Friday, 26 July 2013

THE GREATNESS OF OSCAR ROBERTSON

Oscar Robertson is, unfortunately, the victim of some harsh revisionist history that has taken place recently.

Let’s start by looking at the Big O’s all-time ranking in various publications and lists over the years:
  • 1st - Pro Basketball Statistics (Martin Taragano, 1993)
  • 1st - The Encyclopedia of Basketball Team Histories (Peter C Bjarkman, 1994)
  • 2nd - Associated Press Player of the Century (1999)
  • 2nd - Biographical History of Basketball (Peter C. Bjarkman, 1998)
  • 3rd - Slam (2003)
  • 4th - Athlon 50 Greatest Special Magazine (1998)
  • 4th - Basketball Digest's 100 (Brad Herzog, December 1999)
  • 5th - Basketball's 100 Greatest Players (Wayne Patterson, 1988)
  • 5th - Slam 500 (2011)
  • 5th - Association for Professional Basketball Research (Need to Argue, 2013)
  • 7th - SPORT Magazine's 50th Anniversary (Pete Vecsey, 1996)
  • 7th - The Expert's Picks: Basketball's Best 50 Players in the Last 50 Years (Kenneth A. Shouler, 1997)
  • 7th - Slam (1997)
  • 7th - 50 Sense (Lacy Banks, 2004)
  • 7th - NBA List Jam (Pat Williams and Michael Connelly, 2012)
  • 8th - Who's Better, Who's Best in Basketball? (Elliot Kalb, 2003)
  • 8th - Charley Rosen (2005)
  • 9th - Beckett Presents Basketball Greats (2010)
  • 10th - Book of Basketball (Bill Simmons, 2010 - paperback update)
Educated authors agree that Oscar Robertson is one of the top ten basketball players ever.

And yet, in 2012, members of the Inside Hoops message board voted Oscar Robertson as the 13th greatest player of all-time behind Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon and others.

Meanwhile, over on the RealGM message board, the forum's members ranked the Big O 14th all-time behind Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and eleven other players.

What has caused Oscar to fall from the second best player of the millennium (as voted by the associated press) to a player many fans and some authors don't even consider for their top 10 just a decade later?

It’s tempting to blame it on sheer ignorance or perhaps a lack of highlight reel dunks. However, there are two other important factors, which I shall address in turn.

"Oscar is without a doubt the greatest basketball player I have ever played against. To me he is the closest player I have ever seen to being perfect." (Jerry West)

Criticism #1: Oscar Robertson’s stats are inflated due to the faster pace of the 1960s

Today’s fans are now more savvy when it comes to statistics. They no longer rely on just points, rebounds and assists per game to calculate a player’s dominance. Instead, they have things like PER and Win Shares at their disposal. More importantly, people have begun to recognise that the pace of 1960s basketball meant more possessions and, thus, in theory, greater potential to score points, grab rebounds and dish out assists.
However, it’s not that simple.

For a start, we need to consider that Oscar Robertson led the league in assists by a large margin. During his Cincinnati Royals career conveniently spanning the 1960s, Oscar Robertson averaged 10.3.apg for the decade. His closest rival over the same time period was Guy Rogers with an average of 7.9apg followed by Bob Cousy (7.2apg), Walt Frazier (6.8apg) and Lenny Wilkens (6.2apg).

"Thirty years after his retirement, a strong case could be made for him to be called the best player in NBA history." (Elliot Kalb)

Assists were less easily attributed to a player in that era. The final pass needed to directly lead to a field goal whereas, today, there is more room for lenient stat-padding when it comes to assists.

Consider that, from 2000-01 to 2009-10, Steve Nash was second in the league with 9.6apg. Chris Paul was first with 10.0apg. CP3 would have needed to average 12.5apg to have had a proportional advantage over Nash to the same extent that Robertson’s assist numbers dwarfed Rogers’.

Then of course we have the rebounds. Critics will point out that, although Robertson’s rebounding averages appear to be impressive (8.5rpg while with the Royals), his averages often trailed his teammates’ such as Jerry Lucas, Wayne Embry and Bob Boozer.

That seems like a convincing argument until you compare the Big O to the other guards in the league. Again, using the 1960s as our time period, Oscar Robertson averaged 8.5rpg compared to Jerry Sloan (7.3rpg), Tom Gola (6.7rpg), Jerry West (6.3rpg) and Hal Greer (6.3rpg).

In other words, Oscar Robertson was not only the best passer in the league by a big margin, but he was also clearly the best rebounder at his position.

As if his passing and rebounding weren’t impressive enough, we then need to factor in that Robertson was consistently amongst the top 5 scorers in the league (ranking 3rd, 5th, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 5th and 6th in points per game in each of his first ten seasons in the NBA). It’s hard not to be impressed by that level of consistency.

Finally, we should consider that Oscar Robertson was perhaps the greatest shooter of his era. Although some will argue that Jerry West was a better long-range bomber, it was the Big O who led the league in TS% (true shooting percentage) during the 1960s, paced the league in FT% twice and is generally regarded as perhaps the greatest mid-range shooter of all-time.

In conclusion, Oscar Robertson was the best passer of his generation, best rebounder at his position, a top 3 scorer in the league, and perhaps the finest shooter alive at the time. Who else in history can make the same claim?

"For those that still respect versatility, there seems to be little debate. Oscar Robertson indeed remains the greatest basketball player ever invented." (Peter Bjarkman)

Criticism #2: Oscar Robertson’s lack of post-season success

A lack of championship success is an argument that is used time and time again to criticise players. If casual fans were easily swayed by points, rebounds and assists per game in the 1990s (perhaps explaining why people were happy to rank Robertson amongst the all-time greats at the time), then modern day fans are equally obsessed with championship rings as a measure of a player’s greatness.

It ought to go without saying that basketball is a team game. Throughout history, even the most dominant of players needed talented teammates to help them win it all.
  • George Mikan needed Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelsen and Slater Martin
  • Bill Russell needed Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, John Havlicek and others
  • In Philadelphia, Wilt Chamberlain needed Hal Greer, Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham and, later, with the Lakers, needed Jerry West and Gail Goodrich
  • Walt Frazier and Willis Reed needed each other and support from a loaded Knicks team
  • Julius Erving needed Moses Malone
  • Magic Johnson needed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy
  • Larry Bird needed Kevin McHale and Robert Parish
  • Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen
  • Tim Duncan needed Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili
  • Shaquille O’Neal needed Kobe Bryant and, later, Dwyane Wade.
No wonder LeBron James made the decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

Of course, there are exceptions. The mid-1990s Houston Rockets lacked star power but Hakeem Olajuwon carried them on his back to two championships in an expanded, diluted, sans-Michael Jordan league. Dirk Nowitzki also performed miracles for the Dallas Mavericks in their championship season. Such examples are rare, however.

"Oscar Robertson was the complete player...it wasn't surprising that many began to refer to Oscar as the best basketball player the human race had yet produced." (Leonard Koppett)

So should we be critical of Oscar Robertson for failing to win a championship with the Cincinnati Royals? Jack Twyman was a talented wing player while Jerry Lucas was perhaps Oscar's best teammate - a great shooter and rebounder but a poor defender. Lucas was also known for his obsession with checking his own statistics. Ultimately, the Bucks team simply couldn’t rival the juggernaut Celtics, whose dominance acted as a road block affecting the legacies of many superstars, not least Jerry West and Oscar Robertson.

