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Chris Paul overtaking Isiah Thomas

Two years ago, I wrote Isiah Thomas’ body of work was more impressive than Chris Paul’s, and I still believe that’s the case, though the gap is shrinking. But then and since, I’ve predicted Paul will retire as the best point guard since Magic Johnson.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN picked up where my argument left off and wrote an interesting piece comparing the two point guards:

It’s hard to find anything, anything at all, that Thomas did better than Paul on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t a matter of advanced stats preferring Paul, it’s a matter of nearly every statistic preferring Paul.

Isiah’s game had flaws, and we tend to forget them because he tended to forget them on the biggest of stages. When you deliver a 25-point NBA Finals quarter on a pretzel of an ankle, you blot out memories of a turnover-prone high dribble, and rim-prone floater. When your team takes out Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson in their prime years, you earn a lot of respect.

Those sepia-glitter Isiah Thomas memories matter, and nothing will take them away. If he’s overrated, then it’s for the best of reasons: The guy performed when the eyes of the world were upon him.

Thomas also benefitted historically from something that was less within his control, even if he contributed to it: He played with an elite defense. His Pistons teams were top-three in the league in each year of that three-season NBA Finals span. But few would say that he was a better defender than CP3.

I don’t wish to trash Isiah’s legacy, or insinuate that he was unimportant to that championship success. He was crucial. I merely wish to point out that a good player can receive a lot of extra praise for having played on a great team, especially if the team excels at defense, an aspect of the game that fewer focus on. If you’re a scorer on a great defense, chances are that a disproportionate amount of credit will bounce your way.

Strauss’ evaluation of Thomas is fair (unlike the time he wrote that Kevin Johnson was better than Isiah). It’s no insult to Thomas to claim Paul is better per-season, per-minute or any other metric that doesn’t sum career accomplishments. Paul is just that good.

88 Comments

  • Mar 21, 20132:04 pm
    by G

    Reply

    I read the article and wanted to yell out “WHAT ABOUT HAND-CHECKING?” 

    The league is different now, the rules favor perimeter players more. While it’s not as drastic, I think this comparison is like comparing Shaq to Wilt. Both were great, but one played before the 3 point line and with no 3 second rules. So comparing stats is a bit unfair.

    Can we just say that both are among the greatest PGs ever & leave it at that?

    • Mar 21, 20132:30 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      No, we can’t. Because ultimately, part of what is fun about sports is trying to rank the players. We want to reach a conclusion about who was better than whom.

      If we didn’t have that desire, we wouldn’t even care that both are among the best PGs ever. We may as well just lump them with Brandon Knight and Mike Conley and Jamaal Tinsley and Mugsey Bogues and countless others and say they were all starting PGs in the NBA at some point.

      • Mar 21, 20132:57 pm
        by G

        Reply

        You gotta look at the rules though. It’s like somebody calling Mikan the greatest center of all time (which people used to argue as recently as the ’80′s). Or calling Cy Young (who pitched entirely in the deadball era) the greatest pitcher ever. You have to pay attention to the era. 

    • Mar 21, 20132:36 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Also, about hand checking, people say the D was so much tougher back in the day because of it. But league-wide, perimeter players shot much better than they do today. So either that’s not wiping out as much of a disadvantage as you think, or defenses have adjusted in other ways to become stauncher. Unless you just believe people are less skilled at shooting or getting to the hole today than they were then, in spite of all the evidence pointing the other way.

      But, even if you’re right and hand-checking is such a huge deal, you can’t have it both ways. Maybe Thomas’ scoring suffered from it, but he was able to take advantage of it on D. CP3 is an elite defensive PG without getting to hand check anyone.

      Most of the changes that have advantaged the perimeter are not rule changes but gradual adaptation of players on every level to become better shooters and more capably take advantage of the three point line. Today, it is not uncommon for a team to have three to four very good three point shooters on the floor at a time. That really opens things up.

