I received a couple of requests to follow-up the last post with a similar analysis of Charles Barkley’s career using the same methodology. I did that. I also added an analysis of Kareem’s career… but only I was demanding that one. Nevertheless, the numbers on Kareem are just as fascinating. First Barkley.
Charles Barkley Win Resume
Charles Barkley was amazingly productive. His only weakness was his freakish mix of bulk and explosiveness. At some point, he just wasn’t going to be able to propel 270 pounds into the air like a rocket anymore. As his career moved along, Barkley’s minutes declined, and that blunted his impact.
But when he was on the court, he produced mad numbers. A comment from Arturo says Barkley is the most productive player on record, using Win Score. I did not know that, but I am not surprised.
My most enduring memory of Barkley was the Bucks-Sixers series in the 1980s. The Bucks, a very good defensive team, were helpless against Barkley. If they put a smaller man on him, he used his power. Eventually they put their three headed center monster on him, and the Sixers responded by isolating Barkley on the wing and letting him feast. All Breuer, Mokeski, and Lister could do was foul. Barkley was a truly great player.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar Win Resume
Milwaukee fans can take solace in the fact that Jabbar’s best seasons by far were played in Milwaukee. The 1980s were one slow descent for Jabbar, but you have to remember how old he was. And stating that, Jabbar was above average well into his 30s. He just wasn’t the Kareem that graced the Milwaukee Arena. Not even remotely close.
If you take the five best seasons (by my accounting, obviously) from the five I’ve done, Jordan, Magic, Bird, Barkley, and Jabbar, Kareem actually comes out on top. Here are the combined “Wins Above .500%” for each players five best seasons.
1. Kareem +65.6 wins
2. Magic +63.9 wins
3. Jordan +61.4 wins
4. Bird +60.5 wins
5. Barkley +57.7 wins
Overall, however, Kareem would be the least productive per minute, because he hung around so long that his overall numbers were severally watered down. Same with Jordan, in a way.
Once again, this is all for fun and conversation. You can believe or not believe, I really don’t care.
Oh, one last thing. I was thinking the other day… when did I start underrating Magic Johnson? When I think of the greatest players of all time, his name used to not come up.
But if you look at it, the year Jordan went to baseball, the Bulls only dropped 9 pythagorean wins (exactly what my wins above average would predict). But the year Magic contracted AIDS, the Lakers dropped 21 pythagorean wins (slightly more than I would have predicted, although Magic accounted for 18.1 wins the season before and remember the Lakers had no time to prepare for his departure and find a quality replacement, whereas the Bulls had time to prepare for Jordan’s baseball excursion).
Moreover, the Lakers were never bad when Magic was in the Purple and Gold. Yeah, a lot of that is teammate driven, but I’m just saying.