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How the 1994 Chicago Bulls Won 55 Without MJ

Posted by Neil Paine on July 20, 2010

Just when you thought the offseason chatter was finally going to die down, the most recent salvo in the aftermath of LeBron James' controversial "Decision" was fired by the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan:

"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team,'" Jordan said after finishing tied for 22nd in the American Century Championship golf tournament in Stateline, Nev. "But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."

An interesting argument some have raised in response is that as great as Jordan was, his supporting cast was good enough that he didn't really need to "call for help" -- the Bulls actually won 55 games the year after he retired. Think about that: Chicago won 57 games in 1993, lost the greatest player ever (in the middle of his prime), and they declined by all of two wins the following season.

How was that possible?

First, here are the two rosters side-by-side (bold = played for both teams):

1993 Bulls 1994 Bulls
Player Age G MP Player Age G MP
Scottie Pippen 27 81 3123 B.J. Armstrong 26 82 2770
Michael Jordan 29 78 3067 Scottie Pippen 28 72 2759
Horace Grant 27 77 2745 Horace Grant 28 70 2570
B.J. Armstrong 25 82 2492 Steve Kerr 28 82 2036
Scott Williams 24 71 1369 Pete Myers 30 82 2030
Bill Cartwright 35 63 1253 Toni Kukoc 25 75 1808
Stacey King 26 76 1059 Bill Wennington 30 76 1371
John Paxson 32 59 1030 Bill Cartwright 36 42 780
Rodney McCray 31 64 1019 Corie Blount 25 67 690
Will Perdue 27 72 998 Scott Williams 25 38 638
Trent Tucker 33 69 909 Stacey King 27 31 537
Darrell Walker 31 28 367 Luc Longley 25 27 513
Corey Williams 22 35 242 Jo Jo English 23 36 419
Ed Nealy 32 11 79 Will Perdue 28 43 397
Joe Courtney 23 5 34 John Paxson 33 27 343
Jo Jo English 22 6 31 Dave Johnson 23 17 119
Ricky Blanton 26 2 13

56.7% of the 1994 Bulls' minutes were filled by players who had been on their roster in '93 (15.5% were lost when Jordan departed). Of the remaining playing time, 92.6% was filled by five new players -- Steve Kerr, Pete Myers, Toni Kukoc, Bill Wennington, and Corie Blount. Losing MJ and adding those 5 to a 57-win team doesn't exactly seem like a recipe for maintaining the status quo, but there are several explanations for the Bulls' surprising success without Jordan:

  • One major reason for the Bulls' apparent lack of decline was simply luck. In 1993, Chicago's pythagorean record was 58-24 and they only won 57 games, but in 1994 their luck reversed and then some -- they won 55 despite a pythagorean record of 50-32. Further reinforcing this point is the fact that their SRS fell from +6.19 (4th in the league) in 1993 to +2.87 (11th) in 1994. They may have won only 2 fewer games in '94, but in reality the drop-off in performance was more like 8-9 wins. Still, remember this post about how much losing LeBron would hurt Cleveland? Using SPM, I estimated the loss of James would cost the Cavs 20-25 wins even if they replaced him with an average player... And Jordan's SPM in 1993 was higher than James' was in 2010!
  • The Chicago defense actually improved after Jordan retired. In 1993 the Bulls allowed 106.1 points per 100 possessions, 1.9 better than the league average and good for 7th in the NBA, but in '94 they pushed that number down to 102.7 pts/100 (3.6 better than avg., 6th). Here are the relevant defensive stats for both teams:
    1993 Bulls 1994 Bulls
    Player Age G MP DRtg DPA Player Age G MP DRtg DPA
    Scottie Pippen 27 81 3123 103.7 1.22 B.J. Armstrong 26 82 2770 107.0 -1.20
    Michael Jordan 29 78 3067 102.4 0.33 Scottie Pippen 28 72 2759 96.9 2.90
    Horace Grant 27 77 2745 105.3 1.72 Horace Grant 28 70 2570 101.0 2.10
    B.J. Armstrong 25 82 2492 110.9 -1.54 Steve Kerr 28 82 2036 106.2 -0.81
    Scott Williams 24 71 1369 101.3 3.98 Pete Myers 30 82 2030 105.1 0.11
    Bill Cartwright 35 63 1253 109.1 -0.48 Toni Kukoc 25 75 1808 102.4 -0.19
    Stacey King 26 76 1059 108.5 -1.11 Bill Wennington 30 76 1371 101.2 1.50
    John Paxson 32 59 1030 110.1 -0.89 Bill Cartwright 36 42 780 105.3 -0.22
    Rodney McCray 31 64 1019 109.9 -0.81 Corie Blount 25 67 690 100.4 2.28
    Will Perdue 27 72 998 104.2 1.94 Scott Williams 25 38 638 101.1 1.87
    Trent Tucker 33 69 909 110.3 -2.11 Stacey King 27 31 537 101.7 0.95
    Darrell Walker 31 28 367 106.4 1.15 Luc Longley 25 27 513 101.0 2.13
    Corey Williams 22 35 242 111.6 -3.02 Jo Jo English 23 36 419 105.5 -0.58
    Ed Nealy 32 11 79 105.4 -0.06 Will Perdue 28 43 397 100.6 1.30
    Joe Courtney 23 5 34 107.4 0.99 John Paxson 33 27 343 107.8 -1.30
    Jo Jo English 22 6 31 97.3 4.06 Dave Johnson 23 17 119 106.3 -3.14
    Ricky Blanton 26 2 13 96.3 0.35

    Although mediocre defender B.J. Armstrong led the team in minutes, Chicago's D improved in large part because they received outstanding performances from Pippen & Grant, each of whom earned Defensive Player of the Year consideration. Pippen had been known as a tremendous defender for years, but in 1994 he was the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and his 96.9 DRtg was one of the best ever by a player 6'8" or shorter. Also, not to be forgotten was Pete Myers' ability to vaguely approximate Jordan's defense at SG, Scott Williams' strong post D, better play from Stacey King, and solid interior performances from Wennington, Blount, and Longley (a major improvement over what Cartwright & King delivered in '93).

    Despite the plaudits Jordan received for his D, defense remains largely a team activity, so it makes sense that this was the area in which Chicago did the best job of surviving MJ's retirement. With one of the greatest coaches ever, one of the greatest perimeter defenders ever, and a supporting cast of mostly solid defensive players (especially on the defensive glass), it should not have come as a surprise that the Bulls cobbled together a defense that was largely unfazed by the loss of Jordan. This is also good news for Cleveland, who had the NBA's 7th-best D in 2010 and might expect to retain most of that in 2011 despite losing James, a 1st-Team All-Defender.

  • The Bulls' offense weakened, but didn't totally collapse. There's no question that Chicago's offense suffered a major setback with Jordan's departure -- they fell from 112.9 pts/100 (4.9 better than average, 2nd in the league) in 1993 to 106.1 (0.2 worse than avg., 14th) in 1994 -- but Pippen proved himself a capable high-usage #1 option, and Armstrong/Grant/Kerr were very efficient complimentary players. You can't deny that the Bulls' offense without Jordan was pretty ordinary in '94, but the loss was not catastrophic like it would be in '99, the second time MJ retired.

So there you have it -- thanks to some strong coaching, defensive cohesion, a passable offense, and a fair amount of luck, the 1994 Bulls finished their first Jordan-less season with only two fewer wins than they had in 1993 with His Airness. But does this mean Jordan was blind to the difference between his situation and LeBron's when he made his statement? Maybe. The Jordan ethos was always "going it alone" (remember "Michael and the Jordanaires"?), so it's certainly in the best interest of his continued mystique to maintain the perception of neither asking for nor needing "help".

Next season could alter the mainstream view of LeBron's legacy relative to MJ's, however, depending on how the Cavaliers weather James' departure. If, like the 1994 Bulls, they rise to the occasion on defense and post 50+ wins, it's going to look very bad for James, since a major rationale for his "decision" was the lack of a supporting cast in Cleveland. But if they completely fall apart without LeBron, the question could be raised about why Jordan criticized James' need for help when his own (supposedly equally inferior) teammates were able to survive far better without him.

As is the case with almost all of the debates surrounding James' move to Miami, only time will tell for sure.

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165 Responses to “How the 1994 Chicago Bulls Won 55 Without MJ”

  1. Jason J Says:

    Neil - That's a great breakdown. I think Chicago also really benefited from injuries to Daugherty and Price and the final collapse of the Celtics (my boy Reggie died) which really made the East a 3 pony race. The central division was particularly weak.

    I’d still love to see an analytic projection (using SPM or WS or whatever method you think would work best) of how Chicago might have done if Jordan had remained on the team. On pure talent, they would have been the best squad of the Phil Jackson years.

    I do think people are taking what Jordan said WAY too seriously and reading things into it that they want to see there. I won't write a huge diatribe here, because I did that on my blog, but people need to stop looking to MJ to be a font of basketball wisdom whose goal is to show this new generation the one true path to basketball nirvana. Mike is asked a question and answers off the cuff. I highly doubt he considered the ramifications of his statement, and I personally did not read any special negativity in what he said.

  2. P Middy Says:

    People forget how good Scottie was when Mike took his hiatus. In 93/94 - 22 ppg on 49% shooting. 8.7 rpg. 5.6 apg and 2.9 spg. 2.9!!! And he did that all playing just 38 mpg. Freakin amazing.

    I'm pretty interested to see the output for Cavs players next year. Specifically, Varajao. I'm wondering if he becomes an offensive threat now. Or, does the lack of LeBron around seriously hurt his offensive numbers. We know Mo can get his own . . . at least until the playoffs start. I expect his numbers to go up.

  3. Cameron Says:

    Nice, interesting and thorough post.

    I agree with Jason J that people are taking Jordan's comments too far. I don't think he was looking to praise or support LeBron with what he said, but I don't think he thought it would be such a big deal. What he said was not premeditated and he did try to emphasize that he didn't have a problem with Lebron's desire to go to Miami. Instead he emphasized that things are just different now than when he played.

  4. Neil Paine Says:

    Good point about the other teams involved, Jason -- you're definitely right about the East of that time being ripe for the taking after Jordan retired and the Celtics' demise. And yes, I would love to look at a simulation of the '94 season if Jordan had not taken up flailing at curveballs retired.

  5. Charrua Says:

    But in fact the new arrivals were clearly better than the players they replaced (with exception of Myers, of course). Wennington had a better season than Cartwright, Kerr was a better player than Paxson ever was, the Bulls had never seen a reserve as good as Kukoc, even Myers was a pretty good defender, etc.
    The Bulls didn't just replaced Jordan's minutes, in short.

  6. JB Says:

    Jordan's number one goal is and always will be to protect his legacy. He will downplay his teammates, he will downplay his front office, and he will downplay his coach. If you ask him a question which can be boiled down to, "Do you think LeBron's move to Miami is legit and that success there will allow him to ascend to your status in history?" Jordan will say whatever he needs to say to secure his continued reign as top dog in the pantheon of basketball.

    LeBron could've stuck with Cleveland and won 10 titles with a roster comprised solely of D-League teammates, and Jordan would still find some way to claim superiority. This is a dude that will never give credit or praise to anyone that he finds even mildly threatening.

  7. themojojedi Says:

    "The Jordan ethos was always "going it alone" (remember "Michael and the Jordanaires"?), so it's certainly in the best interest of his continued mystique to maintain the perception of neither asking for nor needing "help"."

    "But if they completely fall apart without LeBron, the question could be raised about why Jordan criticized James' need for help when his own (supposedly equally inferior) teammates were able to survive far better without him."

    I feel that these two snippets are completely misrepresenting Jordan's comment. He said nothing about the quality of his help, or how it relates to LeBron's help. He mentioned two competitors who were major rivals, probably the other two best players of his era, and said that he wouldn't have joined them because his goal was to beat them. I think you're veering a bit too close to Simmons-esque mind-reading here in implying that Jordan was trashing his own or LeBron's teammates.

    The rest of the post is great, both objective and informative.

  8. ScottR. Says:

    #5--I'm not sure Kerr was a better overall player than Paxson. Both were smart role players--Kerr was a better 3 point shooter, but Paxson was probably a better passer. Both had their moments in Chicago. I'd actually say Paxson was better "overall" but that Kerr was what the Bulls really needed--a true marksman from 3-point range.

    And Wennington was not as good a defender as Cartwright. No one liked playing against Cartwright and his bruising elbows. As clumsy as Mr. Bill seemed on offense he gave Ewing and other big centers fits.

    That 94 Bulls team had talent and heart--no one thought that they would suck even when Jordan left. Pippen and Grant had a lot to prove and that team was battle tested. When Jordan left their was a clear heirarchy of who the leaders on that team were--Pippen and Grant. This Cavs team? I don't see who is going to fill the void and I'd put the over/under at a .500 season. Hopefully some of those guys will have some pride and be motivated to show they are not just a bunch of scrubs.

