The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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This is a geeky sports question, but in thinking about who is the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in the NBA, it is always hard to compare guards with centers. So my idea is a 5 on 5 clone game: Clone any player and have him play 5 on 5 against any other player in history. Who wins?

What this does is bring versatility into the equation. Shaquille O'Neil and Spud Webb wash out pretty early. How many different ways can you help a team? Can you guard a big man or a small man? Can you score over a small man and drive around a big man? How well can you perform at all 5 positions?

The other weird intangible: How well would they play together? Michael Jordan could be very unforgiving of mistakes. Is that always a plus when you have five Michael Jordans on the floor? Would Kobe Bryant ever pass to himself?

To my way of thinking, it is probably the tallest player who can still remain versatile. You want a smart, quick player with good footwork. So you think MJ and LeBron, maybe Kevin Durant. Tim Duncan should actually be an interesting choice. I still remember when Magic Johnson was a rookie guard, he scored 40 points playing CENTER (Kareem was out with a migraine) to win the championship against Julius Erving's 76'ers.

Put a gun to my head and I still say Michael Jordan wins. But please, be a contrarian and post your own candidate.
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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I kinda stopped caring about the NBA after the players strike in the late 90s so I only superficially pay attention these days. But it's an interesting hypothetical. I think you're right that the best candidate would need to be the most versatile big man who can get the ball in others hands but also have weapons when it's in his. My old school interests would be to see a tournament with Jordan, Magic, the Admiral, LaBron, Curry and Duncan for sure with Kyrie, Duncan, and maybe Kobe and Durrant as well, and play it out. Maybe get whatever the latest most realistic XBox game is and customize the clone teams and just see. Best of 5 to flatten out for best player rather than a one-off win knocking out someone and see?

What's really interesting to me is the idea that the great players tended to make everyone around them better, too. The late 80s Lakers starting 5 were legendary. The Bulls were unstoppable. Yet many of those players would play in other lineups and be pretty good but not exactly the same. So what happens to a team of Jordans? Magics? Steph Curry's? James's? Are 5 LaBrons better than 6 normal players or do they start to get in each other's way and some all stars end up worse for being one among equals? For whatever reason I think Magic, Curry and Tim Duncan stike me as players whose abilities would be maximized by having 4 equals on the court while many of the other names might not. And maybe that includes Jordan as I think at least 2 Jordans would be against 2 Jordans in the locker room. Even if they are all pros, there isn't a lot of give when they are playing 5 Magic Johnson's or LaBron James's.
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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Five John Stockton's would win against five Pistol Pete Maravich's due to a willingness to pass the ball.

Five Shaquille O'Neal's would win over five Kareem Abdul Jabbar's provided the ref did not toss them out for slugging the opposing players.
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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5 Stocktons would beat 5 Shaqs. It would be a game of constant steals and sending Shaq to the line. It might even be a blow out.

A more entertaining game would be 5 Malones v 6 Shaqs. It might need it's own hospital wing attached to the court, though.
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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I'd take 5 Steph Curry's. The floor spacing they would create would be unguardable and 3 points, after all, is worth 1.5 times as much as 2 points.

Their defense in the paint would be atrocious, but a few harassing stops and the efficiency of draining 3's all day over 2's would more than neutralize that problem.

5 Shaq's would be murdered by 5 Steph Curry's. Even if Hack-a-Shaq were banned, they could just let him have two points every single trip and still pull away by hitting open three's all day. 5 Shaq's would not be able to stop a Steph Curry from getting wide open every single trip. They'd get above 70% no problem.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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If we are doing 90's hand-check rules, I'd go to 5 Kevin Garnett's. A defensive nightmare for any team and good enough in all other facets of the game at all points on the floor to keep pace.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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EAllusion wrote:I'd take 5 Steph Curry's. The floor spacing they would create would be unguardable and 3 points, after all, is worth 1.5 times as much as 2 points.

Their defense in the paint would be atrocious, but a few harassing stops and the efficiency of draining 3's all day over 2's would more than neutralize that problem.

5 Shaq's would be murdered by 5 Steph Curry's. Even if Hack-a-Shaq were banned, they could just let him have two points every single trip and still pull away by hitting open three's all day. 5 Shaq's would not be able to stop a Steph Curry from getting wide open every single trip. They'd get above 70% no problem.


