularly relevant to this case is this: insert LeBron James in the early 00 Lakers with Shaq. Would LeBron have more than one ring? More than three? The affirmative answer is something that I for one would put money on if presented with the opportunity. Now let’s put Kobe on the late 00 Cavs—would he have won a title? Doubtful, and he probably would not even make the Finals like LeBron did. This is part of the reason that LeBron is better (here I am marking a differentiation between better and greater). If all other player personnel is equal, who would win a best-of-seven series, Kobe or LeBron?

I would argue LeBron, but the point here is that there is a debate. Why? Neither player has or can ever play with the exact same caliber players against the exact same competition so to say that measuring championships against different competition with different teammates is somehow equal is just plain ludicrous.

Greatness is a holistic measure that is based on a career’s effort. Finals MVPs are a better measure than championship titles, and regular season MVPs add something else important to the debate. Statistics are also something very much necessary and worthy of consideration.

Greatness is defined by the impact that the individual had on the team. Championships are the result of the team’s impact with the individual.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Are the Golden State Warriors a first-round exit waiting to happen?



The bad luck by the bay has reared its ugly head…again. Andrew Bogut was just cleared to play with no reservations after the All Star break and after back-to-back games, he has traded his uniform back for a suit on the sideline. Was it an excuse not to wear the bright yellow t-shirts they wore against the Spurs? The Warriors can only wish.

Before bashing the Warriors front office for making the trade for an injury-prone center, it is worth mentioning that Golden State is holding out hope that Bogut will return during the road trip. However, that’s not something to get too excited for. Recent memory serves as a reminder that Bogut’s injury, a protruding disc, was the same exact problem that Dwight Howard had last season. The end result of that was a major surgical operation and something that has lingered with the now-Lakers center.

Will Bogut return full strength? Hard to say. Even in the few games that he was on the court, he looked sluggish. His defensive presence was extremely valuable but a 6-6 record when he was on the court deviates wildly from the 26-17 when he’s not playing. But remarkably, even this fact can be misleading. The Warriors have played better teams in his appearances (Jazz, Rockets, and Grizzlies) who have formidable post presences of their own. So to say that the Warriors are better off without him may be true based on previous record, but it is not a fair indicator of future success or failure.

The Warriors don’t need Andrew Bogut to make the playoffs. Let’s completely remove that thought from consideration. Their core has proven to have an upside capable of putting together wins against Miami, Los Angeles (Clippers), San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are the best shooting backcourt in the NBA—there’s no debating that, either.

Problems will arise in May basketball. Their first round matchup will likely be a top-three team (one of those very same teams that they have beat in the regular season). The problem in a series against playoff-savvy teams like San Antonio and Oklahoma City is that their experience and talent will overpower a team like the Warriors that has a weak interior. Whether it’s Duncan and Splitter, Perkins and Ibaka, or the Blake Show and DeAndre Jordan, the Warriors don’t match up very well against those teams in a seven-game set. How about Marc Gasol and Z-Bo? It wouldn’t be pretty.

Could the Warriors pull off a couple games against those teams? Their regular season performance against top teams is proof that that is possible. But relying on Steph and Klay’s outside shooting for the duration of the playoffs is a disaster waiting to happen. So, what about David Lee? Harrison Barnes? Again, tough interior defenses will find a way to shut them down. The Warriors may grab a game or two, but in a best-of-seven series…the odds are not in their favor.

I wrote a column a month ago about the optimism that the Warriors should have if Bogut returns healthy, but that is slowly and painfully fading from reality.

One thing that Bay Area fans may cling to is the recollection of the 2012 MLB playoffs. All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for PED use and he was an instrumental part in their regular season success until that point. But a Melky-less Giants still pulled off an incredible World Series championship. Teams like the 2011 New York Giants, 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, and those 2012 Giants prove that it is possible to make a deep playoff run if you get hot going into the playoffs.

Granted, basketball has become a league of powerhouse teams and talent has become increasingly concentrated amongst only four or five true championship contenders but the Warriors are a team slowly making their way into that discussion. Bogut—or another defensive post presence—is going to be an absolute necessity for that to happen, even if there are growing pains. Even the Big Threes assembled in Boston and Miami took time to gel, so it’s nothing significant that the Warriors are 6-6 in games that Bogut has played. Just look at the struggles of the sub-.500 Lakers…putting together great teams takes time, especially when nagging injuries are involved.

