Dennis Rodman and Artis Gilmore: Two of the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time?

The Weekend Podcast returned from summer vacation and, in honor of Dennis Rodman and Artis Gilmore‘s inductions into the Hall of Fame, bloggers from the Wages of Wins Network debated “The Worm”, the “A-Train”, as well as eight other players that should be added to the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time.

The Cast (from the Wages of Wins Journal)

The Synopsis

Mosi published a post in February that updated the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time using Wins Produced and the Hall of Fame probability model from basketball-reference.com. Here was the method he used for updating the list:
  1. Since Wins Produced can only be calculated with statistics that go back to the 1977-78 season, any one that played the majority of their career before 1978 cannot be removed from the list.
  2. Wins Produced is great for measuring the production of a player’s game, but the 50 greatest players should have form and function. They have to look like a great player and this has to be validated by a group similar to the one that selected the original 50 greatest players. To meet that criteria, the only players that will be considered for addition to the list will be those that have a greater than 50% chance of being selected to the Hall of Fame, according to basketball-reference.com’s Hall of Fame Probability model.

Devin felt players from the 1950s and 1960s were overrated and responded to Mosi’s post with his own updated list of the 50 Greatest NBA Players using a different method.

Here is Devin’s method: For players who played their whole careers after the 1976-77 season (also known as the turnover era), I simply made use of Arturo’s handy list of the greatest players since 1978. For players who played at least part of their careers before the 1977-78 season, I used this method (click on link to see method) for estimating Wins Produced. It’s important to note that, due to the fact that the NBA didn’t keep track of steals, blocks, or turnovers during most of the pre-turnover era, the WP numbers are inflated. I also didn’t count ABA stats…

Despite the different methods, Mosi and Devin’s lists had 35 players in common. That left 15 different players from each list in limbo, so Mosi and Devin took their differences to Arturo for arbitration on a podcast. This spreadsheet lists the players Mosi and Devin debated for Arturo’s decision.

Debating the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time

Bill Sharman vs. Grant Hill. Arturo’s decision: Hill

Paul Arizin vs. Larry Nance (highlights). Arturo’s decision: Nance Neither

Pete Maravich vs. Marcus Camby. Arturo’s decision: Camby Neither

Earl Monroe vs. Paul Pierce. Arturo’s decision: Pierce

Billy Cunningham vs. Dirk Nowitzki. Arturo’s decision: Both

Rick Barry vs. Steve Nash. Arturo’s decision: Both

Dave Bing vs. LeBron James. Arturo’s decision: LeBron

Sam Jones vs. Artis Gilmore (highlights). Arturo’s decision: Gilmore

Dave DeBusschere vs. Mark Jackson (highlights). Arturo’s decision: DeBuschere Jackson Neither

(Editor Arturo’s note: If you listen all the way to the end you’ll find that the final descicion was neither. I called an audible and gave it to Dwyane Wade)

Bob Cousy vs. Shawn Marion. Arturo’s decision: Cousy

Nate Archibald vs. Ben Wallace. Arturo’s decision: Wallace

Hal Greer vs. Buck Williams (highlights). Arturo’s decision: Neither

Lenny Wilkens vs. Walt Bellamy (analysis & highlights). Arturo’s decision: Bellamy Neither

Willis Reed vs. Dikembe Mutombo. Arturo’s decision: Both

John Havlicek vs. Dennis Rodman. Arturo’s decision: Both

After arbitration, the WoW Network’s 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time were (in no particular order, with changes to the NBA’s original list marked by an asterisk):

  1. Bill Russell
  2. Bob Pettit
  3. Charles Barkley
  4. Clyde Drexler
  5. Dave Cowens
  6. David Robinson
  7. Dolph Schayes
  8. Elgin Baylor
  9. Elvin Hayes
  10. Gary Payton
  11. George Mikan
  12. Hakeem Olajuwon
  13. Jason Kidd
  14. Jerry Lucas
  15. Jerry West
  16. John Stockton
  17. Julius Erving
  18. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  19. Karl Malone
  20. Kevin Garnett
  21. Kobe Bryant
  22. Larry Bird
  23. Magic Johnson
  24. Michael Jordan
  25. Moses Malone
  26. Nate Thurmond
  27. Oscar Robertson
  28. Patrick Ewing
  29. Robert Parish
  30. Scottie Pippen
  31. Shaquille O’Neal
  32. Tim Duncan
  33. Walt Frazier
  34. Wes Unseld
  35. Wilt Chamberlain
  36. Grant Hill*
  37. Paul Pierce*
  38. Billy Cunningham
  39. Dirk Nowitzki*
  40. Rick Barry
  41. Steve Nash*
  42. LeBron James*
  43. Artis Gilmore*
  44. Mark Jackson*  Dwyane Wade*
  45. Bob Cousy
  46. Ben Wallace*
  47. Willis Reed
  48. Dikembe Mutombo*
  49. John Havlicek
  50. Dennis Rodman*

The final list is a product of each blogger’s biases: Mosi’s respect for the old school and Hall of Fame, All-Star Team and All-NBA selections; Devin’s views on basketball in the 50s and 60s and reliance on Wins Produced to identify greatness; and Arturo’s preference for modern players, belief that big men win championships and fascination with Rodman. The interaction of all those biases made for an interesting, hour-long discussion.

You can listen to the podcast one of three ways:

What were the best and worst decisions made for the WoW Network’s 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time? Let us know in the comments section.

Note from DJ (think of this as the first comment):  The following post – from 2009 – argues that Rick Barry is probably not one of the 50 greatest players of all-time: The Better Barry

At least, I don’t think Brent Barry is one of the 50 greatest players of all-time.  And I do think Brent was a more productive player – at least per-minute – than his famous father.

Note from Arturo: I put Mr. Dwyane Wade in. Here’s the highlight reel:

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