NBA Generations Top-Five Roundtable (1)

0
139

IMG_0359

At lunch tables, barbershops, and bar-stools around the world, there are always debates about the best basketball players to ever touch the hardwood.  Remember that saying, “back in my day” that your uncle uttered at family reunions? If so, then this is probably a discussion that you have had or heard multiple times.

What makes the conversation so special is that the answer is always different depending on who you talk to. Your grandfather may say Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain whereas your younger cousin may say Lebron James and Kevin Durant. The question always produces a platform for discussion and different opinions, which is great for the game. So the question comes up, who are the top five players of your generation? Players come and go, but the great ones leave an imprint on the game that fans can admire and enjoy watching. The writers at Basketball Society decided to give their opinions of the top five players that were drafted in the 80s, 90s, and after 2000.

Participants:

  • Alfonso De Falco – @FonzyDeFalco
  • Alec Walt – @AlecWalt
  • Kyle Allan – @Kallan441
  • Chris St. Jean – @CSaint3
  • John Lava – @JGBHoops

1980’s

De Falco:

Michael Jordan – ’84

David Robinson – ’87

Hakeem Olajuwon – ’84

Karl Malone – ’85

Isiah Thomas – ’81

This is an obvious choice in my opinion. Jordan won six NBA finals to go along with six finals MVP’s. He also won 5 regular season MVPs; selected 14 times as an all star. The list goes on and on but he impacted this great game of basketball on and off the court. After he graduated from Navy, David Robinson had to spend at least two years in service. When he finally stepped on the court, he dominated the court, earning multiple all NBA team honors and also defensive all team honors. Add also that he won two rings and an MVP in the 1994-1995 season. you can say the Spurs drafted another great player. A force in the paint, Olajuwon is the all time leader in blocked shots but he also was a able to score the ball easily with his ridiculous post moves. He lead the Rockets to two straight NBA Finals, winning MVP in both. Karl Malone is one of the best NBA players to never win a ring, having career averages of 25 PPG and 10 RPG. He is a two time MVP, 14 time all star and has made the all NBA team 14 times. Isiah Thomas, the original member, revitalized the Pistons franchise, winning two finals in the late 80s and bringing a new style of play to the league with the “Bad Boyz” era.

 

Walt:

Reggie Miller – ’87

Michael Jordan – ’84

Dominique Wilkins – ’82

Patrick Ewing – ’85

Hakeem Olajuwon – ’84

Reggie Miller was the best shooter out of the 80’s with Michael Jordan who is an explosive scorer who has six rings. Dominique Wilkins is a human highlight reel with multiple scoring titles. Patrick Ewing is a double-double machine next to Akeem Olajuwon who is the best rebounder of all time.

 

Allan:

Hakeem Olajuwon – ’84

Michael Jordan – ’84

Scottie Pippen – ’87

Patrick Ewing – ’85

Charles Barkley – ’84

I chose these five for many reasons, they were all drafted in the 1980s and were all the best at their positions. Olajuwon was the best center of his time, with his competition being Patrick Ewing. Wilkins is one of the best dunkers of all time. Scottie Pippen was apart of the best duo of all time with him and Jordan, but he was a great facilitator as well.

 

St. Jean:

Isiah Thomas – ’81

Michael Jordan – ’84

Charles Barkley – ’84

Hakeem Olajuwon – ’84

David Robinson – ’87

Of course, there’s no denying Michael.  Isaiah is criminally underrated with the younger generations whose judgement is clouded by front office failure.  Barkley was a force of nature and it’s kind of crazy he didn’t get a ring.  He’s underrated because of that.  Olajuwon and Robinson got their rings although Hakeem destroyed Robinson in Game 5 of the 95 Western Conference Finals. Malone was hard to leave off, but how can you put him on and not Stockton?

 

Lava:

Michael Jordan – ’84

Hakeem Olajuwon –

Isiah Thomas – ’81

Patrick Ewing – ’85

Scottie Pippen – ’87

I don’t really think any of these picks are that debatable except for Scottie Pippen at 5. Do we overrate him because he played with Jordan? It’s possible. Do we underrate him because of the idea that Jordan carried the ’90s Bulls? More likely, in my opinion.

 

1990’s

De Falco:

Kobe Bryant – ’96

Tim Duncan – ’97

Shaquille O’Neal – ’92

Allen Iverson – ’96

Kevin Garnett – ’95

Taken straight out of high school, Bryant has been with the Lakers for a long time, helping them win five championships. He also has been a 16-time all-star and also has won an MVP award in 2008. Duncan was a nice replacement for David Robinson, winning five rings (3 times named MVP), two season MVPs, and 14 all star appearances. Even with his old age, there are no signs of him slowing down. Shaquille O’Neal’s presence was definitely felt the moment he stepped on the court. His size was something new to the game. The 15 time all star won 4 rings, 3 with the Lakers and one with the Heat. Just like Malone, Allen Iverson will always be known as a player who could not win a ring. He was an 11 time all star and a 4 time scoring champion. Kevin Garnett is one of the only players that plays with so much passion on the court. Every night he comes in fearless and ready to play. It was without a deserving moment for him when he won the finals in 2008.

 

Walt:

Allen Iverson – ’96

Kobe Bryant – ’96

Dirk Nowitzki – ’98

Tim Duncan – ’97

Shaquille O’Neal – ’92

Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant are two fierce, fiery scorers. Dirk Nowitzki is smashing scoring records and is not slowing down. At the age of 38 Tim Duncan is averaging a double-double and Shaq is the biggest body the NBA has ever seen.