Problem is, for every 11 three point shots Steph throws up, he makes only 4 of them. Are five Stephs likely to get the rebounds from those 7 missed shots?

If Shaq is guaranteed 2 point pass-dunks every time to himself then I would think the odds definitely work in his favor.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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The Jordan/Curry match up would probably be the most interesting, or at least tied with the Jordan/James match up.

I have a harder time seeing Curry beating Jordan, though.

The thing about the Shaqs v Currys is I can't see 5 Shaqs hustling back faster than 5 Currys so coaching starts to come into this. Would Shaq figure out a system of rotating around between drives without all 5 ending up thinking it's their turn to rest and wait for the cherry pick pass?
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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MeDotOrg wrote:This is a geeky sports question, but in thinking about who is the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in the NBA, it is always hard to compare guards with centers. So my idea is a 5 on 5 clone game: Clone any player and have him play 5 on 5 against any other player in history. Who wins?

What this does is bring versatility into the equation. Shaquille O'Neil and Spud Webb wash out pretty early. How many different ways can you help a team? Can you guard a big man or a small man? Can you score over a small man and drive around a big man? How well can you perform at all 5 positions?

The other weird intangible: How well would they play together? Michael Jordan could be very unforgiving of mistakes. Is that always a plus when you have five Michael Jordans on the floor? Would Kobe Bryant ever pass to himself?

To my way of thinking, it is probably the tallest player who can still remain versatile. You want a smart, quick player with good footwork. So you think MJ and LeBron, maybe Kevin Durant. Tim Duncan should actually be an interesting choice. I still remember when Magic Johnson was a rookie guard, he scored 40 points playing CENTER (Kareem was out with a migraine) to win the championship against Julius Erving's 76'ers.

Put a gun to my head and I still say Michael Jordan wins. But please, be a contrarian and post your own candidate.


I think 5 Lebron's would defeat 5 Jordan's...it would be fun, or Magic against either.

One that would be crazy fun to watch would be 5 Allen Iverson's against 5 Kyrie Irving's...this would be epic and the most exciting match up I can think of. There would be a few broken ankles from cross overs in this game.

How about 5 Pistol Pete's against 5 Jason Williams?

Maybe the most powerful and bloody, might be 5 Karl Malone's, against 5 Charles Barkley's

Put a gun to my head, I would take Labron against the field.
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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Kevin Graham wrote:
Problem is, for every 11 three point shots Steph throws up, he makes only 4 of them. Are five Stephs likely to get the rebounds from those 7 missed shots?


That's what Steph makes in NBA games with defenses capable of guarding 1 Steph Curry. In shooting practice, Curry can hit over 90% of his shots. He's automatic. You put 4 more Curry's on the floor and have a relatively lumbering center guard each of them, and every single possession is an open shot for a Curry. It's just shooting practice for him. It doesn't matter if Shaq scores every single trip. Once Curry is burying 75% of his shooting practice gimmes, he'll just pull away. 2.25 > 2.

Just one Steph Curry causes NBA teams to bend the entire geometry of the defense when he's on the court. His mere presence causes the whole floor to shift to keep him honest. He's the most dynamic offensive threat in the league, but what he's doing to break defenses isn't as obvious as a James Harden taking a person one on one.

4 other players just like him on the floor would be nigh unguardable for even elite defenses. You can pass a ball faster than a person can run. And Curry's range is so deep that they can spread the floor deep and make it impossible for defenses to run down their passes. Eventually someone is getting a clean look fairly often. Against slower players? It's a wide open shot every single time.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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honorentheos wrote:What's really interesting to me is the idea that the great players tended to make everyone around them better, too.

This is where someone like Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, or James Harden gets graded down. All great players, but they tend to suck the offense out of other players when they have the ball.
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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I was thinking about the best 12 for the best team. Not necessarily all time greats but the best team. You might have to sit out really great player to get a team that will play together.


Here’s one that I like as a aggressive running team, that rebounds and plays defense.

