1990s NBA Stars – Pace Adjusted Statistics


After that monster ‘80s star post, let’s just dive in and get as many players done as we can. Once again, these are stars from the past with stats adjusted to a league-average 2013 pace.

The data is here.

1 – Michael Jordan: Age 26-34 Pace change barely had any impact on Mike’s ‘90s stats. 31 pts, 6 brds, 5 dimes, 2+ steals, almost a block. Shot 52% eFG. M-V-P. Best offensive comparison at those ages in the 2000s was Kobe because no other player is close in scoring, but Kobe’s not nearly as efficient and is also behind in offensive boards. Best defensive comparison was LeBron. Jordan has more steals, and Bron has more defensive boards, but the only other decent comps were Kidd, who has no blocks at all, and Wade, who was light in steals and light in rebounds, so Bron it is.

2 – David Robinson: Age 24-33 The statistical darling of the center position didn’t disappoint. 24 pts, 11 boards, 3.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals. That would make him the best big in the league by a mile this year and most years. Best offensive comp at that age range in the last 14 years is DRob’s teammate Tim Duncan, and best defensive comp would be Ben Wallace. That’s MVPs and DPoYs to spare for one of the few players to own his own MVP and DPoY.

3 – Hakeem Olajuwon: Age 27-36 Dream’s numbers are almost identical to Admiral’s, but he did it at a few years older, so the offensive comparison winds up going to Shaq instead of Tim. Big Snaq had better efficiency, but he’s the only elder center in the mix with equal scoring to Hakeem. The defense falls to Camby, whose stats in that age range are surprisingly great. Like David, Hakeem would be the best center in the league this year by a country mile and MVP and DPoY candidate (and he’s another of the few to have won both – off the top of my head Jordan and Garnett make the list as well).

4 – Charles Barkley: Age 26-35 I knew the Chuckster was going to be a tough one to compare. You don’t get the nickname Round Mound of Rebound by being average. 22 pts on 55% eFG, 11 rebounds (3.5 ORB), 4 dimes, and 1.5 steals put him in a class by himself. Amare was fairly similar as a scorer, but STAT doesn’t board or pass like Sir Charles. I wound up going with Big Snaq Daddy as the comparison because he almost matched Barkley’s offensive boards and passing and had the efficiency. Snaq scored more though. Defensively, David Lee felt like a good fit with the steals and defensive boards.

5 – Karl Malone: Age 26-35 The Mailman gets some bad press due to his heavy reliance on John Stockton and the Jerry Sloan system, but the raw numbers are unassailable. 27 pts on 54% eFG, almost 11 Rbs (2.5 ORB), almost 4 assists, 1.5 steals, and a block. That’s Karl’s average game for a decade. It’s better than Durant so far this year and not far off from LeBron. Karl’s best offensive comp over that age range was tough to find. Amare had the right efficiency. Duncan had the right rebounding and passing. Lebron had the right scoring (more on this later). I compromised and took Dirk – whose game is actually quite similar to Karl’s in some respects. Defensively Chris Webber was a solid comparison.

6 – John Stockton: Age 27-36 How is Stockton’s only nickname “Stock”? That’s ridiculous. I think we should get a poll started for Stockton nicknames. My vote is for T-1000, Wonderbread, or The Deacon. T-1000 delivered 15 pts on 56% eFG, 3 rbds, 12 asts, and 2+ stls per game. Offensively that’s Steve Nash less two points but with two more dimes. I hate such an obvious comparison, but at the age range it’s the only close approximation. Maybe when CP3 gets some more years under his belt we can look at this again. John separates himself from Nash on the other side of the floor. Defensively I took Terrell Brandon, who had the steals, the boards, and the discipline.

7 – Patrick Ewing: Age 27-36 Here at Double Dribble, glorifying Ewing in posts and then disparaging him with images of Michael Jordan-based humiliation is tried-and-true, Knicks-orange-and-blue tradition. We don’t have to work too hard to make Pat look like an MVP candidate today. The Big Flattop put up 24 pts on 51% eFG with 11 boards (2.5 ORBs), 2 dimes, a steal and 3 blocks. For the same age range since 2000, the comparisons are league and finals MVP Dirk Diggler on offense and multi-time DPoY Dikembe Mutombo on defense. Even watered down by playing past his prime, Pat’s stats hold up. He’d be the best center in the league this year by a good margin.

