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Saturday, May 14, 2022

Warriors Outrebound, Outshoot, and Outlast Grizzlies to Advance to the Western Conference Finals

Small ball and three point shooting may grab the headlines, but when push comes to shove--literally--size matters in the NBA. After being pushed around, outrebounded, and embarrassed by the Memphis Grizzlies in game five the Golden State Warriors responded by going big and outrebounding the Grizzlies 70-44 en route to a 110-96 victory. Acting head coach Mike Brown--who is taking Steve Kerr's place while Kerr is in COVID-19 health and safety protocols--inserted Kevon Looney in the starting lineup. Looney grabbed a game-high 22 rebounds--including 11 in the first quarter, matching Memphis' total--to nullify Memphis' advantage in size/physicality. Draymond Green had 15 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 11 rebounds. Steven Adams led Memphis with 10 rebounds and he had the best plus/minus number among the team's starters (-6) but he was outnumbered in the paint.

The Warriors were sloppy with the ball (17 turnovers) and they shot just .394 from the field, but their huge rebounding advantage coupled with the Grizzlies' poor shooting (.354) proved to be a winning formula. Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points on 11-22 field goal shooting, but Stephen Curry shot just 10-27 from the field to accumulate 29 points. Jordan Poole, the newest "Splash Brother," drizzled his way to 12 points on 4-15 field goal shooting. Dillon Brooks posted Curry-like numbers (30 points, 11-28 field goal shooting), while Desmond Bane nearly matched Thompson's output (25 points, 9-16 field goal shooting), but the Warriors' extra possessions proved to be too much to overcome.

The big "What if?" for this series is the knee injury that Ja Morant suffered in game three. Morant scored 47 points in Memphis' game two win and he averaged 38.3 ppg during the series. The Grizzlies ranked second in the NBA in scoring this season (115.6 ppg), but in the final three games of this series without Morant the Grizzlies failed to break the 100 point barrier twice. Memphis' game five blowout win was an aberration--not from an effort standpoint, but from a shooting and scoring standpoint--and the harsh reality is that without Morant the Grizzlies just could not generate enough offense to win game six even after holding the Warriors to sub-.400 field goal shooting.

Despite being shorthanded and despite losing the battle on the boards, the Grizzlies kept the game close until the fourth quarter, when Curry finally got hot (4-7 field goal shooting, 11 points) and the Warriors outscored the Grizzlies 32-19. 

The Warriors are back in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2019, when they lost to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals after Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both suffered serious injuries. They will get a few days off before facing the game seven winner of the Phoenix-Dallas series.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:37 AM



At Saturday, May 14, 2022 10:50:00 AM, Blogger DDC said...

David, what are your thoughts on Jaren Jackson Jr.

He has the size and skills to be a high level player, but something is off. He plays way too finesse for my liking. He would benefit from watching some film on guys like Kevin McHale, Kevin Garnett. He's too gifted of an athlete to only average around 5 rebounds a game.

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 11:37:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree that he should get more rebounds. It is also concerning that his field goal percentage has declined from .506 as a rookie to .415 this season.

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 6:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Reading you over the last season or so you seem a bit down on Curry specifically and the Warriors in general. Would a title this year change your perception of either the team or the player? Obviously there's a lot of basketball left to be played for that to happen and the odds are certainly better with the field than the Warriors, but I am just curious if beating those odds would alter your "take" on them/him.

If I'm not mistaken it would make Curry just the seventh player to amass two MVPs and four championships, joining Russell, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic, Jordan, Duncan and James. Obviously he and everyone else on that list have benefitted from incidental advantages in terms of teammates or injuries or what have you but it's still quite elite company.

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 7:24:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I would not say that I am "down on the Warriors." They have performed to my expectations/predictions in general (if I had known that Morant would only play three games in this series then I would have picked the Warriors, and if Morant had played the entire series then I believe that my prediction would have been correct).

I am "down" on commentators who seek to diminish Durant and/or elevate Curry by pretending that Durant was not clearly and without question the best player on the Warriors' last two championship teams. Also, Curry has yet to be the best or second best player in any of his NBA Finals appearances, so even if he wins a fourth title this season--which is far from certain--he would be seventh on that list you mentioned, and he would be quite a distance behind whoever we designate as sixth.