And so it took a trade to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970 for Oscar to get his first and only taste of championship success. Some people argued that he needed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (or Lew Alcindor as he was then known) to help him get over the edge, but you could make the same argument about the Bucks’ big man. He needed Oscar just as much as Oscar needed him. After all, post-Oscar but pre-Magic, how much post-season success did Kareem have?

Indeed, it was in their first year together, in the 1970-71 season, that the Bucks compiled a league-best 66-16 regular season record. In his book The NBA From Top To Bottom, Kyle Wright uses a statistical analysis to argue that the ‘71 Bucks were the most dominant team of all-time, relative to the other teams in the league. Had Oscar Robertson been fortuitous enough to play with another superstar throughout his career – a luxury afforded the majority of the NBA’s greatest players, as shown above – then perhaps Oscar’s post-season success would be remembered differently.

It appears that the majority of modern fans have overlooked the enormity of Oscar Robertson’s abilities. I hope this article will go some way towards dispelling some myths, correcting early-21st century revisionist history, and reminding – or educating – fans of the Big O’s greatness.

"Nobody could match the 'Big O' for pure artistic grace, for single-handed control of the playing floor he inhabited, or for all-around shooting, passing, and playmaking abilities. In brief, there was never a more complete package for a basketball player put together within a single human frame." (Peter Bjarkman)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

MOUNT RUSHMORE: THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY


Someone recently asked me to name the players that I would want to see on a fictitious NBA version of 'Mount Rushmore'. It led to much debate. Should the four players be the 'best' in NBA history? The 'greatest'? Or the most 'significant'? And what exactly do those terms mean?

My understanding is as follows:

'Best' is the easiest to define. If you took two players from history and put them up against each other, perhaps in a game of 1-on-1 (although that might be unfair when comparing guards with centers, for example), who would win? Using this criteria, Shaq is better than Bill Russell. For all of his defensive abilities, it's hard to imagine a 6'9" Russell stopping a 7'1" Shaq, especially since Shaq would have a 100lb weight advantage (although Russell fans will protest that he did a good job defending the similarly-sized Wilt Chamberlain). Another way to look at it is as follows: if all the players were in the same draft, who would get drafted above who? I'm taking the 7'1" 325 giant over the Celtics legend.

'Greatest' refers to who had the greater career. There's really no need for debate here: With 11 championship rings, Bill Russell had a far greater career than Shaq (who won 4 rings). Russell is the greater player of the two.

(For those keeping up, you might have already considered that LeBron James is certainly one of the very best players in NBA history, but definitely not the greatest)

Meanwhile, 'Significance' is by far the hardest to define and, therefore, the most difficult way of ranking players.

In history teaching, Cambridge University's Christine Counsell (2004) proposed that we should use the '5Rs' to determine the historical significance of past events. I have adapted these below:
  • Remarkable - It was remarked upon by people at the time
  • Remembered - It was important at some stage in history
  • Resulted in change - It had consequences for the future
  • Resonant - People like to make analogies with it
  • Representative - ...of some other aspect of historical significance.
Therefore, using Counsell's (2004) criteria, which players are the most significant in NBA history? Let's start with players who ticked some - but not all - of the five Rs criteria. There are a variety of permutations we could consider, and here are some of them:

Group 1: Remarkable, Resulted in change... but not necessarily Remembered, Resonant or Representative of any other aspect of historical significance

Joe Fulks was one of the first proponents of the jump shot (which helped change the way basketball is played) and he once scored 63 points in a game (certainly remarkable at the time). But ask your Dad (or his Dad, for that matter) if he's heard of Joe Fulks. He's not remembered by enough people to be resonant.

Same goes for Maurice Stokes. He was the first black star of the NBA and made the All-League 2nd Team in all three seasons of his short-lived career. Certainly remarkable. Meanwhile, he helped change the way the public viewed black players. But his career was cut shorty by a tragic head injury and, therefore, is not very well remembered today.

Group 2: Remarkable, Remembered, Resonant... but didn't Result in change and wasn't Representative of any other aspect of historical significance:

These are the players that we still make comparisons to today. They were remarkable for a variety of reasons and we certainly remember them with fondness. Tiny ArchibaldDennis Rodman and Reggie Miller are three such players. Fan favourites, certainly, but did they change the game? I don't think so. Plenty of other All-Star calibre players could be included in this category.

Group 3: Remarkable, Remembered, Resulted in change... but not Resonant or Representative of any other aspect of historical significance:

George Mikan fits this category. He is certainly more memorable than Fulks or Stokes (most basketball fans have heard of Big George) and he helped change the game (the lane was widened to make life more difficult for him - but he still dominated). But do fans still resonate with him? When did you last hear someone make a player comparison to George Mikan? ("You know who that Tyler Zeller reminds me of? George Mikan" - just no). Mikan was certainly important but not quite significant enough to make the NBA's Mount Rushmore.

Next up, we have Elgin Baylor. He was a remarkable talent - one of the first to play 'above the rim' - and, therefore, he changed the game as we know it. He's still remembered to this day as one of the best players ever. And yet it's rare to hear people make analogies to Elgin Baylor. Some might argue his Lakers teammate, Jerry West, was equally remarkable. He's another player who doesn't necessarily resonate with fans today (despite being the NBA's logo).

Group 4: Remarkable, Remembered, Resonant, Resulted in change... but not Representative of any other aspect of historical significance:

Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Kobe BryantLeBron James - four of the most remarkable players of all-time who will be remembered for years to come. Shaq's size resulted in changes to foul-calls, KG and Kobe opened the door to high-school players entering the NBA, and King James pretty much slammed shut that door behind him. All three players changed the game with their unique size and skill sets. But what do they represent about any other aspects of historical significance? Maybe it is too early to say?

Same goes for Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe and Allen Iverson. These players lacked the talent of Shaq, KG and LeBron but were still remarkable for their flashy style of play (which brought about changes in the way we perceive ball-handling and passing). All three resonate with fans to this day. None represent much about the past. Same goes for Oscar Robertson.

Group 5b (just missing the cut): Remarkable, Remembered, Resonant, Resulted in change, Representative of other aspects of historical significance:

Wilt Chamberlain ticks all the boxes and was one of the hardest cuts from Mount Rushmore. He changed the game and will be remembered forever as a remarkable player, but does he represent anything from the past? Same goes for Bill Russell, who wasn't as remarkable as Wilt the Stilt, despite being the greater player. However, Russell succeeds in representing the changing racial make-up of professional sports.

Perhaps surprisingly, Yao Ming also meets all the criteria but it is difficult to predict how memorable he will be in the future (outside of China, might he be largely forgotten? Time will tell). Ming certainly represents a potential (and likely) hegemonic shift in power from the USA to China.

Dirk Nowitzki - the greatest European NBA player of all-time - is another player who meets the selection criteria, but not to the same extent as the players chosen for Mount Rushmore.

Finally, another tough omission was Larry Bird. A truly remarkable player who certainly resonates with people to this day, but did he really change the game?

It is time, ladies and gentleman, to introduce the NBA's Mount Rushmore of the most Significant Players in NBA History <drum roll, please>

Group 5a (AKA Mount Rushmore): Remarkable, Remembered, Resonant, Resulted in change, Representative of other aspects of historical significance

First up we have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was remarkable for his combination of size and skill, remembered for his scoring records and longevity, resonant as a dominant big man, resulted in change to the NCAA anti-dunking rules and representative of a post-Martin Luther King politically-charged America.

Remarkable for his graceful assaults on the basket, remembered for his nickname, resonant as a comparison for modern day high-flyers, resulted in a change to the structure of the league (ABA/NBA merger) and representative of 1970s funk and soul, Julius 'Dr J' Erving is the second name etched into the stone of the NBA's Mount Rushmore.