Mark Jackson has changed the culture in Golden State. David Lee and Steph Curry lead the way into a laid-back locker room that is all-business on the court. Their primary weaknesses are defense and rebounding—something that has ironically begun to deteriorate relatively recently.

If the Warriors can get hot at the end of the season, with or without Andrew Bogut, “We Believe” part 2 is in order. “We Believe” is on it’s way to “We Belong.”

If they don't, it could get ugly.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Analyzing potential Dwight Howard trade scenarios


 

Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers can hide the truth all they want but the reality is simple: something is just not working. Undoubtedly, the Lakers struggles this year are attributable to a wide variety of factors—from a coaching change mid-season to a seemingly endless rotation of injuries—but Howard has not been contributing like he and the Lakers had expected when Los Angeles originally made the acquisition.

Howard has been sidelined himself already this year which has not helped. In fact, that very subject was the spark of some controversial comments by none other than Kobe Bryant. In the Hollywood hullabaloo, trades have even made their way into discussion between the Los Angeles Lakers and their notorious rival, the Boston Celtics.

This discussion was a great excuse to break out ESPN’s NBA trade machine and throw around potential trades for Dwight Howard (a superstar who the Lakers haven’t even had for a full season…).

Dwight Howard (C) and Antawn Jamison (PF) for Rajon Rondo (PG) and Jeff Green (PF)


This was certainly the most intuitive trade to begin with. Howard for Rondo itself could not work because of the huge salary that the Celtics would take on with the All Star center. Parting with Jeff Green is not ideal for the Celtics and could negate any possibility of this trade; however, it is still enticing for the Celtics because they can play Howard this year whereas Rondo can only watch.

Dwight Howard (C) for Roy Hibbert (C) and D.J. Augustin (PG)


The trade value here does favor the Indiana Pacers slightly but there are a multitude of reasons why this could work out well for the Lakers. For one, it would put the responsibility of scoring back on Pau Gasol and allow him to play his game in the paint. Roy Hibbert is good for about 10 points per game which helps cover what Howard provides offensively. The Pacers center is much less of a liability from the free throw line which is a huge relief for LA late in games. Moreover, Hibbert is a defensive force, averaging 8 rebounds and almost three blocks per game. Not quite as good as Dwight, of course, but he is no Amare Stoudemire.

Dwight Howard (C) for Andrew Bogut (C), Brandon Rush (SG), and Klay Thompson (SG)


Although the Lakers would be risking something considering Rush is done for the year and Bogut is slowly coming back, this trade is plausible because of the skill set in the Warriors trade assets. Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters in the NBA and Bogut is an above average center when healthy. Brandon Rush has potential considering he’s in his prime at 27, is an excellent three point shooter who can give great production even in limited minutes. If the Warriors are willing to trade Klay Thompson, this trade would benefit both sides.

Dwight Howard (C) for Carlos Boozer (PF) and Richard Hamilton (SG)


Trade rumors have swirled around Carlos Boozer, and Kobe Bryant would welcome a respected pro like Boozer. The Bulls forward does have a couple years on Dwight but his veteran presence would be valued. Similarly, Rip Hamilton provides that playoff savvy skill necessary in the time that Kobe rests. Hamilton's 6’7” frame can also play sparing minutes at small forward when Boozer and Gasol are on the floor.

Dwight Howard (C) for LeBron James (SF)


I think Jim Buss had a dream about this one..

Dwight Howard (C) for Paul Millsap (PF) and Marvin Williams (SF)


Paul Millsap is another player who has been on the trade market and has given solid production for the Jazz both offensively and defensively. The Lakers would probably need additional incentives to accept this trade but if they are desperate to move him before the trade deadline, Millsap is one of the best available big men. Williams isn’t playing nearly as well as you would expect of a second overall pick but at 26 years old, he still has potential that the Lakers can tap into. He is a high percentage free throw shooter who has the ability to go for 15 and 6—nothing too remarkable, but definitely a solid role player.