      • Mar 21, 20132:50 pm
        by G

        Reply

        Couple of things about hand-checking & shooting:
        1) All the numbers they were comparing (other than steals) were offensive numbers. I’ll go along with what the man said, Paul is just a better defender than Isiah was. But he spent most of his time talking about superiority at running the offense, which is the PG’s job.
        2) Yeah, the perimeter players shot better back in the day. The league was smaller, talent was condensed, better shooters on the floor… next point…
        3) The hand-check rule opened up SO MUCH offensively. Slashers could get to the rack more easily, a 3pt shooter could suddenly jab-step his guy away & have an open look, and so on. There’s a lot of offensive options available to today’s players that weren’t there when the defender could put an arm bar or both hands on you. I’m calling that “gradual adaptation” you mentioned an effect of the rule change. 

        • Mar 21, 20133:35 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          The gradual adaptation is certainly a result of the rule change to add the three point shot. That was the biggie, not all these other, more minor rules.

          And talent was not particularly more condensed. There were still over 20 teams. A perhaps 30% additional to the league size is more than offset by the growing popularity of the sport at lower levels both in the US and around the world.

          The players of a few decades ago were not better shooters. Look at FT% numbers. Nobody was over 90%. Nowadays, you get a few every year. Look at 3 point percentages, those have only been trending up. FG% is down because defenses have learned to pack the paint.

          And just watch some classic games. People move so much slower, the defensive rotations aren’t nearly as crisp. Heck, these days, the difference between a “wide open” shot and being smothered by the the defender is maybe a quarter of a second. That was not always the case.

          Sure, it makes sense to look at players in the context of their era. But in the context of his era, I doubt Thomas could have gone to the laughingstock of the league and instantly turned it into a contender. That is what Paul did to the Clippers.

          • Mar 21, 20134:12 pm
            by G

            “Defenses have learned to pack the paint”??? What? Defenses ALWAYS packed the paint, that’s why they instituted the defensive 3-second rule and the restricted area.

            Back in the day the FT was less of a weapon than it is now. You know they used to only give you 1 shot on a non-shooting foul? Obviously you didn’t have the advanced stats, metrics & whatnot telling you what shot was most efficient. 

            I own several classic games. ’67 NBA finals game 5 (I think), a ’73 game between the Knicks & the Bucks, and a bunch of games from 1980 to 1990. 

            I think 4 rule changes increased the NBA’s move from post-play to perimeter-play (in order): the institution of the 3-pt line, the hand-check rule, the restricted area, and defensive 3 seconds. Three of those came at the end or after Isiah’s career was over. 

            By the way, Isiah Thomas DID take a laughingstock & turned it into a contender. Isiah was drafted in 1981. They were basically the Washington Wizards until they drafted Isiah. Check the stretch from ’77-’78 to ’82-’83 (Isiah’s 2nd year).

          • Mar 21, 20134:58 pm
            by tarsier

            A couple bad years does not make a laughingstock of the league. Of course the Pistons were bad. Otherwise they couldn’t have drafted Thomas. But they were such a far cry from the Clippers.

          • Mar 21, 20135:05 pm
            by G

            Fair to say, but 6 straight seasons of sub-.500 basketball was no picnic either. Nobody matches the Clippers though, mainly due to Sterling.

          • Mar 21, 20135:14 pm
            by tarsier

            “Fair to say, but 6 straight seasons of sub-.500 basketball was no picnic either.”

            I know. This is the 5th straight for the Pistons right now (hopefully doesn’t make it to 6).

            I’m sure I’m somewhat biased. But I just love watching Paul. He is the Tim Duncan of point guards, the Wayne Gretzky of the NBA. Not very spectacular, but he just never makes mistakes and is always half a second ahead of the rest of the guys on the court. Thomas is just so much like all the other good PGs today, which isn’t unique enough for me. I understand that in the context of his time, that would have been flipped. But I am living in the here and now, not in the past. I can’t really change that.

        • Mar 21, 20133:55 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          And of course the numbers they compared were offensive. We have offensive numbers. We don’t have good metrics for measuring defense.

  • Mar 21, 20132:51 pm
    by Kobina

    Reply

    Isiah played in a much tougher league; the restricted zone alone is reason enough to give Zeke the nod.  Paul is an excellent, excellent player and certainly belongs in any conversation about great point guards.  Without a doubt he is the closest thing we have seen to Isiah but he is not there yet and may never be.  In my mind, he still has to catch Jason Kidd in the post-Isiah rankings.  

