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Old 05-17-2010, 12:48 PM   #121
Wukillabeez78
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Default Re: The supporting casts of the all time greats...

Quote:
Originally Posted by t-rex
I never considered Isiah Thomas an all time great. I would argue that his back-mate Joe Dumars might have been as good as Thomas when the Pistons won their back to back champoinships. He certainly was better defensively.

Wow? You never considered Isiah Thomas to be an all-time great? Isiah Thomas came into the league as a great player and sacrificed some of his individual brilliance so his teammates (like Joe Dumars) could develop and become major contributors. He did this to win, that was always what was most important to him. He was one of the best leaders and most intense players to ever play. John Stockton (who of all people available to him) chose Isiah Thomas to introduce him for his HOF induction. Stockton said that playing against Isiah in his early years let him know just how far he had to go in terms of becoming an elite point guard and also thanked Isiah for always being there for him behind the scenes. How many point guards could honestly be rated ahead of Isiah Thomas? He was one of the best ball handlers ever to play and used this ability to get to the rim and finish or set up his teammates. He was also a good shooter (not great) and his lifetime field goal percentage of 45% isn’t bad at all for a player who penetrated the lane frequently and was often finishing drives by scoring over bigger/stronger frontcourt players (Iverson who had similar ball handling and penetrating abilities has a lifetime fg percentage of 42% for comparison). Only one player has had more than the 1,123 assists Isiah had in the 84-85 season (John Stockton who eclipsed this figure 4 times with a high of 1,164). The players kids gush over today like Nash, CP3, Deron Williams, etc… haven’t even broken broken 1,000 assists in a season (Nash and Williams have never even attained 900 assists in one season). Isiah scored 25 points in one quarter in the 1988 NBA Finals against the Lakers (still the all time record). He scored 16 points in 94 seconds against the Knicks in the 1984 playoffs. Find me another point guard past or present with better career averages than 19.2 points a game and 9.3 assists per game. Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson (two other all time greats) are the only other point guards with better career averages. Isiah could score and pass and while he wasn’t regarded as a Gary Payton type lockdown defender he was still an above average defender (ranks 14th all time in steals) who played great team defense (he was a better defender than CP3, Nash, Stockton, etc…).

All I can say is that there are not more than two point guards past or present that I’d rank ahead of Isiah Thomas or rather have on my team ahead of him and both were physical freaks of nature (Magic obviously at 6’9 and “The Big O” who was 6’5, 220lbs and was the Lebron James of his day combining quickness and strength that wasn’t common during his era). Isiah was everything you’d want in a point guard. He could run a team and was a great leader. He could score anytime he wanted and take over a game offensively if his team needed to be rescued. He was an outstanding ball handler and set up his teammates very well. He was willing to sacrifice his own talents (Joe Dumars increased his scoring average 7 years in a row playing with Isiah) for the good of his team. He played with a combination of heart and tenacity that many players simply don’t possess (a byproduct of the harsh Southside Chicago environment he came from). And above all he was a winner. Say what you want about him away from the court (as a coach/executive, etc…) but on the court as a player he was definitely an ALL-TIME GREAT. I can’t believe I wrote all this in defense of somebody who is lauded as the “best little man of all-time” but I was really into the NBA during the 80’s, saw many of his games and felt the need to remind some of you who either didn’t see or are simply unaware of how great Thomas was.

Joe Dumars was a great player in his own right (Hall of Famer as well) and he and Isiah formed one of the best backcourts ever seen in NBA history. He was a better long range shooter and individual defender than Isiah however he was not the better player overall. Isiah took Joe under his wing and they used to work out together in the summer (interestingly, B.J. Armstrong used to work out with Thomas and Dumars his first few years in the league as well. Isiah and Joe were like Pippen and Jordan. Isiah and Jordan were mentors who brought the best out of their proteges. Scottie did some things better than Jordan (defend, rebound and pass) however he wasn't better overall and it's the same with Dumars.