Three way trade between Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Utah Jazz


Maybe I was trying to get a too creative with this one, but here’s an option when you consider Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, and Rajon Rondo in a single trade. The team that would be least satisfied with this one is Utah because they're giving up Millsap and Williams for Gasol and Bass. Los Angeles and Boston, on the other hand, would take this trade no question.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Best point guards in the NBA, 2013 edition



With the recent trends, it's east to forget that not too long ago centers were sought after as foundations of a franchise. In a sort of NBA revolution, point guards like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook have started to become the desire of every general manager. Although it could be argued that there has been a void of talented big men of late, this trend is definitely at least partially attributable to the aftermath of the Greg Oden saga. The trauma in the organization that passed up one of the league's now-premier scorers is not something that any other team wants to risk. Oden will serve as a reminder that drafting a big men with a high pick is often more of a risk than it is worth.

Even within the point guard position itself there has been a shift in recent years. No longer do teams look for a pass-first traditional point guard, but they often prefer a Kyrie Irving do-it-all type who can create for himself as much as he can create for others. As good as Rajon Rondo is, there is a degree of liability that a team would have if they relied on the Celtic star for scoring. Whether a team prefers a traditional or scoring point guard is often a multi-variable question, but this ranking will show that both types have had success with their style of play.

(Note: all stats updated as of February 9.)

Just missed the top 10

11. Ty Lawson


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
15.2
2.6
7.0
1.6
.433
.742
.355

Although his consistency has been questionable, Lawson runs point for one of the best teams in the NBA, which is why he is on the outside looking in on the top 10 PGs. One game he might be a near no-show and the next he's going off for 21 and 8 but regardless, he is instrumental to the success of the Denver Nuggets. The combination of effort (both on offense and defense) and the wins that he leads Denver to are what gives Lawson the slightest edge over the likes of Brandon Jennings and Kemba Walker.

Promising young PGs…and Deron Williams

10. Greivis Vasquez


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
14.0
4.5
9.4
0.7
.434
.769
.369

Who knew that the most impressive player in New Orleans would not be the former No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis, but rather their 6'6" point guard from Venezuela? Vasquez has exhibited marked improvement over the three years that he has been in the league and is running the show down by the bayou. ...Only problem is that that show has not been very impressive with the Hornets losing about twice as often as they have won. If he was on a better team, it would be more readily apparent that Vasquez is one of the better PGs in the NBA.

9. Damian Lillard


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
18.4
3.3
6.5
1.0
.425
.848
.361

He might be only a rookie, but Damian Lillard has already earned the right to enter the conversation of best point guards in the NBA. Lillard jumped over some more established guards because of his brilliant performances. After watching his career game to-date in his homecoming against the Golden State Warriors, I was incredibly impressed by his composure and ability to hit big shots. His potential is sky-high and don't be surprised if he's in conversation for top-5 PGs in the next couple of years.

8. Deron Williams


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
16.8
3.3
7.7
0.9
.413
.853
.344

The Brooklyn Nets point guard has been a disappointment by most standards, but that is in large part because of the high standards that he has set. Although his assists have steadily declined over the past four years and his PPG average has dropped dramatically this year, Williams is still shooting 85 percent from the line. And he is turning the ball over less than any of the previous seven years. Deron Williams lands a spot on most top-10 lists by reputation alone but in an updated list of the best overall players in the NBA, I certainly would pull him out of the top 10.

Great playmakers

7. Jrue Holiday


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
19.3
4.2
8.9
1.5
.457
.776
.354

My pick for most improved player of the year, Jrue Holiday has finally made consistent what was previously glimpses of brilliance. Just shy of averaging 20 and 10 a night, Holiday  is right in the middle of the top point guards in the league. If he can help Philadelphia make a push for the playoffs, Holiday might rise even further than the seven spot.

6. Stephen Curry


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
20.9
4.0
6.7
1.6
.434
.907
.449

Injuries have always held Curry back from performing his best, but a relatively healthy season thus far has shed light onto the fact that Curry is one of the best in the league when healthy. His ability to shoot threes off the dribble is unlike anybody in the league; he and Klay Thompson make up what is unquestionably the best shooting backcourt in the NBA. Curry was mentioned as the biggest 2013 All Star snub, but if he stays healthy there will be plenty more opportunities in upcoming seasons.