    Also, let’s not forget how physically tough Isiah was.  I love Chris Paul and if he somehow ended up in a Pistons uniform this summer, my screams of joy would audible on the Moon but one of the things holding him back in this discussion are the nagging injuries he’s faced throughout his career.  Playing in the 80′s, CP3 would have missed a lot more games.

    • Mar 21, 20132:59 pm
      by G

      Reply

      Good point, forgot about that. Another rule opening up stuff for perimeter players. I don’t know if the Pistons could’ve beaten the Bulls in 1990 if the restricted zone was in place.

    • Mar 21, 20133:53 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      If the league was so much tougher in Isiah’s days, why weren’t peoples stats depressed across the board? Shouldn’t teams have been scoring about 80 ppg instead of 110? Any disadvantage you claim he had on one end, his opponent had on the other.

      Facts:
      Thomas averaged 19 and 9 on 45/29/76 with a 2.461 AST/TO ratio and a 0.505 STL/TO ratio in a faster paced league with better teammates
      Paul averages (so far) 19 and 10 on 47/36/86 with a 4.043 AST/TO ratio and a 0.988 STL/TO ratio.

      And I definitely agree that Zeke gets the edge on durability, but he missed 87 games through 13 seasons. Paul has missed 85 games through 8 seasons. So it’s not as lopsided as you make it sound. Basically the difference between playing 75 games and 71 games in a year.

      • Mar 21, 20134:16 pm
        by G

        Reply

        Back up a second. You’re looking at LEAGUE stats, we’re arguing the rules were tougher on PERIMETER players. The game used to be interior-driven, now it’s perimeter driven.

        • Mar 21, 20135:02 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          I’m pointing out that he had more possessions to rack up stats, whether they were points or assists. Yes, at the time, there were more good big men and fewer good PGs than now. But are you telling me that perimeter players shoot at a much better percentage now than they did then? 

          • Mar 21, 20135:15 pm
            by G

            I’m saying that a) the floor is more open for perimeter players to slash & find room, and b) there is a somewhat depleted talent pool due to 5 more teams in the league (so don’t start quoting league stats, too much is different).

            Plus, while the league played at a faster pace back in the ’80′s, the Pistons played at the slowest pace in the league. In the ’88-’89 season, Detroit was dead-last in pace at 95.5. This year’s Clippers run at 91.5. They’re not THAT different. 

          • Mar 22, 201312:35 am
            by tarsier

            4.5% isn’t huge, but it is a significant difference.

            Adn the talent pool is in no way depleted. There have been a few teams added, but the pool from which talent is drawn has expanded sooo much.

            Even if you ignore that the NBA now draws so much more from overseas and that it has been growing in popularity here, the population of the US was 250M in 1990 and 310M in 2010. That’s more than enough to make up the difference right there. 

      • Mar 21, 20139:33 pm
        by kamal

        Reply

        You’re comparing Isiah’s career to Paul’s 8 years in the league?  Through eight seasons, Isiah averages 20 and 9.8 AND he played in almost 100 more games than Chris Paul at this point.  Chris Paul’s numbers will go down the longer he plays and if he doesn’t have the titles, they won’t be in the won’t be mentioned in the same breath – or they shouldn’t.

        • Mar 22, 201312:41 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          His numbers may go down with time. But players play at their peaks for longer now. AND INDIVIDUALS DON’T WIN TITLES!!!! TEAMS DO!!!!

          And regardless of cross-sections of career, Paul’s numbers remain way more efficient than Thomas’.

          Finally, one of the most popular PG debates is who is number 2, Thomas or Stockton. So clearly it doesn’t take rings to be in that conversation. NOR SHOULD IT!

          • Mar 22, 20139:55 am
            by kamal

            And I argue against Stockton every time.  Stockton only had to worry about running the offense and knocking down the open jumper.  Isiah had to worry about running the offense AND scoring for his team.  And if his boys were cold that night, Isiah had to take over the game.  