Next we have one of the most charismatic players in NBA history: Magic Johnson. He was remarkable for being able to lead the fast-break better than anyone, remembered for his uncanny passing ability, resonant as an unusually tall point guard, resulted in change to the way we perceive people with HIV/AIDS and representative of the glitz, glamour and excess of 1980s Hollywood.

Finally, we have the most obvious selection to the NBA's Mount Rushmore: Michael Jordan. MJ was remarkable for his athleticism, remembered for his intensity and dominance, resonant as a measuring stick for every player that followed, resulted in change to the NBA's hand-checking rules, and represents global capitalism and the Americanisation of cultures across the world.

Who makes your NBA Mount Rushmore?

----------------------------------------------------

February 2014 update:

I change my mind regularly - I'd probably go with the following:

- Firstly, we have the most obvious selection to the NBA's Mount Rushmore: Michael Jordan. MJ was remarkable for his athleticism, remembered for his intensity and dominance, resonant as a measuring stick for every player that followed, resulted in change to the NBA's hand-checking rules, and represents global capitalism and the Americanisation of cultures across the world.

- I personally think it's impossible to leave Bill Russell off the list. He is well remembered - the Finals MVP award is named after him for a reason. His team success was truly remarkable. He represented a shift in opinion about the black sportsman and was the first black coach in American sports history.

- Next up we have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was remarkable for his combination of size and skill, remembered for his scoring records and longevity, resonant as a dominant big man, resulted in change to the NCAA anti-dunking rules and representative of a post-Martin Luther King politically-charged America.

- The final player etched into the stone of the NBA's Mount Rushmore should be Larry Bird. His all-around ability was remarkable and readily accessible for future generations thanks to endless YouTube tribute videos. He will certainly be remembered as the greatest white player of all-time, all the more astonishing given his relative lack of athleticism. He represented every rural kid in America with basketball hopes and dreams.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

DR J: THE MOST UNDERRATED SUPERSTAR EVER


Julius Erving is the most underrated superstar ever.

The irony is that players who electrify crowds with gravity-defying dunks are, if anything, usually overrated. Vince Carter, Shawn Kemp, Dominique Wilkins and others were all known for their emphatic assaults on the rim. They hold a special place in our hearts for the simple fact that they could do things on a basketball court that mere mortals could only dream of doing. Team success and individual accolades be damned, players like that will be remembered forever – YouTube will see to that.

Is it possible that Julius Erving became so overrated that he is now underrated?

Could it be that Dr J’s aerial ability actually hurt his long-term legacy? Do people look back at his flashy game and perceive it as style-over-substance?

For someone once so famed for his style, Erving has relatively quickly become an unfashionable choice when ranking the best players of all-time.

Much more than just an offensive juggernaut, people seem to forget that he averaged a Kirilenko-esque 2.0spg and 1.7bpg for his career.

He was a force of nature offensively too, of course, shooting .507 FG% for his career. And no, that statistic is not inflated by his ABA numbers. He actually shot the ball slightly better in the NBA than in the ABA.

Erving’s statistics were mind-boggling. In his rookie year, in the ABA Playoffs, Dr J played in 11 games and averaged 33.3ppg, 20.4rpg and 6.5apg.

Some people might scoff at such statistics and argue that it came against inferior competition. And yet, in the 1976 ABA Finals, against a tough Denver Nuggets team (featuring future Hall of Famers Dan Issel and David Thompson, as well as Bobby Jones – one of the best defenders of his era and a future teammate of Erving’s in Philadelphia), Erving averaged 37.7ppg, 14.2rpg, 6.0apg, 3.0spg and 2.2bpg. Erving's Nets won the championship.

“He had the best playoff series in a championship series that I've ever seen one individual have”, his coach, Kevin Loughery, would later say about Dr J’s performance in the 1976 ABA Finals.

In the NBA, Erving took some time to adjust but, in his fourth year in the League, won the regular season MVP award. In doing so, he became the first non-center to win the award since Oscar Robertson seventeen years earlier.

In total, across both the ABA and NBA, Erving was selected to 16 All-Stars Games, was named All-League 1st Team on 9 separate occasions, received 4 MVP awards and won 3 championship rings.

And yet, nearly every publication and journalist ranks Erving 15th or lower in their respective all-time player rankings. The only voter of note who apparently bucks the trend is Peter Vecsey who once named Erving as the 9th best player of all-time.

There are certainly about 8 or 9 players who deserve to be ranked ahead of Erving. But he has a case to be ranked ahead of the likes of Bob Pettit, Malone (Karl and Moses), Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek and Hakeem Olajuwon.

In fact, when you factor in all the possible criteria – statistics, accolades, team success, legacy – it’s hard to rank Erving below the likes of Jerry West or Kobe Bryant.

Were either of those players really better than Dr J?

Is it possible that Julius Erving became so overrated that he is now underrated?

I believe so.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

THE ULTIMATE NBA FANTASY DRAFT

The year is 2025 and a group of mad scientists have cloned every superstar from NBA history. Conveniently, those players are now all exactly the same age - twenty. Oh, and they're all eligible for the 2025 NBA draft.

Meanwhile, the memories of every NBA coach, general manager, scout and fan have been wiped. Nobody can remember these players' careers, so there is no benefit of hindsight. Jordan hasn't got six rings, LeBron hasn't made The Decision, Alcindor hasn't converted to Islam and Penny hasn't injured his knee.

So, based purely on height, athleticism and talent at the age of twenty, who would be drafted above whom?

This is the NBA's ultimate fantasy draft.

1st Pick
Shaquille O'Neal (C, 7'1", 325lb)
There are plenty of big men to choose from, but none with Shaq's combination of size and athleticism. Dominant post player with thunderous dunks. His only weakness is his free throw shooting but, with the right coaching, he'll soon hit 70% from the stripe. Loves food.


2nd Pick

Wilt Chamberlain (C, 7'1", 275lb)
One of the most impressive physical presences in the draft. Excellent athlete for his size. Can dunk from the free throw line. Needs the ball in his hands to keep him happy. Fills up the box score. Good length (and claims he knows how to use it).




3rd Pick
LeBron James (SF, 6'8", 250lb)
The best overall athlete on the board combining incredible strength, speed and leaping ability for his size. He can slash to the basket but needs to work on his jump shot. Potentially a lockdown defender and triple-double waiting to happen. Charismatic and fiercely loyal.


4th Pick
Lew Alcindor (C, 7'2", 225lb)
Not the strongest center on the board but definitely one of the most skilled - he destroyed opponents during the pre-draft workouts with his sweet hook shot. His height makes him nearly unstoppable. Needs to improve his work ethic to become a dominant defensive force. Deeply religious. Rarely smiles.


5th Pick
Magic Johnson (PG, 6'9", 215lb)
Magic was easily the best passer in pre-draft workouts and made everyone around him better. No matter who was on his side, his teams won games with style during the workouts. Has more groupies than the Beatles.


6th Pick
Kevin Garnett (PF, 6'11", 220lb)
Unbelievably skilled forward for his height. Plays with great intensity, especially on the defensive end where he inspired his teammates and led by example. Good passer. Must add weight and avoid making inappropriate cancer jokes.


7th Pick
David Robinson (C, 7'1", 235lb)
Incredible athlete and defensive force with a chiselled physique. He passes the eye test. Can score in the post or out to fifteen feet. During pre-draft workouts, he shied away from one-on-one battles. Favourite film: Saving Private Ryan.


