You Are Here > Basketball-Reference.com > BBR Blog > NBA and College Basketball Analysis

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all Basketball-Reference content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing Basketball-Reference blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Basketball-Reference.com // Sports Reference

For more from Neil, check out his new work at BasketballProspectus.com.

Youth Movements

Posted by Neil Paine on February 19, 2010

Talking about arguably the 4 biggest stars of the NBA's 25-and-under set today, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard, had me thinking about this crop of young stars and how they relate to their counterparts in the past... Is this current group the best ever? And if not, who is? Well, here's a simple way to measure how much contribution the NBA is getting from it's age <= 25 players -- divide the youngsters' Win Shares by the NBA's total WS and see what proportion of the league's wins are being added by the kids:

Year <26WS totWS Pct Headliners
1952 199.1 395.6 50.3% Paul Arizin, Ed Macauley, Vern Mikkelsen, Harry Gallatin
1981 469.4 946.8 49.6% Moses Malone, Adrian Dantley, Marques Johnson, Cedric Maxwell
1953 207.9 419.7 49.5% Neil Johnston, Ed Macauley, Dolph Schayes, Vern Mikkelsen
1962 181.8 369.1 49.3% Wilt Chamberlain, Walt Bellamy, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West
1954 177.3 360.1 49.2% Neil Johnston, Dolph Schayes, Ed Macauley, Larry Foust
1979 436.9 907.8 48.1% Moses Malone, Marques Johnson, Cedric Maxwell, World B. Free
1977 431.4 907.0 47.6% Bobby Jones, David Thompson, Billy Knight, George Gervin
1983 447.9 949.3 47.2% Sidney Moncrief, Magic Johnson, Buck Williams, Kiki Vandeweghe
1980 427.3 907.9 47.1% Cedric Maxwell, Moses Malone, Marques Johnson, Larry Bird
1978 424.3 904.0 46.9% David Thompson, Adrian Dantley, George Gervin, Marques Johnson
1982 437.4 951.3 46.0% Sidney Moncrief, Magic Johnson, Adrian Dantley, Larry Bird
2010 566.2 1270.5 44.6% LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh
2009 547.4 1264.3 43.3% LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Brandon Roy
1964 161.2 372.3 43.3% Oscar Robertson, Walt Bellamy, Jerry West, Jerry Lucas
1985 406.8 948.2 42.9% Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Terry Cummings
1957 138.7 329.5 42.1% Bob Pettit, Jack Twyman, Kenny Sears, Dick Garmaker
1987 395.0 950.9 41.5% Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Doc Rivers
2006 517.7 1268.6 40.8% LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Gilbert Arenas, Pau Gasol
1976 301.7 744.1 40.5% Bob McAdoo, John Drew, Doug Collins, Paul Westphal
2007 510.3 1263.5 40.4% LeBron James, Luol Deng, Amare Stoudemire, Gilbert Arenas
1988 383.9 951.3 40.4% Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler
1974 284.4 705.1 40.3% Bob McAdoo, Bob Lanier, Rudy Tomjanovich, Spencer Haywood
1973 281.3 700.8 40.1% Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tiny Archibald, Dave Cowens, Bob Lanier
2002 488.1 1220.2 40.0% Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce
1963 147.0 367.6 40.0% Oscar Robertson, Walt Bellamy, Terry Dischinger, Jerry West
1984 374.5 948.6 39.5% Kiki Vandeweghe, Magic Johnson, Larry Nance, Rolando Blackman
2008 497.1 1262.6 39.4% Chris Paul, LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard
2004 475.2 1227.9 38.7% Andrei Kirilenko, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Richard Jefferson
2005 487.9 1264.0 38.6% Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas
1989 393.9 1033.3 38.1% Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Kevin Johnson
1960 121.4 319.7 38.0% Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Jack Twyman
1961 123.9 327.8 37.8% Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Bailey Howell, Hal Greer
1959 121.2 326.2 37.2% Kenny Sears, Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Jack Twyman
1958 120.2 327.6 36.7% Bill Russell, Bob Pettit, Kenny Sears, Jack Twyman
1972 252.9 696.4 36.3% Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tiny Archibald, Dave Cowens, Bob Dandridge
2001 440.4 1226.6 35.9% Dirk Nowitzki, Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter
1956 118.4 331.9 35.7% Bob Pettit, Bob Houbregs, Tom Gola, Kenny Sears
2003 434.8 1223.0 35.5% Dirk Nowitzki, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Shawn Marion
1971 247.1 697.1 35.4% Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Walt Frazier, Stu Lantz, Wes Unseld
1975 262.6 743.8 35.3% Bob McAdoo, Sidney Wicks, Phil Chenier, Doug Collins
1986 332.9 948.9 35.1% Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, James Worthy, Isiah Thomas
1969 193.4 575.8 33.6% Walt Frazier, Wes Unseld, Lou Hudson, Elvin Hayes
1970 193.1 575.0 33.6% Walt Frazier, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wes Unseld, Lou Hudson
1991 375.6 1127.1 33.3% David Robinson, Kevin Johnson, Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippen
1965 121.9 369.9 33.0% Walt Bellamy, Zelmo Beaty, Terry Dischinger, Jerry Lucas
1967 133.3 410.0 32.5% Rick Barry, Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, Billy Cunningham
1994 362.6 1136.5 31.9% Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Kemp, Stacey Augmon, Gary Payton
1966 116.2 370.3 31.4% Rick Barry, Jerry Lucas, Chet Walker, Eddie Miles
1999 382.7 1228.3 31.2% Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett
2000 378.1 1220.8 31.0% Tim Duncan, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
1968 150.5 492.4 30.6% Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Paul Silas, Happy Hairston
1995 334.3 1132.7 29.5% Shaquille O'Neal, Anfernee Hardaway, Shawn Kemp, Alonzo Mourning
1998 355.7 1226.5 29.0% Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett
1990 319.1 1125.0 28.4% David Robinson, Reggie Miller, Kevin Johnson, Mark Price
1993 318.2 1131.0 28.1% Shaquille O'Neal, Larry Johnson, Derrick Coleman, Shawn Kemp
1955 87.0 317.0 27.4% Neil Johnston, Bob Pettit, Clyde Lovellette, Ray Felix
1992 303.7 1126.9 27.0% Kevin Johnson, Danny Manning, Tim Hardaway, MicheAl Williams
1996 330.1 1225.1 26.9% Anfernee Hardaway, Terrell Brandon, Grant Hill, Alonzo Mourning
1997 322.5 1229.9 26.2% Grant Hill, Eddie Jones, Chris Webber, Vin Baker