Curry is a great player. If you go back and look, I predicted a better NBA future for him coming out of college than most people did, though of course I did not foresee that he would become this good (no one foresaw that). However, I think that he has gone from being underrated to being overrated to the extent that people try to elevate him to the LeBron/Durant/Giannis level. Those guys carried teams to titles as dominant players. Curry has never done that, and I would argue that based on size/skill set he is not capable of doing that.

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 7:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What sort of performance would he have to have this season to theoretically change your mind on that? Is it as simple as winning a Finals MVP? Or is there a production benchmark you'd need to see him meet? Say if he averaged 25-30 on good shooting in a Finals win? Would it have to be against a certain opponent? You seem underwhelmed by the 15 series because of Cleveland's injuries, would a win over a no Middleton Milwaukee similarly not count? Or is it simply a question of size and there's nothing he can do to establish those credentials?

Would you say that Giannis and Durant have already written their tickets to the next iteration of your Pantheon? Is anyone else on the short list? Or is membership forever capped at 14?

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 9:16:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I am evaluating his entire career, not just one performance. Once a player has reached his peak, it is unlikely that he is going to have a performance vastly superior to what he has done before, so I think that your question is moot until proven otherwise, but for the sake of discussion I would say that to change my evaluation I would need to see Curry clearly be the best player on the court during a Finals win. If Curry, Thompson, and Poole each average 22-25 ppg in a Finals win with similar shooting splits but Curry wins the Finals MVP that would not change my opinion of him very much.

Size matters in the NBA, as I have stated in many articles over the years. One great series or even one great season is not going to magically convince me that a 6-3 guard is better than a player 6-6 or taller who impacts the game at a high level at both ends of the court. The bottom line is that I am not taking Curry over LeBron/Durant/Giannis/healthy Kawhi/Kobe unless Curry proves that he can sustain a level of dominance at both ends of the court that no player his size has ever done or is capable of doing. This is just something inherent in the nature of the sport. If other people look at "advanced basketball statistics" and conclude that Curry's "gravity" is a uniquely powerful force that makes him superior to the players I listed I am not likely going to convince them that they are wrong--but they are nevertheless wrong.

I am not sure if I am going to do another Pantheon, and if I do one I am not sure if I would expand the ranks or keep it the same size, which might necessitate making cuts. I don't think that membership can forever be "capped at 14," but the point of the Pantheon was to single out the players who are a cut above even the 50 Greatest. If the Pantheon becomes too large then the original purpose is defeated. I don't think that a Pantheon can be much larger than 15--maybe 20 at the most--and part of the reason that I have not updated my Pantheon is that I have not decided the best way to proceed.

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 10:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well just based on this comment it sounds like if you did ultimately decide to make cuts you could start with West and Oscar on the basis of height. But I see why you might not want to too. And maybe height mattered a little less in their era when there were fewer large guards against them and less switch-based strategies.

Back to the first point. Would no amount of winning by Curry would sway you on its own? He'd also have to improve as an impact defender? If he got two or three more titles which is probably his absolutely best case at this age but only averaged his current Finals averages the extra rings wouldn't tilt his case any?

I am not trying to be a pedant just trying to get a handle on your rubric and to what extent team success factors in. It has been my observation that the more people value team results the more likely they are to place Curry very highly. I am somewhere in the middle myself but I definitely think that the goal of the game is to win titles so winning titles has to factor into the final grade.

I would at the very least agree that Lebron is better than Curry and I would need to see Curry win at least five and probably six rings to consider changing my mind about that which seems unlikely. I would agree that Giannis at his best is likely better than Curry's best and it seems likely that if he stays healthy he will cleanly surpass Curry but it is hard for me to place him ahead of Curry on the all-time list just yet with only a single Finals appearance on his resume but he has plenty of time yet and should get there barring severe injury.

I do not think the ink is dry yet on Curry vs. Durant in either direction. Either man's case would be boosted by winning without the other. So far Curry has the edge there but as you are fond of pointing out he beat a bit of a wounded deer to do it. If forced to choose today I would take Durant's best game over Curry's best game but I would also rather have Curry's whole career than Durant's up to this point. It is tough for me to hold dropping a 3-1 lead in 2016 against Curry in that debate since Durant did the same thing the same year and even did it against Curry. I try not to overvalue head to head performances but I would be lying if I said they had no weight.

I think it is almost a Julius Erving vs. Moses Malone situation for me. Moses Malone was the better player when they played together but had less success when they played apart.