8th Pick
Chris Webber (PF, 6'10", 245lb)
Jack of all trades. Can pass the ball better than any other power forward. Very skilled player, fun to watch. Can hit the occasional three-pointer. Rebounds well. Athletic. Unusually baggy shorts.


9th Pick
Ralph Sampson (PF/C, 7'4", 228lb)
Incredible leaping ability, especially considering his size. Can hit the mid-range jump shot or attack the basket. Decent defender with potential to develop further in this area. Prefers to play away from the basket. Brittle.


10th Pick
Tim Duncan (PF/C, 7'0", 260lb)
Fundamentally sound big man with good size and strength. Does exactly what you want with little fanfare: rebounds, defends, scores. Likes swimming with sharks. Dislikes showing emotion.


11th Pick
Michael Jordan (SG, 6'6", 215lb)
Otherworldly athlete who only slips this far because big men are more desirable. Lockdown defender who can hit the big shot with the game on the line. Fearless competitor. Suffers no fools. Dabbles in golf, baseball and gambling during spare time.


12th Pick
Kobe Bryant (SG, 6'6", 205lb)
See above (but substitute golf, baseball and gambling with soccer, hotel workers and Italian).


13th Pick
Yao Ming (C, 7'6", 310lb)
Simply a massive human being. Fantastic free throw shooter. Solid passer. Can block shots. His upside is off-the-charts. Cultural differences, language barrier and fragile feet are concerns.


14th Pick
Akeem Olajuwon (C, 7'0", 255lb)
Polished post moves and stingy defense are his calling cards. Can dominate at both ends of the court. Draft position hurt slightly by concerns over his real height and age. Chose basketball over soccer and ballet.


15th Pick
Julius Erving (SF, 6'7", 210lb)
His leaping ability has to be seen to be believed. He soars like a bird and can palm the ball with ease. Intelligent (wanted to be a doctor when he was younger) and charismatic. Massive hands.


16th Pick
Allen Iverson (SG, 6'0", 165lb)
Quickest player in the pre-draft combine. Explosive first step. Flashy dribbler with a lethal crossover move. Can score against players a foot taller. Rebellious nature and hatred of practice hurt his draft stock.


17th Pick
Dwight Howard (C, 6'11", 265lb)
Incredible physique - built like superman and can fly like him too. Intimidating shot-blocker. Post moves are somewhat robotic. Weak free throw shooter. Unnaturally happy.


18th Pick
Larry Bird (SF, 6'9", 225lb)
He has polarized scouts and general managers alike. On the one hand he is a lethal shooter, incredible passer and plays every game like his life depends on it. On the other hand he is slow, white and has an awful haircut.


19th Pick
Patrick Ewing (C, 7'0", 240lb)
Scouts love his defensive potential. Very nice jump shot for a center. Good size. A real grafter - which makes up for his mediocre athleticism. A bit plodding at times. Jamaican.


20th Pick
Penny Hardaway (PG, 6'7", 195lb)
Similar skillset to Magic Johnson but not quite as big or strong and, unlike Magic, can shoot the three with regularity. Talented dribbler and passer. Equally adept at taking over a game or deferring to teammates. Potentially a talented defender. Penchant for wearing a plaster on his cheek.


21st Pick
Bill Walton (C, 6'11", 250lb)
Rumoured to be more like 7'1" (was bare-footed when the measurements were taken, which fits the hippy stereotype). Arguably the best all-around center in the draft, he can do it all. Particularly strong on the boards. Ginger.


22nd Pick
Shawn Kemp (PF, 6'10", 230lb)
Ferocious dunker and shot-blocker. Extremely gifted athlete with great strength and leaping ability. His game still needs refining but he has all the tools to dominate his position. Developing jump shot. Weight Watchers spokesman.


23rd Pick
Dominique Wilkins (SF, 6'8", 230lb)
Offensive machine. Torched Adam Morrison for 63 points in a pre-draft workout. One of the best athletes in the draft and arguably the best dunker but a lazy defender. A highlight reel waiting to happen.


24th Pick
Jason Kidd (PG, 6'4", 195lb)
Good height for his position. Seemingly has eyes in the back of his head. Excellent rebounder for his position. Plays tough defense but can't shoot. Huge head. Unknown ethnicity.


25th Pick
Blake Griffin (PF, 6'10", 251lb)
Tremendous athlete. Explosive forays to the basket. The man you want on the end of your alley-oops. Uncanny dribbling ability for a big man. Strong rebounder and can find the open man. Drives a Skoda. Unknown ethnicity.


26th Pick
Tracy McGrady (SF, 6'8", 235lb)
Cousin of Vince Carter. Excellent all-around ability. Can flat out score the basketball. Excellent range. When he gets hot, he gets really hot. Capable defender... when he wants to be. Exciting player with a flair for the dramatic. Loves to sleep.


27th Pick
Vince Carter (SG, 6'6", 215lb)
Cousin of Tracy McGrady. Recorded the highest vertical leap in the pre-draft combine results. Can score from distance but prefers to attack the basket with reckless abandon. A bit selfish at times. Hates defense and Canada.


28th Pick
Derrick Rose (PG, 6'3", 190lb)
After Iverson, the fastest player in the draft. Incredible first step - can blow past even the toughest defenders. Needs to develop more of a pass-first mentality. Can take over games in the fourth quarter with his scoring ability. Must work on personality.


29th Pick
Dirk Nowitzki (PF, 7'0", 245lb)
The most talented European on the draft board. Exceptional shooting ability, especially for a seven-footer. His fadeaway jump shot is unguardable. One of the most talented offensive players in the draft. Mediocre defender and rebounder. Plans to spend his first paycheck on a sunbed and stylist.


30th Pick
Kevin Durant (SF, 6'9", 215lb)
Similar player to Nowitzki but three inches shorter and twice as cool. Deadly from long range. Potentially a decent defender but must add bulk to his lithe frame. Spokesman for the International Backpacking Community.


Friday, 26 August 2011

NOWITZKI vs BARKLEY, GARNETT & MALONE

In my top 100 players in NBA history article, Dirk Nowitzki's ranking at number 18 caused mixed feelings amongst readers. Some people (i.e. Mavs fans) have applauded me for recognising his achievements while others have slated me for putting him ahead of legendary power forwards like Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Kevin Garnett.


Here is a breakdown of the top 10 power forwards of all-time according to my rankings (which, lets remember, are based on the rankings of other publications such as Slam and Bill Simmons and, therefore, not necessarily my own opinion, although I tend to agree with them).

1 - Tim Duncan (8th)
2 - Bob Pettit (16th)
3 - Dirk Nowitzki (18th)
4 - Karl Malone (19th)
5 - Charles Barkley (20th)
6 - Kevin Garnett (24th)
7 - Elvin Hayes (33rd)
8 - Kevin McHale (34th)
9 - Dolph Schayes (40th)
10 - Jerry Lucas (54th)

(Note: For the sake of the list above, I'm listing Moses Malone, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens and Wes Unseld as centers)

Just seven places separate Nowitzki, Malone, Barkley and Garnett, proving how close they are in terms of talent and achievements.

I've read the arguments against Nowitzki being the best of the bunch and I'll use this as an opportunity to respond to those comments.


You've only ranked Nowitzki ahead of the Barkley and Malone because his recent accomplishments are fresh in the mind, haven't you?

Firstly, it's worth noting that, of the players in my top 100 rankings, eighteen of them played the majority of their careers in the 1990s while only sixteen played mostly in the 2000s, which suggests there is no bias towards more recent players.

