December 09, 2004

Is Tim Duncan Better than Kevin Garnett?: So here's this guy, Tim Duncan, who's got credentials galore including six All-Star game appearances, five All-NBA citations, three MVPs, two gold rings, and probably even a partridge in a pear tree.

posted by LROD to basketball at 09:27 AM - 16 comments

Is hard to say if you look at statistics but I for one think that Kevin Garnett is better and lets not forget that those two gold rings came when David Robinson was around.

posted by LROD at 09:30 AM on December 09, 2004

I am doubtful of the partridge.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 09:58 AM on December 09, 2004

Stats-wise, both this season and last, you could easily make the argument that Duncan is the third best, with Nowitzki being the #2 guy, and Garnett with a solid lock on #1. LeBron is looking like he might overtake Duncan this year... Fantasy-wise, on Yahoo! Marion is improbably the best player at the moment, with Nowitzki in 2nd, and Garnett in 3rd. I'm guessing this has a lot to do with the fact that KG isn't lofting up a bunch of 3 pointers, so he's missing out a bit on the scoring and their 3pt category. On TSN KG is far and away the best player. Watching them play live or on tv-wise I'd have to say that KG is by far the most exciting of the players so far mentioned. Duncan's game face may be great if you're a Spurs fan, but his lack of emotion is boring otherwise--especially if you're not emotionally invested in either of the teams playing. LeBron is quickly catching up in this category as well, last year you could tell he was going to be something, this year he's starting to demonstrate that more consistently. Barring injuries or a serious slump I see Garnett as a lock for MVP again this year, and competing with LeBron (and possibly Notwitzki) for the spot in a year or two. Duncan seems to be on the decline to me as the "flashy" MVP player. He's got a great team though, and I look forward to watching him play more of a team role in the years to come. For being roughly the same age Duncan appears to be getting older than Garnett at a faster rate. I suppose that if Garnett finally got a ring (or two) he'd probably ease off a bit too...

posted by togdon at 10:28 AM on December 09, 2004

I'm feeling froggy today, so I'm gonna ask...who's better, LeBron or Darko? Well, Lebron's got better stats, but Darko has a ring, so who's better? Is Trent Dilfer a better quarterback than Dan Marino? Is Mart McSorley a better hockey player than Jeremy Roenick? Why do people always include the "number of rings" argument in a comparison of individuals playing a team sport? /pissiness As far as the topic goes, KG is the better player. He's more athletic than TD, he's a more dangerous scorer, and he can play any position without being a hinderance. Imagine Duncan playing the point, and trying to defend someone like Nash or Kidd or, God forbid, Boykins. He'll never keep up. KG's quick enough to run with any player, and a better defender outside the lane.

posted by MeatSaber at 10:48 AM on December 09, 2004

Last night Duncan made over 70% of his free throws, so the included stat line is an aberration. He usually misses half of them (consistent 50% for his career). That's a huge hole in his game that he'll have to fix before he can be considered the best - it's what kept Wilt and Shaq from being unbeatable. Garnett is the unquestioned statistical leader, but Nowitzki and Duncan are a close second and third. Duncan's inside game probably makes him more valuable, since he's less vulnerable to an off shooting night. The question I like to ask is "which player would you want to lead you to a championship this year?" That's where I have a hard time picking.

posted by dusted at 10:51 AM on December 09, 2004

Garnett is definitely a flashier player who is quicker and has more athletic abilities than Duncan. If you just look at the statistics, then you would also have to give the edge to Garnett. However, I don't think that's the whole story. Basketball is not a game in which statistics give a meaningful answer to the question of who is a better player. Part of the reason is that hoops doesn't have the egghead tradition that baseball does, but there is also an argument to be made that basketball, played at its best, is more of a team game than baseball. (The recent experiences of player-oriented USA teams floundering against international competition can attest to that). When it comes to defense, especially, the metrics of steals, blocks, and rebounds say very little about how good a player is in a predominately team game. And this may be where Duncan has an advantage over Garnett. One-on-one, Garnett is simply a more overpowering player, able to take nearly any defender off of the dribble, pull up for a jumper, or keep his man from making the shot that he wants. Duncan simply positions himself better with regard to his teammates on both ends of the court. If you watch the game from a purely geometric standpoint (where players set themselves, how they move in relationship to their teammates and opponents), you will see that the Spurs are better than most teams in the league, and have progressed far past their earlier "dump it down low, wait for the double team, and kick it out to the perimeter" strategy with Duncan and Robinson. Rarely will they run an isolation play, not because Duncan can't handle it (he can), but because it doesn't contribute to the team's success. And this may be Duncan's true advantage: contributing to making a team better. Since his debut (97), the Spurs' offense (neglecting last year's anomoly) and defense has improved dramatically. The T-Wolves since Garnett (95) have also done better offensively and defensively, though not to the same extent. Also, nobody can deny that SA has perhaps the most cohesive, well-run team in the NBA (though SAC prior to this year could have made that claim as well). However, I think KG's team play is improving, and TD is going to have to increase his wiles if the two are going to remain at the top of the MVP talk. But let me toss one more thing in here: prior to this year, would you have rather had Minnesota's team (minus KG), or San Antonio's team (minus TD). That might yield you a better answer regarding who is better.