  9. potted-plant Says:

    I think the main point about the different times is probably that James, Wade and Bosh are really good friends and Jordan, Bird and Magic were not. I completely understand Lebron. The guy is a millionaire in his 20s deciding how to spend the peak years of his life and has to choose between
    a)playing potentially the best ball ever with close friends of his in a tropical beach location or
    b)stay in an armpit like Cleveland with a psychopath owner and basically zero chance of winning a title with a carefully selected team of elderly citizens.
    Hmmm, tough one.

  10. Charrua Says:

    Well, let's agree that Kerr was a much better player than Paxson by 1994, at least. And for all his defensive prowess, Cartwright was a disaster on offense and 35 years old. What I was trying to say was that besides luck, the trick of that 94 Bulls team was that they compensated Jordan's loss partially by replacing some of their less effective offensively big minutes players with more capable guys. Kerr, Wennington and Kukoc combined for 12.8 WS in 1994, against 5.9 WS by Cartwright, King, Paxson and McCray combined. And I can't see the Cavs being able to do something similar either.

  11. Jon Says:

    Interesting post. One thing worth considering might by why the 1993 Bulls only won 57 games while the 1992 Bulls won 67 games. That pythagorean dropoff from 66-16 in 1992 to 50-32 in 1994 is about what I'd expect, and it makes 1993 the outlier instead of 1994.

    I'm from Chicago, but not old enough to remember what happened that year. My guess though is the 1993 team had four players who weren't deserving of their minutes:

    Cartwright: 1253 min, 8.3 PER
    King: 1059, 12.8 PER
    Paxson: 1030 min, 9.3 PER
    McCray: 1019, 7.9 PER

    I list King there because I never remember him being good defensively. All four actually had negative DPAs that year, and my guess is only Cartwright had a legit chance of being above average defensively in reality. Combine that all together, and these are four of the worst players to get 1000+ minutes that I can remember. You never see PERs get that low with poor defense rotation players. In 1992 their PERs were all slightly better, and we could suspect Cartwright's defense hadn't fallen off as much yet. In 1994, none of those guys played much.

    Anyway, there's obviously more to it than that. But that 1993 team kinda reminds me of LeBron's 2008 team. They won 45 games that year *with* LeBron, then won 66 the next year without adding a star player (unless you're counting Mo Williams). I think all that happened is they cut the fat. Players from 2008 who weren't on the 2009 roster:

    Devin Brown: 1762 min, 11.3 PER
    Drew Gooden: 1564 min, 12.5 PER
    Damon Jones: 1336 min, 11.3 PER
    Larry Hughes: 1210 min, 11.6 PER
    Sasha Pavlovic: 1188 min, 7.2 PER

  12. Jon Says:

    That was a little hyperbolic. That wasn't all that happened, but my guess is replacing replacement players (or below replacement players) minuets with solid starters like Williams, West, Varejao, Wallace was the biggest reason for the turnaround.

  13. Jason J Says:

    JB - Not sure where that's coming from. Michael never chimes in on the debate about whether anyone is approaching his stature. He recently called Kobe the best player in the game, a statement that works against himself historically since Kobe is the one sitting pretty with 5 rings in the all-time discussion that non-stat heads engage in and LeBron has none, comfortably outside that discussion. He always says he can't call himself the best ever because he only played during his era (though he apparently did argue the point with Wilt during the 1996 NBA 50th anniversary ceremony). He didn't get to test himself against West or Oscar or most of today's players. Those are his answers anyway.

    Oh also he decided to play way past his prime, showing everyone a not-invinciBull Michael instead of leaving our last memory as a final's sealing game winner. Barkley was worried he would tarnish his legacy. He just wanted to see if he could still play.Supposing that he has an agenda to hold down the modern players and enhance his legacy is fine, but his words don't really indicate it.

  14. Jason J Says:

    Charra, You are correct. I looked at this just the other day, and the numbers bear out that the replacement players taking the big minutes had higher WS in 1994 (Kerr, Kukoc, Wennington, etc).

  15. Joey Says:

    This is not the same thing either! Jordan could have set himself to ditch the Bulls after 7 season, like Lebron. They had not won anything after 7 years with MJ, and they had NO ONE except Pip at that time. But he stuck around and delivered the goods.
    HE DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE. MJ signed an extension and stayed.
    LEBRON WANTED TO LEAVE 3 YEARS AGO WHEN HE SIGNED THE SHORTER DEAL.

  16. David Says:

    Joey

    Actually, Jordan could not have done that. He had a two year rookie deal. After that he signed a eight year deal for 25m that his agent David Falk was proud to present as the largest deal of the time. So, nope, he could not have done what Lebron did. After Jordan retired and was coming back, he took advantage of the CBA. At that time there was NO limit on how much you could re-sign your own FA. So Jordan signed for 30m a year. There were numerous reports about him telling the Jerry's that it was about time they were paying him his worth. So Jordan chased one thing and one thing only: money.

  17. dabaldchino Says:

    I agree with Scott R.
    Kerr by the time he was in Chicago was just a spot up shooter (a very very good one, yes better than Pax, although Pax was better off the dribble and mid range) Pax was definitely the better overall guard. Doug Collins had him bring up the ball and set up the offense quite a bit and Phil did as well. Pax was a better ball handler, stronger and better defender. Kerr came into the league, drafted by Cavs as a point, he blew out his knee(ACL)and never was the same. His ball handling suffered and the rest of his game did, so he concentrated on becoming a lights out 3 shooter. But the 94 season was not about Kerr being better than Pax, it was BJ Armstrong who really stepped up, Phil gave him free reign to fire away and he did. he was an all star and Horace became an all star, as well. Scottie had a MVP type year. Don't forget the whole team including Phil wanted to prove to everyone they were still a top team after Mike retired. Toni played well for being a rookie, BJ, Horace and Scottie were on a mission that year. Scottie was a man possessed. The triangle still worked b/c Scottie was still there, Horace was still there shooting 15ft elbow jumpers, it was really BJ shooting a lot more, he really picked up the scoring slack. Myers played well too. They lost in the conference semi's to the Knicks on a horrible call from Hue Hollins in game 5 late 4th quarter on Hubert Davis, he called a shooting foul way way way after Davis shot the ball, that led to knicks winning the game. Bulls go back home for game 6 and Scottie had the insane facial on Patrick. Bulls lose game 7 in New York. If Bulls win game 5, I definitely think they close it out in game 6 and then go on to beat the Pacers. They match up much better against the Pacers and they would have beaten them and I truly believe they would have beaten the Rockets that year for the title. They matched up very with Houston b/c Purdue, Wennington, Scott Williams and Cartwright would have used all their fouls against him and eventually wear the Dream down. Bulls perimeter defenders, Scottie, Myers, Grant and even BJ were much better at doubling down and then recovering out to shooters than the Knicks were. Remember the Knicks were really a small and not great perimeter defensive team at that time. Starks was really 6'3" with short arms, Myers was a legit 6'6", Harper was a good defender but he had to guard Kenny Smith or Mad Max, Hubert Davis was a horrible defender. That's why Horry was open all the time,he just kept shooting over the top of the knicks guards. No way Scottie, Myers and Grant let that happen. Scottie would have shut down Horry and Horry had to defend Scottie and would not have scored as much. Grant and Otis Thorpe at the very least would have been a wash, although Thorpe would have to set out and guard Horace's 15 foot jump shots. Thorpe would have been less affective. Against Knicks he didnt have to guard anyone on the perimeter b/c Oak and Mason and Smith were horrible shooters.

  18. Joe Says:

    This whole article is a little unfair. The Bulls lost Jordan, but they added role players in Kerr, Kukoc, Myers, and Wennington to a roster that still retained ALL of their top 8 rotation players besides Jordan. If the Cavs had been savvy enough to retain everyone else after LeBron left AND add 4 quality rotation players, Cleveland would still be good enough to lose in the 2nd round like Chicago did.

  19. M. Scheidler Says:

    JB, I believe if you go back and watch the 2009 HOF ceremony and watch Jordan get inducted, his first comment was "In all those videos, you also saw Scottie Pippen." He gave credit where it was due to his running mate and the one teammate that was with him for all 6 titles. Jordan is competitive but he knows that eventually someone will come along that will exceed what he accomplished. It will take a lot but it will happen.

    That '93-94 team won 55 games due to a couple of reasons. 1. The rise of Scottie Pippen into a consitent top 5 All-NBA player and MVP contender. He took his game to another level and even higher the next season when the team changed even more. Remember, he led the Bulls in 5 categories for most of the '94-95 season until Jordan came back. His rise to that level enabled the Bulls to be even more dangerous(along with the addition of Rodman) when Jordan returned to form in the '95-96 season.

    2. You still had a team, minus Jordan, that had been together and playoff tested since the '89 season. Pippen, Grant, Cartwright, Armstrong, Paxson, Williams, Perdue and King all had been through the battles and experience goes a long way. They traded King for Longley and added Kerr, Wennington, Myers and the best European player in Kukoc. So, they added complimentary pieces that filled some of the holes left by Jordan's departure.

    3. The coach, Phil Jackson, did one of his best jobs having the team play together. At the end of games, the offense didn't change to "give it to Michael", it stayed the same.

    I will admit that Lebron never had a Scottie Pippen, although most are comparing him to Pippen now that he is in Miami, but his teams did win 66 games in '09 and 61 games this year with Lebron sitting out the last 5 games. For 2 years in a row they had homecourt thoughout and still couldn't get out of the East. Jordan's Bulls in '89 didn't have homecourt in any series and yet came wins away from the NBA Finals. Was actually up 2-1 on the Pistons until the Pistons focused clearly on Jordan and tried to make the other Bulls beat them.

    Jordan did have good parts around him but that is also part of his doing in practice. If you ever read any stories on the Bulls, you always read how Michael liked to test out his teammates, to see if they could take the punishment from him. The ones that did are the ones that grew to be champions with him. Any remember Cartwright threatening to break Jordan's legs for telling the team not to pass him the ball at the end of games. Jordan respected Cartwright after that. How bout Jordan punching Kerr before the '95-96 season? Kerr didn't run, he fought back and Jordan did call and apologize. Pippen was blessed to get to practice against Jordan, which helped him reach the level he did. Jordan's legacy is the 6 titles and legendary games but he did make his teammates better, which is why the Bulls won 6 titles in 8 years. Of those six only Pippen, Jordan, and Phil Jackson were there for all of them. I think that says quite a lot about the player he started as and finished as.

  20. JB Says:

    Jason J

    Jordan can live with backing Kobe because Kobe is now a known quantity. He's on the tail end of his career, and his injuries are mounting at a rate that will prevent him from adding any serious statistical icing on his cake. There is virtually nothing that Kobe can do at this point to supplant MJ. MJ had better individual seasons, better team seasons, and nearly unanimous support from the basketball community (Kobe has a fairly vocal hater base). Kobe is firmly entrenched in his the-next-Jordan role, with no real hope of better-than-Jordan.

    LeBron, on the other hand, represents an entirely different beast. He's just now entering his physical prime. He jumped in free agency to form the (potentially) greatest team of all time. Everyone assumes the move to the Heat lowered LeBron's career ceiling drastically, but if anything it just made the ceiling a lot harder to approximate. LBJ is literally a complete mystery until the season gets underway. There isn't really a limit to Bron's potential that someone would be willing to stake their life on. Could he have a relatively ho-hum season and put up 20-7-7? Sure. Would it shock someone if he put down 30-10-10? No. Is it out of the question that he could pull off a 35-13-13? I'd say it's unlikely, but still within the realm of reasonable possibility. We have no idea what this Heat team is capable of or of the respective roles that its stars will play.

    If the GOAT gives the thumbs up to Miami's approach, he risks granting validity to a player that could statistically one-up him. Jordan knows he's safe from Kobe.

  21. Herm Says:

    The difference in comparing the 94 Bulls to the Cavs without Lebron is that many of the key Bulls players were championship tested, which I think (i.e. speculate) is a factor in how a team plays. Lesser players that play on a championship team start to see themselves as proven winners, which makes a huge difference in how they perform. It raises the collective confidence of the playes and allows them to overachieve and in particular to excel under pressure. If you took that same Bulls team without the benefit of ever having played with MJ and never having won a title, I suspect they would not have performed as well as they did in 1994. Contrast that with this Cavs team, that probably now sees themselves as underachievers who cost the Cavs the best player the city has ever seen and it's not hard to see them folding this season. Also, lets not forget just how amazing a player Scottie Pippen was in his prime, and the fact that the Cavs have lost some other significant pieces from last years team (two 7 footers in Shaq and Ilgauskas, for example, which negates a huge size advantage the Cavs had last season).

