The Big Fundamental Vs. The Mailman: a Myth Dispelled

Karl Malone and Tim Duncan were not only two of the best Power Fowards during recent history, they should easily go down in history as two of the best NBA players of All-Time. 

Although both were very well rounded players, Malone was a scoring machine, while Duncan excelled on defense.

Each of these big-men where the focal point of their respective teams through most of their careers, and were surrounded by other stars and key roll players.

Both men played 19 seasons. Malone’s teams were involved in the playoffs every year, while Duncan’s teams only missed one.

Although their careers did intersect momentarily, they played most of their games in completely different eras.

In the 80’s and 90’s teams were stacked with massive post players known for their defensive ability.

During the 00’s and 10’s front courts began to evolve into softer, more versatile players who could shoot from the outside.

In an era where analysts and fans instantly grant greatness to the player with the most trophies and awards, it would appear that there is a clear cut winner, but let’s take a closer look at the stats and make a more educated decision.

            Awards and Achievements

NBA Championships:

Duncan: 5

Malone: 0

All-Star Games

Duncan: 15

Malone: 14

Season MVP

Duncan: 2

Malone: 2

Finals MVP

Duncan: 3

Malone: 0

All-NBA 1st Team

Duncan: 10

Malone: 11

All NBA Teams

Duncan: 15

Malone: 14

All-Defensive 1st Team

Duncan: 8

Malone: 3

All-Defensive Team

Duncan: 15

Malone: 4

Rookie of the Year

Duncan: 1

Malone: 0

In this section, it’s clear that Duncan is the more decorated and acknowledge player by a decent margin.


                      

                              Stats

Points Per Game

Duncan: 19.0

Malone: 25.0

Rebounds Per Game

Duncan: 10.8

Malone: 10.1

Assists Per Game

Duncan: 3.0

Malone: 3.6

Steals Per Game

Duncan: 0.7

Malone: 1.4

Blocks Per Game

Duncan: 2.2

Malone: 0.8

Total Points

Duncan: 26,496

Malone: 36,928

Malone was clearly the more dominant player all around, as shown most emphatically by the fact that he outscored Duncan by over 10,500 points. He accomplished this feat with superior       

              Shooting Percentages

FG %

Duncan: .506

Malone: .516

3-Point %

Duncan: .179

Malone: .274

Free Throw %

Duncan: .696

Malone: .742

As far as the game goes, the only two stats that Duncan had an edge in, were rebounding and blocked shots. The two players were almost even in rebounds. So the only area where Duncan was dominant was blocked shots. 

Malone was a better inside and outside shooter, a better passer, pickpocket, and extremely more prolific as ascorer.It’s very clear that Malone was way better statistically on the court. 

So that leaves the question as to why Duncan was able to win more championships, and why he was given more honors?

 

There are only three reasonable options; Either the competition wasn’t as tough in Duncan’s era, he was surrounded by better talent, or a mixture of both.

Sure Duncan won more titles, but as far as which big man performed better on the court, Malone is far and away the better player. 

Once again showing that rings are in no way a proper reflection of greatness.

Thon Maker: International Man of Mystery, Lands in Milwaukee with 10th Overall Selection 

The Bucks love young, tall, versatile, athletic players, with ridiculous wingspans. They get just that with the Sudanese born world traveler.

The biggest question critics are asking  about Maker, is whether or not the 7-foot-1, 216 pounder, who measures 7,3″ from fingertip to fingertip, is big and strong enough to compete with NBA sized post players?

 After watching him consistently drain shots from behind the arc, spin past hapless opponents, slice to the basket, thread passes between defenders legs, and finish with explosive dunks, it seems, what they should be asking,  is whether or not their is anyone in the league who is athletic enough to keep up with him.  

He’s raw, and somewhat untested, but he has no lack of world experience. He escaped a war torn country as a child and used determination and witt to hop around the globe on his way to Milwaukee.

The Bucks have built a team of players without a true position, who use their remarkable skills to define themselves. They were looking for a post player who could add to that, and now they have him.

“He can stretch the floor right now. Give him a little time to gain some strength and we think he has the chance to be a special player.” Bucks General Manager, John Hammond, said about Maker. “He’s got some steps to go through, but if you watch him he’s really multidimensional. His experience is limited but he has a great feel of the game.”