Secondly, if anything, I'd argue that Nowitzki's exploits in the 2010-11 Playoffs will actually grow in legacy as the years go by. It's a real shame that many fans are so reluctant to accept it as a monumental moment in NBA history. Open your eyes. You've missed a trick.

Kevin Garnett has a ring too. Surely that counts for as much as Nowitzki's championship ring?

Trust me, I'm a huge KG fan, but come on, his championship ring doesn't count for as much as Nowitzki's. If LeBron James wins a ring next year, will that count as much as one of Jordan's? Probably not, since he sold his soul to the devil and joined Wade (and Bosh) in Miami. Now, I'm not saying Garnett did anything wrong by joining the Celtics in 2007 - he deserved a change of scene after years of loyalty in Minnesota. But winning a ring by joining forces with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen isn't nearly as impressive as chipping away year-after-year with a ragtag bunch of Mavericks in Dallas before finally winning a championship.

(Now, if Garnett had won his ring in Minnesota, then we'd be talking).


As for Nowitzki's championship, it has to go down as one of the most well-earned and hard-fought accomplishments in NBA history. The 2010-11 season was one of the most hotly contested in years and the Mavs emerged at the top of the pile.

Along the way, Nowitzki's Mavs swept the defending champion Lakers (which was - and still is - a seriously underrated achievement) and defeated an impressive young and athletic Oklahoma City Thunder team. But of course they saved their best for last, beating a Miami Heat team who will probably go on to win plenty of championships in the future.

Nowitzki's performances in those games was nothing short of legendary. I'll let the video highlights do the talking.


Karl Malone would have TWO championship rings if he didn't have the misfortune of running into the best player of all-time (Michael Jordan) in the Finals, right?

Sure. And Nowitzki would have two rings if the referees didn't give Dwyane Wade a helping hand in 2006. Your point?

But Malone has the second most points in NBA history and made 11 All-NBA 1st Teams, aren't you underrating him?

If we only used those two accomplishments, then Malone would be ranked ahead of Michael Jordan too. It's not all about career longevity you know, although Malone should be applauded for doing it night in, night out. It's not like Nowitzki is an inconsistent, injury-prone late bloomer though, isn't it? Dirk has led the Mavs to eleven straight 50+ win seasons and counting. Even Malone can't match that.


What about Barkley? He was a far better rebounder than Nowitzki and you won't find a more unique player.

Granted, Barkley was the best rebounder out of the four. He was also the worst defender. Nowitzki is underrated in both those areas, especially defensively. Barkley was certainly fun to watch and, you're right, he was a unique player. Then again, I haven't seen too many 7-foot jump-shooting Germans, have you?


But Nowitzki's defense doesn't come close to Garnett's, does it?

You're right, Garnett is easily the best defender out of this group of players. He's also proved over the years that you wouldn't want the ball in his hands at clutch time and that he struggles to lead his own team past the first round of the playoffs. Every player has a weakness. Garnett was - and still is - a phenomenal talent. But could he take over a game like Nowitzki? I haven't seen it.

What about the statistics? You do realise that Garnett averaged 24.2ppg, 13.9rpg and 5.0apg at his peak, right? That blows anything Nowitzki did out of the water.

And Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50ppg once but still didn't win a championship that season. Look, I'm not saying statistics aren't important - of course they are - but there is more to basketball than filling the box score. I'm sure Garnett would trade any of his accomplishments (statistical or otherwise) for the season that Nowitzki just had in 2010-11.


If you were drafting a team from scratch and you had to choose one of these 4 players, who would you take first? Not Nowitzki, right?

If the rankings were based purely on 'who would you draft first?', then LeBron James would be first overall, Ralph Sampson would be in the top 10 and George Mikan would go undrafted.

But the rankings are about more than that. You need to factor in as much as possible: personal accolades, team accomplishments, statistics, legacy, awards, etc.

When you do that, Nowitzki has the edge over Malone, Barkley and Garnett. Just.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

ALL-TIME FLASHIEST PASSERS - THE STARTING FIVE

I read an interesting online debate earlier today. Someone was trying to convince people that Jason Kidd is a better passer than John Stockton (even though Kidd has less career assists and averages fewer assists per game). The argument was based around the fact that Kidd's passes are more flashy and that, if Kidd played his entire career next to someone like Karl Malone, he'd have just as many assists as Stockton.

It's a slightly flawed argument since it shouldn't really matter how flashy a pass is as long as it finds its target and leads to a basket.

However, it got me thinking about who I'd choose if I was selecting the flashiest passers of all-time at each position (no easy task, especially selecting a point guard from a long list of worthy candidates). Eventually, after hours of YouTube-induced nostalgia, I narrowed down my short list to the following starting five...

All-Time Flashiest Passers - The Starting Five

Center
--- Arvydas Sabonis ---
In 1998, while discussing the best teenagers he'd ever seen play basketball, Bill Walton had this to say about Sabonis: "When he was a 19-year-old, before the injuries, and before he put on the weight, he was a seven-foot-three Larry Bird who could do everything". Even after the injuries and the weight gain, Sabonis' passing ability still shone through.


Power Forward
--- Chris Webber ---
There have been numerous players throughout NBA history who failed to live up to expectations, but Chris Webber's unfulfilled potential is perhaps the most perplexing. The man was a wizard with the basketball. The highlights below not only demonstrate Webber's incredible court awareness and passing ability, but also his defense and athleticism. He had a nice career... but it should have been oh so much nicer.


Small Forward
--- Larry Bird ---
An easy choice and, for my money, the best passer ever irrespective of position. Magic Johnson is a close second - and was certainly better at leading the fast break and generally running point duties - but, in a half-court offense, nobody was better than Bird. He could plot the movement of every player on the court and, before anyone even knew about it, he'd somehow put the ball in the hands of a teammate in a position to score. Uncanny.


Shooting Guard
--- Pete Maravich ---
"Maravich was unbelievable. I think he was, like, sort of ahead of his time in the things he did", said Magic Johnson. "He could do things with a basketball I've never seen anybody do", concurred Rick Barry. Just imagine if YouTube existed when Pistol Pete was running the show.


Point Guard
--- Jason Williams ---
Magic Johnson. Steve Nash. Bob Cousy. Jason Kidd. John Stockton. All would have been fine choices at point guard for the All-Time Best Passers Starting Five, but how could I resist White Chocolate? Williams' off-the-elbow pass in the 2000 Rookie All-Star Game is still the best I've ever seen. Forget about the woeful shooting percentages and suspect defense. Just enjoy Jason Williams for what he was - the flashiest passer in NBA history.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

SLAM MAGAZINE HS ALL-AMERICANS: HIT OR MISS?

In 1994, Slam's inaugural High School All-American First Team selections included three seniors (Felipe Lopez, Jerod Ward and Raef LaFrentz) as well as two juniors (Stephon Marbury and Kevin Garnett). In the years since, Slam has made an annual tradition of announcing their first, second and third team All-Americans. Sometimes the players lived up to the hype (Kobe, Garnett, LeBron, etc) and sometimes they faded into obscurity (Lester Earl, Chris Burgess, Kelvin Torbert, etc).

Being selected as a much-heralded Slam All-American clearly isn't a guarantee of future fame and fortune (although Slam do a much better job than most). In fact, using the 1994-2004 All-American selections as a sample (since it's unfair to include more recent players who might yet make it big in the League), I calculated the following statistics:

- Of all the players selected to the Slam HS All-American first, second or third teams between 1994 and 2004, 26 players (16%) became All-Stars while 37 players (22%) went undrafted.

