20 Second Timeout is the place to find the best analysis and commentary about the NBA.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Curry Authors Masterful 50 Point Performance, Leads Warriors to Game Seven Victory in Sacramento

Stephen Curry scored 50 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished for six assists as the defending champion Golden State Warriors bounced back from a disastrous game six loss at home to win game seven at Sacramento 120-100 and advance to a second round playoff showdown with the L.A. Lakers, who dispatched the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. Curry shot 20-38 from the field (including 7-18 from three point range) while setting the all-time NBA record for most points in a seventh game, surpassing the 48 points Kevin Durant scored two years ago in a loss to Milwaukee. Sam Jones scored 47 points in a game seven win versus Cincinnati in 1963, a mark tied by Dominique Wilkins in a game seven loss to Boston in 1988. 

No other Warrior scored more than 17 points, and Warriors not named Curry shot 23-62 (.371) from the field. While Andrew Wiggins (17 points on 5-16 field goal shooting), Klay Thompson (16 points on 4-19 field goal shooting) and most of the Warriors struggled to make shots, the biggest factor in the win other than Curry's greatness was Kevon Looney's ferocious rebounding. Looney grabbed a game-high 21 rebounds, including 11 offensive rebounds. This was his third 20-plus rebound game in the series, a feat accomplished by only two other players in franchise history: Wilt Chamberlain and Nate Thurmond.

The Kings led 58-56 at halftime, but the tide turned in the third quarter as the Warriors outscored the Kings 35-23 while winning the rebounding battle 22-9. Curry scored 14 points and Looney corralled 10 rebounds during those game-changing 12 minutes. During one sequence midway through the third quarter, Jordan Poole missed a three pointer, Gary Payton II controlled the offensive rebound, Andrew Wiggins missed a three pointer, Looney snared the offensive rebound, Wiggins missed a layup, and Looney snatched the offensive rebound and scored. The Warriors looked like a big brother taking the little brother to school in a backyard game. The Kings' Domantas Sabonis, who led the NBA in rebounding this season, finished with eight rebounds--the same number as Curry, who is a 6-3 point guard.

The final rebounding margin was 55-49 in the Warriors' favor, but when the outcome was in doubt the Warriors dominated the glass--and even though the Warriors other than Curry shot poorly, they held the Kings to 36-96 field goal shooting (.375). Sabonis led the Kings with 22 points, while De'Aaron Fox shot 5-19 from the field and only scored 16 points. Malik Monk, who excelled during the Kings' wins, had 14 points on 4-14 field goal shooting. 

After the game, Curry acknowledged the importance of defense not just in this game but in general during the Warriors' championship seasons: "The offense is flashy, especially the way we play our high octane offense, but our calling card has usually been our defense." It is true that the Warriors would not win games like this without playing great defense, nor would they have won four titles in the past eight years (2015, 2017, 2018, 2022) without playing great defense, but Curry's game seven performance was stunning. My basketball Pantheon only includes one player under 6-5: Jerry West, who was as dominant defensively as he was offensively, which is rare in general and almost unheard of for a player his size. I have not updated or expanded my Pantheon since I created it, and for many years I have resisted the notion that Curry is a Pantheon-level player. I never base my overall player evaluations on one game, and that is not what I am doing now; this is more a matter of one game prodding me to reevaluate the totality of Curry's work, and consider the possibility that perhaps I have underrated him. I would not take anyone out of the Pantheon to add him, but maybe the Pantheon should be expanded to include him (and a very select group of players from the past 15 years or so). I just watched a brief video about the history of "posterizing" dunks, and Julius Erving--whose aerial feats inspired the very notion of portraying dunks on posters for young fans to admire and emulate--said that when a great new dunker emerges that new phenom does not kick out his predecessors: the great new dunker joins the club. For dunkers, that club includes Wilt Chamberlain, Gus Johnson, Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, and Vince Carter

So, I am not kicking anyone out of the Pantheon--and I am not officially changing anything without putting some more thought into this--but I am saying that I think that I have underrated Curry, based on his size, based on him taking a back seat to Kevin Durant during their back to back title runs together, and based on him not being an elite defensive player; the reality is that Curry is not only an exceptional shooter, but he finishes very well in the paint, he is an above average rebounder for his position, and he is an excellent passer. More than that, he can carry his team to a game seven road playoff win. Game seven road win used to be almost unheard of in the NBA, and they are still uncommon. The Warriors were a lousy road team during the regular season (11-30), but they won two road games in this series, and Curry was the leading scorer in both of those road wins. 