With all the talent the Bucks currently have on their roster, it’s easy for fans to get caught up in a win now mentality. The  team has promised to “Own the Future” and it looks like that is what they continue to plan to do.

When asked what position Maker will play, Hammond answered, “We’re going to figure it out. We have a vision.”

It hard to know exactly what the Bucks have up their sleeve for this tremendously talented player, but that will just add to the excitement as the mystery continues to unfold.

Milwaukee Bucks: Finding the Future

After seeing vast improvement, and making the playoffs last season, the Bucks ended the year with a few question marks, but very high expectations. The offseason is still young and they’ve already had great news at all five positions this season.

  • The number 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, power forward Jabari Parker, is making a steady recovering from last year’s season ending ACL injury. After somewhat of a slow start to last season, the young forward started to find his grove and was really proving his value to the team. The general consensus was that the 12.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game he was averaging, would make him the easy choice for Rookie of the Year.  He is an integral part of this young, athletic team the Bucks are putting together, and his ability to become a leader in the locker room could be a major driving force.
  • With Jason Kidd as their Head Coach, point guard is a very important position on this team. That may explain why they were wiling to give up a 1st and 2nd round pick for the 6’6 Greivis Vasquez, who most consider to be a back up on this team. The veteran from Venezuela who has averaged 9.2 ppg and 4.9 apg over his career, seems to be a great fit for the Bucks. He led the league in 2012-2013 with 9 apg, and his 3.79 3 point percentage from last year fills an immediate need for the young Bucks  who struggled with shooting last year. He can also play the two, and adds immediate depth and veteran leadership to this team who seems poised to make another playoff run.
  • The Bucks may have gotten the steal of this year’s draft, by selecting shooting guard Rashad Vaughn with the 17th overall pick. At just 18 years old he is somewhat raw and projects to be the second youngest player in the league next year. According to experts he is not a project player but could improve his shot selection, passing and defense. Fortunately for him those are all areas where Jason Kidd’s players succeeded last year. The area where this kid doesn’t lack at all is as a scorer and shooter. As a freshman he averaged over 22 ppg game which is something only 29 other players have done in the last 15 years, and shot 38.4 % from beyond the arc. This makes him a wonderful fit for the Bucks who seem to want groom him as a sharp shooter off the bench. Vaugh is used to being one of the top players in his age class, and if he can bring a bit of that swagger to the big leagues, he could be a vital cog in this team moving forward.
  • There seemed to be no certainty that the Bucks would resign Khris Middleton, their best player as the season ended last year. However, the young small forward agreed to a 5 year $70 million deal on the opening day of free agency. With that deal, Milwaukee locked up the rising star who started to find his grove after  Jabari Parker went down with his injury, and led the team into the playoffs when Brandon Knight was traded at the deadline. Middleton averaged 13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg and  1.5 steals per game, but those numbers don’t come close to explaining the impact he had as he took the team on his shoulders at the end of the year. “Money” Middleton has become the guy the team trusts to take the big shot, and should be the cornerstone this young team is built upon.
  • Center was the biggest position of need for the Bucks last year. The fans spent the last part of the season fantasizing about what big name would be signed, and management seemed eager to fill the spot with any of the big men available. As things turned out, Greg Monroe seems to be a better fit than anyone could have hoped for as he agreed to terms with Milwaukee on the second day of free agency. Not only does he give the Bucks a huge presence in the post, but he seems to tie together all the loose pieces. He struggles at defense, which is one of the team’s strengths, but brings rebounding and post scoring, which has been a glaring need. He truly could be the missing piece this team needs to be a serious contender.

There is no doubt this team is coming into their own under Jason Kidd. Not only is he extremely adept at teaching the players his schemes, but he has also improved their defense, passing, and overall knowledge of the game, and is displaying genius in building a team around player chemistry and talent. The players he chooses aren’t always pulled from the top of the list, but they are players best suited to his team. 

Without seeing this team in live action on the court, it may be too early to get overly excited. However, it’s hard not to be hopeful at the way this is all coming together. My best guess for Milawaukee, after watching the hard work the front office has put in, is that the future is now.