Or maybe it is a Magic/Kareem situation? Kareem got one ring and one 7 game Finals loss without Magic just like Curry did without Durant but it seems like most people think Magic was better although I myself am not so sure.

I will say just for context but don't really want to argue about it that I am not in agreement that Curry has never been at least the second best player in a Finals. The 2015 Finals MVP should have gone to him. If simply doing a good job defending the other team's star is more important than leading your team's offense then MJ should airmail Pippen and Rodman a few of his.

I would not take Kawhi over Curry. If you could guarantee his health then he might be better as you noted but I think that line of thinking is dangerous. It is like saying healthy Bill Walton is the greatest center ever. The sample is impressive but it's also so much smaller than everyone he is competing with, you know? Is a Kawhi who plays all season year after year as good as the one who gets to take nights or even years off to recuperate as often as he likes? So far his best and most successful seasons have been the ones where he plays way fewer total minutes.

Besides if you likewise guaranteed Curry's health the pendulum might swing back the other way. If he'd had perfect health in 2016 it might have been enough of a difference to beat the Cavaliers after all and if it did four straight titles would be quite the feather in his cap.

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 10:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS I do hope you update your Pantheon eventually those were the articles that brought me to your site originally and I like them a lot.

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 11:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Different anonymous here

Steph is currently 34 and so far in this postseason he has yet to be the best player in any series which isn't an uncommon theme for him in his prime. Jokic and Morant were the best in each series and it's very unlikely he'll look like the best in a series vs Doncic's Mavs, Giannis' Bucks, or Tatum's Celtics. I'm not sure he'll even look like the best vs Booker's Suns or Butler's Heat

He's been the Warriors' best overall PS performer but largely because he's been their most consistent on offense. Poole and Klay have been very inconsistent but they've probably been the driving force behind over half of the Warriors wins

Even if he does win a title it'll almost certainly involve him not looking like the best or even 2nd best for most of the series which is not what I'd consider a pantheon caliber player. That was a theme even at his peak when Iggy starting led to the Warriors going 3-0 to close out that series or when Draymond Green looked poised to win it in 2016 in what was supposedly the "greatest offensive season ever" - by the way, Steph played much worse that season without Draymond and generally isn't as potent without him, it seems his obvious physical/skillset flaws get covered up both by the post 04 NBA rules and Green (point forward types in general)

I'm not even sure if I'd rank Durant as pantheon caliber and to be he's clearly at least a tier above Steph. Steph having better more well built teams throughout his career doesn't negate that Durant has obvious skillset/size advantages and was generally the best player when both were together and both were at their peak

It would be one thing if Steph were not at his peak - I've seen people diminish Kobe because he generally didn't look like the best player with Shaq, but before surpassing Shaq in 02-03 at age 24 we saw that age 21-23 Kobe still showed that he could be right there with peak Shaq especially in their most important games and series - but if Steph at his peak often didn't standout vs a guy who I'm uncertain is pantheon caliber (mostly because of mindset tbh, there's just something "off" about Durant that you didn't see as often with the Pantheon caliber players) than I have a really hard time ranking him in the top 10-15 like a lot of the media members do or are poised to do

There are a few active players that I believe have an outside chance of being in that top 10-15 discussion (LeBron is obviously there and Giannis looks like he'll be there soon) but Steph to me isn't one of them

At Saturday, May 14, 2022 11:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, who do you consider to be the best player in the game today? Is it clearly Giannis like mainstream media has deemed? (after claiming he was a huge liability last year before turning it on and winning the chip)

Would love to see your ranking of the top five in the game today.

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 1:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3rd anonymous:

I often wonder if the people who argue for Curry as Pantheon level watched all his final series? The reason I agree with David is because it is so easy to go back and look at Curry’s statistical record and say “great series,” without recalling how Matthew Delavadova (poor spelling likely) suddenly became a Curry stopper for most of the first Warriors championship for example.

Curry is an amazing player within his system, but like all small players he can be bullied in the playoffs. It is extremely rare for a small point guard to perform well as the lead player deep into the playoffs for good reason. They tend to get injured and beaten up.

In Curry’s defence, when he is fresh he is unstoppable. Curry’s first MVP season was one of my favourite runs to watch ever (how good was the long three over Westbrook against the thunder that season late in the game???). The issue with small players is that they are rarely fresh come finals time.