So the <26-year-olds in the modern NBA are doing a pretty decent job, but nothing like in the 50s/60s and late 70s/early 80s. Then again, the percentage approach not only speaks to the skill of the young players, but also the relative lack thereof by the league's veterans at the time. With that in mind, what if we simply looked at the aggregate production by the 5 best under-26 players (by WS) in any given season, and pro-rated to 82 games to account for differing schedule lengths?

Year Top5WS Players
1962 80.6 Wilt Chamberlain (24), Walt Bellamy (17), Oscar Robertson (16), Jerry West (13), Bailey Howell (11)
1953 76.7 Neil Johnston (18), Ed Macauley (17), Dolph Schayes (15), Vern Mikkelsen (14), Harry Gallatin (13)
1954 76.0 Neil Johnston (21), Dolph Schayes (17), Ed Macauley (17), Larry Foust (12), Ray Felix (10)
1988 75.9 Michael Jordan (21), Charles Barkley (17), John Stockton (14), Clyde Drexler (13), Hakeem Olajuwon (11)
2009 75.6 LeBron James (20), Chris Paul (18), Dwight Howard (14), Brandon Roy (13), Rajon Rondo (10)
1952 75.0 Paul Arizin (20), Ed Macauley (17), Vern Mikkelsen (16), Harry Gallatin (11), Dolph Schayes (11)
1964 74.9 Oscar Robertson (21), Walt Bellamy (15), Jerry West (14), Jerry Lucas (13), Terry Dischinger (12)
1989 74.5 Michael Jordan (20), Charles Barkley (16), Karl Malone (15), Kevin Johnson (12), Mark Price (11)
2010 73.9 LeBron James (21), Kevin Durant (15), Dwight Howard (13), Chris Bosh (13), Chris Paul (12)
2008 71.8 Chris Paul (18), LeBron James (15), Amare Stoudemire (15), Dwight Howard (13), DeRon Williams (11)
2003 71.3 Dirk Nowitzki (16), Tracy McGrady (16), Kobe Bryant (15), Shawn Marion (13), Steve Francis (11)
2002 70.4 Tim Duncan (18), Elton Brand (14), Dirk Nowitzki (13), Paul Pierce (13), Kevin Garnett (13)
1973 68.8 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (22), Tiny Archibald (14), Dave Cowens (12), Bob Lanier (11), Spencer Haywood (10)
2006 68.0 LeBron James (16), Dwyane Wade (14), Gilbert Arenas (14), Pau Gasol (12), Richard Jefferson (12)
1971 68.0 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (22), Walt Frazier (16), Stu Lantz (10), Wes Unseld (10), Bob Dandridge (10)
2001 66.7 Dirk Nowitzki (15), Ray Allen (14), Tim Duncan (13), Vince Carter (13), Steve Francis (12)
1972 66.4 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (25), Tiny Archibald (13), Dave Cowens (10), Bob Dandridge (9), Spencer Haywood (9)
1960 63.8 Wilt Chamberlain (19), Bill Russell (15), Elgin Baylor (13), Jack Twyman (9), Tom Heinsohn (8)
1991 63.8 David Robinson (17), Kevin Johnson (13), Reggie Miller (12), Scottie Pippen (11), Horace Grant (10)
2005 63.3 Amare Stoudemire (15), LeBron James (14), Tracy McGrady (12), Gilbert Arenas (12), Dwyane Wade (11)
1974 61.6 Bob McAdoo (15), Bob Lanier (14), Rudy Tomjanovich (13), Spencer Haywood (10), Dave Cowens (9)
1961 60.8 Wilt Chamberlain (20), Oscar Robertson (14), Bailey Howell (12), Hal Greer (8), Rudy LaRusso (7)
1982 60.6 Sidney Moncrief (13), Magic Johnson (13), Adrian Dantley (13), Larry Bird (12), Calvin Natt (9)
1987 60.3 Michael Jordan (17), Charles Barkley (12), Hakeem Olajuwon (11), Doc Rivers (10), Clyde Drexler (10)
1981 60.2 Moses Malone (14), Adrian Dantley (14), Marques Johnson (11), Cedric Maxwell (11), Larry Bird (11)
1970 59.4 Walt Frazier (15), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (14), Wes Unseld (11), Lou Hudson (11), Elvin Hayes (9)
