Monthly Archives: April 2011

Battle in the Paint I

battle in the middle

This is the first part of the article about the battle that took place in the paint of the NBA courts during the 90s. A very controversial battle, at least, until the 1995 play-offs. The 90s was a decade with many great players, but as we have said in other articles of this blog, many of them were playing the Center position and were the franchise players of their teams. I have always wanted to summarize the battles of the top-5 Centers of the 90s in an article and be able to see, statistically, whom was the best. I believe that when somebody read statistics, must be aware of more than the statistics. I am pointing this out because for example O’Neal and Mourning were rookies in 1993 and at the second half of the 1990s Robinson, Olajuwon and Ewing were over 30. So, their battles may not say the exact true, because except from their age other external factors like the quality of the supporting cast and coaching should be considered. Anyway, this first article summarizes the battle of these five Centers against each other, during their regular season meetings, and the second that will come later, will analyse their battles in the play-offs, the honours of the players (e.g. all-star, MVP) and the overall presence of their teams.

hakeem-olajuwonHakeem Olajuwon VS David Robinson (34 games)spurs13_resize

Olajuwon Stats Robinson
39.4 Minutes 39.7
9.7 Field Goals 7.5
21.8 F.G. Attempts 15.8
44.6% F.G.% 47.6%
0.0 3Points 0.1
0.2 3P. Attempts 0.1
16.7% 3P.% 75.0%
4.6 Free Throws 6.0
5.9 F.T. Attempts 8.4
77.5% F.T.% 71.1%
3.3 Off. Rebounds 3.8
8.6 Def. Rebounds 8.1
11.9 Total Rebounds 11.9
3.2 Assists 3.4
1.9 Steals 2.1
3.6 Blocks 3.4
3.1 Turnovers 3.4
4.2 Fouls 3.6
24.1 Points 21.1

hakeem-olajuwonHakeem Olajuwon VS Patrick Ewing (15 games)s_patrick_vt

Olajuwon Stats Ewing
36.7 Minutes 38.1
10.1 Field Goals 7.9
19.7 F.G. Attempts 17.9
51.2% F.G.% 44.0%
0.0 3Points 0.0
0.0 3P. Attempts 0.0
0.0% 3P.% 0.0%
4.7 Free Throws 5.2
6.3 F.T. Attempts 6.3
75.5% F.T.% 82.1%
3.2 Off. Rebounds 2.0
8.5 Def. Rebounds 8.8
11.7 Total Rebounds 10.8
2.9 Assists 1.9
2.1 Steals 1.0
2.9 Blocks 2.3
3.5 Turnovers 3.3
4.1 Fouls 3.1
24.9 Points 20.9

hakeem-olajuwonHakeem Olajuwon VS Shaquille O’ Neal (14 games)CNBC_Sports_defectors_shaq

Olajuwon Stats O’ Neal
37.8 Minutes 40.1
8.6 Field Goals 9.7
19.1 F.G. Attempts 16.9
45.3% F.G.% 57.4%
0.1 3Points 0.0
0.1 3P. Attempts 0.0
100.0% 3P.% 0.0%
3.9 Free Throws 3.6
5.3 F.T. Attempts 6.9
74.3% F.T.% 51.5%
2.9 Off. Rebounds 4.2
6.9 Def. Rebounds 9.0
9.8 Total Rebounds 13.2
3.7 Assists 3.4
1.6 Steals 1.1
2.9 Blocks 1.4
2.5 Turnovers 3.9
3.9 Fouls 3.6
21.3 Points 23.0

hakeem-olajuwonHakeem Olajuwon VS Alonzo Mourning (12 games)Alonzo_Mourning_hornets

Olajuwon Stats Mourning
37.1 Minutes 35.0
8.0 Field Goals 4.8
16.5 F.G. Attempts 10.2
48.6% F.G.% 47.3%
0.1 3Points 0.0
0.2 3P. Attempts 0.1
50.0% 3P.% 0.0%
3.9 Free Throws 4.1
6.2 F.T. Attempts 5.5
63.2% F.T.% 73.8%
2.1 Off. Rebounds 2.5
8.3 Def. Rebounds 6.9
10.4 Total Rebounds 9.4
3.5 Assists 1.6
1.8 Steals 0.9
2.7 Blocks 1.4
2.1 Turnovers 4.0
3.8 Fouls 3.8
20.0 Points 13.7

spurs13_resizeDavid Robinson VS Patrick Ewing (14 games)s_patrick_vt

Robinson Stats Ewing
38.7 Minutes 38.1
9.4 Field Goals 9.7
18.1 F.G. Attempts 22.4
51.8% F.G.% 43.5%
0.0 3Points 0.0
0.1 3P. Attempts 0.1
0.0% 3P.% 0.0%
6.9 Free Throws 3.2
10.5 F.T. Attempts 4.7
65.3% F.T.% 68.2%
3.4 Off. Rebounds 2.4
6.8 Def. Rebounds 8.9
10.2 Total Rebounds 11.3
3.0 Assists 2.7
1.8 Steals 1.1
3.2 Blocks 3.0
3.6 Turnovers 3.6
3.7 Fouls 4.1
25.6 Points 22.6

spurs13_resizeDavid Robinson VS Shaquille O’Neal (12 games)CNBC_Sports_defectors_shaq