            As for Paul, he’s a nice player.  In fact, he’s the lead guard in the league today.  But isiah was something else.  21 & 14?  For real?  Who does that?  Who CAN do that?  

            And I know rings aren’t everything.  Hell, I think Karl Malone and Barkley are better than Duncan all time.  But Isiah led a team of castoffs and hustle players to 2 titles.  That’s gotta count for something.

          • Mar 23, 20133:02 am
            by tarsier

            You are severely underselling Isiah’s teammates.

  • Mar 21, 20133:56 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    To all of us “old heads” who grew up watching the bad boys and watching Zeke in his prime remember that he also scaled his game down some in order for us to win ultimately. Maybe the case could be made that Thomas could have had been more dominant and put up better numbers if he wanted to do so, but he sort of sacrificed his own numbers for the team and ultimate goal of winning titles. Kind of like what Westbrook is being asked to do. (Scale back and defer to Durant)

    I may be a homer, but Zeke is the main reason I’m such a die hard Piston fan. In my opinion he is the 2nd best PG ever to play the game behind Magic. His name should be listed in the top tier of the greatest ever with Micheal, Magic, and Larry. If you’re basing it purely off stats alone a case could be made that Westbrook is better, Kyrie, Rondo, Nash in his prime and so on. Stats go a long way in supporting the quality of a player, but stats don’t solely define the heart of a champion. I would take Zeke any day to build my team around. Zeke was known as one of the most fiercest competitors ever, cold blooded assassin on the court who I would take on my team or in a street fight; his fire was unparalleled in a little man at the time. The late and great Chuck Daily once said if he was 6’6 there would be no question as who the best player would be. (paraphrasing) If anyone on our current squad played with 25% of Zeke’s intensity when we would be talking about top 5 playoff seeding in the east instead of potential top 5 lottery picks. IMO of all the healthy players on our squad only Will Bynum brings effort consistently. When healthy, add Knight, and Drummond to that list. 

    Just ask CP3 and Derrick Rose who they pattern their respective games after…

    Bad Boy for life!!!

    • Mar 21, 20135:07 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Are you implying that CP3 couldn’t rack up a ton more stats? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player who makes more “right winning plays” than Paul. Of course stats aren’t everything. They are just one of the easiest things to compare.

      Paul’s teams, though, have typically been comfortably on top of the league in terms of +/- at the end of close games. He would be my first choice, all-time, for who to have holding the ball when the game is on the line. Not my top choice for who to shoot the ball. But he is better than anyone at figuring out whether to take the shot himself or set someone else up for a high percentage look.

      I agree with Patrick. Thomas still has the edge on Paul, career-wise. But Paul is on pace to overtake him. 

  • Mar 21, 20134:20 pm
    by Mr Woods

    Reply

    How about this Stat, Isiah led his team to 3 NBA Finals & won 2 in a league that had major talent on other teams that they had to beat. It was only 24 teams back then. CP3 better win a title soon if he’s gonna be compared with Zeke!

    • Mar 21, 20134:31 pm
      by G

      Reply

      Again, we dealt with this back in the KJ/Isiah debate. Titles are team efforts and depend heavily on who you’re playing with & who you’re playing against. KJ’s lack of a title shouldn’t be held against him, neither should Paul’s.

    • Mar 21, 20134:55 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Also, it is easier to win a title with fewer teams in the league. Isiah still has a major edge there, but Paul has yet to be on anywhere near as talented a team.

      • Mar 21, 20135:17 pm
        by G

        Reply

        Now THAT argument I disagree with. Look at the ’60′s. Very few teams in the league, how many won titles? The Celtics, and the 76ers won once.

        • Mar 22, 201312:44 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Look at how many titles on average each team won per year: 1/n where n is the number of teams. If there are 10 teams, you have a one in ten shot at a title. It there are 20, you have a one in twenty. Boston happened to clean up. But that continues to back up my point, it would be so much harder to take 11 titles in 13 years in today’s NBA than it was then.

          This is simple math. There really is no reasonable argument (you can argue parity, but not overall likelihood of winning). 

