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Old 06-23-2014, 10:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

I vote yes. Obviously I don't think anyone on this board saw him play, so we have to judge off what we've read, the little we've seen, and stats. We know he won 11 rings and was a tenacious defender/rebounder. But when you consider the era he played in, his offensive numbers are downright pedestrian. And in other threads on this board, I see various people that have him in the top 3 of all time, top 5, or even top 10. If you're ranking accomplishments, yes he belongs. But if you are talking about overall skill? Not so fast my friend.

If he is to be considered one of the greatest big men of all time, you have to consider both offense and defense. Yes he averaged 22.5 RPG for his career and probably blocked a crap ton of shots. But he also was on teams that were loaded with talent in a league that didn't have great talent distribution throughout the league. With that said, he never averaged more than 18.9 PPG in his career and his career FG% is 44%. For a big man, in an era where there weren't dominant big men, I find this very telling. On the flip, Chamberlain averaged 30.1 PPG and 22.9 RPG for his career, which included his crazy seasons 50 PPG, 27 RPG, and so on.

I think most people agree that Chamberlain would put up numbers similar to Shaq in the modern era. But if Russell could never average 20 PPG or shoot better than 47% from the field in the 50s/60s, I have a hard time believing he would even average 10 PPG in the modern era. I would probably compare him to a taller version of Dennis Rodman. Great defense and rebounding, but not much offense.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

I think @Ron saw him play.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

I'm not sure he is as highly regarded as he is revered. The problem is, for people who value championships in how they rank individual players, you can't leave Russell out of the top 5 if you're going to be consistent with that criteria.

For me, I just don't know. I usually exclude players before my time completely from my rankings and judge only what I can account for.

Also, it's unfair to use the stacked team against him when it comes to winning championships, but then ignore when it comes to statistics. Maybe on a less talented team, he could have been offensively dominant?
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

Bill Russell is the GOAT. He was the driving force behind 11 ships and was regarded as one of the best big men to ever have played. We often shift numbers and stats to make our arguments, but the one thing you can't shift is the level in which he played and the impact he had as an player.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

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Originally Posted by cima View Post
I vote yes. Obviously I don't think anyone on this board saw him play, so we have to judge off what we've read, the little we've seen, and stats. We know he won 11 rings and was a tenacious defender/rebounder. But when you consider the era he played in, his offensive numbers are downright pedestrian. And in other threads on this board, I see various people that have him in the top 3 of all time, top 5, or even top 10. If you're ranking accomplishments, yes he belongs. But if you are talking about overall skill? Not so fast my friend.

If he is to be considered one of the greatest big men of all time, you have to consider both offense and defense. Yes he averaged 22.5 RPG for his career and probably blocked a crap ton of shots. But he also was on teams that were loaded with talent in a league that didn't have great talent distribution throughout the league. With that said, he never averaged more than 18.9 PPG in his career and his career FG% is 44%. For a big man, in an era where there weren't dominant big men, I find this very telling. On the flip, Chamberlain averaged 30.1 PPG and 22.9 RPG for his career, which included his crazy seasons 50 PPG, 27 RPG, and so on.
Individually considered? Bill Russell was a 5-time MVP award winner. Playing in an era when greats like Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson roamed the land. 11 times all-nba, too.
Widely considered the greatest defensive player ever, also.

He wasn't a good scorer, though. One can eve say that he was a lousy scorer.

If we take away the championships, then yes, i think it's arguable Bill Russell doesn't belong in Top-10 all time conversations.

Quote:
I think most people agree that Chamberlain would put up numbers similar to Shaq in the modern era. But if Russell could never average 20 PPG or shoot better than 47% from the field in the 50s/60s, I have a hard time believing he would even average 10 PPG in the modern era. I would probably compare him to a taller version of Dennis Rodman. Great defense and rebounding, but not much offense.
I don't find particularly interesting (or even relevant) how players from the 50's/60's would fare playing in the modern day NBA. Just like i don't think guys like Shaquille, Karl Malone or Lebron James could endure playing in that era.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

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Originally Posted by Sir Patchwork View Post
I'm not sure he is as highly regarded as he is revered. The problem is, for people who value championships in how they rank individual players, you can't leave Russell out of the top 5 if you're going to be consistent with that criteria.

For me, I just don't know. I usually exclude players before my time completely from my rankings and judge only what I can account for.