Magic at the 1

Reggie Miller at the 2

Pippin at the 3

LeBron at the 4

Akeem at the 5

Bench

Bobby Jones

Rodman

Shaq

Jerry West

Isiah Thomas

Walt Frazier

Gary Payton
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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Markk wrote:Bench

Bobby Jones

Rodman

Shaq

Jerry West

Isiah Thomas

Walt Frazier

Gary Payton


So who's going to be the one to tell Shaq he's not starting? ;-)
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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I don't think a "greatest team ever assembled" can afford to have a non-scorer at any position. You want to be in a position where any ball swing to a quasi-open player feels like a certain score. A Rodman feels like a liability.

1) Steph Curry

2) Michael Jordan

3) Lebron James

4) Kevin Garnett

5) Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Bench

1) Magic Johnson

2) Scottie Pippen

3) Dirk Nowitzki

4) Kevin Durant

5) Larry Bird

6) Tim Duncan

7) John Stockton


I'd sub into the "shoot them off the floor" package the second a team doesn't field 5 players who can guard the entire court.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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MeDotOrg wrote:
Markk wrote:Bench

Bobby Jones

Rodman

Shaq

Jerry West

Isiah Thomas

Walt Frazier

Gary Payton


So who's going to be the one to tell Shaq he's not starting? ;-)


Pat Riley, Red or Pop...but not me... There is a Open Court where Shaq is upset about Nash winning 2 MVP's and he only 1, and Ernie has him on the couch as a shrink...it is so funny. I'll see if I can find it.

Yours is a great question, who would coach the 5 Jordans or the 5 Labrons?
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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I assume our best team ever assembled gets players at their peak value. Jordan is the best defender at the 2 in the history of the game. At the same time, he had a ridiculously high eFG% when he was the focal point of the entire offense. Put him on a team where you can’t cheat to him and you’re just deciding if you are willing to settle for only 2 points every trip. You don’t leave him off the team.

The biggest risk with that kind of talent is players getting lazy because it’s too easy, but that’s why you have have competitive psychos like Jordan who would murder you over a game of cards.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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EAllusion wrote:I don't think a "greatest team ever assembled" can afford to have a non-scorer at any position. You want to be in a position where any ball swing to a quasi-open player feels like a certain score. A Rodman feels like a liability.

1) Steph Curry

2) Michael Jordan

3) Lebron James

4) Kevin Garnett

5) Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Bench

1) Magic Johnson

2) Scottie Pippen

3) Dirk Nowitzki

4) Kevin Durant

5) Larry Bird

6) Tim Duncan

7) John Stockton


I'd sub into the "shoot them off the floor" package the second a team doesn't field 5 players who can guard the entire court.


Chemistry is everything...and shooters need to shoot, and there is simply not enough ball to go around. Championships are won with defense...and specifically rebounding and no turnovers. You need player to set picks, and take hits on picks. Every winning great player had studs helping them be great...except for maybe some of Labron's teams.

Your team would be great, Kareem IMO is the greatest ever, but I'm not sure they would mesh well. Every team needs a Rodman or Jones. Most every Great team has one. Whether it be the Bad Boys, Bull's, or Green with GS...Rambis and Cooper with the showtime Lakers, ML Carr with the Celtics. Great teams have great role players and Rodman and Jones are two of the best ever IMO.

If my team played your team in the 80's...Steph would be sent to the bench crying by Gary Payton...I would put Payton, or even Isiah, on him and say send him home.

Fun conversation.
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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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Gary Payton
I love it ... some love for The Glove.

While doing some research for an idea for some entertaining match-ups (I was toying with Bill Laimbeer vs. Dennis Rodman just to keep the hockey fans interested) I discovered that Laimbeer played a Sleestak on the old 'Land of the Lost' series several years before he went on to play one for the Detroit Pistons.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

Post by EAllusion »

Markk wrote:
EAllusion wrote:I don't think a "greatest team ever assembled" can afford to have a non-scorer at any position. You want to be in a position where any ball swing to a quasi-open player feels like a certain score. A Rodman feels like a liability.

1) Steph Curry

2) Michael Jordan

3) Lebron James

4) Kevin Garnett

5) Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Bench

1) Magic Johnson

2) Scottie Pippen

3) Dirk Nowitzki

4) Kevin Durant

5) Larry Bird

6) Tim Duncan

7) John Stockton


I'd sub into the "shoot them off the floor" package the second a team doesn't field 5 players who can guard the entire court.