5. Tony Parker


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
20.6
3.0
7.6
0.9
.534
.821
.389

As inconsistent as other guards like Ty Lawson are this year, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs exemplify the precise opposite. Every year, the question of age hits the Spurs and so far those questions have been muted quickly. What's even scarier? The Spurs .765 winning percentage is the highest that it's been since 2005-06. Parker's .534 FG percentage is remarkable considering he's also scoring over 20 PPG. He's forcefully reminding the league that Duncan and Ginobili may have seen better years but he is still only 30 years old.

The elite

4. Russell Westbrook


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
22.5
5.3
8.1
2.0
.423
.798
.320

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook make up the most potent scoring duo in the NBA. And although I have been a harsh critic of Westbrook, there is no denying his prowess. At 23 and 8 a game, Westbrook's incredible athleticism has produced results. His FG percentage is reasonable for a prolific scorer, but I still believe that OKC would be even better off with their best shooter (Durant) taking the most shots on his team...novel idea, I know.

3. Kyrie Irving


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
23.9
3.6
5.4
1.7
.476
.847
.429

I seriously considered putting Kyrie in the No. 2 spot...the numbers that he has put up are certainly worth it. He has done his best to quell the pain of LeBron leaving Cleveland, but he just hasn't been able to help his team put together a respectable record. Losing one of the league's best rebounders, Anderson Varejao, was a devastating blow but Kyrie has joined the conversation of not only one of the best point guards in the NBA, but also one of the best players. Perhaps another year could help the chemistry in Cleveland because a Kyrie-Varejao combo could be deadly. Cavs fans can only dream about what success that a LeBron-Kyrie-Varejao trio could yield. (Kyrie and a healthy Varejao might even be better than LeBron's current supporting cast...)

2. Rajon Rondo


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
13.7
5.6
11.1
1.8
.484
.645
.240

Despite the Celtics success without the star point guard on the floor, Rajon Rondo has established himself as a top point guard in the league. Although most (or all) of the other players on this list can score more prolifically than Rondo, the facilitating ability Rondo possesses is second maybe only Chris Paul. Also unlike most of the players on this list, Rondo has a championship ring.

1. Chris Paul


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG %
FT %
3PT %
16.3
3.5
9.5
2.5
.470
.897
.338

There isn't much to say about Chris Paul that hasn't already been said. His leadership, play-making, and defense are all the best in the NBA or just shy thereof. Ironically, like Rondo, CP3 has battled injury of late but proved against the Knicks on Sunday that he's back. Hopefully soon enough a familiar name return to the floor (and compete with Paul for the No. 1 slot on this list): Derrick Rose. But for now at least, the Clippers have the league's best PG.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan: Comparing Hall of Fame power forwards



Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are two of the best power forwards in the game. Perhaps more remarkably, even now—into their late 30s—they are still essential pieces on their respective teams. Garnett’s stifling defensive presence and Duncan’s well-rounded game have provided the foundation for two teams that are slowly heading into the twilight of success (the Celtics doing so more quickly than the Spurs, of course).

One main question that comes to mind: why isn’t this comparison made more frequently? A two-pronged explanation helps de-mystify the reason that two future Hall of Famers are not considered rivals or rarely even compared. For one, Duncan has had a remarkably more successful career in terms of championships. As you will see in my awards comparison below, Duncan owns Garnett in all of the main award categories (MVPs, Finals MVPs, and championship titles). So a comparison of legacies is not very fruitful. Second, this comparison is often not made because of the fact that scorers are the primary attraction in the NBA. Think of the main comparisons everybody from analysts to you, as an NBA fan, discuss. Kobe, LeBron, Jordan, Durant…generally people want to hear about those guys. Duncan and Garnett have a severe disadvantage here: they rely on guards to get them the ball.

Think of this comparison like a chance to give some attention to the guys who do the less glamorous work. In terms of individual performance, this complete comparison will acknowledge all facets of each players’ game but will try to put performances in context. Clearly Duncan has the greater legacy, but who was truly the better player?

Regular season statistics provide a solid foundation for the discussion and a glimpse into the fact that these two stars really are close in terms of career productivity.