Again, this is not about one game, or about a small sample size of work devoid of any championships (that is why we are not having this discussion about Jimmy Butler, a very good player who recently had a single game playoff performance comparable to Curry's game seven). Curry has a large body of work in the regular season and in the playoffs, and even though my initial temptation is to say that the Warriors would have lost yesterday without Looney I must also concede that they would have lost without Curry; Curry's scoring, rebounding, and passing were essential in a game during which the other Warriors struggled to score. 

Curry is not better than Durant. We saw that clearly when they were on the same team--but perhaps Curry, Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo all deserve to be viewed as Pantheon level players based on their consistent excellence. 

Instead of focusing on who Curry isn't (Jordan, Bryant, James), I will try to focus more on who he is, and what he does. I have a tendency to react to hype by going in the opposite direction, and the excessive focus on Curry's "gravity"  influenced me to point out the counterarguments (namely, that there are other players who had greater "gravity" even though that term was not used to describe their play). Stephen Curry does not have more "gravity" than Michael Jordan did, but Curry is an incredible basketball player who should be appreciated in his own right.

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by David Friedman @ 3:28 PM



At Monday, May 01, 2023 3:59:00 PM, Anonymous Jazz Man said...

Cheers to having the perspective and humility to reconsider an opinion you'd spent so much time having to defend. A lot of writers lack those traits.

I do wonder if Giannis quite belongs in the same potentially Pantheon conversation as Durant and Curry just yet, just based on tenure and body of work. Certainly his highs are as high as or even higher than theirs but to date he's only been out of the first round four times and only to the Conference Finals twice.

While I have no doubt he'll be Pantheon-worthy so long as he maintains his health and Milwaukee remains committed to spending on his supporting cast neither is a given.

Right now is his resume really much stronger than someone like Moses, Dirk, or Hakeem? Curry and Durant can point to repeated deep playoff runs but Giannis has not yet run up the same kind of volume.

Not sure if it matters to any extent but he's also done fairly poorly against the other best players he's seen in the playoffs. Butler's beaten him 3/4 times, Tatum's beaten him 2/3, and Kawhi beat him quite handily the one time they crossed swords. He did beat Durant but had considerable help from the injury gods to do so.

Like Kawhi, his playoff health has not been reliable either.

Tremendous player and his future is bright allowing health but it seems to me that putting him into Pantheon now would err on the side of giving credit for future performance. To date he's just 43-36 in the playoffs.

I took the liberty of poking through the Pantheon to see what the lowest number of playoff wins was and it's Oscar at 46-40. That seems close if we disregard that Giannis rang up 23 of those 43 in a round that didn't exist in Oscar's time. Moses, Hakeem, Dirk, and Kawhi all have more playoff wins as well. Even Butler whom you cite as an example of small sample size has 51 (granted with 52 losses).

Giannis would also be the only Pantheon member with only a single Finals appearance. Next lowest is again Oscar at two and next lowest after him would be KD with 4.

Again I love the man's game he just doesn't quite seem to me to have the same body of work as the other players in that company. Yet.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 4:21:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jazz Man:

Thank you!

I also am not sure, which is the main reason that I have not formally changed my Pantheon. The 10 retired players who I initially selected are rock solid picks, and no serious basketball observer could question that Shaq, Duncan, Kobe, and LeBron were the best players in the immediate post-Jordan era. Shaq, Duncan, and Kobe are retired, but LeBron is still playing, and he is battling against the next generation of great players, including Curry, Durant, and Giannis. I can't add Curry without adding Durant, because Durant is demonstrably greater. Giannis is bigger, more physically dominant, and a better defensive player than Durant, but his playoff resume is lacking compared to Curry and Durant. The NBA's 50th Anniversary Team voters chose Shaq when his resume was even thinner than Giannis', but of course being one of the 50 Greatest and being one of the 15 greatest is not at all the same thing.

You are also correct that if one brings in Giannis and his one championship then that raises questions about other players such as Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Dirk Nowitzki.

You can see why I am standing pat in terms of the Pantheon while acknowledging that I believe that in the past I underrated Curry. I can move Curry up and appreciate him in a different way without necessarily reconfiguring the Pantheon.