Chemistry is everything...and shooters need to shoot, and there is simply not enough ball to go around. Championships are won with defense...and specifically rebounding and no turnovers. You need player to set picks, and take hits on picks. Every winning great player had studs helping them be great...except for maybe some of Labron's teams.

Your team would be great, Kareem IMO is the greatest ever, but I'm not sure they would mesh well. Every team needs a Rodman or Jones. Most every Great team has one. Whether it be the Bad Boys, Bull's, or Green with GS...Rambis and Cooper with the showtime Lakers, ML Carr with the Celtics. Great teams have great role players and Rodman

If my team played your team in the 80's...Steph would be sent to the bench crying by Gary Payton...I would put Payton, or even Isiah, on him and say send him home.

Fun conversation.
You don’t need to rebound the ball as much when it is always going in. That said, I put in elite rebounders and defenders at the top three positions just in case. Only unlike Rodman, they also were fantastic scorers up close and from range as well. When Rodman is on the floor on your team, I would just leave him wide open and see if he can score the % of time needed to keep pace.

Every one of my players offensively dominates your players one on one. If Gary Payton wants to stick to Curry 30 feet out, that’s fine. Then it’s 4 in 4 with 3 of my offensive players being the most unguardable people in history. How do you play help defense against that? And if I don’t like that, I can put an elite range scorer at every spot and play Spurs-ball and win with 3 point efficiency.

(Stockton is there to control pace if needed and because he cheats.)

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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Chemistry wise, I think what you want to avoid are too many player who need to be ball-dominant to function. Curry is good because he can spot up shoot as well as anyone ever. Harden isn’t because his offensive efficiency depends on him working the ball.

Players like Magic and James can be ball dominant or not depending on what the team needs.

Jordan is the only player I have who really needs the offense to flow through him at times, but that’s Ok because he’s still one of the most efficient offensive players ever to play and has a competitive spirit that would likely allow him to bend his game to the most effective sets. If he is a little too selfish, that’s the cost of the best defending shooting guard ever to lace them up. Prime Jordan shut down players like Payton like they were scrubs.

Ideally he’s just a much better Wade on this team. If Jordan gets too carried away with iso ball, pull him for the splash squad.

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Re: The Greatest NBA Player: 5 on 5 Clone Game

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EAllusion wrote:Chemistry wise, I think what you want to avoid are too many player who need to be ball-dominant to function. Curry is good because he can spot up shoot as well as anyone ever. Harden isn’t because his offensive efficiency depends on him working the ball.

Players like Magic and James can be ball dominant or not depending on what the team needs.

Jordan is the only player I have who really needs the offense to flow through him at times, but that’s Ok because he’s still one of the most efficient offensive players ever to play and has a competitive spirit that would likely allow him to bend his game to the most effective sets. If he is a little too selfish, that’s the cost of the best defending shooting guard ever to lace them up. Prime Jordan shut down players like Payton like they were scrubs.

Ideally he’s just a much better Wade on this team. If Jordan gets too carried away with iso ball, pull him for the splash squad.



Magic is 5th all time assists, cut short with the HIV virus, and James is 18th and still active...both are top five ever players. They rebound and can score when the need to, they can play defense, and both can create a shot and play all 5 positions if needed. I am not sure what you are thinking. One of Lebron's biggest criticisms has been that he gives up the ball in key situations.

Curry is a pussy, he was whining in the playoffs because they threw a box and one against him and shut him down. He can't play defense and is a two position player. On my team who is he going to guard?

Your team is a team of great players, but the team I choose, I believe, would be great team.

Payton and Jordan had epic battles, while few can guard Jordan...Payton could, as could Miller, and Rodman. He never sat him down like a scrub. No one can shut Jordan down, but these guys, aside from Dumars and a few others, were maybe the best against him, ever. I think Bobby Jones would have been equally up for the challenge. I don't know how old you are but the 82, 83 Sixers were maybe the greatest team ever, and they swept my Lakers 4/0 in the finals. Bobby Jones like always was a stud. He was all defensive team like 8 or 10 years in a row. My point is you need defense to win...period.

Steph and Reggie Miller both have a 47% career FG% Reggie actually shot over 50% 4 times, which Steph has never done, and the both shot around 39-40% from three point line. But Reggie played defense, and was 4" taller, and is arguably one of the toughest players pound for pound to ever play, his only negative is that his sister was better than him.
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