Re: KG vs Duncan - How would they compare if both had been on great teams for thier entire careers?
posted at 1/6/2011 8:29 AM EST
While Duncan has more championships, he has usually been on much better teams than KG. In the following post, I make the case that if both had been on equal quality teams, their is a strong likely hood that both would be considered on the same level, and that it is possible that KG may have been more highly regarded.
Both Players are 34 years old. KG has been in the league for 15 years and Duncan for 13 years.
1. In the years that KG competed as his teams primary scoring threat, KG’s numbers are better than Duncan’s numbers (These are the years before he joined the Celtics The article listed in reference "1" was written just after KG joined the Celtics.) (1,2)
This approach makes sense because when KG joined the Celtics in 2007 his role changed. His team no longer needed him to be the primary scorer. Instead the team needed him to lead by example. By sharing the ball selflessly, and letting the other stars do what they do well, everyone bought into team play. KG also helped create a defensive culture. By focusing on defense and holding everyone accountable, the Celtics became a defensive force. At this stage of his career, statistics are not important to KG, only wins.
2. In head to head competition when KG played directly against Duncan, KG’s numbers are better. (3)
3. Number of All-star starts KG 11, Duncan 11. (2)
4. Number of All-star appearances KG 13, Duncan 12. (2)
5. Their Career field goal percentage is very similar with Duncan at .508 and KG at .498. (2)
6. KG has 2 rebounding titles and 5 defensive rebounding titles, Duncan has 1 rebounding title and 1 defensive rebounding title. (2)
7. Both KG and Duncan have earned defensive first team all-NBA 9 times, but KG is the only one to be named Defensive player of the year. (2)
8. KG is more versatile than Duncan. While Duncan has played Power forward, Center and small forward, KG has played positions one through five effectively and has guarded positions one through five effectively. (4, 5, 6, 7) KG's abilty to guard almost anyone allows him to act like a middle line backer on defense, improving the Celtic Defense.
9. KG has been first team All NBA 4 times, and Duncan has been first team All-NBA 9 times. (2) This accolade is one that is likely decided by a championship when the skills between two players are similar. The amazing thing is that KG won the honor 3 times without a championship and once with a championship. (2)
10. While it is true that Duncan’s Spurs have won 4 championships, and the Wolves have not won a championship, the only team of any quality that KG was on, had the best record in the NBA that year, and went to the western conference finals. They faltered when both the starting point guard and the back up point guard went down with injuries. (2)
11. Duncan has two league MVPs and KG has one. (2)
No single player wins a championship. Neither Wilt nor Jordan could do it. Certainly neither could Duncan or KG.
Basketball is inherently a team sport and players require a very good team to break through. For two of the Duncan’s Spurs Championship teams, he had the services of David Robinson, also a former league MVP and defensive player of the year. Tony Parker - three time all-star and finals MVP, Ginobili - one time all star, and Bruce Bowen - perennial 1stteam defensive all-NBA player were on the final three teams. The final championship Spurs team included, two-time all-star Michael Findley as well. (2)
The playing field has finally been leveled now that both Duncan and KG are on great teams. The current score with both players on great teams is:
The Celtics with KG -1 championship, and the Spurs with Duncan - zero championships.
Lets hope KG recovers soon to help the Celtics challenge for number 18.
(1) http://obeese.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/kevin-garnett-vs-tim-duncan-the-great-debate/ Written in the fall of 2007
(2) www.basketball-reference.com/">www.basketball-reference.com/">www.basketball-reference.com/">http://www.basketball-reference.com/(3) http://hubpages.com/hub/Garnett-vs-Duncan
4) The NY Times: www.nytimes.com/2004/05/30/sports/pro-basketball-timberwolves-get-garnett-s-point-to-survive.html">www.nytimes.com/2004/05/30/sports/pro-basketball-timberwolves-get-garnett-s-point-to-survive.html">www.nytimes.com/2004/05/30/sports/pro-basketball-timberwolves-get-garnett-s-point-to-survive.html">http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/30/sports/pro-basketball-timberwolves-get-garnett-s-point-to-survive.html
(5) From www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/NBA-All-Star-2003-130622.html">www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/NBA-All-Star-2003-130622.html">www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/NBA-All-Star-2003-130622.html">http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/NBA-All-Star-2003-130622.html
(7) www.jockbio.com/Bios/Garnett/Garnett_bio.html">www.jockbio.com/Bios/Garnett/Garnett_bio.html" />www.jockbio.com/">http://www.jockbio.com