I initially thought of the Pantheon as a group that would not change but perhaps that was wishful or shortsighted thinking. In the moment, we assume that there will not be another all-time great, but we are continually blessed with new ones--not as many as the media suggests, mind you, but there are new all-time greats every decade or so.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 5:04:00 PM, Anonymous Jazz Man said...

I believe you completed the Pantheon in 2008, yes?

So at the time the NBA was just about 60 years old with 14 members.

The NBA is now 76 years old so at that "rate" it does seem logical that 2-3 more players would join the ranks in that time. Durant and Curry seem the obvious two to me. Curry is the winningest non-Lebron player of the post-2006 era and Durant is not far behind. Curry is cleanly the best guard of that stretch while Durant finishes an obvious second among forwards. There is no Pantheon-worthy or close center in that era to my estimation though Jokic may prove to be one in time.

If there is a hole in Durant's candidacy it is that he has not had a clear sustained run of much length as the league's best forward. Lebron was better early in his run and both Kawhi and Giannis have seemed better at other points during it. I believe you've in the past used a similar "test" to rule out other near-miss Pantheon cases like Moses and Hakeem so perhaps it is relevant here. Then again perhaps it is not as there is no shame in finishing second to a player like Lebron.

It seems to me a long drop to third though I confess my initial Pantheon may have been larger than yours and included someone like Hakeem, Moses, or Cousy so take my opinion with the appropriate servings of salt grains.

Jokic and Giannis seem to me the two who might make sense on a provisional Shaq Top 50/Lebron 2008 "futures" argument. Especially if Jokic wins a title this year his resume would compete with Giannis' on paper though Giannis is clearly the better defender...although Jokic's offensive game includes more playmaking and lacks the weaknesses of Giannis' limited range and FT shooting so perhaps it is more of a wash than I initially thought.

All of which is to say I understand the complexities of the issue and your reticence in expanding it but I do think there is room to add a few worthy candidates given the time passed. If you like "clean" numbers you could wait until year 80 and then add six total so you have a nice clean five players for each twenty year stretch of the league? Say for example (not suggestion, just illustration) Russell/Wilt/West/Baylor/Oscar for first twenty, Kareem/Erving/Magic/Bird/Moses(?) for the next 20, Jordan/Hakeem(?)/Shaq/Duncan/Kobe for the third twenty, and Lebron/Curry/Durant/Giannis(?)/Jokic (?) for the last twenty.

At the very least such an approach would buy you four more years of deliberation and sample sizes!

At Monday, May 01, 2023 6:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked this article.

I would also say that for what it might be worth, while Curry isn't an elite defensive player he has become a very good one. If you did ultimately decide to add him to the Pantheon he would probably not be the worst defender in it.

He was a poor defender for the first bit of his run, and that still counts against him in a historical sense, but he started improving as early as '15 or '16 in terms of effort and skillset, was already pretty good by '17, and then added the muscle to keep himself from being as easily bullied on switches somewhere around 2021.

To some extent he is still limited by his size but I think the narratives around "switchability" have kind of over-corrected and we now kill guys for not being able to do a thing almost no one can do. Even most great defenders are vulnerable to some switches--bigs aren't fast enough to guard smalls, smalls aren't big enough to guard bigs--with precious few exceptions like Giannis, Peak Era Lebron, or maybe Olajuwon.

Much is made of the switchability of forwards like Durant, George, and Tatum, but all three still often get cooked by speedy guards or bullied by large centers on switches.

The most important parts of (perimeter) defense, IMO, are effort, awareness, execution of your team's system/gameplan, and the ability to guard your own position (or at least your man, if your team likes to cross-match you). Curry is exceptional at the first three and above average at the fourth. Switchability may well be fifth but even there Curry has improved and a lot of teams have gone down in flames spending all their energy getting him switched onto Harden/Tatum/Luka/whomever and then not being able to convert enough to win anyway.

He will never be as valuable as an elite rim protector on that end and he's certainly no Pippen or Kawhi either, but he is a positive defensive presence who meaningfully contributes to strong defensive teams and also seems to be able to ratchet up a level and get big crunchtime stops against guys like Fox and Morant who are "supposed" to be able to cook him.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 6:28:00 PM, Anonymous Eric said...


Fantastic analysis and kudos to you for being more open-minded to considering Curry for your Pantheon list. I had my serious doubts about Curry especially in the 2019 Finals after Durant went down and how Steph could not get the job done against the Kawhi and the Raptors. For my personal Pantheon, Curry cracked the list after last year's Finals and especially after his 43-pt masterclass in Game 4 at Boston.