  22. dabaldchino Says:

    I agree with M. Scheidler.
    That 94 Bulls team would destroy this Cavs team now without Lebron.
    Lebron is more Scottie/Magic than Mike. DWade is Mike. But can Lebron defend like Scottie?
    We will see. I think Lebron will have a great year defensively and his assists and rebounding numbers will jump as well. I think he's perfectly happy setting up Wade and Bosh.

  23. The J Says:

    I don't think Charrua's point can be ignored. The Bulls added talent to that team that would strengthen the teams core. Perhaps with that context it is important to add the 1996 team (Jordan's first full year back), into the consideration. Obviously adding Rodman in 1996 alters the discussion, but is important to note just how strong the Bulls were in 1996 compared to any of the Bulls teams before them. The squad actually strengthed while Jordan was away, and then became incredibly powerful when that strengthened squad was combinded with MJ's return.

    This does, however, bring it back to this year's Cavs team. What have they done, can they do, and will they do, to strengthen the overall squad? I have heard the same arguement made from Lebron supporters for years when contrasting him to MJ or even Kobe: "Without Lebron the Cavs would be a lottery team". Well with the Bulls of 94 in the back of our minds, it will be interesting to see who's correct: the Lebron fans or DAN "Comic Sans" GILBERT.

  24. Herm Says:

    JB

    Disagree on KB, but with one important caveat: the Lakers have to beat the Heat this year and KB has a chance to go down as the GOAT. In fact, I think KB is the big winner in this Miami fiasco. I'm definitely a Laker homer, but even I'd admit that Kobe can't touch MJ, and not because of stats (you can always make a case that there are differences in eras, teams, etc.. that explain away statistical differences, though KB to MJ is about as good a comparison as you can ask for given they played the same position in the same system for the same coach), but because MJ played at a time with arguably less diluted talent and was unbeatable in his prime. Kobe can't say that and really Bill Russell is probably the only other player in history that can.

    But now, with a superteam on the horizon? It's not hard to make a Kobe narrative that looks pretty good: potentially 2 3peats, more finals appearances, and if they win this year, then it looks like he needed a #2 guy (Gasol is a lesser player than Pippen was) and a couple years to figure it out (losing to an amazing physical defensive team in Boston would be the equivalent of MJ losing to the Pistons), then suddenly KB becomes unbeatable winning 3 in a row capped off by beating a team with 3 of the top 10 players in the league on it. Maybe KB still not as good as MJ, but suddenly it doesn't seem as crazy to talk about it, and again my point is that Kobe potentially benefits the most from Lebron's move because the chance to beat Miami MIGHT elevate him into the GOAT coversation whereas before he had no chance (also, no real downside for KB, bc losing to a superteam won't tarnish his legacy).

  25. princess james Says:

    okay they won 55 games in 1994...
    but they would of won like 65 games if jordan was there with the other 5 new players that year...
    all i want to say is that james is not the man nor the so call king, he should be call the queen james no not even that PRINCESS james, yeah that the right name 4 him...
    but 4 d-wade MUCH LOVE 4 sticking with his team...

    i don't hate james but thats the fact...

  26. TheBulge Says:

    "he should be call the queen james no not even that PRINCESS james, yeah that the right name 4 him..."

    How funny. Princess James. I get it!! You got someone helping you with these zingers?

    "but 4 d-wade MUCH LOVE 4 sticking with his team..."

    Why would he leave? He had the best player in the league coming, and a top 12 player in Bosh. Let's be serious.

  27. princess james Says:

    d-wade was going to stay before bosh or james was coming in

  28. TheBulge Says:

    "d-wade was going to stay before bosh or james was coming in"

    C'mon dude. Like you have any fucking clue.

  29. Jordan Says:

    It's not fair, though it will undoubtedly be "proof" in the minds of many to legitimize Lebron's jumping ship, but next year's Cavs team should not be compared to this year's Cavs team, nor that 94 Bulls squad. Next year's Cavs will not have Big Z, Shaq, Delonte West (most likely) or a legitimate starting small forward. To pin a 25-win difference all on Lebron's shoulder is BS. It's year one with a new coach and a new system for a team that not only lost its best player, but also its two centers. Last year's starting PF (Jameson) is being asked to take on a sixth man role, while last year's back up PF (Varejao) will now be the starting center. A third year player (Hickson) will now assume the starting PF spot and no one really knows who's going to fill the SF position. There's no way that next year's team can be compared to this year's team at all, let alone the 94 Bulls. Love the article, just think it's off topic from the original premise.

  30. princess james Says:

    he announced it stupid before all that happin

  31. taheati Says:

    I was going to suggest another way to evaluate the standalone quality of various Jordanaires -- games where Jordan was absent or injured. But I was amazed and chagrined by his durability. Only a handful of games missed after his soph injury.

    Otherwise, Jerry Krause does deserve his props for the general quality of supporting casts; the same Krause who Jordan needlessly belittled in his HOF get-even speech.

  32. Anon x 2 Says:

    I always just thought that the team played harder in 1994. 1993 was a season coming off 2 years of going the distance and the team was more tired and paced itself a bit during the regular season.

    1994 the players had a chip on their shoulder. There's no way to quantify this, but I am pretty sure it's what happened (especially for Scottie who got a chance to prove himself and did).

    Cleveland is in a similar position. Either they will collapse or surprise everyone. I don't think they'll fall within standard predictive territory. Rally or fall apart. We'll find out.

    Also, Jordan's comments related to playing with a rival, not playing with help.

  33. TheBulge Says:

    "he announced it stupid before all that happin"

    That means absolutely nothing. Some people suggest that they had this planned for weeks, months, or years. The Heat certainly had a pretty good idea, when you look at the way they cleared cap space, and take a look at their draft picks. You are an idiot.

  34. AirJunior23 Says:

    I disagree, by all means. The 94 Bulls were not nearly as strong as the 93. They may have had the hustle and some pretty savvy guy. But that's about it. The couldn't have made a real run at the title without MJ or at least a proven star. Stacey King = Soft, Pete Myers, what!! This article is out of bounds man. They won games but they had the mentality already. Most of that team was three peat champions. They wouldve gotten swept by the Rockets in 94. just obliterated. I'm through here.

  35. Gil Meriken Says:

    I'm ready to shoot down the theory of "see how bad the Cavs are now" if the Cavs stink, by explaining that the change in coaching was the real driver of the Cavs horrible season, and that the rest of the non-Lebrons were actually pretty good defensively under Mike Brown. I'd rather the Cavs just have a nice season, but nevertheless, I am prepared.

  36. TheBulge Says:

    "But that's about it. The couldn't have made a real run at the title without MJ or at least a proven star."

    Well, I agree that they didn't have a real chance at the title, but they didn't have a proven star? Are you out of your mind? And of course they didn't have a chance at the title, they just lost the best player in the world. This article is showing what a strong supporting cast Jordan had. I think that's clearly been proven.

    Out of bounds? This coming from a guy whose name is AirJunior23. Michael Jordan is your father figure. Is it any surprise you cant' talk about him rationally?

  37. princess james Says:

    princess lebron is robin and king d-wade is BATMAN...
    thats really all im trying to prove.. REALLY..
    princess lebron choke all the time during playoff...
    how could ppl even suggest that it was planned out... COME ON...
    princess lebron just happin to fallow on d-wade's nuts or he just left cavs because one of the teammate was banggin he's mom...

  38. TheBulge Says:

    "princess lebron is robin and king d-wade is BATMAN...
    thats really all im trying to prove.. REALLY..."

    Well, LBJ will still be the best player on the team. I don't think Robin was ever a better crime fighter than Batman.

    "princess lebron choke all the time during playoff..."

    People like you were saying the same thing after LBJ went for 38/8/8 while shooting 54% against the Magic in '09. Pardon me if I have a hard believing that you have any clue what 'choking' is. Is choking shooting 25% in a game 7? Or does that get you a Finals MVP?

    "how could ppl even suggest that it was planned out... COME ON..."

    Because all three stars talked at the beginning of free agency, and they admitted to talking about it during the '08 Olympics. Are you really this dumb?

  39. taheati Says:

    Also, Jordan's comments related to playing with a rival, not playing with help.

    No, the questions posed asked for his response to the "big player shuffle."

    Jordan responded by admitting the unknowns of free agency but volunteered "there was no way I'd ever call up Larry, call up Magic," i.e., other big players, "and say let's get together and play on one team." Jordan further acknowledged these are "different times" where "these kids" have "opportunities in free agency",e.g., to collaborate. Jordan admits he "wanted to beat those guys" [Bird, Magic] but at the same time recalls the Dream Team and how, in that contetxt, internecine competition wasn't never an issue.

  40. taheati Says:

    "and how, in that contetxt, internecine competition [was] never an issue."

  41. Brandon Says:

    The "Wade is better than LeBron" camp is completely off base.

    How many rings has Wade won since 2006? Seems he's failed in the playoffs multiple times since then, because he's been surrounded by crap, just like LeBron has been.

  42. Jason J Says:

    JB - Is every other player, coach, and announcer who says Kobe is the best in the game in it to try to keep LeBron down too (not that I agree with them, but they agree with MJ)? Unless you're psychic or Mike's shrink, I don't see how you could be so sure if his motivations.

  43. princess james Says:

    go watch the games when the cav gets smash by boston...

  44. Caleb Says:

    "princess lebron is robin and king d-wade is BATMAN..."

    How so? Lebron will be the best player on the Heat.

    "thats really all im trying to prove.. REALLY.."

    You aren't proving anything, but you are making yourself look really silly.

    "princess lebron choke all the time during playoff..."

    His career playoff PER is higher than his career regular season PER.

  45. TheBulge Says:

    "go watch the games when the cav gets smash by boston..."

    I'm actually not sure what the hell you are talking about. Is this in response to me?

  46. princess james Says:

    no it's a response to myself...
    STUPID

  47. Caleb Says:

    Princess James is either a frequent commenter at Ball Don't Lie who found this blog (great site, some of the worst comment pages I've ever seen) or a troll who knows exactly how to get into an argument with BR posters.

  48. Jason J Says:

    #2 - Middy, I'm interested in seeing Hickson. I think that guy is very athletic and aggressive and could do some beastly stuff as a legit option. I'm guessing he's either 6th man, or they swing Antawn to the 3 and start him w/ Andy at the 5.

    Their big hole might be wing scoring. They just lost 30 points a game, and I don't think West or Parker (if they still have them) have the goods to do too much more.

  49. BEN Says:

    lebron is a princess

  50. princess james Says:

    i Know he is

  51. princess james Says:

    king d-wade is better then princess james

  52. TheBulge Says:

    "no it's a response to myself..."

    Well, if it's a response to me, it really, really doesn't make any sense. I didn't say anything about Cleveland or the Celtics.

  53. ScottR. Says:

    Lots of interesting points being made. We all agree that the Jordan-less Bulls were a pretty strong bunch independent of MJ; certainly better than LeBron's team. But I'd add that Jordan claimed the Bulls franchise as his own and made some of these role players better than they were in a way that LeBron couldn't or wouldn't in Cleveland. Much has been written about how James didn't try the hard sell on free agents while in Cleveland, knowing he was going to jet once his contract was up.

    It's also true that Krause got MJ better players to ball with but that James didn't really do himself any favors in Cleveland by not going all in and make free agents willing to join him. (The Bulls really hit big by getting Grant and Pippen via draft. Cleveland has not had better than a number 10 pick--Luke Jackson-- since James arrived.)

  54. princess james Says:

    well u know james was playin in that playoff...
    and we was talkin about james chokin in the playoff...

  55. TheBulge Says:

    ScottR,

    Good post. And it's the exact type of information that I like to point to when people act like the only way to achieve greatness is through rings. Does anyone think that Kobe Bryant is THAT close to MJ just because they have a similar amount of rings? If you just listened to, or read ESPN, you would think that was the case. It loses all context and it's frankly ridiculous.

    No one could watch the NBA the past 2-3 years, and conclude that anyone else by James has been the best player in the league. But people repeatedly referred to Kobe as the best player on the planet in the playoffs. Do these people actually watch basketball?

  56. TheBulge Says:

    "well u know james was playin in that playoff...
    and we was talkin about james chokin in the playoff..."

    I'm not one to harp on grammar, or spelling, but I'm really having a hard time understanding what you're saying.

  57. princess james Says:

    im sure everyone knows wat im sayin...
    ur just mad cause i just keep comin back...
    hater... ur just on princess lebrons nut...

  58. TheBulge Says:

    "ur just mad cause i just keep comin back..."

    No, I mean you literally weren't making sense. I think anyone that's reading this can clearly tell that you're a moron.

  59. princess james Says:

    well clearly ur the moron...

  60. P Middy Says:

    Jason J,

    I don't think Hickson has too many skills. I might be wrong, but almost everything he did last season was on hustle and athleticism. Mo is an underrated passer though. Those type of assists might still come him way, but not as frequently.

  61. BSK Says:

    Kobe has never won a ring without one of, if not the very, best center on his team. How did he do when his team lacked an elite offensive post presence?