Robinson Stats O’Neal
38.5 Minutes 38.8
8.6 Field Goals 10.3
18.3 F.G. Attempts 19.1
47.0% F.G.% 53.7%
0.0 3Points 0.0
0.3 3P. Attempts 0.0
0.0% 3P.% 0.0%
7.3 Free Throws 5.7
9.5 F.T. Attempts 9.8
77.2% F.T.% 57.6%
3.2 Off. Rebounds 3.4
7.3 Def. Rebounds 9.0
10.5 Total Rebounds 12.4
3.8 Assists 1.8
2.3 Steals 0.8
2.3 Blocks 2.1
2.4 Turnovers 3.8
3.5 Fouls 3.9
24.5 Points 26.2

spurs13_resizeDavid Robinson VS Alonzo Mourning (10 games)Alonzo_Mourning_hornets

Robinson Stats Mourning
35.4 Minutes 35.1
10.5 Field Goals 7.2
19.0 F.G. Attempts 14.2
55.3% F.G.% 50.7%
0.1 3Points 0.1
0.2 3P. Attempts 0.4
50.0% 3P.% 25.0%
8.2 Free Throws 6.2
10.5 F.T. Attempts 9.0
78.1% F.T.% 68.9%
3.0 Off. Rebounds 2.4
7.3 Def. Rebounds 6.0
10.3 Total Rebounds 8.4
2.5 Assists 1.6
1.5 Steals 0.8
2.0 Blocks 3.0
2.4 Turnovers 2.7
2.4 Fouls 3.6
29.3 Points 20.7

s_patrick_vtPatrick Ewing VS Shaquille O’Neal (19 games)CNBC_Sports_defectors_shaq

Ewing Stats O’Neal
39.3 Minutes 39.3
10.9 Field Goals 11.2
24.2 F.G. Attempts 22.7
45.1% F.G.% 54.1%
0.1 3Points 0.0
0.4 3P. Attempts 0.0
25.0% 3P.% 0.0%
4.4 Free Throws 5.2
5.4 F.T. Attempts 10.5
80.6% F.T.% 49.5%
2.5 Off. Rebounds 4.3
9.1 Def. Rebounds 8.0
11.6 Total Rebounds 12.3
2.0 Assists 2.3
1.0 Steals 0.7
2.3 Blocks 3.1
3.3 Turnovers 2.8
4.2 Fouls 4.5
26.3 Points 27.6

s_patrick_vtPatrick Ewing VS Alonzo Mourning (17 games)Alonzo_Mourning_hornets

Ewing Stats Mourning
38.2 Minutes 38.7
10.6 Field Goals 6.9
21.7 F.G. Attempts 15.8
48.8% F.G.% 44.0%
0.1 3Points 0.1
0.1 3P. Attempts 0.4
50.0% 3P.% 16.7%
5.0 Free Throws 7.4
6.5 F.T. Attempts 9.8
76.6% F.T.% 75.4%
3.1 Off. Rebounds 3.4
8.2 Def. Rebounds 7.4
11.3 Total Rebounds 10.8
2.0 Assists 1.2
0.6 Steals 0.6
2.5 Blocks 3.2
2.6 Turnovers 3.5
3.9 Fouls 4.4
26.2 Points 21.4

CNBC_Sports_defectors_shaqShaquille O’Neal VS Alonzo Mourning (12 games)Alonzo_Mourning_hornets

O’Neal Stats Mourning
39.5 Minutes 32.6
12.8 Field Goals 6.9
22.3 F.G. Attempts 15.7
57.5% F.G.% 44.1%
0.0 3Points 0.1
0.2 3P. Attempts 0.3
0.0% 3P.% 25.0%
6.4 Free Throws 7.9
12.9 F.T. Attempts 10.9
49.7% F.T.% 72.5%
5.7 Off. Rebounds 3.2
7.7 Def. Rebounds 6.2
13.3 Total Rebounds 9.4
3.0 Assists 1.2
0.6 Steals 0.7
3.2 Blocks 2.4
2.7 Turnovers 2.9
4.3 Fouls 4.2
32.1 Points 21.8

Each one of them against the others (e.g. Olajuwon vs the rest etc.)