I think yesterday's 50-piece was a top-3 playoff performance of his career, especially after considering the fact that he is a 35-year-old guard with extended postseason mileage on his legs. His floaters, runners, and other shots in the paint and at the rim yesterday were more impressive than his 7 three-pointers. I think credit must also be given to Curry where it's due for his supreme conditioning and fitness. He has notably gotten much stronger and bigger as he has aged which has allowed him to absorb more contact in close finishes at the rim. His off-ball movement and off-ball screen-setting are some of the best displays of high basketball IQ in my eyes. I also detest the "gravity" term being solely applied to him but I believe that term gained its popularity with his ascension around 2015-16, also around the time analytics was really starting to gain traction.

Kevon Looney was easily the second best player in the game behind Curry. I never imagined witnessing the second coming of the late Moses Malone with all those offensive boards gobbled up by Kevon. I have much respect and admiration for Looney especially after all the injuries and surgeries he has endured. His toughness and availability are two invaluable aspects that the Warriors need critically. He's played all 82 games for the Warriors in 2021-22 and this season -- truly admirable in today's BS "load management" era.

If one were to just casually follow along this 7-game series, they never would have guessed that Sabonis was this year's league leader in rebounding; he got absolutely manhandled, outhustled, and outmuscled by Looney. Sabonis' stats in this series do not accurately reflect his overall ineffectiveness and inconsistency. Fox was brilliant but the lack of execution by the Kings especially in the third quarter yesterday was reflective of their lack of collective postseason experience. Who knows -- much like the Warriors losing in Game 7 in 2014 to the Clippers, the Kings too could also begin something special as long as their roster continues to develop and stays healthy. I think the Kings have finally broken their curse of atrocious management, coach-flipping, ineffective roster-building and this team looks to hopefully be a force in the years to come; hopefully the TV networks can slot in more national Sacramento Kings games next season.

Looking forward to your Lakers-Warriors series preview.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 6:58:00 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

They weren’t or won’t be durable enough to be pantheon caliber but Walton, Wade, Kawhi are 3 players that I felt were right there at their best with the Pantheon

I would need to see Durant, Steph, and Giannis win an additional title to entertain it. Reason Giannis needs 2 for me is because he’s already demonstrated being a more dominant and well rounded player on both ends and his 21 PS was imo easily the best of the 7 rings among them

I could see Jokic entertain pantheon talks too, Nuggets are in great position to at least reach the finals several times, they probably would have reached one by now if it wasn’t for injuries

Embiid has the talent but it seems like he’ll never get there due to durability and conditioning.

Too early to really mention anyone else but Tatum and Luka seem like the “safe” picks to entertain pantheon conversation for players 25 and under. Tatum is a two way wing in great position to form a dynasty with the Celtics (if he truly is pantheon caliber) and Luka is triple double machine and a year younger who still has time to further develop but the Mavs do not appear to have a brighter future than the Celtics

Great insight as always David

At Monday, May 01, 2023 10:47:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jazz Man:

Your suggestions are interesting. I am not inclined to retroactively add players who I did not previously include, but there is a valid argument for expanding the Pantheon by the time 20 years have passed since I created it. The question I wrestle with is what is the largest that a Pantheon can reasonably be? The 50 Greatest Players List clearly has multiple tiers, even if those tiers are not explicitly designated. The Pantheon concept involves selecting a small group of players who have distinguished themselves even in comparison to the rest of the top 50. If the Pantheon gets too large then it loses its exclusivity. On the other hand, I like Dr. J's concept that new members of an elite club don't kick out old members: the new members just join the club.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 10:58:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you!

I really don't want to make a list of the "worst" defenders in the Pantheon. I would just note that Bill Russell is the greatest defensive player of all-time (and arguably the greatest player of all-time, period), Michael Jordan won DPoY, Kobe Bryant was a perennial All-Defensive Team selection, Wilt Chamberlain probably blocked more shots than anyone other than Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is third all-time officially in blocked shots (a stat not recorded when Chamberlain and Russell played), Tim Duncan was an elite defender, Jerry West was an elite defender, Julius Erving had a rare ability to get both steals and blocked shots, and even lesser defenders such as Bird and Magic made an impact on the defensive boards while having the necessary size to guard multiple positions (and they both were opportunistic at getting steals).