  62. ScottR. Says:

    Bulge-- I was in LeBron's camp as best current NBA player until this post-season then I switched to Team Kobe. Kobe is an assassin, LeBron isn't. Simple as that.

  63. TheBulge Says:

    "I was in LeBron's camp as best current NBA player until this post-season then I switched to Team Kobe. Kobe is an assassin, LeBron isn't. Simple as that."

    Well, I think that is very wrong, frankly. One player had a bad series against the Celtics, and was called a 'choker,' and a 'loser.' One player had an even worse series against the Celtics, and was named the MVP. You now have people calling him an assassin. He shot 25% from the field in the deciding game, and 40% on the series. Kobe played absolutely awesome against the Jazz and the Thunder, and he is still a great player. He's just not on LBJ's level, obviously, and the numbers support that.

    Go look at their playoff numbers on this very site, and you will see who the better playoff performer is. It's not all that close, especially considering that LBJ is just about to enter his prime. Last year in the playoffs, James had one of the best series in the history of the league, and his team lost. Do you think that James could ever go 6/24 in a game 7, and have the Cavs win? Assassin? That's the talk for people who don't have actual evidence on their side.

    You can keep your 'assassin,' I'll take the better player. Every time. And I'm not a Cavs, or even a LeBron fan. I'm an objective NBA fanatic who feels like he's living in an alternate universe when he sees someone hailed as the better player when they score less on more shots, rebound less, and pass less.

  64. AYC Says:

    Mo Williams is an underrated passer? Really? If the Cavs win more than 35 games this year, I will be very surprised.

    Btw, I know it doesn't fit into Neil's "team>superstar" narrative, but the 94 Bulls certainly benefited from having the best small forward in the league, playing arguably the best ball of his career. The bulls don't have a chance of winning 55 without Pippen stepping up to the plate. I don't see Mo Will and Antawn doing the same next year

  65. Ricardo Says:

    Re: The Bulls defense improving from 1993 to 1994 - did it really improve in context? It seemed like scoring/shooting was down all around the league in 1994.

  66. Mike E Says:

    Jordan was referring to asking for help from the major stars of his day, not needing help in general.

  67. TheBulge Says:

    I agree, Mike E, but he did play with one of the stars of his day. Why WOULD he have left? Also, his contract never really allowed him that chance to leave and play with Larry and Magic.

  68. Sean Says:

    Test

  69. Sean Says:

    I still think it's very odd that the Bulls just lost 2 wins from the year before sans Jordan. The trifecta of Pippen, Grant and Armstrong actually totalled LESS minutes together than the year before, so you'd figure it would be even tougher to keep pace. Pippen missed 10 games in 1994 and the Bulls were 51-21 in the games he played in---a winning % that translates to 58 wins over 82 games.

    The new bigs in 1994 (Wennington, Longley, Blount) averaged roughly the same rebounds per 48 collective minutes played (12.7 to 12.1) as the returning bigs from 1993 (Perdue, King, Cartwright, Williams)and shot 47+% from the floor to 46% from the floor (for the returning bigs).

    Looking at the returning players to the 1994 team, most of them seemed to make more shots and most of them at a better FG% in 1994 than in 1993. This seemed to be more prevalent among the returning frontcourt players. Bill Cartwright shot a ton better a year older in 1994.

    Is there something there? Is it possible that a Jordan dominated offense just wasn't terribly friendly to frontcourt players?

    If the bigs in 1994 played better than they did in 1993---it doesn't seem to be because they were better players-------because the old bigs and the new bigs in 1994 were VERRRY close in productivity, it seems. Who's to say that if Longley, Wennington and Blount were on the 1993 squad, that they would have been as efficient/ productive as they were without Jordan in 1994?

    As for the better TEAM defense.... does the conclusion by Neil that 'defense is largely a team activity' detract a bit from Jordan's individual defensive prowess as it relates to GOAT discussions?

    It's just not sitting right that you could have Pippen, Armstrong and Grant back playing less minutes, roughly the same play from your bigs over 48 minutes and swap out Jordan, McCray and Trent Tucker for Pete Myers, Kerr and Kukoc-----and essentially break even in W-L.....even with Cleveland hurting.

    If Jordan is the GOAT, this just doesn't seem possible to me.

  70. pemba Says:

    someone e mail this story to byron scott!
    i would love to see the cavs do really well next year, and
    beat the heat!

  71. Sean Says:

    The Bulls were 5-4 VS the Celtics & Cavs in 1993 and 3-5 VS them in 1994. I don't see how the demise of the Cavs and Celts in 1994 helped the Bulls win games in 1994.

    Also, how can anyone talk about the effect Jordan's 2nd retirement had on the Bulls' offense--------didn't A LOT more than Jordan change with his 2nd retirement? Of course it did.

    If the Bulls overall offense took a step back in 1994, it wasn't because Armstrong, Pippen and Grant weren't having better years with Jordan gone. Also Cartwright. Just sayin'.

  72. Sean Says:

    In 1999, there was no Jordan, Pippen, Longley, Rodman or Kerr. Of the 8 top minutes played players from 1998, only Randy Brown, Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc returned.

    Did someone seriously say that loss of offense was catastrophic in '99, the second time MJ retired -------------without mentioning everybody ELSE who left?

    Can we discuss Jordan without constantly calling him the greatest as if that's what his Passport says (ala Marvin Hagler's saying 'Marvelous')? No amount of writing it will make it any more valid... not even if Neil writes it a hundred million. billion, TRILLION times....lol.

  73. Sean Says:

    To the other question, I saw Jordan's interview.... I think what he said was fairly innocuous and diplomatic without being phony. Nobody needs to twist something that Jordan said into anything venemous or critical of James for LeBron James to be under scrutiny for his nonsense of late. He's entirely within his rights to team with whomever he wants. I just wish he did it with more grace and humility.

  74. Niv Says:

    The way I see it. Lebron gave up on the caves way too early..We would never know if Lebron could win it all with another season with the current Cav roster. It would be like Jordan leaving the bulls in the 1989-90 season to join Bird and Ewing to win it all easy. (As we all know the Bulls won the championship in 1990-91 campeign) My point is that LeBron took the easy way to try and win a ring and possibly multiple rings. Lets face it, He joined the the top 2 free agents next to him. Pippin is no Wade and Rodman is no Bosh. It will most definitely hurt his legacy. ... Kobe never got the respect until he won those championships without Shaq and the heat will always be Wade's team. Don't get me wrong the Heat will be a joy to watch and I'll be rooting for the underdogs all the time.. It's a shame. I was a huge Lebron fan. now i appreciate Kobe much much more.

  75. TheBulge Says:

    "Rodman is no Bosh."

    Seriously? A guy who has made one All-NBA team is better than the best rebounder of all time who was also one of the best defenders of his era?

    "Pippin is no Wade"

    That's probably true, but it's a lot closer than you think.

    "the heat will always be Wade's team."

    If the Heat don't win it next year, you think that will fall on Wade? C'mon. It will fall on LBJ because he's their best player. You think there is any chance of Wade being the Heat' best player in three years? Two years? Next year? Let's be serious.

  76. TheBulge Says:

    "I was a huge Lebron fan. now i appreciate Kobe much much more."

    Really, the same guy that was begging out of L.A. because he realized he couldn't win on his own? That guy? You prefer that over the guy that exercised his right as a free agent? Look, I don't like that LBJ went to Miami either, but let's not act like everyone isn't trying to win.

  77. edsel Says:

    Agreed. The NBA where stupidity happens.

  78. Ray Says:

    LeBron didn't even team up with rivals. Bosh is a PF/C whose team had no history with the Cavs, and Wade is a combo guard whose team had no history with the Cavs. Neither ever faced LeBron in the playoffs, neither ever had personal problems with LeBron, and in fact they are all close friends.

    Jordan, meanwhile, watched Magic and Bird win 8 of 9 titles in the 80s mostly battling each other before he even won his first (and then the two of them never won again), and generally didn't like them very much.

    LeBron's chief rival is Kobe (the established "alpha" in the league), followed by Durant (has been anointed the next superstar), whose team is already an elite power in the stacked West even though he's only 21 and his teammates are just as young. Melo is also a candidate depending on where he winds up next year, or if Denver starts playing up to its talent level.

    Wade is probably just coming off the apex of his career, and as great as he is was going nowhere without some star talent around him. Bosh is really good and still has room to improve, but he was never going to be a LeBron rival. They also have a combined 1 ring between them, and that was from a Shaq-assisted, all-in run four years ago.

  79. B Says:

    Wow, Wade is coming off the apex of his career? I have no idea what kind of analysis you used to come to that conclusion, but you make yourself seem like a prophet. Even if Wade will decline, there's absolutely no accurate way you can make that claim and proclaim it to be correct. No one knows the future - we just try to guess the outcome which we think is the highest percentage.

    Secondly, I feel like MJ isn't giving a legacy-saving comment here (for once). He's saying that in his time, he couldn't and wouldn't have done it. It makes sense. I really don't think he would've, even given the opportunity. He wasn't friends with those guys until after they retired/when the finally played on the Dream Team. It's why he's saying that times are different now. As much as MJ is burning Lebron, he's also giving a bit of leeway here - I feel like he understands the current environment of the NBA. Does he like it? Obviously, not one bit. But this sounds more like a criticism of the NBA than a criticism of Lebron specifically.

    Thirdly, although Lebron performed amazing during the playoffs, there were tons of things he didn't do in the Boston series. He was amazing in the Bulls series, and then against Boston he looked a lot more disinterested, especially toward the later games. It was concerning, because he didn't put up a fight. Even when Kobe supposedly tanked Game 7 against Phoenix by only taking 1(?) shot in the second half, if you look at the game, he looked like he was trying. Some people interpreted it as "fake" and "mocking", but nevertheless he was still playing within the system that Phil Jackson had set in place (and notably, Phil/Tex Winter never criticized Kobe for that game, even though they've criticized him plenty in the past and present). As much as I like Lebron, I think he didn't do as much as he could've against Boston. I don't blame Lebron for wanting a better supporting cast, but he could've handled the situation more quietly.

    Lastly, (sorry for the long comment), as great as MJ was, his supporting cast allowed him to win a championship. The reason why he's the GOAT was more on an individual basis, not because he won 6 championships. After all, Russell won the most championships, but not many people consider him the GOAT. Krause did a good job building around MJ, and here's the thing - didn't allow MJ to play GM. While Gilbert consulted Lebron about every player acquisition/signing, and didn't really make a move on anyone w/o Lebron's consent, Krause overrode MJ at times (like selecting Scottie Pippen in the draft). No player should have been allowed the power that Lebron got on the Cavs, and it led to his enablement. Regardless of his basketball play, the way he was treated and the demands he made are also reasons why he didn't win a championship.

  80. ScottR. Says:

    Bulge--Right now, Kobe is best player because he delivers the goods. Sure he had crappy statistical games this post-season but he's the best player on the best team. And I have my problems with Kobe--he demanded a trade when the going got tough and really folded in that Phoenix series a few years back. But I lost all respect for James as a superstar during that Boston series. I've never seen someone phone it in when the stakes were that high. He didn't just have a bad series--he freaking QUIT! I saw it, you saw it. And then to run to Miami without finishing the job?

    I agree with you about Pippen. Pippen, I think, is an all around better player than Wade. I'll also take Rodman over Bosh any day. No one NBA history accept for Wilt and Russell hit the boards like the Worm.

  81. TheBulge Says:

    'Bulge--Right now, Kobe is best player because he delivers the goods. Sure he had crappy statistical games this post-season but he's the best player on the best team."

    The best player on the best team is now the best player in the league? Chauncey Billups will be very pumped to find out he was once the best player in the league.

    "I've never seen someone phone it in when the stakes were that high. He didn't just have a bad series--he freaking QUIT!"

    Well, you just admitted to seeing Kobe do it against Phoenix, so you have seen it before. On top of that, you can say that he quit in game 5, but are you suggesting that he quit in game 6? Or game 2?

  82. TheBulge Says:

    Also, you would have to concede that LBJ WOULDN'T have won on the Lakers for that position to have any weight. You know basketball, so you don't think that. Therefore, in my opinion, I think you are wrong.

  83. Ray Says:

    "Wow, Wade is coming off the apex of his career? I have no idea what kind of analysis you used to come to that conclusion, but you make yourself seem like a prophet. Even if Wade will decline, there's absolutely no accurate way you can make that claim and proclaim it to be correct. No one knows the future - we just try to guess the outcome which we think is the highest percentage."

    Is he still getting better? Or is it reasonable to presume that once he hits his 30s (he's going on 29 already) his production, as an undersized slashing 2-guard, will start dropping noticeably... unless he changes his playing style, a la Jordan.

    His '08-'09 numbers were out of this world, and as great as he was last year I'd be surprised to see him top that season statistically, although playing with other superstars will afford him the luxury of being more efficient, which will make it almost impossible to determine the level -- and direction -- of change in his production.