- Being selected to the Slam HS All-American First Team improves your odds of becoming an All-Star, with 15 players (28%) achieving that feat.

- However, on the other hand, there is a 13% chance that you won't get drafted even if you make it onto Slam's First Team. Just ask Wayne Turner, Jerod Ward, Lester Earl, Chris Burgess, LaVell Blanchard, Kelvin Torbert and Jonathan Hargett.

- If you fail to make one of Slam's All-American teams, fear not. There is still hope. Take solace in the fact that none of the following late bloomers made a Slam All-American team but still went on to appear in at least one NBA All-Star game: Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Gilbert Arenas, Richard Hamilton, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Wally Szczerbiak, Kenyon Martin, Steve Francis, David West, Al Horford, Brandon Roy, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Chris Kaman, Josh Howard, Michael Redd, Danny Granger, Andrew Bynum, Andre Iguodala, Roy Hibbert, James Harden, Paul George, Joakim Noah and Brook Lopez.

Below is a list of all of the Slam HS All-Americans. Enjoy.

Key:
Red = Undrafted
Green = All-Star
Italics = Junior


***

--- Shabazz Muhammad ---

2012

First Team:
Isaiah Austin, center, Grace Prep, Arlington, TX
Nerlens Noel, center, Tilton HS, Tilton, NH
Shabazz Muhammad, small forward, Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, NV
Kyle Anderson, small forward, St. Anthony HS, Jersey City, NJ
Jabari Parker, small forward, Simeon HS, Chicago, IL

Second Team:
Steven Adams, center, Notre Dame HS, Fitchburg, MA
Anthony Bennett, power forward, Findlay HS, Henderson, NV
Grant Jerrett, power forward, Lutheran HS, La Verne, CA
Alex Poythress, small forward, Northeast HS, Clarksville, TN
Marcus Smart, shooting guard, Marcus HS, Flower Mound, TX

Third Team:
Kaleb Tarczewski, center, St. Mark's HS, Southborough, MA
Sam Dekker, small forward, Lutheran HS, Sheboygan, CT
Rasheed Sulaimon, shootingguard, Strake Jesuit HS, Houston, TX
Archie Goodwin, shooting guard, Sylvan Hills HS, Little Rock, AR
Ricardo Ledo, shooting guard, South Kent HS, South Kent, CT

***
--- Anthony Davis ---

2011

First Team:
Michael Gilchrist, forward, St. Patrick HS, Elizabeth, NJ
Austin Rivers, guard, Winter Park HS, Winter Park, FL
Anthony Davis, forward, Perspectives Charter HS, Chicago, IL
Brad Beal, guard, Chiminade Prep HS, St. Louis, MO
Quincy Miller, forward, Westchester Country Day HS, High Point, NC
Marquis Teague, guard, Pike HS, Indianapolis, IN

Second Team:
Rakeem Christmas, forward, Academy of the New Church, Philadelphia, PA
Myck Kabongo, guard, Findlay HS, Henderson, NV
James McAdoo, forward, Norfolk Christian HS, Norfolk, VA
LeBryan Nash, forward, Lincoln HS, Dallas, TX
Adonis Thomas, forward, Melrose HS, Memphis, TN

Third Team:
Khem Birch, forward, Notre Dame HS, Fitchburg, MA
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, guard, Greenville HS, Greenville, SC
Branden Dawson, forward, Lew Wallace HS, Gary, IN
PJ Hairston, guard, Hargrave Military HS, Chatham, VA
Cody Zeller, center, Washington HS, Washington, IN

***

--- Kyrie Irving ---

2010

First Team:
Perry Jones, forward, Duncanville HS, Duncanville, TX
Kyrie Irving, guard, St. Patrick HS, Elizabeth, NJ
Jared Sullinger, center, Northland HS, Columbus, OH
Brandon Knight, guard, Pine Crest HS, Coral Springs, FL
Harrison Barnes, forward, Ames HS, Ames, IA

Second Team:
Will Barton, guard, Brewster HS, Wolfeboro, NH
Michael Gilchrist, forward, St. Patrick HS, Elizabeth, NJ
Tobias Harris, forward, Half Hollow Hills West HS, Dix Hills, NY
Josh Selby, guard, Lake Clifton HS, Balitmore, MD
Tristan Thompson, forward, Findlay HS, Henderson, NV

Third Team:
Reggie Bullock, guard, Kinston HS, Kinston, NC
Joe Jackson, guard, White Station, HS, Memphis, TN
CJ Leslie, forward, Word of God HS, Raleigh, NC
Fabricio Melo, center, Sagemont HS, Weston, FL
Deshaun Thomas, forward, Bishops Luers HS, Fort Wayne, IN

***

--- John Wall ---

2009

First Team:
Xavier Henry, guard, Putnum City HS, Oklahoma City, OK
Lance Stephenson, guard, Lincoln HS, Brooklyn, NY
Derrick Favors, forward, South Atlanta HS, Atlanta, GA
John Wall, guard, Word of God Academy, Raleigh, NC
DeMarcus Cousins, forward, Leflore HS, Mobile, AL

Second Team:
Kenny Boynton, guard, American Heritage HS, Plantation, FL
Avery Bradley, guard, Findlay Prep HS, Henderson, NV
Jordan Hamilton, forward, Dominguez HS, Compton, CA
John Henson, forward, Sickles HS, Tampa, FL
Renardo Sidney, forward, Fairfax HS, Los Angeles, CA

Third Team:
Dominic Cheek, guard, St. Anthony HS, Jersey City, NJ
Abdul Gaddy, guard, Bellarmine Prep HS, Tacoma, WA
Ryan Kelly, forward, Ravenscroft HS, Raleigh, NC
Brandon Knight, guard Pine Crest HS, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Michael Snaer, guard, Rancho Verde HS, Moreno Valley, CA

***

--- Brandon Jennings ---

2008

First Team:
Samardo Samuels, forward, St. Benedict's HS, Newark, NJ
Jrue Holiday, guard, Campbell Hall HS, North Hollywood, CA
Brandon Jennings, guard, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
Tyreke Evans, guard American Christian HS, Aston, PA
Greg Monroe, forward, Helen Cox HS, Harvey, LA

Second Team:
Al-Farouq Aminu, forward, Norcross HS, Norcross, GA
Ed Davis, forward, Benedictine HS, Richmond, VA
Demar DeRozan, guard, Compton HS, Compton, CA
BJ Mullens, center, Canal Winchester HS, Canal Winchester, OH
Lance Stephenson, guard, Lincoln HS, Brooklyn, NY

Third Team:
William Buford, guard, Libbey HS, Toledo, OH
Devin Ebanks, forward, St. Thomas More HS, Oakdale, CT
Scotty Hopson, guard, University Heights HS, Hokpinsville, KY
Delvon Roe, forward, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, OH
Tyler Zeller, center, Washington HS, Washington, IN

***

--- Derrick Rose ---

2007

First Team:
Kevin Love, forward, Lake Oswego HS, Lake Oswego, OR
Eric Gordon, guard, North Central HS, Indianapolis, IN
Michael Beasley, forward, Notre Dame Prep, Fitchburg, MA
OJ Mayo, guard, Huntington HS, Huntington, WV
Derrick Rose, guard, Simeon HS, Chicago, IL
Kyle Singler, forward, South Medford HS, Medford, OR

Second Team:
Jerryd Bayless, guard, St. Mary’s HS, Phoenix, AZ
Austin Freeman, guard, DeMatha Catholic HS, Hyattsville, MD
Donte Greene, forward, Towson Catholic HS, Towson, MD
DeAndre Jordan, center, Christian Life Academy, Humble, TX
Patrick Patterson, forward, Huntington HS, Huntington, WV