          • Mar 22, 20136:56 pm
            by G

            It’s actually NOT that simple. Talent pool is more condensed in a 10 team league, so you your team has to go ten guys deep or better. It’s not a 1 to 1 relationship. My argument is that the ease of getting a title has a direct relationship to the depth of the talent pool, not the number of teams.

          • Mar 23, 20133:05 am
            by tarsier

            But that’s untrue because more condensed talent means your teammates get just as much of an average talent boost as everyone else’s.

      • Mar 21, 20135:20 pm
        by G

        Reply

        I’d argue the opposite – more teams means you have an easier shot at a title. Instead of building a solid team that goes 10 deep, just 1 player and a few sidekicks can turn it around. Look at the Clippers – they drafted Blake, got Paul, and picked up a few odds & ends & now they’re contending.

        • Mar 22, 20137:14 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          But there are all of three players in the league that can instantly turn you into a contender. So you only have a one in ten shot of having one. If you honestly believe there’s not as much talent to go around, that just makes assembling however much you need that much harder. You don’t have to compete with the past, just the present.

          This is the one thing here that is not debatable. This is the simplest possible math. More teams vying for the championship and just as many championships per year means fewer championships per team per year.

          • Mar 22, 201310:22 am
            by G

            Man, just look at the records from back in the day ’til now. There’s a lot more parity now than there used to be.

          • Mar 22, 201310:49 am
            by tarsier

            Sure, more parity, not more championships.

          • Mar 22, 20136:12 pm
            by G

            God, you’re gonna make me look this sh– up, aren’t you?
            1960′s – 2 different teams won all decade
            1970′s – 8 teams won… The ABA threw this decade off, talent pool was depleted
            1980′s – 4 teams won
            1990′s – 4 teams won
            2000′s – 5 teams won
            2010′s – 3 teams won… That’s 3 teams in 3 years.

            Basically every decade before 2000 averaged less than 1 different champion every 2 years (except the ’70′s, and we already talked about that). This decade so far has featured a different champ every year. If NY, OKC, SA, or LAC win this year it’ll be 4 for 4.

          • Mar 23, 20133:08 am
            by tarsier

            I agreed with you that there is more parity. But on average, each franchise wins fewer championships when there are more franchises around. Do you not agree with this. Because it really is as simple as the 1/n relationship I described.

          • Mar 23, 20133:10 am
            by tarsier

            So I guess you could argue that it is now about equally easy to win a championship as it was back in the day. But that back then it was way easier to win a bunch of championships.

            Either way, that makes exactly 1 championship now a more impressive feat than it was then. 

          • Mar 23, 201310:25 am
            by G

            I suppose I could go with that. Certainly there is more parity now.

  • Mar 21, 20134:29 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    All valid points gentlemen. 

  • Mar 21, 20135:38 pm
    by ShimmeringWang

    Reply

    The arguments for Isiah over Kevin Johnson are not absurd. Dan, you can’t complain about all of Brandon Knight’s turnovers and ignore that Isiah Thomas was significantly worse than KJ at taking care of the ball, not to mention that KJ was a more efficient shooter and put up better assist rates for his career. 

    Even if we account for Thomas’ extra minutes, is it really ridiculous to suggest Kevin Johnson was better than Zeke? I don’t think so. It’s just the narrative, and dismissing it out of hand is beneath you.  

    • Mar 21, 20135:39 pm
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      Dammit.  I meant “The arguments for Kevin Johnson over Isiah are not absurd.” I screwed up the effing lede. 

      • Mar 21, 20139:33 pm
        by G

        Reply

        Nope, you effed up even bringing that argument back up. KJ was an All Star, Isiah was an All-Time Great. It’s not that close.

  • Mar 21, 20135:38 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    Isiah INVENTED the modern pg game, was the FIRST star to lead his team to a championship without a dominant big man (and only one since other than Jordan & Lebron), and did all this BEFORE all the easy access defensive rule changes were put in placed for Jordan and for Lebron (put in after Pistons championships in. Consecutive decades). There’s no way stats can do justice to that.

    • Mar 21, 20135:41 pm
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      Wilt Chamberlain invented being super-tall and awesome. Therefore, Chamberlain is the beeeessssst.  QED.

