James is a law student from Tacoma, Washington. He is a lifelong Seattle SuperSonics fan, but is still able to enjoy the NBA, perhaps more objectively, without his favorite team. Check out his great work at Shut Up and Jam.
The Best NBA Players Primes
The Peak Year Article over at Basketball Reference gave me an idea for a post – a different way to look at the best players ever. I ranked the top 25 players by Wins Produced in their prime. Their “prime” is their best 6 seasons. Unlike at Basketball-Reference I didn’t ensure their best 6 years were continuous, just the top years in their career. This is to make sure that a player isn’t hurt by sticking around too long (e.g. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) or having an off season or two due to injury. Here’s what I came up with:
Table 1: Top 25 NBA Players based on their best 6 Seasons (1974-Present)
|Rank||Player||Prime Years||Prime MP||Average WP||Prime WP48|
|1||Magic Johnson||82′, 83′, 87′, 89′-91′||17558||27.8||0.456|
|2||Charles Barkley||86′-90′, 93′||17862||27.6||0.445|
|3||Michael Jordan||88′-92′, 96′||18989||27.5||0.417|
|6||David Robinson||90′-92′, 94′-96′||18018||24.9||0.398|
|7||Dennis Rodman||90′-94′, 98′||16642||24.5||0.424|
|9||LeBron James||05′, 06′, 08′-11′||18875||23.2||0.354|
|10||Jason Kidd**||99′, 03′, 06′-09′||18090||22.1||0.352|
|11||John Stockton||88′, 89′, 91′, 92′, 94′, 95′||17980||22.1||0.354|
|12||Shaquille O’Neal**||93′-95′, 99′-01′||18094||21.9||0.348|
|13||Hakeem Olajuwon||87′-90′, 93′, 94′||18245||21.9||0.345|
|16||Karl Malone||90′, 91′, 93′, 96′-98′||18646||21.3||0.329|
|17||Tim Duncan||98′, 02′-04′, 07′, 08′||17614||21.1||0.345|
|18||Moses Malone||79′-83′, 89′||19017||20.8||0.315|
|19||Dikembe Mutombo**||93′-95′, 99′-01′||17583||20.3||0.333|
|20||Shawn Marion||01′-03′, 05′-07′||18738||20.3||0.312|
|22||Clyde Drexler||87′-89′, 91′, 92′, 95′||17550||19.5||0.320|
|24||Scottie Pippen||91′-95′, 97′||18144||18.9||0.300|
|25||Dirk Nowitzki||01′-03′, 05′-07′||18063||18.0||0.288|
* Numbers for 1974-1978 use turnovers in the team defense aspect of Wins Produced
** Numbers in 1999 readjusted for an 82 game season from a 50 game season.
(Editor Dre here! You know I’m not happy without a list or some images so James kindly let me fill in the commentary. Here goes!)
The Old Guard
Both Moses and Kareem had long and fruitful careers. It turns out they were really good in their primes too. Let’s give it up for the only players on our list from the 70s.
The Dream Team
It still amazes me that this collection of talent got together in their primes. The only two shooting guards on our list (Michael and Clyde) make their appearance here. I’m more than happy to label this team the greatest ever assembled.
The Redeem Team
Four great players in their prime (Kidd,Paul,LeBron and Howard) easily anchored this team. Dwyane Wade is the only other active player close to cracking the top 25, which he might do if he can stay healthy. Excluding Kidd these players are still young and have a chance to climb the list.
Shaq vs. Hakeem
These are two of the most dominant centers of the turnover era. Both had amazing primes that included MVPs and back to back titles. While they are neck and neck according to the numbers, I’d say Hakeem won the tie-breaker.
The Best Power Forwards of all Time
These two are an example of the rings vs. numbers argument. Both make a good case for being one of the greatest power forwards ever. I’ll say use San Antonio as an example of what to do with a great power forward and use Minnesota as an example of what not to do.
The Bad Boy Pistons of the 80s and the “no-star” Pistons of the 00s are great places to find some of the most underrated players of all time. Rodman and Wallace are the only two players on our top 25 list not selected in the first round of the draft. I’ll just let their combined 6 Defensive Player of the Year awards and 6 titles speak for themselves.
Fat Lever helped the run and gun Nuggets of the 80s to a few 50 win seasons and limited playoff success. Dikembe helped the otherwise bleak 90s have one bright spot for Nuggets fans. I don’t think many Nuggets fan realized they were watching some of the greatest individual seasons of all time, which is a pity.
This year’s Mavericks had the greatest collection of talent without a title. In their primes Dirk, Marion and Kidd were impressively good, but this season they played support to an underrated Chandler to win it all. Dirk does end up on an all-time greats list, which was true without the title.
-James w/ help from Dre