    I was just making the argument that he's closer to Kobe's part of the career arc than Durant's. Hopefully he adapts as well as Kobe has and Jordan did.

    "Thirdly, although Lebron performed amazing during the playoffs, there were tons of things he didn't do in the Boston series. He was amazing in the Bulls series, and then against Boston he looked a lot more disinterested, especially toward the later games. It was concerning, because he didn't put up a fight."

    I agree that was the case in Game 5, but Game 6 looked like he was trying TOO hard, forcing passes like a frustrated QB only to see them picked off, then trying to (almost having to) compensate by doing even more of the same. It was definitely bizarre to see the swing, and part of me wonders if LeBron was just testing what it would take for his teammates to help him beat this out-of-nowhere, ridiculously good defense.

    Overall, though, his numbers were almost identical to Kobe's, and considering the embarrassment the Celtics put the Magic through, and just how close to winning it all they were (only 5 points short even without Perk), I think history should largely record this as a credit to a surprisingly great Boston team.

    "While Gilbert consulted Lebron about every player acquisition/signing, and didn't really make a move on anyone w/o Lebron's consent, Krause overrode MJ at times (like selecting Scottie Pippen in the draft). No player should have been allowed the power that Lebron got on the Cavs, and it led to his enablement. Regardless of his basketball play, the way he was treated and the demands he made are also reasons why he didn't win a championship."

    I wonder how true this really is. He supposedly didn't want Ilgauskas traded, even as part of the Jamison gimmick. And apparently Amare was his preference, but the Cavs didn't want to part with Hickson. And now he's going to play for a Hall of Fame GM/owner who's not about to let a player do his job for him, who already convinced him to leave $15 million on the table.

    I know he had numerous demands about how his entourage would be treated... but I'm not about to put bad personnel moves on LeBron until something comes out backing it up. And I know for sure he's not the reason minutes/rotations were managed so badly, or why there was no coherent offense.

  84. potted-plant Says:

    How is Kobe the best player on the best team? This season Gasol had better advanced stats in absolutely every category and most were not close at all. Pull up offensive/defensive rating, WS, WS/48 and PER from this website and you can make a case that Gasol is the best player in the NBA after Lebron.
    With Kobes 24-4-4 40% series against OKC the Lakers would have been out in the first round without Gasol.

  85. Jason J Says:

    Sean - This is your subject. It's the only thing I can remember you posting extensively about and you've collected as much circumstantial evidence as possible to back up your point, which everyone should respect because you're not just spouting off rhetoric. However, I do think rather than just use this as an opportunity to restate your point, you should really tip the hat to what Neil's post is showing here, because he provided empiric evidence and stated his point well, pointing out that the they really didn't break even.

    I can't get into it because we'll just go in circles like before, but I do want to point out that the metrics disagree with the notion that Jordan somehow impedes teamwork or specific teammates from excelling.

    Kukoc, Kerr, Longley, Pippen, Grant, Paxson, S. Williams, S. King, S. Vincent... and I'm guessing others as well. I got tired of checking. Anyway, those players all had their best years per Win Share playing with Michael Jordan. Even Pippen and Grant, the leaders of the '94 squad, played better with Jordan than without him. All of them did. That's spot up shooters, slashing wings, playmakers, rebounders, post scorers all playing their best with Michael.

    Those teammates who did not peak with Jordan were Harper (former star felled by knee injury before joining Chicago), Cartwright (former first option before teaming with Jordan and winning 50 games for the first time), Rodman (played way more minutes with the Pistons), and BJ (had his most efficient season with Jordan but has more responsibility without him, and his WS/min dropped off between in 1994 - he just played more minutes and took more shots at a poorer rate).

    Jordan clearly did not detract from these individuals, and since they all had their winningest seasons with him as well, the synergy shows up in the results.

  86. Daniel Song Says:

    I think what this proves is that the Bulls were far from a one-man team and Jordan had plenty of support in each and every one of the Bulls' championship.

    It's been proven that you need a collective effort to win a championship. How many championships did Jordan win without Phil Jackson as coach? 0. How many did he advance to the second round before Pippen and Grant were drafted? 0. Jordan is great, we all understand that; but he had several things go in his favor as well. There are just too many variables. He could've developed physical problems and/or injuries. The Bulls could've struck out on the draft. They could have been stuck with mediocre coaching. If some combination of these things had happened, he could've easily had a career closer to say, Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter, than the Jordan we all know and respect.

    Jordan was an undeniable talent who took full advantage of the opportunities given to him to accomplish some amazing things. However, I think it's rather silly to assume that he was destined to win 6 championships in 8 seasons and become one of the greatest players of all time. He deserves all the credit in the world for sticking through the tough times and eventually achieving great success. But it's not like he planned things to go that way all along.

    Full props also go to the rest of the players on the Chicago Bulls squad, coaching staff, front office, and the fans who supported their team so well. Without everyone's collective effort, none of their success would have been possible. This is why I think all this talk of GOAT and Jordan vs. Kobe vs. Lebron is rather meaningless. This isn't tennis or golf, people - this is a TEAM sport.

  87. Sean Says:

    JasonJ...

    You're completely correct. I DO wish to tip my cap at the tremendous effort put forth by Neil. I just don't necessarily agree with the conclusion(s). It's OK that I don't and it's OK that many folks don't agree with me. There are plenty of folks here who might disagree with me who would also acknowledge that popular opinion is no substitute for the truth. We just disagree on what the truth is from time to time.

    I DO appreciate the use of metrics. They can also be misleading or misused, invalid and/ or unreliable. Win shares aside, I would not agree that Pippen, Grant and Armstrong didn't play better in 1994 without Jordan than they did in 1993 with him.

    I appreciate not wanting to go in circles or restating points over and again-------but I must say that referring to MJ as 'the greatest basketball player of all time'-----as if you're stating historical fact (e.g., 'the NY Yankees, 27-time World Champions, blah...blah...blah') is probably THE single most overplayed, often gratuitous and certainly NON FACTUAL line there is in sports talk. It does 'tee it up' for one to restate a differing opinion---should one have such.

    That said, I enjoy this site and recently set up a new E-Mail just so I could come back as for some unknown reason I had been blocked from posting with my 1st E-Mail address. Neil has my highest respect as do you. You are both gentlemen and I appreciate your opinions.

  88. Neil Paine Says:

    Hi Sean,

    I certainly have no problem with a differing opinion. I mainly state it as though it were a "fact" because the metrics are almost unanimous that Jordan is at least the best offensive player of all time, if not the best overall basketball player ever.

    I could always look at this more thoroughly, but even if you go back to somebody like Wilt, Jordan's numbers are better. For instance, in 1962, his best offensive season, Wilt produced 1.202 points per possession (translated to 2010's scoring environment) on 32.7% of Philly's possessions when in the game. In Jordan's best offensive season, 1988, he produced 1.224 pts/poss on 32.4% of Chicago's possessions; he would go on to produce a staggering 1.250 pts/poss on 31.3% of possessions...

    Simply put, nobody has ever managed to combine usage and efficiency like Jordan. Kareem, Larry, Magic, Oscar, and Jerry's best efficiencies were on par with Mike's (1.25-ish), but they couldn't use as many possessions while doing it (26-28% at best). At the other end of the spectrum, Kobe out-usaged even Jordan, but his peak efficiency appears to have only been 1.17. I defy you to find anyone in NBA history who was able to maintain such a high efficiency while taking on such an offensive responsibility. (Hint: there is no player like that other than Jordan -- although Wilt is close). Offensively, the metrics don't lie... MJ is the best ever.

    Defensively, it's always a more subjective question. DRtg likes Jordan but tends to favor big men above all else, and DPA says MJ's impact was good but not great... But at the other end of the spectrum, you have a 9-time 1st-team All-D selection and former Defensive Player of the Year. I can't say the evidence is as overwhelming in Jordan's favor when you factor in defense, but he still had by far the best career SPM ever:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=1813

    To summarize, there's a lot of evidence that Jordan is the best player ever. Obviously there will never be definitive answer, but I can feel comfortable saying that the consensus of the metrics is that Jordan is the GOAT.

  89. Daniel Song Says:

    One thing is for certain: the 2011 Cleveland Cavaliers won't win 55 games.

    One has to wonder how many championships Cleveland would have won in Lebron's first seven seasons if they possessed a collection of players that was capable of winning 55 games without Lebron. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be 0...

  90. Tamas Says:

    Dear All.
    I've enjoyed reading all to posts and I would like to let you remind you all that Toni Kukoc was one of the best if not the BEST European player of his era. I was still living in Europe back then and had the chance to see him playing week after week. He was phenomenal back then. I have no idea how he got to the Bulls but I am sure he was a steal and a great addition to that team.
    I would have a question though. How many championships ( in a row) this new Heat team needs to win to even consider them as the BEST NBA TEAM ever? In my opinion the NBA is on a higher level than it was 15 years ago. I mean there are more teams that we can consider elite teams than 15-20 years ago. That being said if the Heat would win 4-6 rings in the next 5-7 years and let's say LBJ will be the best player of this new Dynasty can he say that I am the BEST player of the BEST team EVER? I think that would be enough for him as far as his Legacy concerned. By the way this is a great blog and I am happy to find it.

  91. eeenok Says:

    it can't be emphasised enough that jordan and bird were essentially friendless (sir charles was maybe the closest to being jordan's friend, and i would characterize that as more of a "partner in crime").

    the important thing this illustrates is that, as i see it, NBA players are just flat out more friendly than they were in the 80s and 90s, and statistically you'll have friendships occasionally having key influences on the league. maybe some people think nastiness is admirably manly, but i like to think the league has matured

  92. tjslam Says:

    To those who say that Jordan wouldn't have done what LeBron just did: MJ doesn't say that. He didn't consider it in his time because he saw them (Magic, Bird, his pals Ewing and Barkley) as rivals and wanted to beat them. But he doesn't say that he wouldn't do what James did if HE was in LBJ's position. He even says that it's NOT a bad thing and that it's an opportunity and times are different.

    To those who say that Jordan says/implies that he did it alone: He obviously doesn't say so and his hypothetical question to Barkley was about the Chuckwagon joining him "and Pip (Scottie Pippen)". He obviously acknowledges that he had another 'star' type player as a teammate, probably similar to Wade/Bosh "before" LBJ joined them in Miami.

    To those who say that Jordan's team was much stronger than the Cavs: isn't what made MJ and other multi-titled main men special was how they made their teammates better? Doesn't their pushing their teammates in practice get credit for molding their team too? How about their ability to rein in headcases like Rodman (MJ AND Isaiah), Artest and Stephen Jackson?

    Jordan did have a better coach and gameplay system with Phil Jackson and Tex Winter's triangle.

  93. zzz Says:

    i would compare playoffs, season is nothing, in payoffs born legends, who will remember arenas???

  94. huevonkiller Says:

    #88 I can think of some more metrics that will disagree, in the near future. He'll have the SPM crown from what I've observed but there are other advanced metrics up for grabs.

    I've always wondered how biased SPM is to offensive-minded players as well. Considering Barkley's SPM vs Duncan's (http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=1654), it makes me wonder. Defensively the Bulls didn't seem to get impacted too bad like you said.

  95. Nick Says:

    Two things:

    1) Considering Bird and Magic were both on championship teams before Jordan entered the league, and that Jordan didn't win his first title until the final year of either of their careers, in what world were they really from the same generation?

    2) In what world are Wade and Bosh equivalent to Bird and Magic? I like Wade as much as the next guy, but that's a stretch, and is Bosh even in the top 20 player today?

  96. tuvshin Says:

    Lets remember one fact that before KG moved to Boston to start a BIG-3 era KG was supposed to be arguably one of the best players in the game. But The truth had his legacy in Boston. Everyone know that. Boston was successful because of not only Pierce. KG and Ray's contribution was astronomical... And now look at the today's situation. Pierce is now called on of the best players in the history of Celtics and he is unarguably The Leader of The Big 3. Because he has defended his legacy. It used to be his team. It is now his team. It will be remembered as his team in future... Jordan is talking about it.

  97. Adrian Says:

    Im from Europe and i have been a huge NBA-Fan for the last 15 years. All i can say is that Lebron,Wade,Bosh are equivalent to Jordan/Pippen/Rodman.

    Altough they've played different styles (o.c the times where different and the playstyle) they can be put on the same Skill level. Only Player here is Bosh (good season with a 20/10 season) who is a little bit behind all of them.

    Time will tell how good the combination of Lebron/Wade/Bosh will be, but with additions like Miller i think they have really good chances of building up a dynasty in Miami.

  98. amir Says:

    And it is no secret that the mid-90's Bulls were a decent to good team even without Michael Jordan. Add a full season from Jordan to the basic composition (-Grant, +Rodman) of the '94 Bulls and you have a 72-win season. Nobody can win 72 games with a shitty team. And if MJ never retired (the first time), we're talking about a possible 8-peat.