Third Team:
Nick Calathes, guard, Lake Howell HS, Winter Park, FL
JJ Hickson, forward, Wheeler HS, Marietta, GA
Kosta Koufos, center, GlenOak HS, Canton, OH
Greg Monroe, forward, Cox HS, Harvey, LA
Anthony Randolph, forward, Wilson HS, Dallas, TX

***

--- Greg Oden ---

2006

First Team:
Kevin Durant, forward, Montrose Christian HS, Rockville, MD
Tywon Lawson, guard, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
OJ Mayo, guard, North College Hill HS, Cincinnati, OH
Greg Oden, center, Lawrence North HS, Indianapolis, IN
Brandan Wright, forward, Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, TN

Second Team:
Chase Budinger, forward, La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, CA
Spencer Hawes, forward, Seattle Prep HS, Seattle, WA
Kevin Love, forward, Lake Oswego HS, Lake Oswego, OR
Bill Walker, forward, North College Hill HS, Cincinnati, OH
Thaddeus Young, forward, Mitchell HS, Memphis, TN

Third Team:
Jerryd Bayless, guard, St. Mary’s HS, Phoenix, AZ
Michael Beasley, forward, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
Wayne Ellington, guard, Episcopal Academy, Merion Station, PA
Eric Gordon, guard, North Central HS, Indianapolis, IN
Paul Harris, guard, Notre Dame Prep, Fitchburg, MA

***

--- Monta Ellis ---

2005

First Team:
Monta Ellis, guard, Lanier HS, Jackson, MS
Gerald Green, forward, Gulf Shores Academy, Houston, TX
OJ Mayo, guard, North College Hill HS, Cincinnati, OH
Josh McRoberts, forward, Carmel HS, Carmel, IN
Greg Oden, center, Lawrence North HS, Indianapolis, IN

Second Team:
Andray Blatche, forward, South Kent Prep, South Kent, CT
Tyler Hansbrough, forward, Poplar Bluff HS, Poplar Bluff, MO
Martell Webster, guard, Seattle Prep HS, Seattle, WA
Louis Williams, guard, South Gwinnett HS, Snellville, GA
Julian Wright, forward, Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Flossmoor, IL

Third Team:
Kevin Durant, forward, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
Wayne Ellington, guard, Episcopal Academy, Merion Station, PA
Richard Hendrix, forward, Athens HS, Athens, AL
CJ Miles, guard, Skyline HS, Dallas, TX
Brandan Wright, forward, Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, TN

***

--- Dwight Howard ---

2004

First Team:
Dwight Howard, forward, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Atlanta, GA
Al Jefferson, forward, Prentiss HS, Prentiss, MS
Shaun Livingston, guard, Peoria Central HS, Peoria, IL
Josh Smith, forward, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
Sebastian Telfair, guard, Lincoln HS, Brooklyn, NY
Marvin Williams, forward, Bremerton HS, Bremerton, WA

Second Team:
LaMarcus Aldridge, forward, Seagoville HS, Dallas, TX
Rudy Gay, forward, Archbishop Spalding HS, Severn, MD
Malik Hairston, guard, Renaissance HS, Detroit, MI
Randolph Morris, forward, Landmark Christian HS, Fairburn, GA
JR Smith, guard, St. Benedict’s Prep, Newark, NJ

Third Team:
Joe Crawford, guard, Renaissance HS, Detroit, MI
Glen Davis, forward, LSU Lab HS, Baton Rouge, LA
DeMarcus Nelson, guard, Sheldon HS, Sacramento, CA
Robert Swift, center, Bakersfield HS, Bakersfield, CA
Darius Washington, guard, Edgewater HS, Orlando, FL

***

--- LeBron James ---

2003

First Team:
LeBron James, guard, St. Vincent-St. Mary HS, Akron, OH
Luol Deng, forward, Blair Academy, Blairstown, NJ
Ndudi Ebi, forward, Westbury Christian HS, Houston, TX
Shannon Brown, guard, Proviso East HS, Maywood, IL
Sebastian Telfair, guard, Lincoln HS, Brooklyn, NY

Second Team:
Kris Humphries, forward, Hopkins HS, Minnetonka, MN
Brian Butch, center, Appleton west HS, Appleton, WI
Charlie Villanueva, forward, Blair Academy, Blairstown, NJ
Kendrick Perkins, forward, Ozen HS, Beaumont, TX
Chris Paul, guard, West Forsyth HS, Clemmons, NC

Third Team:
Brandon Bass, forward, Capitol HS, Baton Rouge, LA
David Padgett, forward, Reno HS, Reno, NV
Leon Powe, forward, Oakland Tech HS, Oakland, CA
Travis Outlaw, forward, Starkville HS, Starkville, MS
Mustafa Shakur, guard, Friends Central HS, Wynnewood, PA

***

--- LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony ---

2002

First Team:
LeBron James, guard, St. Vincent-St. Mary HS, Akron, OH
Carmelo Anthony, forward, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
Raymond Felton, guard, Latta HS, Latta, SC
Amare Stoudemire, forward, Cypress Creek HS, Orlando, FL
Paul Davis, forward, Rochester HS, Rochester Hills, MI

Second Team:
Chris Bosh, forward, Lincoln HS, Dallas, TX
Kendrick Perkins, center, Ozen HS, Beaumont, TX
Jason Fraser, forward, Amityville HS, Amityville, NY
Sebastian Telfair, guard, Lincoln HS, Brooklyn, NY
Rashad McCants, guard, New Hampton School, New Hampton, NH

Third Team:
Shavlik Randolph, forward, Broughton HS, Raleigh, NC
Anthony Roberson, guard, Saginaw HS, Saginaw, MI
Evan Burns, forward, Fairfax HS, Los Angeles, CA
Sean May, forward, Bloomington North HS, Bloomington, IN
Hassan Adams, guard, Westchester HS, Los Angeles, CA

***

--- Dajuan Wagner ---

2001

First Team:
Dajuan Wagner, guard, Camden HS, Camden, NJ
Eddy Curry, center, Thornwood HS, South Holland, IL
Kelvin Torbert, guard, Northwestern HS, Flint, MI
Kwame Brown, forward, Glynn Academy, Brunswick, GA
Jonathan Hargett, guard, Nat’l Christian, Ft Washington, MD

Second Team:
Tyson Chandler, center, Dominguez HS, Compton, CA
Ousmane Cisse, forward, St Jude HS, Montgomery, AL
David Lee, forward, Chaminade HS, St.Louis, MO
LeBron James, guard, St Vincent-St Mary HS, Akron, OH
Julius Hodge, guard, St Raymond HS, Bronx, NY

Third Team:
TJ Ford, guard, Willowridge HS, Sugar Land, TX
Lenny Cooke, guard, Old Tappan HS, Old Tappan, NJ
Maurice Williams, guard, Murrah HS, Jackson, MS
Sagana Diop, center, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
Julian Sensley, forward, St Thomas More HS, Oakdale, CT

***

--- Zach Randolph ---

2000

First Team:
Gerald Wallace, forward, Childersburg HS, Childersburg, AL
Zach Randolph, forward, Marion HS, Marion, IN
Darius Miles, forward, East St. Louis HS, East St. Louis, IL
Eddie Griffin, forward, Roman Catholic HS, Philadelphia, PA
Marcus Taylor, guard, Waverly HS, Lansing, MI