Again, let's not go down a rabbit hole of picking the "worst" defender of the 14, and just acknowledge that if the Pantheon were a team there would not be many--if any--players who opposing teams would be "hunting."

I agree with your broad assertion that Curry has improved defensively to the point that he is not a liability at that end of the court, and that he can be a positive in some situations.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 11:19:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you!

I wouldn't compare Looney to Moses Malone--even as a rebounder--but I get the point you are trying to make. In game seven, Looney had moments of relentless determination on the offensive boards.

Warriors-Lakers preview is posted.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 11:22:00 PM, Anonymous Jazz Man said...

To the question of "how large can it be?" I wonder if a good rule of thumb might be that there's never more than a starting lineup's worth of Pantheoners in the league at the same time?

You seem to have more-or-less done so organically with the original list. There are the five sixties players initially then as Russell and Baylor leave they are replaced by Kareem and Erving. By the 80s only those two remain and are quickly joined by Bird, Magic, and Jordan. Jordan stands alone for much of the 90s until he's joined by Shaq, Kobe, and Duncan, then he retires for good just before Lebron joins the club.

If you were to game it out from then that leaves four at the start of Lebron's "reign" with KD coming on about as Shaq ages out and Curry quick on his heels as Kobe and Duncan bow out as well. Now Giannis and perhaps Jokic are staking their claims and by the time either proves decisively worthy Lebron at least (and possibly KD and Curry as well) will likely be gone leaving room for whomever's next.

I have a natural inclination towards balance/symmetry when it comes to things like this which is why were it my Pantheon I'd be tempted to back-fill slightly to keep it vaguely even between eras. That's also informed somewhat by my belief that it is very difficult to cross-compare between two eras so I'd feel odd implying that the 60s had 5x as many Pantheon players in their prime as the 90s, for instance though how much backfilling exactly would be required would depend how I chose to chop up the eras (I'd err on the side of the 20 year blocks I suggested above to minimize bloat I think) but that's beside the point and is a "me" thing. Back on-point, it is your Pantheon not mine so if you feel differently I am of course in no position to stop you nor am I meaningfully inclined to try :)

At any rate that suggestion would naturally limit the rate of expansion and keep it more or less in line with the rate of your initial Pantheon while still allowing the elasticity to scale slightly up or down as the influx or dearth of talent in a given generation dictates. Under this system you could add Curry & KD now while still having "room" for one or two more in the next few years in case Giannis or Jokic continue their ascents.

At Monday, May 01, 2023 11:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


A big part of qualifying for the Pantheon is sustained high level performance. David Thompson had Pantheon-level talent, but he did not sustain high level performance for nearly long enough to merit consideration. The same is true of other players as well.

I agree with you that Doncic, Jokic, and Tatum seem to have Pantheon-level talent, but--as indicated above--that does not make them Pantheon players at this point.

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 1:02:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jazz Man:

You listed some good options. There is some merit to balance/symmetry. I don't have any immediate plans to expand the Pantheon, but it is something that I think about.

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Michael Boyer said...

Durant was better than Curry when they played together, but it's hard to argue Durant's overall career is better than Curry's. Curry did win 2 MVPs, too. He likely shouldn't have won more than one, if that, but his MVPs weren't like Nash MVPs and his MVP seasons were better than some other past MVP seasons in NBA history. Winning a title again in 2022 with a not-so-great cast solidifies his spot over Durant, for now. Booker is better than Durant currently, nobody would pick Booker over Durant overall though.

Giannis looks like future a Pantheon player and puts up great numbers. But, his teams have a pattern of not only underachieving, but greatly underachieving. And he's had great casts for years now. No other current player isn't even in the conversation yet, other than Durant. Durant had his chances, but injuries kept him from a 3rd straight Finals MVP and a disastrous few years in Brooklyn. He was ever so close taking an injury-depleted Brooklyn team to a 2nd round win over Milwaukee in 2021, which likely could've resulted in a title for him that season. Also, he probably should've won a title with OKC if he was Pantheon level. Doncic's skillset puts him in Pantheon territory. Obviously, he hasn't even made a Finals yet, but no Pantheon player would've if they played with the same casts as Doncic either.