      Also, Magic Johnson.  

    • Mar 21, 20135:44 pm
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      Also, LOL @ “Pistons championships in consecutive decades.” 

    • Mar 21, 20136:18 pm
      by Vic

      Reply

      Look it up, did they change the rules for Wilt? Did they make the rim higher?
      They changed the rules specifically for the Pistons twice. Changing the rules is changing the game, right? What…LOL? Oh ok.

      • Mar 21, 20136:39 pm
        by ShimmeringWang

        Reply

        Explain to me how they changed the rules because of Isiah Thomas, please.

      • Mar 21, 20136:46 pm
        by ShimmeringWang

        Reply

        While you’re at it, explain why “changing the rules” is an accurate measure of individual greatness (without, please, using that “changing the rules = CHANGED THE GAME” conflation you tried to squeeze in there last post)

      • Mar 21, 201310:47 pm
        by G

        Reply

        This argument is going in a dumb direction & I don’t really want to participate, but I do want to point out a few rules they DID change because of Wilt – they added the shot clock, they widened the lane, free-throw violations, and some other stuff.

  • Mar 21, 20137:09 pm
    by T Casey

    Reply

    I don’t get the Paul is overtaking Isiah idea. Statistically they are about the same with pluses going for each in different categories, and of course the elephant in the room the 2 titles and a finals mvp in Thomas corner, but I just see Paul inching closer to being on par with Isiah than anything. I wish I felt like explaining why I feel that way more so it doesn’t sound like empty bs, but that’s my opinion.

    • Mar 21, 20137:22 pm
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      When you say “statistically,” to what statistics are you referring? I’m asking honestly. I’ll probably have a response, but I’m not trying to foment dissent; I just want to get a handle on the general tone around here. 

      • Mar 21, 20139:49 pm
        by G

        Reply

        Read the article they reference, but the advanced stats favor Paul, as well as turnovers and shooting %’s.
        http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=paulch01&y1=2013&p2=thomais01&y2=1989

        • Mar 22, 201312:18 am
          by ShimmeringWang

          Reply

          Every rate stat favors Paul, I guess is what I was saying. So when somebody suggests “they are about the same statistically” I just wonder what stats are similar. Isiah has a significant health advantage, but I can’t imagine it comes close to making up for Paul’s absurd efficiency advantage. 

          (shrug) 

          • Mar 22, 20134:21 am
            by T Casey

            I actually had a great response typed up but accidentally deleted it trying to post another reply on this page so to hell with it. I understand that CP3 is the more efficient and thus effective player overall, but even still with the rule changes over the years it’s not necesarily a fair comparison. Nowadays perimeter players have stricter hand checking rules on their side that allow them to operate more freely as defenders can’t put as much pressure on them as before.

            Also, the ring aspect is important whether people like it or not. It may not tell the entire story, but it is significant in telling us whether or not a player has the goods to win it all when surrounded by championship talent. Isiah has proven it twice, once as finals mvp. As for Paul, the verdict is still out. Now if CP3 can keep up his level of play and lead a team of his to a title or two, then I could see him overtaking Isiah. Being efficient, even as remarkably efficient as CP3 is, only means so much if he gets on the big stage and can’t manage to lead his team to victory. So we’ll see where he lands.

          • Mar 22, 20137:23 am
            by tarsier

            Rings are not irrelevant. They can’t be dismissed out of hand. But they are just one of many factors.

            Basically, how I see it, is you look at the difference between how many a guy could be expected to get based on his teammates/tenure and how many he actually got and take that difference as one of the factors.

            Thomas over-achieved by getting to two, but not by all that much. If Paul were even at one right now, that would be ridiculous over-achievement. Like 2011 Mavs over-achievement. Without 2007 Mavs under-achievement to cancel it out.

  • Mar 21, 20137:36 pm
    by hirobeats

    Reply

    Until CP3 gets at least one ring, I don’t think you can argue that he is better. I know a lot of people don’t buy the whole Rings being the deciding factor of greatness thing, but in this case, with two great players with such similar stats, who also played in different eras, I think the championship factor becomes the difference maker. 