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 1:15:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I am not going to speculate about who I might cut if I were to update the Pantheon without expanding the roster. The fact that West is the only player under 6-5 in my Pantheon does not necessarily suggest that he would be the first cut, but instead indicates just how great he was despite being undersized relative to the other members of the Pantheon. West was a 6-3 guard who could dunk two-handed easily, and he played much bigger than his size (as is suggested by his rebounding numbers, as well as his shotblocking in his last season, which was the first year that the NBA tracked blocked shots).

This is not just about winning. Robert Horry won more rings than most of the Pantheon members. This is about skill set, individual dominance, and being the primary factor causing winning. What is Curry elite at other than shooting? He is a very good passer and a good rebounder, but he is average at best defensively. Objectively compare his overall skill set to the Pantheon members and he not only comes up short, but way short. Unless one believes that shooting is way more important than other skills one is forced to concluded that Curry is not as good, as valuable, or as dominant as the Pantheon members.

Curry won his first title as the leading scorer for a strong ensemble. He won his next two titles as the second option behind Durant.

Giannis is a much better basketball player than Curry. Whether or not Curry wins more rings has more to do with supporting casts/timing/injuries and other factors beyond the control of either player than it has to do with their skill sets.

The "ink is dry" on Durant versus Curry for me. There is nothing that Curry does better than Durant, and Durant is almost a foot taller. Even if you think that Curry is a better shooter, Durant can more easily create a shot from more areas of the court because of his size; Durant does not need multiple screens, he does not need Draymond Green feeding him--he can just go score from anywhere.

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 1:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Malone was better than Erving when they played together because (1) Malone was several years younger and (2) centers were inherently more valuable than forwards at that time because of the way that the game was played. Prior to playing with Malone, Erving won two titles and made five Finals appearances, and he was a dominant performer for all of those teams. If Erving played today under these rules when perimeter players cannot be touched by the defense, plus there are few shotblockers and the court is spread out with three point shooters then Erving would average 35 ppg easily. The only way to even try to slow Erving down was pack the paint and have at least one shotblocker at the rim. Teams don't play that way now. Erving would be Giannis with a quicker first step, a better jump shot, and more leaping ability. Erving is not as big as Giannis, but Erving regularly dunked on seven footers so he would destroy the small ball centers who are playing today.

Kareem was the dominant player in the NBA for the better part of a decade, and he was dominant during his pre-Magic Finals appearances. Please don't compare Curry to Kareem.

There were games in the 2015 Finals when Curry struggled to be one of the top four or five players on the court. Curry shot 5-23 from the field in game two. He had the same number of points as Iguodala in game four, but during that game Iguodala was primarily responsible for holding LeBron to 7-22 field goal shooting. If you really look at it, Curry had one great game out of six (game five).

Regarding the value of defense in the NBA Finals, Jordan actually said that the 1997 Finals MVP should have been at least shared with Pippen. I believe that Jordan's exact words were that he would keep the trophy and give Pippen the car. I would rather have prime Pippen than prime Curry in an NBA Finals, and I don't have Pippen in my Pantheon.

Kawhi has been a lot healthier than Walton, and Kawhi has already won two Finals MVPs with two different teams. He has not been durable enough for a long enough period of time to be in the Pantheon but if we are just talking skill set, I'm taking him over Curry all day. If Pachulia did not injure Kawhi on a dirty play, Kawhi was set to destroy the Warriors in that series.

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 1:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I am glad that you enjoyed the Pantheon articles. I probably will update the Pantheon some day. I think about it a lot, but have just not decided how I want to do it. I spent a lot of time writing about the 50 Greatest Players List and also about the 75th Anniversary Team, so I have been writing about the greatest players since I wrote the Pantheon series, but I have been looking at a broader picture.

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 1:33:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Different Anonymous:

I agree with what you wrote, and there is not much I can add. I rank Giannis ahead of Durant both now and historically. Giannis is the one player who was not in my original Pantheon who would have to be in the next one either via roster expansion or replacing someone else. You are right that Durant is a close call and not a shoo-in. If I expand the Pantheon, then he gets in, but if we are talking about keeping it at 14 players (or 15 with Giannis) then it's not so easy to put Durant in there. Each player in the Pantheon was considered, at one time or another, by credible commentators to be in the greatest player of all-time conversation (either as the most dominant player or the best all-around player). Would any credible person rank Durant as the best player of all-time? Just looking at the small forwards, are we sure Durant is better than Baylor, Erving, Bird, and LeBron? If Durant is not better than all of those guys, how many small forwards are going in the Pantheon? On the other hand, Durant outdueled LeBron in two NBA Finals. Durant is a fascinating historical figure, and part of the challenge is he is still writing his story. What if he gets a third Finals MVP with a dominant performance? These evaluations are not so easy, but they are very important to anyone who treasures basketball history and wants that history to be written as accurately as possible.