  99. Sean Says:

    Neil says:

    To summarize, there's a lot of evidence that Jordan is the best player ever. Obviously there will never be definitive answer, but I can feel comfortable saying that the consensus of the metrics is that Jordan is the GOAT.>>>>>>>>

    Then can THAT be his repeated ad-nauseum title: 'the consensus of the metrics is that Jordan is the GOAT'??? That way we'd all know you're just looking at the metrics. (I'm teasing.) Seriously, it's not my aim to offend here, but there's more than metrics.

  100. Sean Says:

    And with the metrics. Sometimes they're not measuring, REALLY,what they get credited for measuring. It's the result of a formula. How valid is that formula? I don't want to talk in circles. I think it's most accurate to say that 'using the metrics you deem to be valid in determining such, MJ is the GOAT'. I can't argue with that.

  101. Jason J Says:

    Sean - I'm not a statistician, so I can't speak to the absolute validity of one metric or another (though it certainly is in Jordan's favor that virtually all of them rank him 1st and they measure some very different factors). I think what it comes down to is a need to assign credit beyond win-loss.

    Luc Longley for instance won a ton more games and 3 more championships playing with Jordan and Pippen and Rodman than playing with Pippen and Grant. Did Luc get better? Is Rodman that much better than Grant though he played fewer minutes? Do we credit the difference to Jordan? It's impossible to say in hindsight using only wins and losses as our determining factor. (I didn't actually look this one up - it may be very obvious that Longley made huge strides as an individual in that time period. He was just an example that sprang to mind).

    Short of going back to game footage and (assuming the view is knowledgeable and unbiased enough to do so) breaking down the actual team play, stats are really all we're left with to explain the change. Otherwise we're just positing unsubstantiated suppositions.

  102. Bill Reynolds Says:

    Very interesting post and thread. Neil, I think you correctly identify that maintaining a very strong defense was key to the Bulls success in 1994, and undoubtedly luck helped in the regular season. As others have pointed out, the Bulls were better in 1993 than their regular season record suggested -- they had quite a bit of that quality of the 00-02 Lakers of being unable to really turn it on until it counted in the playoffs.

    Pippen had a very subpar regular season in 1993 (the theory at the time was fatigue from participating in the Olympics in the summer of 1992). Look at his Win Shares from 91-95: 11.2, 12.7, 8.6, 11.2, 11.8. Just by reverting to form in 1994, he brought the Bulls several extra wins over '93.

    With respect to Jordan's supporting cast, I have always found interesting what happened AFTER the '94 season. Grant's departure by free agency was a huge blow -- really an underappreciated one even at the time. In the playoffs from 91-94, Grant had 10.0 WS and Pippen only had 8.6. When Grant left, despite Pippen's continued brilliance in 1995, the Bulls went from a .671 team (55-27) to a .523 team (34-31) prior to Jordan's return.

    34-31 translates to 43-39 over a full season. The 1995 team that was on that 43-39 pace was the same as the 1996 team, except for Jordan and Rodman. Pippen, Kukoc, Kerr, Longley, Harper, Wennington, Buechler, and Simpkins were all on the 1995 team. Other than Jordan and Rodman, no one who played 700 minutes for the Bulls in 1996 was not on the team in 1995. So we can safely say that adding Jordan and Rodman added 29 wins to the team. Rodman gets credit for a decent chunk of that -- say maybe 9 of the 29 at most. So you have to conclude that Jordan was worth at least a 20-win improvement in 1996. And also keep in mind that basically by adding Jordan (and Rodman), the 1995 team (basically a .500 team) was launched into the greatest three year run of all time, going .825 in the regular season and .776 in the playoffs.

    If that doesn't support the rating of Jordan as GOAT (keep in mind he was not even at his peak in 96-98), I don't know what does.

  103. Spree Says:

    Pippen should've been the MVP that year. He is the best defensive small forward to ever play the game, IMO. He could guard three positions at the highest possible level and could guard a fourth with some success.

    Great post!

  104. Uncle Joe Says:

    I watched almost every game of the 94 season. Pippen, Grant & Armstrong all played like they had something to prove every night. Kukoc joined the team & was probably the best player the Bulls brought off the bench in years. They played somewhat better than stats would predict, but stats don't account for experience, coaching & sheer determination to win. But, that was a playoff team without Jordan.

    If Cleveland makes the playoffs this year, it will be a surprise. James never had his Pippen in Cleveland, but Pippen would never have become the player he was if Jordan didn't beat the crap out of him in practices. Jordan's practice routines are legendary. James never showed that kind of leadership.

    I can understand James feeling like he wasn't going to get teammates good enough to get some rings, but a big reason why he never got the help he needed was staring at him in the mirror.

    Anyone who watched Jordan in his prime understands how unstoppable he was. You can analyze the stats all day, but winning games is the final measure of greatness. Winning championships is what counts when talking about GOAT.

  105. Jason J Says:

    Looking at the efficiency numbers (ORtg), Grant and Pippen were actually both quite a bit off from their '92 performance in '93 and '94 (they were virtually the same in those two seasons). With Grant it just looks like a Usage issue. He played best in 1992 when he didn't have to do as much.

  106. Anon Says:

    "James never had his Pippen in Cleveland, but Pippen would never have become the player he was if Jordan didn't beat the crap out of him in practices."

    More like, Pippen would have never become the player he was if PIPPEN didn't chose to work at it. Along with other things such as talent and genetics.

  107. Daniel Song Says:

    As good as Jordan was, it IS possible to give him too much credit.

    Is he the greatest winner ever? No, Bill Russell was. The Celtics won 11 championships in his 13 seasons, and he was also one of the leaders at University of San Francisco (!) where they won 2 championships, including a long winning streak.

    Is Jordan the greatest defensive player ever? Not by a long shot. He was excellent, but he was the second or third best defensive player on his own team.

    Is Jordan the greatest offensive player ever? Somewhat debatable. One could also argue that his high usage rate prevented other players on his team from fully blossoming and did not necessarily increase the offensive efficiency of his entire team. This was an issue throughout his career, despite his great numbers. This was also one of the reasons why the Bad Boy Pistons took the Bulls down before they finally got old.

    Did Jordan take a below-average Chicago Bulls squad and impose his will to win 6 championships in 8 seasons? That is absolutely ludicrous. We've already proven that to be false.

    Should the Houston Rockets' championships be marked with an asterisk because Jordan didn't play in '94 and missed much of the '95 season? Would the Bulls have won 8 championships in a row if Jordan hadn't retired after '93? Come on, this is a silly argument. You guys should know better than that.

    Was Jordan a leading contributor in one of the greatest dynasties of all time? Did he provide us with plenty of memorable moments? Was he a great winner, contributor, and worldwide ambassador to the game? Will he always be remembered as one of the legends of the game? Yes! And I would prefer to leave it at that, instead of having to compare him with dead people, people who are actually playing in the league right now, or people who are playing in the league after Jordan is dead.

  108. Herm Says:

    The fact that advanced stats suggest Gasol might be better than Kobe is a good reason to discount what advanced stats tell us. How can anyone seriously think that? The problem with looking at advanced stats is that they ignore how statistical production is affected by teammates and stategy (at least ones that measure pure production as opposed to differentials, tho every advanced stat has its issues). For example, just playing with a legit post option in Gasol changes things dramatically. Kobe doesn't drive and dish, he hands the ball to Gasol and doesn't necessarily get an assit. He doesn't get as many shots in the paint because he has bigs that get those interior shots, which changes shot mix and thus shooting %. Look at Kobe's numbers when Gasol was out early last season, as the primary post option, he was looking more efficient than ever even at this age. Not to mention it's silly to make overall comparisons with rebounds since Lebron plays at PF at times and should be expected to get more rebounds than a shooting guard anyway, no less a guard that plays with 3 seven footers that dominate the glass.

    Point being that statistical production and or efficiency may be evidence of quality in certain respects, but it certainly doesn't establish who is better in a definitive way. Also, Kobe had a pretty good series against the C's, it was game 7 that skewed his shooting % so far down.

  109. Daniel Song Says:

    Here's another point you might want to look at:

    In 2006-2007, the Miami Heat made an unsuccessful attempt at defending their title. Much of it was due to injury problems, as Wade and O'Neal both missed significant time. The Heat had a rather lackluster record despite Wade's other-worldly advanced stats on a championship squad.

    It was interesting to see what happened when the stars went down. When O'Neal went down, Wade's advanced stats skyrocketed while his teammates' advanced stats plummeted. Miami had a rather poor record when O'Neal was hurt. When Wade went down, all of those bums with horrid advanced stats magically got better, and Miami managed to win at their usual rate.

    In addition, it seemed obvious that Miami wasn't getting the same calls they were in the '06 playoffs. They went from winning the championship to losing by 27 at home in their first regular season home game to a Bulls squad they had defeated in the previous season's playoffs. And in the playoffs, Wade, despite playing his usual game, just could not muster the 20 free throws per game he had managed against Dallas. The Heat got swept out in the first round, and haven't made it past the first round since.

    This was when I started to have some serious questions about the validity of some of these advanced stats. I understand that Wade, Lebron, Garnett, Kobe, Howard, etc. are great players. But can you measure HOW great they are simply by comparing their relative advanced stats? Based on what I've seen, no.

    This is not to say that Gasol isn't a very good player. He is, and I'm glad he's on the Lakers (I'm a Lakers fan). We all know that Kobe is the more talented and accomplished player, but I'm just glad that Gasol played a big part in the Lakers' championship. After all, this is a TEAM game, and team performance is what counts.

  110. Neil Paine Says:

    What advanced stat are you talking about? PER?

  111. TheBulge Says:

    "Not to mention it's silly to make overall comparisons with rebounds since Lebron plays at PF at times and should be expected to get more rebounds than a shooting guard anyway, no less a guard that plays with 3 seven footers that dominate the glass."

    A. They are both wings. That argument is nonsense.
    B. Kobe has never been a great rebounder. Even when he was playing with terrible teams.
    C. Stop

  112. TheBulge Says:

    "Also, Kobe had a pretty good series against the C's, it was game 7 that skewed his shooting % so far down."

    He was shooting about 43% before the game. And guess what, every game counts. He did not play well.

  113. Daniel Song Says:

    Neil,

    I looked at the advanced stats published by ESPN and 82games.com.

    I think ESPN uses PER while 82games.com uses SPM. They both told the same story.

    Advanced stats can be useful at times and sometimes they are good for a chuckle. There was one (extremely flawed) metric that claimed that Adam Dunn was costing his team 30 runs a year with his fielding at first base.

    In any case I think it's pretty clear that the 1994 Chicago Bulls won 55 games without Michael Jordan because they were a good team. With Michael Jordan, they were a great team and won several championships. The advanced stats only serve to confirm what we already know.

  114. Neil Paine Says:

    ESPN does use PER, but 82games does not use SPM; they use a combination of on/off-court raw plus minus and PER differential (called the Roland Rating). Suffice to say, there are many other, better advanced stats than those.

  115. Jason J Says:

    #114 - That's just like your opinion, man.

  116. Gil Meriken Says:

    The team is a piece of soft taffy.

    The players are the ingredients.

    Trying to evaluate the individuals' contributions to the team is like pulling apart that taffy.

  117. Neil Paine Says:

    Gee Gil, if you feel that way, you may be at the wrong site...

  118. Jason J Says:

    I admit this is kinda off-topic, completely unnecessary, and a BS argument, but it's also something I never looked up before:

    The 1995 Bulls won games at a 62 win pace after Jordan re-joined (13 of 17).

    Granted that's a small sample and there are a million unfactored variables that make it less than an precise, it stills seems much more apples to apples accurate than comparing the 1993 & 1994 teams which had massive changes in personnel (minus Jordan + five new serious rotation players in Kerr, Kukoc, Wennington, Longley, Myers) and a full offseason for the coaching staff to reorganize the offense and defense (no more pressing and trapping, less leaking out by the guards for fastbreaks, much more conservative defensive rebounding).

    Genuinely the only difference that took place between the 1995 team that was on pace to win 43 games was Michael Jordan replacing Pete Myers. 62 - 43 = 19 wins added... as Jordan's annual Win Share generally fell in range between 17 - 20, that makes sense actually.

  119. Daniel Song Says:

    I think Gil pretty much hit the nail on the head. Numbers can be useful and all, but they all depend on context. Without a good understanding of the underlying factors, it's very easy to misinterpret the numbers.

    The key to good sabermetrics is to not only come up with advanced statistics, but also determine their limitations and find practical ways to make use of them. What I've found is that advanced numbers can help you isolate nuggets of information, and re-examine so-called "conventional wisdom". What it does NOT do is overturn decades of conventional wisdom or render non-numerical analysis useless.