Stats Olajuwon (74 games) Robinson (70 games) Ewing
(65 games)
O’Neal
(57 games)
Mourning (50 games)
Min. 38.2 38.7 38.5 39.5 35.7
F.G. 9.3 8.5 9.9 11.0 6.5
F.G.A. 20.1 17.1 21.7 19.8 14.2
F.G.% 46.5% 49.6% 45.5% 55.5% 45.9%
3P. 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
3P.A. 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.3
3P.% 33.3% 33.3% 27.3% 0.0% 20.0%
F.T. 4.4 6.7 4.5 5.2 6.6
F.T.A. 5.9 9.3 5.8 10.0 9.0
F.T.% 74.3% 72.0% 77.6% 51.6% 73.1%
O.R. 3.0 3.5 2.5 4.4 2.9
D.R. 8.2 7.6 8.8 8.4 6.7
T.R. 11.2 11.1 11.3 12.8 9.8
Assists 3.3 3.2 2.1 2.6 1.4
Steals 1.9 2.0 0.9 0.8 0.7
Blocks 3.2 3.0 2.5 2.5 2.6
Turn. 2.9 3.2 3.2 3.3 3.3
Fouls 4.0 3.4 3.8 4.1 4.1
Points 23.1 23.8 24.2 27.1 19.7

The statistical presentation of the battles between the top-5 centers of the 90s does not give a clear answer on who was the best of them. O’Neal outscored all of them during the 90s but he created this small difference in scoring per game(except from Mourning) between him and the rest of them in the last three years of the 90s where Olajuwon, Ewing and Robinson had undergone major injuries and where at the twilight of their careers. They were in front of him during the first half of the 90s when O’Neal was a rookie with a little experience. On the other hand all of them were great players since their first year in the league which means that the rookie excuse is not good enough. The tables only show us that Alonzo Mourning was a great center but was defeated in almost every battle against the top-4 centers of his era. I leave the rest of the conclusions to you and I hope that the second part of this article will make it clearer if my ranking is right.

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9. Jeff Hornacek

jeff

Jeffrey John Hornacek (born May 3, 1963 in Elmhurst, Illinois).

I was thinking of ranking Isaiah Rider as number 9 and I have to say that I changed my mind many times. Finally, I decided that Hornacek’s presence throughout the 90s was stable in a pretty high level and he was always reliable and one of the best players in each of the teams that he played. OK, I agree that Rider was definitely more talented than Hornacek and Majerle, but he never played up to his level, he was always in another dimension and although I really liked his game I have to say that the consistency of Majerle and Hornacek and their work ethic were more important than Rider’s talents, in the long-run.

Hornacek had the looks of the ‘guy next door’. If you didn’t know him there was not a chance that you thought of him as an NBA player. He said it better that I could ever say it: “I wasn’t the fastest guy, I wasn’t the strongest guy, but my father was a coach, and I knew just about everything about basketball. That’s what got me through”. That is exactly the summary of Jeff Hornacek’s ability, he had a great knowledge of the fundamentals plus he was a smart guy and was able to turn around the situations when he was finding himself in a disadvantaged position. This was happening almost every night as he said: “I always had to figure out how to take advantage of what’s going on. The guy guarding me was 2-3 inches taller, and 15-20 lbs heavier, and bigger, stronger, and faster, I knew I had to do something different to offset that. So one thing I always did was try to outsmart them and be one step ahead of those guys”.

He was a great shooter and a very good scorer. He led the Suns in scoring in 1991-92 season with 20.1 per game and was selected as an all-star, for the West, in the same season. He played for the Suns six consecutive seasons since he was drafted by them at 1986 as number 46 overall (no.22 in the 2nd round). He played the best basketball of his career during the 1991-92 season, he was named player of the month during December 1991, but Phoenix was eliminated in the 2nd round of the western conference play-offs by the Portland Trail Blazers in 5 games (4-1). This led the Suns management to make a very important move and send Jeff Hornacek to Philadelphia, as a part of the transfer, for Charles Barkley.

Jeff played in a high level and averaged 19.1ppg. in his first season with a really bad team in Philadelphia. His second season was not bad either but he was finally traded to Utah in the 24th of February 1994 for Jeff Malone. In Utah Hornacek had the opportunity to play alongside two of the greatest players ever (John Stockton and Karl Malone). Hornacek had an immediate impact in Utah as he proved to be a perfect fit to Jerry Sloan’s system.

Jeff Hornacek helped Utah to reach the NBA Finals two times in a row, during the 90s. He was a very important piece in Utah’s puzzle but he was unlucky enough to guard Michael Jordan in 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals (alongside with his teammate Bryon Russell). I remember an incident that was really funny (for us), that took place during the 1997 NBA Finals where Hornacek’s kids were at the arena in Utah wearing Michael Jordan’s jerseys (I have to say that I remember a sport caster describing it I have not seen it with my own eyes) .

He was really underrated, I underrated him as well and I was considering to leave him outside of this countdown, for  lesser players because of their talent and fancy moves. Hornacek deserves to be considered as one of the top-ten shooting guards of the 90s as he really earned it with his consistency, hard work and smartness.

Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Career 14.5 3.4 4.9 1.4 0.2
1991-92 20.1 5.0 5.1 2.0 0.4
1989-1999 16.4 3.6 4.9 1.5 0.2

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/hornaje01.html

Jeff Hornacek

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