1985 58.8 Michael Jordan (14), Magic Johnson (13), Isiah Thomas (11), Terry Cummings (11), Hakeem Olajuwon (10)
1983 58.6 Sidney Moncrief (13), Magic Johnson (13), Buck Williams (11), Kiki Vandeweghe (11), Larry Nance (10)
1990 58.3 David Robinson (15), Reggie Miller (12), Kevin Johnson (12), Mark Price (10), Charles Smith (9)
1979 57.7 Moses Malone (14), Marques Johnson (12), Cedric Maxwell (12), World B. Free (10), Norm Nixon (10)
1978 57.6 David Thompson (13), Adrian Dantley (12), George Gervin (12), Marques Johnson (11), Walter Davis (10)
1980 57.4 Cedric Maxwell (12), Moses Malone (12), Marques Johnson (12), Larry Bird (11), Adrian Dantley (11)
2007 57.2 LeBron James (14), Luol Deng (11), Amare Stoudemire (11), Gilbert Arenas (11), Kevin Martin (10)
2000 57.2 Tim Duncan (13), Vince Carter (12), Kevin Garnett (12), Kobe Bryant (11), Ray Allen (10)
1999 57.1 Tim Duncan (14), Jason Kidd (13), Allen Iverson (12), Kevin Garnett (9), Theo Ratliff (9)
1959 56.8 Kenny Sears (15), Bill Russell (15), Elgin Baylor (11), Jack Twyman (8), Tom Heinsohn (7)
1996 56.7 Anfernee Hardaway (14), Terrell Brandon (13), Grant Hill (12), Alonzo Mourning (10), Gheorghe Muresan (8)
2004 56.1 Andrei Kirilenko (12), Dirk Nowitzki (12), Yao Ming (11), Richard Jefferson (11), Kobe Bryant (11)
1963 55.9 Oscar Robertson (17), Walt Bellamy (14), Terry Dischinger (9), Jerry West (8), Tom Sanders (7)
1994 55.7 Shaquille O'Neal (17), Shawn Kemp (12), Stacey Augmon (10), Gary Payton (9), Steve Smith (8)
1958 55.5 Bill Russell (13), Bob Pettit (13), Kenny Sears (11), Jack Twyman (11), Tom Gola (8)
1955 53.4 Neil Johnston (18), Bob Pettit (12), Clyde Lovellette (10), Ray Felix (8), Red Kerr (6)
1995 53.3 Shaquille O'Neal (14), Anfernee Hardaway (11), Shawn Kemp (11), Alonzo Mourning (9), Larry Johnson (9)
1977 53.1 Bobby Jones (11), David Thompson (11), Billy Knight (11), George Gervin (11), Bill Walton (10)
1998 52.2 Tim Duncan (13), Grant Hill (10), Shaquille O'Neal (10), Kevin Garnett (10), Antonio McDyess (9)
1969 52.1 Walt Frazier (13), Wes Unseld (11), Lou Hudson (10), Elvin Hayes (10), Billy Cunningham (9)
1976 51.8 Bob McAdoo (12), John Drew (11), Doug Collins (10), Paul Westphal (10), Phil Smith (9)
1975 51.3 Bob McAdoo (18), Sidney Wicks (10), Phil Chenier (9), Doug Collins (8), Spencer Haywood (7)
1965 50.9 Walt Bellamy (12), Zelmo Beaty (11), Terry Dischinger (11), Jerry Lucas (10), Dave DeBusschere (7)
1997 50.0 Grant Hill (15), Eddie Jones (10), Chris Webber (9), Vin Baker (8), Anfernee Hardaway (8)
1984 49.4 Kiki Vandeweghe (10), Magic Johnson (10), Larry Nance (10), Rolando Blackman (10), Jeff Ruland (9)
1957 49.1 Bob Pettit (13), Jack Twyman (10), Kenny Sears (9), Dick Garmaker (9), Tom Heinsohn (8)
1986 47.3 Charles Barkley (11), Hakeem Olajuwon (10), James Worthy (9), Isiah Thomas (9), Alvin Robertson (9)
1992 46.8 Kevin Johnson (10), Danny Manning (10), Tim Hardaway (9), MicheAl Williams (9), Larry Johnson (9)
1993 46.8 Shaquille O'Neal (10), Larry Johnson (10), Derrick Coleman (9), Shawn Kemp (9), Alonzo Mourning (8)
1956 44.8 Bob Pettit (16), Bob Houbregs (8), Tom Gola (7), Kenny Sears (7), Maurice Stokes (7)
1967 43.3 Rick Barry (15), Willis Reed (8), Nate Thurmond (7), Billy Cunningham (7), Jerry Sloan (7)
1968 39.2 Willis Reed (10), Earl Monroe (9), Paul Silas (7), Happy Hairston (7), Bob Rule (6)
1966 38.6 Rick Barry (11), Jerry Lucas (8), Chet Walker (8), Eddie Miles (6), Don Nelson (5)