 

Allan:

Kobe Bryant – ’96

Shaquille O’Neal – ’92

Tim Duncan – ’97

Allen Iverson – ’96

Gary Payton – ’90

Shaq is the best center of his time. Gary Payton is the best defensive guard of his time. Allen Iverson averaged 28.1 ppg and 6 assists in the 2000s. Kobe Bryant has five NBA titles. Duncan has five titles and 3 finals mvps, and might be the best PF of all time.
 

St. Jean:

Kobe Bryant – ’96

Tim Duncan – ’97

Kevin Garnett – ’95

Shaquille O’Neal – ’92

Dirk Nowitzki – ’98

Another crop of all-timers, Shaq may have been the most dominant, the other four are models of longevity unseen in professional sports and that’s what gets Dirk, the 5th all-time leading scorer, that fifth spot over cultural icons like Iverson and McGrady.  Pour some out for Grant Hill.

 

Lava:

Tim Duncan – ’97

Kobe Bryant ‘ 96

Shaquille O’Neal – ’92

Dirk Nowitzki – ’98

Steve Nash – ’96

The number five spot here was the toughest choice of this roundtable. Allen Iverson’s 2001 season is one of the great seasons of all time; never before and never again will a 5’10 shooting guard have a season anywhere near that level. He absolutely carried a team whose second best player was either Dikembe Mutombo (acquired at the trade deadline) or Theo Ratliff (no, really, that Theo Ratliff) to a #1 seed in the East and an NBA Finals appearance.
There’s no doubt that Iverson carried that team; however, it was in one of the worst Eastern Conferences ever (much worse than the current East). Iverson’s competition in the Sixers’ 4-3 conference finals victory was Ray Allen and the Bucks. The West had four teams with better records than the Sixers, including the three real title contenders that season: the Lakers, Spurs, and Kings. The Western Conference Finals were the de facto NBA Finals that year and everyone acknowledged that at the time.
Nash was more consistent over a long period of time. His stretch with the Mavericks and Suns, while it never reached Iverson’s 2001 heights, stretched over a longer period of time. Nash made four conference finals in eight years at his peak in a stacked Western Conference, where Iverson’s only trip to the conference finals was in 2001. I’m picking this list based on the greatest during their careers, not the greatest at their peak, so I take Nash.
 
 

2000s

De Falco:

Lebron James – ’03

Kevin Durant – ’07

Dwayne Wade – ’03

Carmelo Anthony – ’03

Dwight Howard – ’04

Lebron James is one of the most prolific players to come out of high school. He undoubtedly lived up to the expectations. James, for a while, was on the list of player that may never won a ring but in 2012, he was able to finally get that monkey off his back. Kevin Durant has already accomplished so much in his career, winning an MVP award as well as winning the scoring title 4 times.  The future is still very bright of KD.  Dwayne Wade has been the face of the franchise for a long time, even when Lebron played for them. The three time champion has accomplished a lot, being a 10 time all star, 8 time all NBA team and 3 time defensive team. Carmelo Anthony may have never won a ring or ever win an all NBA first team award, but he has been a 7 time all star and has been named all NBA second and third team 6 times combined. He was also the 2013-scoring champion and has the capability of dropping 25 points a night with no problem. Early in his career, Dwight Howard was the best center in the league, dominating the paint and winning the defensive player of the year award 4 times. Truly one of the most athletic centers the game has ever seen.

 

Walt:

Chris Paul – ’05

Dwayne Wade – ’03

Lebron James – ’03

Kevin Durant – ’07

Dwight Howard – ’04

Chris Paul has been the NBA’s best floor general since being drafted out of Wake Forest. Dwayne Wade is getting older but the numbers make him look young. LeBron James is the best athlete in the world. Kevin Durant reminds me of Dominique Wilkins. Dwight Howard is 7’0” and flies like superman.

 

Allan:

Lebron James – ’03

Pau Gasol – ’01

Carmelo Anthony – ’03

Dwight Howard – ’04

Kevin Durant – ’07

Lebron is Lebron! Two titles and 4 MVP’s. Pau Gasol is a two-time champion and is just known for being a secondary punch on a successful team. Carmelo has been known as one of the best scorers of his time. Dwight Howard is the best big man drafted in the 2000s out of high school. Kevin Durant is now compared with Lebron as the best player in the NBA.

 

St. Jean:

Lebron James – ’03

Kevin Durant – ’07

Chris Paul – ’05

Dwayne Wade – ’03

Dwight Howard – ’04

These histories are still being written which makes this more of a prediction rather than reflection.  Who’s to say someone like a Westbrook or Harden couldn’t be thought of as part of this group in 5 years. Just remember how good Paul, Dwight, and Wade were in their prime though.  I’ll stick with them…for now.

 

Lava:

Lebron James – ’03

Dwayne Wade – ’03

Dwight Howard – ’04

Kevin Durant – ’07

Carmelo Anthony – ’03

Carmelo is very much in danger of falling out of the top five here with the rise of James Harden and Stephen Curry. I would also argue that Derrick Rose’s ’10-’11 season is better than any individual Anthony campaign, but we’re picking this based on careers, not single seasons.
Kevin Durant will be higher on this list in ten years once his prime has passed. I’m pretty positive he’ll pass Howard and I doubt he can pass James, but his next few seasons will determine whether he ends up ranked second or third in this discussion.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.