Regular season
Kevin Garnett
Tim Duncan
Points
19.2
20.2
Rebounds
10.5
11.2
Assists
4.0
3.1
Steals
1.3
0.7
Blocks
1.5
2.2
FG percentage
.499
.507
FT percentage
.790
.691
Games played
1300
1153

Although they are very close in age (Duncan is a less than a month older than KG), Garnett has played in two more seasons, having been drafted as a teenager. Regardless, it’s incredible to see the equality in career output. In the above chart, Duncan and Garnett each own exactly half of the eight categories. Delving into the advanced metrics, Duncan creates a marginal separation with an edge in win shares, PER, and eFG%. So yes, even though Duncan had the reputation of a quiet guy, he put up big numbers.

The peaks of their careers are also quite similar. Garnett averaged 24/14/5 in 2003-04 on the Timberwolves, and Duncan averaged 26/13/4 in 2001-02. But unlike in career per game averages, in a comparison of these two seasons, Garnett has the slight edge in advanced metrics like PER and win shares.

As if these numbers aren’t close enough, the 02 Spurs and 04 Timberwolves had the exact same regular season record, at 58-24. Moreover, both teams had top-10 offenses and defenses although the Bruce Bowen led the Spurs to one of the (top-five) best defenses in the NBA. Ironically, both lost in the playoffs to the Los Angeles Lakers but KG’s T’wolves actually made it one round further overall. Even in terms of player personnel, both were similar although the Timberwolves were anchored by an aging Sam Cassell at point and the Spurs had a promising rookie point guard, Tony Parker. Both even took home MVP honors during these peak statistical seasons. Regular season performances of these all-time greats were nearly identical.

Playoffs
Kevin Garnett
Tim Duncan
Points
19.5
22.3
Rebounds
11.0
12.1
Assists
3.5
3.4
Steals
1.3
0.7
Blocks
1.4
2.5
FG percentage
.476
.501
FT percentage
.787
.679
Games played
125
190

For completeness, a look at the playoffs is necessary. Here, as common knowledge would indicate, Tim Duncan owns Garnett. In 65 more games played, Duncan’s body of playoff work is complete and he has proven that he can provide the foundation for players to succeed when it matters most. As Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, “Tim is the common denominator…He's [had] a different cast around him [in] '99, '03 and '05. He's welcomed them all. He's found a way to help them all fit, feel comfortable in their roles, and not many players can do that.” The same cannot be said for Garnett, whose lone championship run was anchored by Paul Pierce for the most part.

And as mentioned earlier, the award comparison strongly favors Duncan. (But nobody is debating that Duncan has a greater legacy.)

Awards
Kevin Garnett
Tim Duncan
Championships
1
4
Finals MVPs
0
3
Regular season MVPs
1
2
Defensive Player of the Year
1
0
Rebounding titles
4
0
All Star appearances
15
14

The point is that Duncan has played on better teams. While Garnett has made helped some Timberwolves teams succeed, Duncan has had the luxury of playing with complementary players like David Robinson, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. In 2002-03, for example, the next highest Timberwolves scorers were the potent Wally Szczerbiak, Troy Hudson, and Rasho Nesterovic. Not only that but from 1996-2007, the Timberwolves had five 50-win seasons. In Duncan’s 15 full seasons as a Spur, San Antonio has won less than 50 games only once.



















Granted, Kevin Garnett’s move to join forces with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen for the original “Big Three” ended successfully in Year 1. But after those first two years, the Celtics had problems getting back to the Finals…and then LeBron to South Beach happened.

Undoubtedly both are great players, but the question I like to ask is this: what would happen if both players switched teams? Duncan on the Timberwolves and Garnett on the Spurs is only a hypothetical question that we can all dream up. But look at it this way: would Duncan have four championship titles under his belt if he was in Garnett’s situation? And would Garnett have brought home only one title if he was on one of the most dominant teams of the 00s? You would be hard-pressed to say ‘yes’ to either situation. Want another scary hypothetical? What if Garnett was drafted two slots higher and was the third overall pick instead of Jerry Stackhouse? Imagine a Garnett-Iverson duo wreaking havoc on the Eastern conference…

However, as many of you have probably already been thinking, these are hypothetical scenarios that we can only hazard guesses with. In reality, Duncan is in the conversation for greatest NBA players of all time and Garnett is not even in the discussion.

But the “what if?” questions definitely make you think.


Be sure to check out our other NBA player comparisons: Kobe vs. LeBron, Kobe vs. Jordan, LeBron vs. Jordan, LeBron vs. Durant, and Kobe vs. Duncan.