Last edited by Wukillabeez78 : 05-17-2010 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:47 PM   #122
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Default Re: The supporting casts of the all time greats...

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Originally Posted by t-rex
Good question.

I consider both squads among the top ten greatest teams of all time.

The problem I have is that the Pistons of that time period are so hard to quantify.

On paper their roster doesn't look like it matches up well with the Celtics or Lakers of that era, but they competed with both teams on equal footing. The same holds true with the Bulls. But to call the 1989 Pistons a lock against the 1991 Bulls is foolhardy.

I would give a slight edge to the Bulls because I think by 1991 and 1992 they had become almost as good as the Pistons defensively. But on the offensive side of the ball the Bulls were clearly better. Jordan and Pippen could get their own shot. And I really like the spot up shooting of Hodges and Paxon off the Bulls bench.

When I look at the Pistons, it is sometimes hard to figure out where the scoring comes from.

Desptie being regarded as an all time great, Isiah Thomas was never really a 25(Plus) point per game scorer. Joe Dumars was noted more for defense. Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer could not be heavily counted on to get 20 plus points every night. This is especially true for Rick Mahorn who had little offensive skill. In my view Horace Grant was a better power foward.


Off the bench the Pistons had Vinnie Johnson. He was an outstanding shooter/scorer, but he could not match Paxon or Hodges at the 3 point line.

In today's era of basketball where good 3 point shooting is a must, Johnson would be less effective than he was back then. Paxon and Hodges would be more effective in today's game. That is a huge edge for the Bulls.

Mark Aguire was a great scorer at SF in his Dallas Mavericks years. But he was never as effective a scorer with the Pistons as he was in Dallas.

In fact with my friends I have often argued that the best Pistons team of that era was actually in 1988. Because that team had Adrian Dantley who was still a great scorer and could hep the team get points. However after the Lakers beat the Pistons in a classic 7 game NBA Finals in 1988, Isiah Thomas blamed Dantley for the loss. The Pistons booted Dantley and Isiah helped orchestrate a trade to bring in Mark Aguire who was a childhood friend of his. ( Isiah really isn't a likeable guy on many different levels.)


Anyway, I think the Pistons are slightly better on the defensive side of the ball. But by 1991 and 92, the Bulls are far better on the offensive side.

This would give the Bulls a slight edge if they were to play the 1989 Pistons.

I would take the Bulls.


This is what makes message board fun. I could debate mythical matchups all night.

I agree, both the 89 Pistons and the 91 Bulls would probably be in my top ten of best NBA teams ever. It would be a great matchup between the two teams; it would really be a tossup. Again though, not sure what you mean when you say the Pistons of that era are hard to quantify??? They were very easy to quantify, they were all substance. They were a cohesive unit of players who all knew their roles and got the job done. On paper the Pistons of those years definitely match up great with the Bulls, Celtics and Lakers of the same era. Each team had advantages and disadvantages. The Bulls might get the slight edge at shooting guard with Jordan outperforming Dumars (not by a wide margin because Dumars gave Jordan fits defensively and offensively by running him off numerous picks and hitting jumpers in his face). But the Pistons would win the point guard matchup by a wide margin because Isiah used to absolutely torch John Paxson, B.J. Armstrong and Craig Hodges. In a similar fashion, the Celtics used to kill teams with McHale, Bird, Parish but the Pistons and Bulls were two teams who actually defended Boston’s bigs pretty well with Rodman, Salley, Laimbeer for Detroit and Grant, Pippen, Scott Williams and Cliff Levingston for Chicago all providing the toughness, hustle and energy to slow Boston’s Big three down. It was all about matchups and all of these teams matched up well with one another, both on paper and in reality. The team that won usually was the one that could stay healthy and better exploit the weaknesses of its opponent. Execution both defensively and offensively was obviously very important.