posted by avogadro at 11:44 AM on December 09, 2004

Nowitzki and Duncan close to second?, why are you leaving kobe Bryant out of the map?. I'll pick Kobe on top of those two guys any day of the week!.

posted by LROD at 11:48 AM on December 09, 2004

Kg's biggest problem up until last year, was the players around him. TD obviously, has had a better "suporting cast" including the Admiral. Many years KG carried mediorce teams into the playoffs. He is the better player and now that he has good players around him it is more and more apparent. For Example, if Eddie Griffin can remain on the staight and narrow, he is the perfect complement for KG. The Kings have always had lots of talent but could never win the "big ones"

posted by daddisamm at 11:55 AM on December 09, 2004

Garnett, and that is my final answer. And, in the words of Shaq "I hate you Kobe..." Without Garnett there can't be a successful Timberwovles franchise. I totally opposed picking a high school kid way back when they drafted him, but I have been proven to be an idiot in that regard. Plus, can Duncan carry that many people on his shoulders like KG does in the commercial, I don't think so.

posted by chris2sy at 12:11 PM on December 09, 2004

Garnett is better all around player, but like one said earlier, the question should be who is better KG or Norwitzki. Norwitzki is absolutely the best player in the league right now.

posted by jimbo at 12:16 PM on December 09, 2004

I see Duncan as a classic center and Kobe as a classic guard. Nowitzki and Garnett are freaks, like MeatSaber said above... guys with center size and guard agility. You're right about Eddie Griffin, daddisamm... if he keeps his head straight, he and KG will be a devastating combo. Can you imagine trying to game plan against two 7-foot complete-game freaks?

posted by dusted at 12:31 PM on December 09, 2004

Right now - the fight for MVP would be between Dirk and Ray Allen. I expect Dirk to still be there at season's end. KG is a stat monster, but is he a better player than TD? That's a much tougher question.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:36 PM on December 09, 2004

Oh and Lebrpn makes the MVP race a three-way cage match

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:36 PM on December 09, 2004

In a game of one-on-one, Garnett. Stats-wise, fantasy-wise, Garnett. Making the guys around them better, even. The traditional franchise guy you'd want to build your team around, Duncan. Who's better? It really is a tossup, but personally, I'd go with Garnett - he's just hungrier. As for the others - Ray Allen, Kobe, Dirk, LeBron... Ray Allen I dismiss because I have to spell out both of his names, meaning his level of play this season has been stellar but over his entire career he hasn't been that franchise guy or else people would know who I'm talking about if I just said Ray. Kobe I dismiss because at 7-feet, Garnett does everything better even at the skills of a guard except perhaps wanting to be the man in crunch-time and Duncan is a better center than Kobe is a guard. Dirk I dismiss because although he's improved, he is not nearly as good a defender as either Duncan or KG. LeBron I dismiss because he's still not there yet - this season, he's finally controlling games at the end instead of just putting up stats, but over the entire course of a game, at both ends of the floor, making his teammates better, LBJ is not at Duncan and KG's level. Fearless prediction: he will get there.

posted by platocave at 09:15 AM on December 10, 2004

Sheesh, folks. Might as well ask, "which is better to have on your team, a great point guard or a great center?" These guys play different positions. Yes, it is said Garnett plays a variety of positions with equal skill and aplomb, but c'maaaaaan (<-- the most convincing word in any argument) he's not a power forward. Garnett's great, but til he actually wins something, he won't be regarded quite as highly as my man Tim.

posted by memer at 09:16 PM on December 11, 2004

What memer said. Tim's still the guy you pick if you're putting together a team. Not to say Garnett can't someday be that guy...

posted by HawthorneWingo at 12:25 AM on December 14, 2004

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