    When it comes to the Bulls, the numbers pretty much support what we already know. There is one more thing I am interested in, though: did the Bulls develop hidden strategies, or develop new wrinkles in their offensive and defensive schemes that allowed them to be that much better once Jordan returned? Is it possible that playing without Jordan helped the other players to blossom and make greater contributions going forward? And is there a way to quantify this? I'm all ears...

  120. Basharat Ahmed Says:

    I love this breakdown, especially as a Chicagoan. I'm always bringing up how good the '93-'94 Bulls were w/o the best player in the history of the game in his prime. Among many other factors that you point out, it shows just how good Scottie Pippen really was. Kobe hasn't had a comparable teammate since Shaq, seeing how balanced Scottie's all-around skill level was and his unmatched perimeter defense.

    But I think you've missed the point of MJ's comments, as most people seem to have done, and are criticizing him (let's face it that's what this is, a criticism) unfairly. Michael can be a dick, granted, but he didn't say anything about having no help or doing it on your own. His statement was showing a comparable example to what LeBron did, that being joining one or more arguable equal talents who were previously rivals. And with all participants still arguably within the prime of their careers. Michael, to my knowledge, never criticized Kobe for having Pau or even Malone for having Stockton. Those are not comparable situations because in one case the two players cannot possibly be considered near-equal talents/rivals and in the other situation they were teammates since before success/super-stardom.

    Jordan isn't saying he never wanted help, he's saying he didn't want help from his principal rivals in the NBA.

  121. Daniel Song Says:

    All Bulls fans should be proud of just how good the Bulls were in Jordan's absence, and the promise that their current team has shown. It's ultimately about the team, not the player.

    Even if the Bulls had won the Championship in '94 I don't think it takes away from Jordan's greatness. Different year, different league. We all know what he did when he was on the court. That should speak for itself.

    It's not like people are piling on Wayne Gretzky because the Edmonton Oilers won a Stanley Cup after he left. Or George Mikan because Minneapolis won the title without him. Or Elgin Baylor because the Lakers won 69 games after he got hurt and won the title. I fail to see how acknowledging that the Bulls were a good team takes away from Michael's legacy.

  122. Gil Meriken Says:

    117.

    I am at basketball-reference.com/blog, am I not?

    I assume you reference basketball here! I would like to join in the discussion!

  123. Ryan. Says:

    Daniel Song, you are in the wrong place for discussion. We're not here to discuss the validity of stats, we're here to actually put them to use. I believe you must be Khandor under a different guise (sports betting, yeah, right).

    You're better off following David Friedman's blog at 20secondtimeout, as you're far more aligned with his mindset.

  124. Daniel Song Says:

    Ryan, thank you for the recommendation.

    David Friedman's analysis is nothing short of outstanding. Though he understands the statistics and makes use of them, he has a good understanding of the finer points of the game and the factors that go beyond the numbers.

    You have a great point when it comes to making use of the statistics. You have to know HOW valid and useful they are, in order to make the best use out of them. In statistics this is called "credibility" and it tells you how much weight to put into the numbers.

    Assigning 100% validity to the statistics - no matter how sophisticated - is always wrong, and I'm sure you knew that already. On the other hand, it's probably greater than 0%. Knowing how to interpret and use the numbers is actually much more important than generating good numbers, in my experience. It's analogous to practicing how to drive by actually going on the road, opposed to poring over the DMV Driver's Handbook.

    Best wishes.

  125. john marzan Says:

    that team was about to collapse in 1995 before jordan came to the rescue. Remember, a team can sometimes remain competitive without it's key player eg The Suns in 2006.

  126. Oskar Says:

    A couple things:

    1) The 1993 Bulls were handicapped by injuries. Bill Cartwright and John Paxson were out for multiple games, Jordan had a wrist injury and foot problems I believe.
    2) Jordan and Pippen were pretty much tired, both mentally and physically due to 20 months of basketball at the highest level (91/92 through June '93).
    3) The team was fatigued. Everyone talked about how much they loathed the regular season, how everyone was simply waiting for the playoffs to start. Grant, Pippen and Jordan especially.
    4) After Jordan's retirement, everyone on that team was highly motivated by default, because they had to prove to the world that they weren't just a bunch of scrubs who rode Jordan's coattails to championships. Pippen above all, because he was the new leader of that team.
    5) New faces. Tony Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Bill Wennigton, Luc Longley. All part of Chicago's second 3-peat team.
    6) In 94/95 the Pippen-led Bulls looked very mediocre and yearned for a Jordan Comeback.

    So there you have it. Everything came together for the 93/94 Bulls team. It was a fluke.

  127. Sean Says:

    # 119.

    I have wondered myself if the 13-4 regular season mark the Bulls had with Jordan's return in 1995 was partly made possible because Jordan's ROLE was perhaps a bit different than in the past---eg, perhaps because HE was the 'new guy', HE had to fit into what THEY already had (more than normally)... and that this might actually have benefitted the TEAM.

  128. Sean Says:

    Daniel Song says:

    What I've found is that advanced numbers can help you isolate nuggets of information, and re-examine so-called "conventional wisdom". What it does NOT do is overturn decades of conventional wisdom or render non-numerical analysis useless.>>>>>>>>

    YUP.

  129. Sean Says:

    #115

    No... there are advanced stats that support that there are advanced stats that are better than those advanced stats. Metrics don't lie, though we may certainly mis-use the crap out of them.

  130. Sean Says:

    Ryan says:

    Daniel Song, you are in the wrong place for discussion. We're not here to discuss the validity of stats, we're here to actually put them to use.>>>>>>>>

    Yeeesh. Maybe I'M in the wrong place. I'm all for using stats. That's why I love this site---I just wish to use them responsibly and keep myself from overstating what their formulas are really saying is fact.

  131. Sean Says:

    Hard to believe that the 92-93 Bulls, with Jordan---the most competitive man in the world---would be coasting/ going through the motions at any point. I can't buy that as a reason the '93 Bulls won 'only' 57 games.

    Injuries, fatigue, to me, yes------those are better possibilities.

  132. Sean Says:

    Daniel Song-----for what it's worth, you're right on the money, brother....

  133. Jason J Says:

    #127 - I actually thought Jordan stood out TOO much on that 1995 team. They did a lot of watching him play one on one. Hence 55 points against NY in his first handful of games back. Phil worked out how to incorporate all the new pieces in the summer and after a training camp with everyone together, they came back stronger than ever in 1996.

    #131 - I agree. I think it was physical and mental fatigue more than anything. I recall Halberstam's book saying that Jordan was frustrated during training camp going into 1998 because he knew how hard it was to maintain the concentration level and attention to detail for three straight championship runs, and he felt like the team wasn't getting his message. They expected to blow through to another 69 win season on sheer talent, but he was worried the mounting pressure and fatigue would bury them in the time before Pip could come back and help.

  134. Ed Says:

    Back when Jordan retired and all the gloom and doomers were speculating on not whether the Bulls would miss the playoffs but where they would end up in the lottery, I laughed at them and said that there would be a drop but not as much as they thought and they'd easily make the playoffs.

    My thoughts then were simple: the Bulls weren't as bad as people said that they were and that Phil would concentrate more on defense because they would lose some offense from Jordan but that the biggest part of Jordan's offense that they would miss would be his free throw. In my estimation, they could replace most of his scoring but they'd miss out big time on the free throws because even Pippin wasn't big on going to the line like Jordan. Face it, a lot of people thought that the Bulls were among the leaders in shooting free throws but they were actually one of the worst and they got even worse when Jordan retired.

    Another factor is that Pippin was more rested than the year because he didn't have to play in the Olympics after the Finals. Phil compensated for that by dialing back the minutes and Toni Kukoc came along and helped the offense.

    What hurt them the next year was when Grant left and they went from a Big 3 to a Big 2 to a Big 1 and what helped was when Jordan came back and gave them a Big 2 (On the other hand, Grant would turn around the fortunes of the Magic and in the ultimate irony, eliminate his old team from the playoffs). Lacking that third guy, they turned to Rodman and started a new run. Getting out of the East required a dominant PF back then and when Grant left, it tipped the scales to Orlando but when Rodman entered the fray, it tipped it back to the Bulls.

  135. Gil Meriken Says:

    123.

    "We're not here to discuss the validity of stats, we're here to actually put them to use."

    This wins the award for Unintentionally Comedic Quote of the Year.

    Let's put some stats to use, validity be damned!

  136. Sodyba Says:

    Pippen was same good like Jordan!

  137. Sean Says:

    #116

    Gil, I like your taffy reference. I agree that it would get sticky (pun intended)if you tried to pull apart soft taffy to isolate ingredient's contributions.

    HOWEVER, if you baked a cake and left out the sugar.... then you could probably say something valid about sugar's value to a cake. You just wouldn't go trying to pick out the sugar AFTER the cake was already baked to evaluate such.

  138. Sean Says:

    #133

    Yeah, J... good catch. I looked up Jordan's return in 1994 and saw that he seemed to 'jump right in', attempting 28 shots in his 1st game back.

    Although the 'double nickel' game VS the Knicks WAS the extreme (he took 37 shots in that game VS averaging---I think----about 22 in the other 16).

    I believe he averaged 39+ mpg in those 17 games (I hope I have that right), which is remarkable considering the layoff.

  139. Sean Says:

    #126

    No Grant in 1995. Can't gloss over that.

  140. Sean Says:

    #125

    From the standpoint of 'how well a team can compensate for a missing player's normal contributions'-------perhaps Amare maybe wasn't 'it's key player' (the 2005 Suns' key player)...

    I also believe that there were 3 changes to the starting 5 (and that it wasn't just Amare missing). Nash and Marion (I think) were the only 2 returning starters that were regular. We might be better served by looking at them for 'it's key player'.

  141. Sean Says:

    # 135

    Lol.

  142. boomtho Says:

    The only people still arguing about the validity of stats are you clowns. Everyone else has joined the 21st century. And we'd like you to get with the program please.

  143. Gil Meriken Says:

    142.

    The validity of individual basketball statistics, as they are currently recorded and evaluated, is still very much in question.

    While you are stuck in the 21st century, I will climb back into my time machine and progress with my 22nd century ideas.

  144. Sean Says:

    #142

    The 'shut up and get on board' sales pitch is lacking a certain charm. One comes off sounding like Rolfe from the Sound of Music (now I ask you... does ANYONE really want to sound like Rolfe from the Sound of Music?) But I digress.

    Statistics have to be scrutinized. Anyone who uses them KNOWS that. Or should. 'The validity of stats' in a general sense really isn't in question. Not by ME. Stats are figures... scores... events/ history....FACTS. They are most valid facts when presented simply. You're just reporting on what actually happened. Nobody should be anti-stats. It's usually when stats become more complex FORMULAS that invite some degree of artistic license by the developer of the formula that they really need to be scrutinized. Sometimes a developer of a formula overplays the hand of the formula, making it seem like it is a valid measure of something when that 'fact' is really in question. The added subjectivity spoils the purity of the actual numbers. The 'shut up, it IS what I say it is' sales pitch isn't going to find a buyer any faster here.

    Take 'win shares'. The definition of 'win share' as I understand it is: 'an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player'. Sounds nifty.... but is it REALLY that? REALLY?

    A formula for basketball win shares that I found was: (Points – (missed FG) – (missed FT)/2 + Reb + Ast + St + Blocks/2 – turnovers). Why do we reach the 'score' by this exact mathematical computation? Why the 'divide by 2'? The real truth is that this win shares formula is nothing more than the plugging in of numbers to arrive at a score using that specific mathelatical computation. I'd rather we leave it at that.... instead folks are pushed into buying that somehow that computation actually shows an estimate of wins contributed. C'mon. That's where it jumps the shark for me. Use the formula. It's fine. Give it a name and compare players using it-------but don't try to suggest that somehow it literally bears out the number of wins contributed by a player.

    In the NFL, they use a passer efficiency rating that is so flawed that it's painful. There is NO accountability on the part of the passer for taking a sack. The NFL counts the results of sacks in it's net TEAM passing stats----but doesn't apply them to the PASSER. As a result, a guy who wisely (and efficiently) throws a ball away gets penalized because he threw an incompletion (which adversely affects completion %, yards/ attempt, TD%, etc...)------while a QB who kills a team's possession by eating the ball for a 15 yard loss (instead of throwing it away) suffers NO penalty, because that doesn't get counted.

    That's just THIS clown's 2 cents.

  145. Sean Says:

    I have to say that I like the stark contrasts of the multiple personalities that are attributed to all Bulls not Jordan. They are represented as sloths who needed Michael to motivate them so as to bathe Jordan with perhaps a disproportionate amount of credit for the TEAM winning----then they are depicted as uber determined over-achievers who worked extremely hard when he wasn't there so as to excuse the relatively little discrepancy in wins from 1993 to 1994 and suggest that 1994 was just a fluke.

    So what is it? Were they unmotivated slobs or not?

