From special BHR contributing writer Alex Tsironis
On the heels of the Dream Team documentary, I got to thinking about how todays players would compare to the players I watched growing up. Of course, none of these players have an exact match, and the manner in which I’ll be comparing these guys won’t be the same across the board…but I’ll give it a shot.
We’ll start with some of the Western Conference All-Stars:
Larry Bird (’84-’88). Bird and Durant are about the same size and they can both score from anywhere on the court. Bird averaged more rebounds and more assists, and Durant has him beat on athleticism, but they are very similar players.
Shawn Kemp (’92-’99): Both of these guys can jump out of the gym. Kemp, along with Gary Payton, was able to lead the Sonics to the NBA Finals. Griffin is the better scorer/rebounder, but they play a very similar style, and now Griffin has a point guard of his own.
Michael Jordan: This comparison has been made since Kobe started winning championships, but it’s is as close as we will ever get to MJ. Killer instinct, willingness to take over, deadly when they need to be. Very similar in the way they play.
Isiah Thomas (’83-’87): Similar in size, toughness, and production. A lot of people don’t realize that in this 4 year span, Thomas averaged over 20 ppg and just under 12 apg. Thomas was a champion, and Paul has about 5 good years left to prove that he can be one too.
Chris Mullin (’88-’93): It is very difficult to compare Nowitzki to any one player. He is 3 inches taller than Larry Bird and gets his shot off over people rather than with a quick release. I would liken him to a much taller version of Chris Mullin, who was a good shooter and solid rebounder, while lacking a major defensive presence.
Kevin Johnson (’88-’92): Tony Parker is a quick, smart, aggressive point guard that can beat you many different ways. Parker is the better shooter, but KJ was the faster of the two. Between ’88-’92, Johmson average over 20 ppg and almost 11 apg. After this years playoffs, Parker is once again being talked about as possibly the best point guard in the NBA.
Karl Malone: Kevin Love was a great rebounder as soon as he came into the league and his scoring has caught up. Averaging 26 and 13 in his 4th year, Love has become one of the most effective players in the game. Malone was able to sustain that over the course of his 19 year career. Love has the edge when it comes to the boards, and Malone was the better scorer.
Moving on to some of the Eastern Conference All-Stars:
Grant Hill (’94-’00): Nearly identical in size, Hill was one of the games best players at the turn of the century. It’s very easy to forget exactly how good Hill was at this point in time, but their approach to the game is very similar. Injuries forced Hill into becoming a role player, while Melo has yet to meet a shot he doesn’t like. Anthony may be the better rebounder, but Hill was very well-rounded.
Charles Barkley: While many compare LBJ to Magic, the way he attacks the basket and can score from almost anywhere on the court, is more similar to Sir Charles. James is clearly the superior passer, while Barkley beats him out when it comes to rebounds. Up until this year, they were the best two players to never win a championship.
Allen Iverson: D-Rose is unmatched when it comes to his athleticism. AI was a better shooter early on, and they both attack the basket without mercy. Rose may be a better distributor, but Iverson was able to double the amount of steals Rose has had in his first few seasons. Both of them have the ability to turn a team completely around.
Clyde Drexler: Drexler was the better outside shooter and rebounder (mainly because of his size), but both of these guys could get to the basket at will. Not many people realize how quick Drexler was in his prime, as he could guard anyone from a point guard to a power forward. Wade is smaller, but has the toughness to guard a 1, 2, or 3. Both were clutch for their teams.
Gary Payton: Rondo and Payton both excel on the defensive end of the floor. Payton developed into a solid scorer, and Rondo has shown that he can do he same at times. Rajon has been blessed with a great supporting cast, and it will be interesting to see how he develops as the Celtics become his team.
Tim Hardaway: Hardaway was an amazing ball handler that could pull up from anywhere. Williams is the same. Deron is a better finisher at the basket, while Hardaway had one of the deadliest crossover dribbles. Interested to see where Deron Williams next stop will be.
All in all, it’s impossible to compare someone to just one other player. There are aspects of each players game that won’t matchup with anothers. We are also in a different time, where athleticism is through the roof and 7 footers are stroking three pointers the same way a 2-guard does. I feel good with my comparisons, do you agree?