You say despite being regarded as an all time great Isiah was never a 25 point per game scorer??? What does this mean? Isiah had the ability to score 25 points a game whenever he wanted to (as I said responding to another one of your posts he scored 25 points in one quarter in the NBA Finals against the Lakers). But more importantly you don’t have to score 25 ppg to be an all time great. How many point guards can you name that averaged over 25 points a game? None other than Oscar Roberston did it for their career (remember Oscar was also a shooting guard at times during his career) and not many point guards even average over 25 ppg for a season (Nate Archibald is one name that comes to mind who did it). Point guards aren’t asked to average 25 ppg unless their team lacks scoring which brings me to my next point which is the Pistons of that era didn’t lack scoring. Dumars was renowned for his defensive ability however he could score the ball like water flows. He had a pure jumpshot and had great range on his shot. Joe could hit the three with ease and was a great three point shooter (he shot 38% for his career while Paxson only shot 35%). He could also penetrate and run point guard himself (Isiah and he often switched roles with Dumars running the point and setting up Isiah when he became hot). Isiah obviously could score and set up his teammates. Laimbeer had a nice jumpshot (tippy-toe jumpshot) and could hit threes, one of the first big men to really step out and hit the triple regularly. Of course Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson could score. Mark Aguirre had a good midrange game and was good in the post around the basket. James Edwards was good for a few fall away jumpshots in the post. And players like Salley and Rodman and Mahorn shot high percentages because they got easy baskets being set up by Thomas and Dumars and by simply hustling and getting scores off of offensive rebounds. It’s a misnomer to think the Pistons were all about defense and couldn’t score. Their defense overshadowed their offensive prowess but they could score the ball just fine and Chuck Daly ran good offensive sets that the team executed very well.

The 1988 Pistons with Dantley weren’t better than the 89 or 90 Pistons without him. Detroit top brass decided to get rid of Dantley because of chemistry problems both on the court and off. Detroit management wanted Rodman to get more minutes because he played much better defense and rebounded much better than Dantley. Dantley was a great, great scorer but as I said above the Pistons of this era didn’t lack offensive punch with or without him. Dantley was traded because he was very weak defensively (Bird used to torch him) and Detroit management knew his ego was such that he wouldn’t be amenable to receiving less minutes (or even coming off the bench behind Rodman). They traded for Aguirre because they knew he would come in and be fine with being a role player off the bench. Isiah didn’t orchestrate the trade however he and other team leaders (like Laimbeer and Mahorn) didn’t advocate for Dantley when team management got their input on the potential trade. Aguirre didn’t have to be as an effective scorer or score as much for Detroit as he did in Dallas because it was not needed. He scored very well for the Pistons off the bench as part of the second unit with Vinnie Johnson and John Salley among others.

In today’s era good three point shooting really isn’t a must. It’s nice to have shooters that can hit the 3 point shot when open but teams who consciously run to the 3 point line instead of hitting higher percentage 2 point shots closer to the basket never win (Suns of recent years for example). You only really need great 3 point shooters if you have a dominant center that constantly gets doubled to create space for him to operate (Shaq with the Lakers, Hakeem with the Rockets). Even then the strategy of incorporating the 3 point shot often fails (look at the Magic with Howard) because no team or player is always going to hit enough 3’s to justify shooting such a low percentage shot often enough to win an entire series (Magic with Shaq as well). Paxson hit more big 2 point jump shots (off of penetrations by Jordan and Pippen) for the Bulls than he did 3 point ones. You need perimeter shooting but you don’t necessarily need it to be from 3 point land to win…

Last edited by Wukillabeez78 : 05-17-2010 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:49 PM   #123
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Default Re: The supporting casts of the all time greats...