    • Mar 21, 20137:51 pm
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      When you say “better,” do you mean “had a better career” or “is a better player?” I think there might be two fundamentally different conversations happening right now. 

    • Mar 22, 201312:46 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      So why is Stockton more often than not considered better than Isiah?

      • Mar 22, 20131:06 am
        by ShimmeringWang

        Reply

        I bet you would be shocked how many people think Zeke was better than Stockton, and not just by a hair, but by a full standard-effing-deviation. 

        I was browsing that KJ vs. Zeke thread linked in the article above, and you wouldn’t believe some of the people listed ahead of Stockton on the all time PG list. One guy was super-hardcore about how much better Payton was than Stockton. It was just… cartoonish. 

        Anyway people are irrational and I hate people.  

  • Mar 21, 20139:40 pm
    by Dan

    Reply

    I wonder how many assists Zeke would’ve gotten playing with Blake??? You can talk all you want about Thomas having better defensive teammates but he had nothing like Blake on offense.  All the stats being compared are offense and Paul can throw the ball anywhere within 5ft of the rim and he’s got an assist.  Chris Paul will never win a title either, unless he signs with us next year :)

    • Mar 22, 201312:36 am
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      His highest assist rates were with New Orleans

    • Mar 22, 201312:48 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      As pointed out by the commenter above who apparently has iridescent genitalia, Paul had no problems racking up assists without Griffin.

      • Mar 22, 20136:17 pm
        by G

        Reply

        He had a great PnR partner with David West though. Running PnR is a great way to rack up assists. I don’t think the Pistons ever had a good PnR partner for Isiah.

        • Mar 23, 20131:56 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          That’s true, and even though Chandler wasn’t a big name at the time, he was great at finishing lobs.

  • Mar 21, 201311:19 pm
    by robertbayer

    Reply

    Fautly conclusion … just as Kamal pointed out correctly …. You cannot compare the entire career of Thomas with the first 8 of Paul. I will say it .. Thomas was a better defender than Paul.  Paul has great stats … but until he wins a championship .. he is not to mentioned in the same breath as Thomas .. who got his by out competing Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan …

    • Mar 22, 201312:50 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      In what universe was Thomas a better defender than Paul? There are lots of things debatable here, but the fact that Paul is the superior defender of the two is the one that really shouldn’t be. Especially if we use the converse argument of all those people obsessing over the hand check rule. Paul doesn’t even get to hand check the guys he stops.

      • Mar 22, 20133:35 am
        by T Casey

        Reply

        No offense, but who of note has CP3 really stopped? The other elite pgs seems to have his way with Paul more often than not from what I’ve seen. D Will used to give him hell when he was in Utah under Sloan. Nowadays Parker seems to have his number man-to-man as does Russell Westbrook.

        • Mar 22, 20138:02 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          I don’t have time to do this for everyone you mentioned, but here’s D-Will:

          career:
          18 ppg, 9 apg, 3 rpg, 1 spg, 3 TOpg, 5 FTApg

          against Paul:
          16 ppg, 8 apg, 3 rpg, 1 spg, 4 TOpg, 3 FTApg

          Against Paul’s teams with Paul out: 
          22 ppg, 11 apg, 5 rpg, 2 spg, 3 TOpg, 6 FTApg

          • Mar 22, 20138:07 am
            by tarsier

            So clearly, Williams has matched up well against Paul’s teams. But Paul has still managed to hold him to significantly below his career averages.

            Paul doesn’t so much shut people down as he does force them to play not to their strengths. But it works. 

  • Mar 21, 201311:31 pm
    by Mr Woods

    Reply

    @ Dan: thank you! With the league only having 24 teams, the competition was tougher & Isiah had to get by Bird, Magic, a yung Jordan. Not to mention Milwaukee, Cleveland, New York, Atlanta, & Philly were tough back then.  Lets see if CP3 can beat OKC like how Zeke had to beat all the greats if his era.  Oh & Zeke played for 1team!

