Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Ok magic, i took the bait

Magic Johnson is on record as saying his showtime lakers would beat this version of the Golden State Warriors. That's a nice sentiment. His argument is "who would guard Kareem, who would guard James Worthy". So I decided to give it a try and break it down.

For those of you that don't know, i'm talking about the NBA, and that's basketball, a sport with an orange ball and 10 dudes running round in sneakers, long shorts and tank tops.

So here is the matchups that I see

Starters:
Magic Johnson - Andre Igoudala
Byron Scott - Steph Curry
James Worthy - Klay Thompson
Kareem - Andrew Bogut
AC Green - Draymond Green


Bench:
Billy Thompson - Harrison Barnes
Michael Cooper - Shaun Livingston/Leandro Barbosa
Kurt Rambis - Festus Ezeli
Mychal Thompson - Mareese Speights/Anderson Varejao



So here's the deal. The showtime lakers were really only 7 deep, with Rambis and AC Green being the two bench guys. And really they played a six man rotation for the most part. If you look at the minutes played for the 86-87 Lakers, huge dropoff after those 6 main guys, and the 87-88 lakers had Mychal Thompson play more instead of an injured Kurt Rambis. I had a hard time coming up with 8 guys from the Lakers let alone 9 guys.

Kareem was 40 years old at this point. To think that Andrew Bogut couldn't guard the ghost of Kareem is a little disrespectful to Bogut. Bogut's not awesome, but he can clog up the paint and play defense. Magic in his prime was a beast to guard. But was he better than Lebron James? Seriously, was he? Because Magic was a lot slower, and dude shot 19% from 3pt range, Andre Igoudala is very underrated defensively. Would we assume that Magic would have had a better time against Igoudala than Lebron has? I wouldn't. James Worthy vs Klay Thompson would have been a battle. Kerr might have moved Klay to guard AC green and let Draymond bang with James Worthy, because Worthy was more of a back to the basket guy, and AC was the offensive rebound, and virgin type. I mean seriously, a virgin in the NBA, that's just hogwash. Byron Scott might have posed a problem for Steph, so maybe you Klay out on Byron Scott, who knows. Bottom line, is that the showtime lakers weren't invincible. Flip the script now, how in the hell is a 6 man rotation (or maybe 7) of big slow dudes, gonna keep up with the Warriors. Magic and Byron would be so tired from chasing dudes around, it would be ridiculous. Pace of play seemed like it would be on the Lakers side, right, they scored more points (117/gm) and seemed to be running and gunning all the time. Nope that's not the case at all. Pace of play is almost identical, 101.6 for the lakers compared to 99.3 for the Warriors. Lakers shot about 51% from the field (2pts) vs 49% from the field for the Warriors. The Warriors were basically even in attempts with the lakers 7,245-7,159 (2pt attempts). We won't even talk about 3pt shooting, because the comparisons are ridiculous, Lakers shot 37% from 3 on 447 attempts, lets just say the warriors are better (41% on almost 2,600 attempts).
So that's a lot of data, or whatever. But the truth is, the two teams play a similar style. To say that the Lakers would have pounded and ground down the Warriors is just false. That's not how they played. Magic might have had a heart attack by half-time, or his fake AIDS would have flared up and he would have tapped out. Of all the comparisons to teams of yesteryear, this one makes the least sense to me, and I think the Warriors would have ran the Lakers out of the building.

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