Well another excuse? Seriously, all Bulls players in 91-93 are crap outside of Jordan and Pippen, and they still dominated the other teams in playoffs. The Cavs in 2009 and 2010 have a way better supporting casts for Lebron than the Bulls had for Jordan before 1995...
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:00 PM   #124
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Default Re: The supporting casts of the all time greats...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wukillabeez78
Wow? You never considered Isiah Thomas to be an all-time great? Isiah Thomas came into the league as a great player and sacrificed some of his individual brilliance so his teammates (like Joe Dumars) could develop and become major contributors. He did this to win, that was always what was most important to him. He was one of the best leaders and most intense players to ever play. John Stockton (who of all people available to him) chose Isiah Thomas to introduce him for his HOF induction. Stockton said that playing against Isiah in his early years let him know just how far he had to go in terms of becoming an elite point guard and also thanked Isiah for always being there for him behind the scenes. How many point guards could honestly be rated ahead of Isiah Thomas? He was one of the best ball handlers ever to play and used this ability to get to the rim and finish or set up his teammates. He was also a good shooter (not great) and his lifetime field goal percentage of 45% isn’t bad at all for a player who penetrated the lane frequently and was often finishing drives by scoring over bigger/stronger frontcourt players (Iverson who had similar ball handling and penetrating abilities has a lifetime fg percentage of 42% for comparison). Only one player has had more than the 1,123 assists Isiah had in the 84-85 season (John Stockton who eclipsed this figure 4 times with a high of 1,164). The players kids gush over today like Nash, CP3, Deron Williams, etc… haven’t even broken broken 1,000 assists in a season (Nash and Williams have never even attained 900 assists in one season). Isiah scored 25 points in one quarter in the 1988 NBA Finals against the Lakers (still the all time record). He scored 16 points in 94 seconds against the Knicks in the 1984 playoffs. Find me another point guard past or present with better career averages than 19.2 points a game and 9.3 assists per game. Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson (two other all time greats) are the only other point guards with better career averages. Isiah could score and pass and while he wasn’t regarded as a Gary Payton type lockdown defender he was still an above average defender (ranks 14th all time in steals) who played great team defense (he was a better defender than CP3, Nash, Stockton, etc…).

All I can say is that there are not more than two point guards past or present that I’d rank ahead of Isiah Thomas or rather have on my team ahead of him and both were physical freaks of nature (Magic obviously at 6’9 and “The Big O” who was 6’5, 220lbs and was the Lebron James of his day combining quickness and strength that wasn’t common during his era). Isiah was everything you’d want in a point guard. He could run a team and was a great leader. He could score anytime he wanted and take over a game offensively if his team needed to be rescued. He was an outstanding ball handler and set up his teammates very well. He was willing to sacrifice his own talents (Joe Dumars increased his scoring average 7 years in a row playing with Isiah) for the good of his team. He played with a combination of heart and tenacity that many players simply don’t possess (a byproduct of the harsh Southside Chicago environment he came from). And above all he was a winner. Say what you want about him away from the court (as a coach/executive, etc…) but on the court as a player he was definitely an ALL-TIME GREAT. I can’t believe I wrote all this in defense of somebody who is lauded as the “best little man of all-time” but I was really into the NBA during the 80’s, saw many of his games and felt the need to remind some of you who either didn’t see or are simply unaware of how great Thomas was.

Joe Dumars was a great player in his own right (Hall of Famer as well) and he and Isiah formed one of the best backcourts ever seen in NBA history. He was a better long range shooter and individual defender than Isiah however he was not the better player overall. Isiah took Joe under his wing and they used to work out together in the summer (interestingly, B.J. Armstrong used to work out with Thomas and Dumars his first few years in the league as well. Isiah and Joe were like Pippen and Jordan. Isiah and Jordan were mentors who brought the best out of their proteges. Scottie did some things better than Jordan (defend, rebound and pass) however he wasn't better overall and it's the same with Dumars.

Ecellent post!


Very good info. I honestly wish I could have that statement back. Although to me Thomas was always slightly overrated, he is an all-time great. I can remember his finest moment, game 6 of the 1988 NBA Finals where on a badly injured ankle, he nearly won the game (and the NBA Championship) by himself. That was his finest personal hour as a professional. He played with a lot of heart.

Of course I don't view him as the 3rd greatest PG in NBA history (after Magic and the Big O). I could name lots of PG's I would rather have. And I would argue that Dumars and Thomas were far closer in talent than most thought. But to not view Thomas as an all time great is foolish on my part. In retrospect, I stand corrected.
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