8 – Clyde Drexler: Age 27-35 Glide is another Double Dribble advanced stats favorite because of the unique ways he contributed to his teams. Check, check it: 21 pts on 50% eFG, 6 rbs (2 ORB), 6 asts, 2 stls, and a blk. This sort of a moderate usage do-it-all lead guard doesn’t exist today, and frankly it may never have existed before this either. 2 offensive rebounds and 6 assists and he doesn’t dominate the ball? That’s Larry Bird territory minus the deadeye shooting. I had to go with a great passing, but not super-efficient big man to make a decent comparison. Chris Webber was the offensive match, and he’s surprisingly close (short on assists by a bit). On defense Wade was a match for ‘80s Clyde, and he’s a match for ‘90s Clyde.

9 – Gary Payton: Age 22-30 Glove was one of the most fun guards to watch ever. He could play any pace and always did so in his own style. If you never saw a player drive to the hoop backwards, go find some ‘90s Sonics footage, cause GP’s postgame was backwards driving heaven. The stats were 16 pts on 51% eFG, 4 boards (1 ORB), 7 asts, and 2+ stls per game. The best offensive comp was the unexpected Spurs speedster, Tony Parker, an efficient inside scorer and heady but not prolific passer. The best defensive comp, only defensive comp really, was Jason Kidd. If you look at that combination, you see the GP would be a perfect fit in today’s PG-reliant league.

10 – Scottie Pippen: Age 24-33 I saved my boy Pippen for last for a reason. Let’s look at the numbers first. 19 pts on 51% eFG, 7 boards (2 ORB), 6 dimes, 2+ stls, and 1 blk. Comps turned out to be KG on offense and LeBron on D. Not surprising to me in the least. Now, remember when I mentioned that LeBron was a good match for Karl Malone as a scorer, and I’d have more on that later? Well here’s the rest. LeBron is a perfect match for Pippen in everything except scoring. Everything. Think about that for a second. James has the all-around game of possibly the best point forward and perimeter defender of all time, and he has the scoring volume and efficiency of Karl Malone. He’s even built like a combination of the two, with Scottie’s length and grace and Karl’s bulk and power. He’s got the best attributes of the best PF and the best SF of an era. Conversely consider that Pippen’s game is a cross between James’s all-around skills and Garnett-like scoring ability. Pair him with Jordan, basically a slightly better version of Kobe at the same age range, add a dash or rebounding and some spot shooters, and you’ve got yourself a dynasty.

I included 5 more players on the spreadsheet, so do take a look if you want to see how Reggie, KJ, Timbug, Shawn Kemp, and young Shaq stack up to today’s greats. Here’s a preview: Ray Allen should pay Reggie Miller for copyright infringement for stealing his game. KJ and Hardaway could have had the exact same comps. Kemp’s not the player we remember, but he might be a better defender than advertised. And there’s nobody remotely like young Shaq in the last decade, not even Dwight who’s scoring doesn’t approach O’Neal’s.

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6 Responses to “1990s NBA Stars – Pace Adjusted Statistics”

  1. Dee Says:

    nice! I was actually considering asking for this one, however given your difficulties with finding compairsons for 80s players, I thought it would be even more problematic when it comes to the 90s 🙂

    • jpalumbo Says:

      Yeah, the comparisons became a lot more “best I could find” and a lot less precise as the pool of candidates dwindled.

  2. boyer Says:

    It’s a difficult line when comparing players in different eras or even the same player, but there’s no perfect formula to standardize between eras and each player is different. Despite what we often hear from people about how tough players were and how it was harder to score during the 80s with handchecking rules and such, the 80s was a great era for scoring and shooting efficiency. Pace had a factor in that, but not entirely. And then at the end of Jordan’s career, we see defense picking up mightily, and scoring substantially down from the start of his career. Once defensive schemes started taking over, we just don’t see the scoring, especially individually like we once did.

    The role of the player is extremely important to consider as well. Jordan had nobody else when he started his career, so he had free reigns to shoot as much as he want. Once Phil came, the team improved and he had a new offense. His assists went down dramatically, and his scoring decreased as well. And he didn’t have to be primary playmaker and scorer like Kobe does, so this allows him more energy and focus on scoring. He had Pippen to be his primary playmaker.

    The only seasons we’ve seen in several years when people score very high ppg up in the 30s were from Kobe, Mcgrady, and probably throw in Lebron and AI. All of those guys were on teams that when they had very high season ppg, those teams were pretty poor offensively. Still amazing seasons, but when you have to share the ball, your ppg will decline some.

    • jpalumbo Says:

      You’re very much correct, boyer. It’s extremely difficult to bridge generations. Even within a generation and within the same offensive framework, things can change drastically. Jordan and Kobe are great examples. I’m doing a pace vs. team offensive efficiency study right now. I’ll release that soon.

  3. Fascinating Pace Adjusted Stats Says:

    […] 90s pace adjusted 1990s NBA Stars ? Pace Adjusted Statistics | Double Dribble […]

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