This time, the vaunted Class of 1962 -- buoyed by Chamberlain's absurd 24 Win Shares -- takes the top spot, while this year's group is actually outshone by last year's thanks to Chris Paul's injury and a slight drop in production by Howard. Even so, you still have to admit that the league's youth movement looks better now than it has at any point since the legendary '84 Draft class came of age in 1988. If CP3's knee is not as bad as some people are predicting, that is.

ShareThis

9 Responses to “Youth Movements”

  1. Ryan Says:

    I've asked this a few times but have either missed the response, or not had one. Why are we so persistent in rating a player by Win Shares?

    At any rate, nice study.

    Mark Price really caught me off guard.

  2. Johnny Says:

    Wow, I never knew Penny Hardaway was that good.

  3. Johnny Twisto Says:

    A few seasons into his career, during the Jordan banishment, Hardaway was one of the names my friends and I threw around when talking about how the best player in the NBA was. The answer was Olajuwon, but Hardaway was in the running....I guess it's nice to see the "advanced" stats show we weren't crazy.

    I never noticed how bad his FG% dropped after O'Neal left. Interesting.

  4. sjm8885 Says:

    interesting information but this is definitely skewed towards the mid 90s and beyond due to the increase of early entrants....

  5. Johnny Says:

    Johnny twisto,

    I noticed the FG% drop as well but I don't think all of it is attributed to Shaq. Look at his games without Shaq while he played in Orlando.

    93-94: 1 game 8/20 40%, 21 pts, 9 asts, 4 rbs, 4 stls, 1-0 record
    94-95: 3 games, 43/71 60.6%, 31 ppg, 5.7 apg, 4.7 rpg, 1.7 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2-1 record
    95-96: 28 games, 226/445 50.8%, 25.5, 6.4 apg, 4.9 rpg, 1.96 spg, 0.7 bpg, 20-8 record

    Totals: 32 games, 51.7 FG%, (277/536), 25.8 ppg, 6.4 apg, 4.9 rpg, 2.0 spg, 0.7 bpg, 23-9 record

    Those are Hardaway's numbers when he was healthy without Shaq. In 96-97 he was a 45% shooter while his injuries wee starting, 97-98 was a wash with injuries, 98-99 he was battling injuries and shot 42%, 99-00 he shot 47%, but then 2000-01 was the year he had the micro fracture surgery which pretty much ended his career at that point at age 30. Hardaway was most likely a 45%-47% FG shooter if healthy without Shaq.

    Shaq definitely helped his elite perimeter players (penny,kobe,wade) get open looks but I also think that Hardaway was a very talented player who wasn't just a product of Shaq, as the numbers above show. Injuries are the main thing that derailed his once promising career.

  6. AHL Says:

    He uses Win Shares to compare across eras. It does a better job than straight ORtg/DRtg, or per game/per minute stats.

  7. Jason J Says:

    Yeah, Penny was brought down by injuries, not by O'Neal. The big fella missed a bunch of games in 1996, and Penny kept them in the running, and they wound up winning 60 games. He was also a blast to watch. Plus he had Li'l Penny - "You can't guard me! The secret service couldn't guard me!"

  8. Harry Says:

    I think it's useful to point out that other than 2008-2009, there has never been a season in NBA history in which more than one player had a PER of above 30 (http://bit.ly/czR8bG). In 2008-2009, however, three players, LeBron James (31.7), Dwyane Wade (30.4), and Chris Paul (30.0) all accomplished this feat. Obviously, to have three players performing at such a high level in one season is unprecedented. The fact that they were aged 24, 27, and 23 (respectively), for an average age of 24.67, is downright silly.

  9. nick Says:

    Speaking of PER, isn't that based on the fact that the league average is always 15.0 for the year. What a year like 2008-09 proves then is that Lebron, Wade, and Paul were simply that farther above the average. It would be interesting to see how their stats would have held up in the late 80's when Jordan was constantly hitting above 30 PER.