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 1:06:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Durant was significantly better than Curry when they played together. They were both in the primes of their careers, so that means something. Durant has more top five MVP finishes and more All-NBA First Team selections. Durant is a better scorer than Curry, a better rebounder, and a much better defensive player. Durant's size gives him advantages over Curry at both ends of the court.

You can debate whose career is better on paper, but on the court Durant is obviously the better player by any objective skill set analysis (and this is reflected in the awards voting overall, even though awards voting is not always correct).

I agree that Giannis' Pantheon resume is not complete, but I would argue that he is close. If he continues to be an MVP candidate then at some point his years of high peak value would be similar to other Pantheon members who played at an MVP level for a decade or more. Championships won are important, but Robertson and West made my Pantheon with one ring each, and Baylor was an easy choice despite not winning a championship.

Doncic's resume is not even close to being complete enough.

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 1:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Giannis

Does he need additional playoff success or would being a perennial MVP candidate who loses early in the playoffs eventually be enough?

You mention Oscar, Baylor, and West having 0-1 rings but they all made at least two Finals (and the Lakers a lot more than that) and at least 5 Conference Finals.

Eras have different nuances and levels of competition, but if you compare him to Curry and Durant to be "fair" Durant has 4 Finals appearances (one is a cameo, but still) and 6 or 7 CF appearances ('19 is confusing for this since his team was in the WCF but he didn't play), while Curry has 6 Finals appearances and 6 CF appearances (likely about to be 7). Giannis would need to triple his current playoff resume to catch Durant.

Say things go poorly and Giannis tops out with 1 Finals appearance and 4 Conference Finals appearances (he's currently at two), is that enough post-season success to qualify? Or does he need to start making a more consistent impact year to year in the post season to seriously threaten the Pantheon?

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 2:57:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

David Friedman said...


Great questions! There are no easy answers, which is one reason why I have not changed my Pantheon in over a decade! I know that the players I picked qualify beyond any reasonable doubt, and I am not sure when/if/how the Pantheon should be expanded.

Also, when I chose the Pantheon members the first 10 players had been retired for years, while the four then-active players I selected included three multi-time champions plus LeBron, whose qualifications were obvious even early in his career before he won any titles.

I am not convinced that I would take any active player over the prime Duncan, Shaq, Kobe, or LeBron. That doesn't mean that there are no active players worthy of Pantheon consideration, but it feels less clear to me now with the active players than it did circa 2008 with Duncan, Shaq, Kobe, and LeBron.

As noted in this thread, adding some of the active guys opens up questions regarding players who I left out before. Are the best players of today clearly better than, for example, Moses Malone or Hakeem Olajuwon?

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 3:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not take any version of Durant, Curry, or Giannis over peak Moses or Hakeem for a single season or series or game, but I would take the totality of Curry's resume over both of theirs and I would probably take the totality of Durant's resume over Moses' but not Hakeem's.

But if I made my own Pantheon Hakeem would have been in it anyway and Moses might have, so I don't know how helpful my opinion is here.

But yeah, I think sustained excellence matters and Curry's run of 9/10 years as the best guard in the league with four titles and six Finals appearances probably holds up against anyone not already in the Pantheon.

Durant's run as one of the 2-3 best forwards and two rings with three (true) Finals appearances probably holds up against anyone not in the Pantheon except for Hakeem.

You could maybe argue for Pippen's six titles and tennish years as the clear best SF in the game but he fails the "#1 option on a title team" test and his peak was a little shorter than Durant's as well.

Similar case for Havlicek where he has more success but it's all on ensemble teams. He does have one Finals MVP but that Celtics team was made of HoFers (though I suppose Durant's Warriors teams were as well) and he wasn't clearly ever "the guy" in quite the same way. He does have a large longevity/reliability edge though.

Only other guy I guess you could put up against Durant would be Rick Barry but it feels like he just missed too much time. He might have Durant beat on skillset and he's at least near his ballpark for post-season success (especially if you factor in their respective supporting casts) but he just loses so much time to injury/sitting out/what have you.

I guess there's also Cousy and Mikan but I don't really feel smart enough on either to have an opinion, so.... *smoke bomb!*

Question, if Pippen had either made the Finals in '94 and/or won with Portland in '00, would that have gotten him over the hump for you? Assume he wins the Finals MVP in the latter case.