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 1:44:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I have ranked Giannis as the best all-around player in the NBA for the past several years. That being said, I have no problem with Jokic winning the 2022 MVP, because Jokic had a great season and he missed fewer games than Giannis missed. Giannis missed a higher percentage of the season than any player who won a regular season MVP other than Bill Walton, so from a historical standpoint Giannis disqualified himself this season in light of the fact that a player whose impact is at least comparable missed fewer games.

In a vacuum, though, I would take Giannis over Jokic.

I gave a capsule version of my top five for 2022 in my Playoff Preview. Jokic, Antetokounmpo, and Embiid were clearly the three best players this season. Jokic deserved the MVP based on superior "attendance," but Giannis is the best all-around player. Embiid is the most dominant post scorer, but he gets hurt all the time and he drifts outside the paint too much. I had Doncic fourth and Tatum fifth this season. As the playoffs are progressing, my rankings of Doncic and Tatum ahead of some other highly touted players are looking good. I may end up ruing the fact that I did not pick Doncic's Mavericks or Tatum's Celtics to win in this round.

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 2:08:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

3rd Anonymous:

Yes, long stretches of the Finals during which Curry struggled versus Dellavedova give one pause about putting Curry in the Pantheon. Similarly, LeBron's quitting episodes versus the Celtics and the Mavericks give one pause about categorically calling him the greatest player ever; LeBron has accomplished so much that he is easily in the Pantheon even with his flaws and some of his quirky performances, but--as I have stated before--to my eyes he never passed Kobe's historical stature (he passed Kobe as a contemporary after Kobe declined and then got hurt), and he never approached Jordan's historical stature. I have never picked one player as THE greatest (and I never will), but if I did then I would not feel comfortable picking LeBron. I just can't picture LeBron beating MJ or Kobe (or Bill Russell, for that matter) in the NBA Finals if the supporting casts are remotely comparable.

As you mention, one of the problems with being small in the NBA is that over the course of a season (or even just a playoff series) the smaller player will be worn down. For that reason, as you note, we will never see peak Curry in an NBA Finals, because by the time the Finals begin he has already been worn down. We see the same thing with Chris Paul every year in the playoffs.

I never played basketball at anything close to the NBA level, but even at my level the advantages conferred by size are obvious and indisputable. When I played one on one against bigger players, I could win a few games at first by trading three pointers for two pointers, but eventually my legs and body would get worn down from being leaned on by a bigger body, and my three point percentage would decline. In a vacuum, I might be more skilled than Player X, but in the real world I was not more valuable. In a sense, I've been Stephen Curry (from the standpoint of being a three point shooter playing against bigger players who preferred to score inside), so I keenly understand what is happening to Curry. To be clear, I was not nearly as good as Curry at my level as he is at his level, but I have played one on one, two on two, and five on five games that became a contest of three pointers versus two pointers. In short bursts, three pointers can prevail, but over 82 games or over a long playoff series, you need size. When picking teams or joining teams, I always tried to have at least one big guy who could do the things that I can't do, and who could also wear down the other team while preventing them from just "hugging" me at the three point line. There is so much talk about the "gravity" that Curry creates, but he also benefits from the "gravity" created by the players around him. How good did Curry and the Warriors look the past two years without Durant and without Thompson? Last year, Morant outplayed Curry as a version of the Grizzlies not as good as this year's team beat the Warriors in the Play-In Tournament. Kobe took Nash and a team of All-Stars to seven games while playing alongside Smush and Kwame, but Curry could not win a Play-In Game versus an inexperienced Grizzlies team. That is just one example plucked from two long resumes, but I am not taking Curry over Kobe (or LeBron or Durant or Giannis or healthy Kawhi).

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 2:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First anonymous again.

Thank you for responding in such detail. I see your points and most of them make sense to me but I'm still indecisive. Mostly because the idea that they are equally skilled before size comes into it feels wrong to me.