    • Mar 22, 201312:22 am
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      Fewer teams means…. it is harder to win a championship? I am… I… 

      FLABBERGASTING 

      • Mar 22, 201312:56 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        I know right? Do people honestly not understand basic math? It’s easier to be valedictorian in a class of 10 than a class of 100. You’re more likely to be the tallest in a family of 4 than a family of 8. It’s easier to offer the lowest price when you have one competitor than when you have three.

        Why do people think basketball is different? Even if we accept that the talent was more condensed (which it wasn’t because the pool is so much bigger now), that meant more talent on your team too, not just your opponents’ teams.

        • Mar 22, 20131:01 am
          by ShimmeringWang

          Reply

          (high five)

        • Mar 22, 20131:08 am
          by ShimmeringWang

          Reply

          (The [high five] was for totally agreeing about everything)

          [high five] 

          • Mar 22, 20136:27 pm
            by G

            You guys are assuming it’s as simple as 1/10 shot. It’s more complicated than that.

          • Mar 22, 20139:03 pm
            by G

            Think about it – a deeper talent pool means more value is placed on the team’s total talent level and less on individual players. You lose a player or add a player, it doesn’t affect the team nearly as much. A deeper talent pool means stability at the top & bottom of the league, and it’s harder to beat the incumbents. A shallower talent pool means more volatility, and you have different teams winning.

  • Mar 22, 20131:38 am
    by ShimmeringWang

    Reply

    Quote G: “Back in the day the FT was less of a weapon than it is now. You know they used to only give you 1 shot on a non-shooting foul?”

    You’re kidding, right? I’m just… what? 

    Three-to-make-two. Two-to-make-one. Unlike your thing, those were things that were actually things.  

    • Mar 22, 20136:34 pm
      by G

      Reply

      Now you sound retarded.

    • Mar 23, 20136:41 am
      by G

      Reply

      First, it’s true. There was no 1&1, bonus, whatever. Non-shooting foul was 1 shot, then the other team got the ball. Second, watch some old games. You don’t see guys TRYING to draw contact. They’re trying to make a shot. A shot fake that gets a defender in the air didn’t mean you were shooting free throws, it meant you had a wide open shot. So yeah, the FT was less of a weapon back in the day. Don’t be a dismissive ass, at least have the courtesy to provide some evidence to support your point.

  • Mar 22, 20133:10 pm
    by jamesjones_det

    Reply

    Isiah ring count: 2
    Paul ring count: 0
     
    Call me when Paul is a finals MVP.

    • Mar 22, 20133:51 pm
      by ShimmeringWang

      Reply

      True or False: Adam Morrison is better than Charles Barkley. (Hint: see above for sole determining factor of individual greatness)

      • Mar 22, 20134:46 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Or heck, we can say Tony Parker vs Kevin Durant or Chauncey Billups vs Karl Malone.

        • Mar 22, 20138:43 pm
          by kamal

          Reply

          No.  You compare players of the same position with comparable stats.  I hate when people use that argument “Robert Horry must be better than Patrick Ewing”.  No.  Horry was a role player and never carried a team.  Ewing vs Olajuwon or Robinson.

          If Player A and Player B played the same position and both had comparable career stats but Player A had way more playoff success and even has a couple of titles and a finals MVP, then I’d go with Player A every day of the week.

           

          • Mar 23, 20133:12 am
            by tarsier

            That’s why I didn’t use Horry. I used Finals MVPs. I was very deliberate about that.

  • Mar 22, 201310:44 pm
    by Rodman4Life

    Reply

    Tarsier,
    If you had watched Isiah play every game during the 80′s, I think you would feel differently. He played with such heart, he was a masterpiece on the court. And the stats were always dwarfed by what he actually did, what you saw him do with your eyes. And I strongly feel, that if you had seen him play, YOU would reach this conclusion on your own.  

    • Mar 23, 20133:14 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      It’s possible. I only started watching the NBA in the 90s. But I have watched many of his 80s games. I’d like to think my distance makes me more objective. Who knows.

      But from what I’ve seen, Thomas could take over a game like Paul cannot. But Paul consistently controls games like Thomas did not. The former is more viscerally appealing. The latter results in more wins.

      • Mar 25, 20138:44 am
        by Rodman4Life

        Reply

        Pretty accurate assessment of the two.

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