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 6:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I only deal with facts not emotions

I've been objective about westbrook, Durant, curry, Kobe, LeBron

On 20 second timeout for years

Curry game wasn't impressive to me cause 1. Davian Mitchell only played 8 minutes, he had Terrance davis on him

2. 50 points on 40 shots is volume shooting, not efficient greatness like Jordan, Kobe, LeBron did in playoff closeout games

Kobe game 6 2010 vs Phoenix comes to mind.

I think if u rank Steph curry in top 10 that overrating him

If u rank him 20 to 30 that underrating him.

He rank 16 to me

Dr j
Big o
Jerry west

He not just a shooter he a all time great offensive player

He can shoot from 3 off screen, off the dribble, spot up

His layup package and finishing around the rim is great as well, midrange too, he a great passer, good rebounder, good defender

He a legend

He a good person and family man as well

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 8:11:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I can understand why some people consider Olajuwon and Moses Malone to be Pantheon caliber players, but I have explained elsewhere why I did not include them.

Barry and Havlicek are also strong candidates who nevertheless fell short in my estimation.

If Pippen had clearly been the best player on a championship team in addition to what he accomplished in Chicago alongside Jordan then I would have had to give him some Pantheon consideration, but I am still not sure that I would have included him.

The 10 retired players in the Pantheon plus the four (then) active players are pretty special if you really look at their skill sets, their individual accomplishments, and their team success. Baylor is the only one who did not win a title, but he had some legendary Finals performances. Prime Baylor may be the most underrated player in pro basketball history; I don't think that most people alive today understand just how great he was.

At Tuesday, May 02, 2023 8:18:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You are a long-time reader and commenter but, with all due respect, I would not say that objective player evaluation without emotion is your strong suit.

You are a passionate basketball fan and you love LeBron. I seem to recall comments in which you predicted that LeBron would win as many or more titles than Jordan--back before LeBron had won a single title. That did not seem likely at the time, and it seems less likely now.

That being said, your top 16 list is reasonable in general, though I think you have Wilt and Russell too low. There are other lists in a different order or with a few inclusions/deletions that are also reasonable.

At Wednesday, May 03, 2023 3:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys like Durant and Giannis have big advantages like skillset and athleticism over several guys in your Pantheon too. They're 7-footers basically with mad handles. Just comparatively to West who was a PG/SG that couldn't dribble with his off hand. That's about the simplest skill to learn or should be learned for any basketball player-to be able to use your off hand, especially for a PG/SG. West's best skill was shooting, but yet he was only .814% FTs, which is very good but nothing special. So, there's more to it than these things. Other than James, Curry's resume is by far the best over the past 10 seasons. He won a title before Durant while winning 2 MVPS, then 2 titles with Durant, and then a title after Durant. While MVP voting isn't great sometimes, Curry finished ahead of Durant in MVP voting 2 of the 3 years they played together. He's not top 15-20 for me though.

Other Anonymous, Curry definitely didn't have a run of 9-10 years as the best guard in the league. He only made 4 1st team all-NBA teams. I'd give him his 2 MVP years and then 2021.

At Wednesday, May 03, 2023 5:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All-NBA teams are a bad way to look at it in this era.

A bunch of those years Harden or Westbrook or Lillard finished ahead of Curry on All-NBA, but let's be real, none of those guys were ever really as good as he was, at least not in the timeframe we're talking about. He also lost spots to Booker and Paul. You taking either of those guys over him?

Couple years, probably including this one, Curry missed a few too many games in the regular season and it hurt his placement, but would you rather have the guy who plays ten more games in the regular season or the guy who gets you to the Finals after?

Besides which, All-NBA/MVP are regular season awards, and a big part of Curry's case is that he's the winningest playoff player of the last ten years, and kinda by far. Only Lebron is even close but Curry's got more rings and the same number of Finals in that span.

At Wednesday, May 03, 2023 10:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah. MVP voting and especially all-nba teams remain good indicators overall. Often disagreements of who is mvp but not really when we see who finishes top 5-8 range roughly.

Curry better overall, but Harden and Westbrook were definitely better than Curry at times. Each outplayed Curry in playoff series before too. Curry almost always wore down by the end of every playoffs with injury or fatigue except in 2022.

Several different PGs could’ve replaced Curry and won 2-3 titles during his span. Remember, Curry was never better than 3rd best player in any of his Finals until 2022. Curry is great no doubt, but he’s largely winning a lot because of his great casts which were often basically AS teams. Curry is a media darling and if he only has 4 1st team all-mba, that should tell you something.


Post a Comment

<< Home