Originally Posted by millwad
His longevity was just unreal!
One odd thing I found out was the fact that 31 year old Kareem was just slightly better when it came to scoring compared to 39 year old Kareem, and when I write slightly, I mean 0.4 points difference and 1% FG difference.
Well, '79 Kareem was a lot more active as far as shot blocking and rebounding so that has something to do with how much he could score while maintaining that responsibility.
Kareem was also playing a different style in '79, not looking to score as much.
Suddenly he's become the NBA's top passing center, averaging better than six assists a game. During the winning streak, he's averaged nearly 12 rebounds and four blocked shots per outing. He's been clearing the ball out fast, a key to the Lakers' deadly fastbreak.
"My role has changed a lot." he said. "I don't have to shoulder the responsibility of scoring. We're a lot more difficult to defend because they can't just key on me anymore."
He raised his scoring to 28.5 ppg on 58 FG%/64 TS% in 8 playoff games in '79.
You can also see this reflect in his numbers that Kareem was capable of scoring a lot more looking at other seasons.
He averaged 26.2 ppg on 58 FG%/61 TS% in '77 while playing just under 37 mpg, but raised that average to almost 35 ppg on 61 FG%/65 TS% in 11 playoff games.
He averaged 25.8 ppg on 55 FG%/59 TS% in 36.5 mpg in '78, and that was probably brought down a little by the game he left after a few minutes as well as the other 20 games he missed that season.
In 1980, he had what was being called the best supporting cast of his career and he averaged 24.8 ppg on 60 FG%/64 TS% during the regular season and raised that to 31.9 ppg on 58 FG%/61 TS% in 15 playoff games during the Lakers title run.
He was back up to 26.2 ppg on 57 FG%/62 TS% in the '81 season. And that was with Magic missing 45 games(for those that want to credit Magic with Kareem's offensive numbers during the 80's).
But his longevity is truly remarkable. He was still among the most unstoppable offensive players when he was pushing 40. If you watch a good amount of games, you'll see how often he was double teamed even at that point. Despite his role being reduced in '87, he was still getting doubled regularly and the Lakers went to him for big baskets quite often at 40 years old.
There was simply no defense for that sky hook, and he had a lot more to his game than that as well. Underrated vertical leap and body control(especially for a guy that size), good counter moves and an excellent passer out of double teams. I'm not sure I'd take anyone over Kareem to be the number 1 option on my team.