I think Curry is a better dribbler, shooter, and passer than Durant. I think as a shooter especially he is much better off the catch and his release is quicker. I think he also has a pretty good edge as a passer. Curry's passes move much faster and go into tighter windows. Durant's passes are floatier or slower a lot of the time and it feels like they get picked off more often. This happened a lot against Boston especially. I know their turnover numbers are close but I feel like watching the games a lot of Curry's turnovers are when he tries to do too much and whips the ball out of bounds or steps out trying to squirm into a three while more of Durant's are pick-six type live turnovers which I think are more dangerous because of transition. While I'm using football terms I also feel like Curry is better at throwing guys open while Durant more gets his assists by passing to guys who are already open. I hope I'm explaining that right. Another way to look at it is like Curry can sometimes create open-ness for his teammate with a pass but Durant just rewards it. Both can create open-ness by drawing doubles but that's a different thing than pure passing skill and probably a tie between them anyway.

I also think that Curry is much more aggressive about moving around and cutting and screening when he doesn't have the ball than Durant is. I don't know how to calculate just how valuable that non-stat stuff is but it is not nothing even if the gravity guys might make too much of it.

On the other hand I think Durant is much more dangerous closer to the hoop and he is obviously a bigger better rebounder although I also think Curry rebounds pretty well for his size. But one guy is tall and the other guy is short like you say.

You are definitely right that Durant can get his shot off more easily in isolation situations. Again he's tall.

I don't think Robert Horry is a fair comparison point. Role players can get titles of course but Curry is no role player and there aren't many stars who win as much as he does and most of the ones who do also have at least one teammate that is near their level too. I think everybody who has both at least one MVP and more titles than he does also played with some other MVP-type guys just like he did with Durant. I guess maybe not Jordan but if Pippen wasn't MVP level he was still pretty close and Jordan is usually the exception to stuff anyway.

I am still not sure which is better in my opinion but if I agreed that Durant was as good of a shooter, passer and dribbler I would for sure agree with you so I see why you feel so strongly the way you do. I think that if you are right that the gap is as large as you say it is then Durant will win more titles before they retire at which point I will agree too since I think a big part of the argument for Curry up to now is results. H did it without Durant but Durant didn't do it without him yet you know? Durant's Nets team is not perfect but they have some very good players now and a sexy market while most of the key Warriors seem to be on the verge of aging out unless Jordan Poole turns out to be much better than I expect him to.

I don't think I agree Curry only had one good game in 2015 but it's been a while since I watched it.

I would also take Pippen over Curry but I would take Pippen over Durant too so that doesn't help me break the tie haha.

For your Pantheon quandary maybe you could take another page from the Greeks and have a tier of demi-gods who are just beneath the full Gods of the Pantheon? That way you don't water down the tippiest toppiest Pantheon guys by overfilling it but you can still add the guys who are massive parts of the mythology of basketball?

At Sunday, May 15, 2022 8:39:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Player evaluations are, to some extent, subjective. In general, I would say that you are not considering how much height/size factor in to evaluating each skill set. Part of being effective as a shooter is the ability to create your own shot and get your shot off from various areas on the court against various kinds of defenses. I don't know who would win a shooting contest with no defense allowed, but I would take Durant over Curry as an in-game shooter. Based on the offense Golden State ran when they were on the same team, the Warriors' coaching staff agrees with me.

Durant averaged 5.4 apg as a small forward during three seasons as a Warrior. Curry has averaged 6.5 apg during his career as a point guard. Even just on the assist numbers, Curry does not have much of an edge. Then, when you factor in that Curry had the ball in his hands more often and plays a position geared toward playmaking, I don't see an edge for Curry over Durant. Finally, there are other elements to passing not captured by assists, including passes that lead to the assist pass, and the ability to make a variety of passes. Durant's size means that his passing angles cannot easily be contested. Curry can be trapped by bigger players.

Again, the larger point to consider is that even if one or more skill set areas is a draw, Curry needs to win by a big margin to be the better player because the size difference is so significant.

My point with the Horry comparison is that just counting titles is not the best way to evaluate players. Also, people are very inconsistent with this. If titles as the best player matter the most, then Bill Russell is far and away the greatest player of all-time. It is strange that somehow Michael Jordan's six titles became the measuring stick. Russell won 11.

It does not matter much to me that Curry won a title without Durant. There are plenty of players who won titles without Durant who are not better than Durant. When they played together in their primes, Durant was clearly the main guy.

I have not decided yet what, if anything, additional to do with my Pantheon. Having multiple levels could water things down. Right now, I have top 50/top 75, and then within that 14 players who are a cut above. I am content with that for now.


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