Nerd Numbers here. My blog’s still in the shop but Arturo has offered to let me post here until I’m back on my feet. I noticed Arturo didn’t put a post up last night so I figured now was a good time to put up a piece I had sitting on my hard drive. I had it saved as “Prepare to Disagree” so with that in mind, enjoy!
A while back Mosi of the Miami Heat Index threw down a gauntlet. He looked at the top 50 NBA player list from a few years back and wanted to look at it from a stats perspective. As always he made a great post and shouted out for follow up from other Wages of Wins Network writers. I’ll be honest. His article was so good I was daunted. Then Devin of NBeh? did an even better follow up! You’d think I’d be doubly daunted but Devin left Bill Laimbeer of his list and suddenly I had to retort.
The NBA is interesting. It hasn’t kept complete stats for a lot of its history. In 1978 is when they started tracking individual turnovers, which *surprise surprise* matter! I’ve decided to stay in this time frame to look for top players. For 33 years 50 players seemed like too many. Out of a desire for some room for debate or sheer laziness I decided to look at the top 25 players for the last 33 years. I decided to start simple. First off, I only went through the 2010 season. I’ll consider updating this at the end of the season. Next, to be in the top 25 a player had to be in the top 100 in terms of all time regular season wins and the top 100 in terms of and all time playoff wins. Shrewd I know but to be on my list you have to be an all-time great. Players like T-Mac that lost a lot of their career to injury and Grant Hill, who didn’t see much playoff time, aren’t going to make it. Next I looked over how well the players performed in the regular season and playoffs and got my list. I’ll give you the first ten to chew on. Enjoy!
#1 Magic Johnson
- Regular Season – 33245 Minutes, 303 Wins Produced (5th Overall), 0.437 Career WP48
- Playoff – 7538 Minutes, 65 Wins Produced (1st Overall), 0.411 Career WP48
This was the easiest choice on the list. A member of the 300 win club* and the best playoff performer of all time it’s not hard to list Magic as the greatest player of the turnover era.
# 2 Charles Barkley
- Regular Season – 39327 Minutes, 324 Wins Produced (1st Overall), 0.395 Career WP48
- Playoff – 4849 Minutes, 37 Wins Produced (7th Overall), 0.361 Career WP48
Charles Barkley is the best regular season player in recent history. He never quite had the support to get a ring. Still it’s not hard to have him right behind Magic. If the Blazers had drafted Sir Charles then NBA history could be entirely different.
#3 Michael Jordan
- Regular Season – 41013 Minutes, 280 Wins Produced(7th Overall), 0.328 Career WP48
- Playoff – 7474 Minutes, 44 Wins Produced (2nd Overall), 0.280 Career WP48
Putting Michael third was rough. Still, when you quit the game in the middle of your prime to play baseball it will hurt your position on all-time lists. Without doubt the greatest SG of all time and there is no sign of a worthy successor anywhere in site.
#4 Larry Bird
- Regular Season – 34443 Minutes, 261 Wins Produced (9th Overall), 0.363 Career WP48
- Playoff – 6886 Minutes, 41 Wins Produced (5th Overall), 0.284 Career WP48
No surprise names in the top 4. Larry Legend ended his career a little too soon. He played through an amazing number of injuries. Larry is without doubt the greatest Celtic since Russell.
#5 Jason Kidd
- Regular Season – 43485 Minutes, 314 Wins Produced (5th Overall), 0.310 Career WP48
- Playoff – 4953 Minutes, 31 Wins Produced (10th Overall), 0.300 Career WP48
It’s amazing how a lack of a ring and doing things well other than scoring can affect the perception of you. Jason Kidd has been amazing for his teams in the regular season and playoffs. He made back to back title runs and in 2007 had the most Wins Produced in the playoffs despite not reaching the finals.
#6 John Stockton
- Regular Season – 47764 Minutes, 316 Wins Produced (4th Overall), 0.318 Career WP48
- Playoffs – 6398 Minutes, 36 Wins Produced (8th Overall), 0.272 Career WP48
He’s pretty much a copy of Jason Kidd. It was hard to decide between 5 and 6 for these two. Eventually I decided the unfair advantage for John Stockton put him at 6. Having Stockton over Malone however was a no-brainer.
#7 Tim Duncan
- Regular Season – 35329 Minutes , 239 Wins Produced (14th Overall) , 0.325 Career WP48
- Playoffs – 6740 Minutes, 41 Wins Produced (4th Overall) 0.295 Career WP48
Tim Duncan’s career totals in the regular season are not as hot as some of the other players in the top 10 (he’s the only one without 250 regular season wins in fact) but his playoffs have been amazing. The fact that he’s the only player in the last 20 years to play a perfect game in the finals certainly helped sway me as well.
#8 Shaquille O’Neal
- Regular Season – 42681 Minutes , 258 Wins Produced (10th Overall) , 0.291 Career WP48
- Playoffs – 8087 Minutes, 43 Wins Produced (3rd Overall) 0.256 Career WP48
Shaq has fallen off in recent years. He was truly dominant when he was younger and he made an impact of three teams that went to the Finals. I think Shaq may be done but he will end his career as a top 10 of all time.
#9 Hakeem Olajuwon
- Regular Season – 44222 Minutes , 263 Wins Produced (8th Overall) , 0.285 Career WP48
- Playoffs – 5749 Minutes, 35 Wins Produced (9th Overall) 0.295 Career WP48
Hakeem also gets a boost from his playoff performance. He’s top 10 all time in regular season wins but he pulled his team to their first title. He was amazingly productive almost his entire career and is one of the few players you could draft in front of Jordan, Stockton and Barkley and not feel ripped off.
#10 David Robinson
- Regular Season – 34272 Minutes, 253 Wins Produced (11th Overall), 0.355 Career WP48 (Thanks to Winniepoo for catching an earlier typo here)
- Playoffs – 4221 Minutes, 25 Wins Produced (15th Overall), 0.285 Career WP48
David Robinson waited before joining the league to fulfill his Navy service. It hurt him a little in terms of career totals. That said his career was amazing. He was productive every year in the league and a great playoff player. I ask you Spurs fans to remember that and not dwell on the fact that he’s right below Hakeem.
More to come!
* Just a note on slight differences in career numbers between myself and previous posts from Arturo. I’ve redone my numbers for players based on game by game data. This can slightly shift their WP.