Second Team:
DeShawn Stevenson, guard, Washington Union HS, Fresno, CA
Chris Duhon, guard, Salmen HS, Slidell, LA
Eddy Curry, center, Thornwood, HS, South Holland, IL
DaJuan Wagner, guard, Camden HS, Camden, NJ
Mario Austin, center, Sumter County HS, York, AL

Third Team:
Jared Jeffries, forward, Bloomington North HS, Bloomington, IN
Jason Parker, forward, Fork Union Military Academy, Fork Union, VA
Caron Butler, forward, Maine Central Institute, Pittsfield, ME
Darius Rice, forward, Lanier HS, Jackson, MS
Omar Cook, guard, Christ the King HS, Middle Village, NY

***

--- Carlos Boozer ---

1999

First Team:
DerMarr Johnson, forward, Newport School, Kensington, MD
Donnell Harvey, forward, Randolph-Clay HS, Cuthbert, GA
Jason Williams, guard, St. Joseph’s HS, Metuchen, NJ
LaVell Blanchard, forward, Pioneer HS, Ann Arbor, MI
Jonathan Bender, center, Picayune Memorial HS, Picayune, MS

Second Team:
Keith Bogans, guard, DeMatha HS, Hyattsville, MD
Carlos Boozer, forward, Juneau-Douglas HS, Juneau, AK
Joe Forte, guard, DeMatha HS, Hyattsville, MD
Brett Nelson, guard, St. Albans HS, St. Albans, WV
Kenny Satterfield, guard, Rice HS, New York, NY

Third Team:
Marvin Stone, forward, Grisson HS, Huntsville, AL
Leon Smith, center, Martin Luther King HS, Chicago, IL
Jason Kapono, guard, Artesia HS, Lakewood, CA
Brian Cook, forward, Lincoln Community HS, Lincoln, IL
Casey Jacobsen, guard, Glendora HS, Glendora, CA

***

--- Rashard Lewis ---

1998

First Team:
Rashard Lewis, forward, Alief-Elsik HS, Houston, TX
Al Harrington, forward, St. Patrick HS, Elizabeth, NJ
Korleone Young, forward, Hargrave Military Institute, Chatham, VA
Dan Gadzuric, center, Governor Dummer Academy, Byfield, MA
Eric Barkley, guard, Maine Central Institute, Pittsfield, ME

Second Team:
Stromile Swift, center, Fair Park HS, Shreveport, LA
Quentin Richardson, forward, Whitney Young HS, Chicago, IL
Vincent Yarbrough, forward, Cleveland HS, Cleveland, TN
Tayshaun Prince, guard, Dominquez HS, Compton, CA
Ronald Curry, guard, Bethel HS, Hampton, VA

Third Team:
Corey Maggette, forward, Fenwick HS, Oak Park, IL
Joel Pryzbilla, center, Monticello HS, Monticello, MN
JaRon Rush, forward, Pembroke Hills HS, Kansas City, MO
DerMarr Johnson, forward, Newport School, Kensington, MD
Jason Capel, forward, St. John’s Prospect Hall, Frederick, MD

***

--- Tracy McGrady ---

1997

First Team:
Baron Davis, guard, Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA
Chris Burgess, forward, Woodbridge HS, Irvine, CA
Lamar Odom, forward, Christ the King HS, Middle Village, NY
Tracy McGrady, forward, Mount Zion Academy, Durham, NC
Elton Brand, forward, Peekskill HS, Peekskill, NY

Second Team:
Shane Battier, forward, Detroit Country Day, Birmingham, MI
Anthony Perry, guard, St. Anthony’s HS, Jersey City, NJ
Dion Glover, guard, Cedar Grove HS, Ellenwood, GA
Ryan Humphrey, forward, B.T. Washington HS, Tulsa, OK
Ron Artest, forward, LaSalle Academy, New York, NY

Third Team:
Larry Hughes, guard, Christian Brothers HS, St. Louis, MO
Luke Recker, guard, DeKalb HS, Waterloo, IN
Mark Karcher, guard, St. Francis Academy, Baltimore, MD
Ricky Davis, forward, North HS, Davenport, IA
Jumaine Jones, forward, Mitchell-Baker HS, Camila, GA

***

--- Kobe Bryant ---

1996

First Team:
Kobe Bryant, guard, Lower Merion HS, Ardmore, PA
Tim Thomas, forward, Paterson Catholic, Paterson, NJ
Lester Earl, forward, Glen Oaks HS, Baton Rouge, LA
Jermaine O’Neal, center, Eau Claire HS, Columbia, SC
Mike Bibby, guard, Shadow Mountin, Phoenix, AZ

Second Team:
Ronnie Fields, guard, Farragut Academy, Chicago, IL
Corey Benjamin, forward, Fontana HS, Fontana, CA
Shaheen Holloway, guard, St. Patrick HS, Elizabeth, NJ
Winfred Walton, forward, Pershing HS, Detroit, MI
Jason Collier, center, Catholic Central, Springfield, OH

Third Team:
Charles Hathaway, center, Hillwood HS, Nashville, TN
Mateen Cleaves, guard, Flint Northern HS, Flint, MI
Vassil Evtimov, forward, Long Island Lutheran HS, Brookville, NY
Chris Burgess, forward, Woodbridge HS, Irvine, CA
Lamar Odom, forward, Christ the King HS, Middle Village, NY

***

--- Kevin Garnett ---

1995

First Team:
Stephon Marbury, guard, Lincoln HS, Brooklyn, NY
Wayne Turner, guard, Beaver Ccountry Day, Chestnut Hill, MA
Shareef Abdur-Rahim, forward, Wheeler HS, Marietta, GA
Ron Mercer, forward, Good Pasture HS, Madison, TN
Kevin Garnett, forward, Mauldin HS, Mauldin, SC

Second Team:
Kobe Bryant, guard, Lower Merion HS, Ardmore, PA
Vonteego Cummings, guard, Thompson HS, Thompson, GA
Vince Carter, forward, Mainland HS, Daytona Beach, FL
Tim Thomas, forward, Paterson Catholic, Paterson, NJ
Robert Traylor, center, Murray Wright HS, Detroit, MI

Third Team:
Louis Bullock, guard, Laurel Baptist HS, Laurel MD
Shammond Wells, guard, LaSalle HS, New York, NY
Lester Earl, forward, Glen Oaks HS, Baton Rouge, LA
Paul Pierce, forward, Inglewood HS, Inglewood, CA
Randell Jackson, center, Winchendon HS, Winchendon, MA

***

--- Stephon Marbury ---

1994

First Team:
Felipe Lopez, guard, Rice HS, New York, NY
Raef LaFrentz, center, M-F-L HS, Monona, IA
Stephon Marbury, guard, Lincoln HS, Brooklyn, NY
Jerod Ward, forward, Clinton HS, Clinton, MS
Kevin Garnett, forward, Mauldin HS, Mauldin, SC

Second Team:
Ricky Price, guard, Serra HS, Gardena, CA
Jelani Gardner, guard, St. John Bosco HS, Bellflower, CA
Danny Fortson, center, Shaler HS, Pittsburgh, PA
Antoine Walker, forward, Mt. Carmel HS, Chicago, IL
Zendon Hamilton, forward, Sewanhaka HS, Floral Park, NY

Third Team:
Vonteego Cummings, guard, Thompson HS, Thompson, GA
Mike Spruell, guard, Albany HS, Albany, NY
Jahidi White, center, Ritter HS, St. Louis, MO
Andrae Patterson, forward, Cooper HS, Abilene, TX
Ron Mercer, forward, Good Pasture HS, Madison, TN