  146. Daniel Song Says:

    Obviously they were highly motivated, talented individuals who came together and became a very good team even without Jordan. The credit goes to THEM for working on their games and playing hard every night out, and giving eventual NBA Finalists Knicks a good test in the playoffs. They had a live chance to win the Championship that season but they came up short.

    We don't need any advanced statistics to come to that conclusion, though they certainly help build our case. It is plain as day what happened and it's out there for everyone to see. What this article does very well is explain HOW these individuals were able to raise their game and perform beyond most people's expectations.

    As for Michael Jordan's legacy, we all know what he did on the court and nothing else really needs to be said. So what if the 1994 Bulls had won the championship? That doesn't mean Michael Jordan wasn't great or that he wasn't needed. His body of work speaks for itself and there's no need to speculate over the "what if's".

  147. buck foston Says:

    @TheBulge
    based on your comments, i'm guessing that bulge is for lebron. why don't you let us know when you are done ducking lebrons sick.

    the problem with using statistics as an end all for discussion is that even the official NBA stats don't tell an exact story. arguing for lebron over jordan and kobe based on stats and opined formulas like PER is a joke. lebron has great numbers, but there are just so many factors like position, playing time, competition, teammates, coaching, refs, league rules, etc to consider that it's almost impossible to directly compare two players using merely stats. ultimately, in my opinion the differences between the players is that jordan and kobe seemed to have a singular focus on winning whereas lebron has always been more about having a good time and enjoying life. lebron will remain a stat king but not much else until he starts winning championships. good luck with your talent in south beach.

  148. huevonkiller Says:

    Yes how biased of Bulge, to point out Kobe's chokejob against Boston and him getting bailed out by his teammates.... Hah yeah right, Kobe is inferior in almost every manner. He's not better in the playoffs and he didn't outplay LeBron against the Magic or Boston the past few seasons.

    Everything Bulge said was on point, Buck Foston fanatics like the one above can never explain their reasoning with logic. They just point to rings and use a team barometer as gospel, which is more ridiculous than "PER", an offensive barometer.

    Your points are ignorant because we don't just use "PER". Anyone with common sense can tell Mo Williams played poorly the past two seasons, and LeBron has the best playoff numbers in the league.

    I'm talking about basic, raw numbers that any fool can understand. Laker fans are just your typical loud-mouthed biased fans that won't be quiet, and can't string together a coherent argument. This is their defense: "He's just better, he has a ring." Weak stuff to be honest. I love how Laker fans defend his game 7 with a serious face. Lol that's hilarious to me. I'll love even more when Miami takes over.

  149. Daniel Song Says:

    Somehow lost in all of this conversation is that basketball is a team sport and that the object of the game is to win games and win championships.

    Statistics and individual contributions are important, but only in the context of how it contributes to the bigger picture. Frankly I find all of this Lebron vs. Kobe vs. Jordan talk hilarious. All I really care about is whether the Lakers win the championship. I'm sure all the Boston fans feel similarly; they were probably crestfallen over the game 7 loss instead of giving each other high fives over holding Kobe to 6-24 shooting in that game. And Bulls fans were disappointed over last season's performance and are looking forward to the next, instead of rejoicing over Kobe's poor shooting performance in Game 7 that somehow preserved Jordan's "legacy".

    As for 2011? Looks like Lakers, Celtics, Magic, and Heat will be the chief contenders. Bryant and James will probably be the premier players in the league once again. As for Michael Jordan, his job is now to rebuild the Charlotte Bobcats, not to get into feuds with Lebron or Kobe or any of the other up-and-coming stars.

  150. Daniel Song Says:

    P.S. Laker fans understand that the object is to win championships, not to have a single player on that team generate a ridiculous PER or pile up other advanced stats. You never have to make excuses for winning.

    Michael Jordan understood that better than most. Let's hope that his fans, and the fans of Lebron James, reach the same level of understanding.

  151. huevonkiller Says:

    That's not what my debate is about.

  152. Ryan. Says:

    He really doesn't seem to grasp it, at all. We all know about the game of basketball. We know everything you're saying. You don't seem to understand anything WE'RE saying, instead going around in circles with your own little rant.

    Thanks for killing what could've been a good discussion with your holier-than-thou approach. You are the greatest analyst of all time.

  153. Anon Says:

    "P.S. Laker fans understand that the object is to win championships, not to have a single player on that team generate a ridiculous PER or pile up other advanced stats."

    But guess what? What those same Laker fans fail to understand when they decide to harp on LeBron is that you're not winning SQUAT when you don't play well as a team. Oh wait...at least that's when Kobe wins. When Kobe DOESN'T win (which he did for a good 7 seasons between '02-'09) watch those same fools cry about Kobe "not having a good team" while the media talking heads proclaim players like Steve Nash the MORE valuable player.

    Let's hear it for double-standards!

  154. Anon Says:

    "Take 'win shares'. The definition of 'win share' as I understand it is: 'an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player'. Sounds nifty.... but is it REALLY that? REALLY?"

    Yes Sean, that's what it REALLY is. Based on sound research and analysis of the game (found in Basketball on Paper).

  155. Sean Says:

    #154

    Anon, thanks for the book referral. I may have to order 'Basketball on Paper'. I checked it out and was amused mildly that the author had rated his own book quite highly. (Is it REALLY an author's place to rate his own book? REALLY? LOL.)

    The title of the book, ironically, is one of the problems inherent with the belief (JMO) that wins con be derived simply by looking at a player's personal statistics in a vacuum.... 'Basketball on Paper'. I had to smile. All to often, 'things on paper' don't add up to what actually occurs.

    I don't feel qualified to really comment more on these advanced stats in specifics, though, without a more thorough understanding of them---so I have to admit that I have to temper my disdain for them at the present. Let's say I'm extremely skeptical in a general sense (I feel that the numbers are being misused to indicate something that is beyond the grasp of many of these formulas, thus producing questionable validity and / or reliability).

    I do not know of there exists more than one 'Win Share Formula', so maybe there's a better one than the one I posted in #144? I hope so, because that one looks dreadful.

    Obviously, it's useful in indicating productivity and efficiency (to a degree) of a single player (and so the results of the mathemtical computation DO give us SOME base for comparison between players)-----but it really is nothing more than: (Points – (missed FG) – (missed FT)/2 + Reb + Ast + St + Blocks/2 – turnovers). That this formula determines 'wins contributed', literally, takes a fair amount of artistic license. It's just not something I'm buying at the present.

  156. Raimundo Araujo Says:

    Great post!

    Now comparing Lebron's departure to Jordan's or making a comparission is not posible.

    Jordan walked away from the best team in the league and current champions while Lebron got away from a team that clearly had no chance to even make the conference finals. This is why the departure of Lebron James will have a bigger negative impact on the Cavs compared to the Chicago Bull's 1994 season, which by the way, was a slightly improved well coached highly motived team with Pippen leading them. Of course this is not a negative thing on Jordan's legacy as the greatest ever even if he was only the fuel to push the Bulls 5 more wins into the postseason.

    Jordan, Pippen, Bird, Magic, Malone, Barkley, etc. they all agree in their comments that back in their prime they thought differently regarding Lebron's desition.

    Now lets look at the bigger picture, 5 years from now Lebron is aiming to win at least 3 rings, go back to the cavs and win there too!

  157. Anon Says:

    "I checked it out and was amused mildly that the author had rated his own book quite highly. (Is it REALLY an author's place to rate his own book? REALLY? LOL.)"

    What does it it matter? Regardless what the author thinks of his own work, it is widely praised as an informative read in the APBRmetrics community.

    "The title of the book, ironically, is one of the problems inherent with the belief (JMO) that wins con be derived simply by looking at a player's personal statistics in a vacuum.... 'Basketball on Paper'. I had to smile. All to often, 'things on paper' don't add up to what actually occurs."

    Win shares (which by the way, doesn't use the formula you posted; it is alot more rigorous in its construction and employs reason) is simply an estimate; nothing more, nothing less. It uses empirical data and statistical methods to estimate how many wins a player contributes to his teams. And unlike people who are skeptical about the use of stats, WS and other metrics such as SPM aim for objectivity, not ridiculous and personal subjective standards of how ranks should be ranked. The authors behind the formulas don't claim they are perfect, nor do they tout them as the one "holy grail" formula that captures the game of basketball in a single number. But they are valid sources of evidence to use when evaluating player contribution.

    Dismissing them because they don't fit your personal views of "who should be where" is entirely up to you, but to argue your own views based on subjective criteria that cannot be verified is irrational.

  158. Sean Says:

    #157

    Well, I don't want to dismiss them. I want to know more about them. I AM skeptical od advanced stats... but I need to examine them more in depth on an individual basis to be fair to each one. Is the 'win shares' formula in that 'Basketball on Paper' book you referred me to? I'm glad the one I found ISN'T 'the one.

    I'm not dismissing anything because of who I THINK should be there.

    Why would you say such a thing?

    I just don't think (at the present) that you can validly estimate the # of wins contributed to a team's total by a player with a formula that plugs in personal statistics. To think you CAN...... might be irrational, frankly.

  159. Anon Says:

    "Is the 'win shares' formula in that 'Basketball on Paper' book you referred me to? I'm glad the one I found ISN'T 'the one."

    The formula is actually found on this site under the Glossary. It is based on the information that is found in "Basketball on Paper".

    "I'm not dismissing anything because of who I THINK should be there.

    Why would you say such a thing?"

    Not you per se, but alot of tend to do that in this sport - even if they're not aware of it.

    "I just don't think (at the present) that you can validly estimate the # of wins contributed to a team's total by a player with a formula that plugs in personal statistics. To think you CAN...... might be irrational, frankly."

    Not really. Obviously when you sit and watch your favorite team over the course of a season, you see that some players contribute more to their team's success than others. You can certainly show this empirically as well - players like LeBron, Wade, Dwight, Kobe, etc. are more important to their team winning games than players like Derek Fisher and Anderson Varejao. Certainly they put up their own numbers, but they're not producing in a vacuum - their numbers are directly correlated to what their teams do in a game. It's simply trying to figure out the average value that a point, offensive/defensive rebound, assist, etc. contributes to a win. In the case of adjusted +/-, it doesn't even use ANY box score stats; just point differential.

    The key is capturing all the contributions in a game and attributing the to the player accordingly. You can't do ALL of it with box score stats; and you can with APM but you have to sift through alot of the statistical "noise" associated with your team's performance. So yes, people are still working on them. But they are valuable pieces of information to have, and they're great to use together.

    And it certainly beats the childish, "ZOMG Kobe Bryant is the BEST because his scowl face just MAKES the Lakers win" line of reasoning.

  160. Sean Says:

    Anon says:

    The key is capturing all the contributions in a game and attributing the to the player accordingly. You can't do ALL of it with box score stats; and you can with APM but you have to sift through alot of the statistical "noise" associated with your team's performance. So yes, people are still working on them. But they are valuable pieces of information to have, and they're great to use together.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    This is well stated. I guess I just am focusing on the limitations of the box score, which seems to be the staple resource for this endevour. Because of these limitations---I PERSONALLY am reticent to stamp 'win shares' as valid.... NOT because the information used to create the 'scores' isn't valuable----but because it ALONE doesn't really cannot truly determine 'wins contributed' (not literally). It's like a misnomer to me and instead of me seeing it as valuable, objective data----I frown at the attempt to then push the results to mean more than they do (actual number of team wins contributed to). I guess I just wish we weren't overreaching with what is otherwise VERY telling data.

    I think I have seen the glossary here... but I recall there being some intimation that the 'WHOLE' formula was in the book you directed me to (Basketball on Paper) and NOT fully displayed in the glossary here (which disapppinted me).

    What I'm looking for is the formula in black and white that can be used to transfer raw data from a box score to one's 'win share' figure.

  161. Sean Says:

    And BTW, Anon... Thank you for your help you've already provided in this instance.

  162. Anon Says:

    ^^^No problem at all Sean.

    Regarding win shares, it certainly has the same limitations as all box score stats do (PER, SPM, etc.) But what it does is give you the most important aspects that go towards winning games, and over a large sample size (like the course of the season) those aspects dominate the "little things" that don't take place as often. Most of what is essential on offense is tracked by the box sore anyway - and even on defense, which obviously is hard to track in the box score (and also even by watching the games; assigning proper credit for defensive stops to players isn't clear-cut and can certainly differ depending on whom you talk to), finding defensive win shares over a large sample gives you a good idea of "who's who" defensively. It's not perfect (it misses on some guys like Joe Dumars), but then again that's not what the metric IS, anyway. That's why it's an estimate.

    And once again, I'll take imperfect numbers over subjective criteria that can't be measured at all.

  163. Sean Says:

    #162

    I hear ya. Though, using the 'win shares' formula as a measure of actual wins contributed (literally) invites subjectivity of it's own.

  164. Jimmy Says:

    It looks like Lebron made the right decision. Look at Cavs now.. They're pathetic. Gone from the best team in the league to the worst in just less than half season.

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