Also, it's unfair to use the stacked team against him when it comes to winning championships, but then ignore when it comes to statistics. Maybe on a less talented team, he could have been offensively dominant?
This was somewhat the premise of my argument and I think the answer is no because of his lousy FG% for a big man. 44% when he towers over pretty much everybody? There were years he averaged over 16 FGA/game, yet only mustered about 18 PPG. It didn't help that he was a lousy FT shooter too, 56% for his career.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

Shooting is not the only component of offense. Those Boston teams very regularly ran their offense through Russell as the primary facilitator. His outlet passing was legendary and his screen-setting was truly ahead of its time. He had a deep understanding of offensive principles and execution. Saying he was a poor offensive player just because of his shooting percentages is at best disingenuous and at worse flagrantly inaccurate.
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Old 06-23-2014, 03:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

i agree with OP to an extent. I don't think he was that terrible offensively, he probably got a lot of attention which led to the poor shooting. but many people and players from that generation who did see him play consider him to be the best from that time and i believe word of mouth does carry some weight. I personally don't like comparing across eras though because of player skill levels, size and athleticism, league size and rules etc..
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Old 06-23-2014, 03:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

players in the 60s were not athletic...


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Old 06-23-2014, 03:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pablo5 View Post
Bill Russell is the GOAT. He was the driving force behind 11 ships and was regarded as one of the best big men to ever have played. We often shift numbers and stats to make our arguments, but the one thing you can't shift is the level in which he played and the impact he had as an player.
I gotta go with Wilt Chamberlain as the GOAT.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

Absolutely no. First off his passing for a big man was tremendous. Secondly it does take skill to handle the ball for a man his size and you can go onto youtube and watch him handle the ball. Third he was an Olympian High Jumper that could also move laterally.

His fg% gets overblown. His efficiency was better than the league average. Then you add in everything else and give him modern technology he'd still be a beast today. Had freakish long arms and was incredibly smart that transitioned on the court.

I have him number 2. There are 4 in thier own tier.

1-- Jordan
2--- Russell
3--- Wilt
4--- Jabbar

I can see juggling around 2-4 but Russell was a beast.
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:58 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pablo5 View Post
Bill Russell is the GOAT. He was the driving force behind 11 ships and was regarded as one of the best big men to ever have played. We often shift numbers and stats to make our arguments, but the one thing you can't shift is the level in which he played and the impact he had as an player.
Man, I don't know about that. The highlights I've seen of Wilt against Russell, Russell looked extremely helpless a lot of the time trying to guard him. Chamberlain's individual #s >> Russell's. Russell had much better teams, but one-on-one, I don't think anyone in history contains Chamberlain.
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:00 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

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Absolutely no. First off his passing for a big man was tremendous. Secondly it does take skill to handle the ball for a man his size and you can go onto youtube and watch him handle the ball. Third he was an Olympian High Jumper that could also move laterally.

His fg% gets overblown. His efficiency was better than the league average. Then you add in everything else and give him modern technology he'd still be a beast today. Had freakish long arms and was incredibly smart that transitioned on the court.

I have him number 2. There are 4 in thier own tier.

1-- Jordan
2--- Russell
3--- Wilt
4--- Jabbar

I can see juggling around 2-4 but Russell was a beast.
He'd still be a beast yes, but on primarily the defensive side of the ball. I would still rank him behind Chamberlain, Shaq, Kareem, and even Hakeem.
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:51 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

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Absolutely no. First off his passing for a big man was tremendous. Secondly it does take skill to handle the ball for a man his size and you can go onto youtube and watch him handle the ball. Third he was an Olympian High Jumper that could also move laterally.
Russell was, indeed, a good passer. Way above the norm.
His outlet passers, from a block or rebound were legendary.

Quote:
His fg% gets overblown. His efficiency was better than the league average.
This is where i don't agree much. Bill Russell was not a good scorer (different but inluded in offensive player). "Efficiency better than the league average" is not what you expect from a GOAT candidate.
Even in his better year FG%-related Russell shot worse than perimeter players
like Al Attles and Oscar, SFs like Twyman, Howell and Hagan and other centers like Bellamy (led the league at .519FG%) Embry and Clyde Lovelette.
He also was a bad FT shooter.
Hence, he couldn't be a go-to guy on offense due to his limitations (didn't matter cause Jones, Havlicek, Heinsohn and others were there to pick up the slack).
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:14 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: As an individual player, is Bill Russell overrated?

Russell was, indeed, a good passer. Way above the norm.

I think he was a great passer.
.
This is where i don't agree much. Bill Russell was not a good scorer (different but inluded in offensive player). "Efficiency better than the league average" is not what you expect from a GOAT candidate.

But his overall defense and passing and rebounding for a man his size is unparalleled. Look at guys like Magic and Bird who are imo short off being the pantheon of 4 and both of them their defense was flawed imo more that Russell’s offense. I’m combining his great passing along with what you said earlier and I assume he was a terrific offensive rebounder.


For Russell to be for so long being second on his team in assists for 10 years in both playoffs and reg. season for a championship team which everyone seems to acknowledge had so many stars, the ball had to find him a lot in half-court sets.


Even in his better year FG%-related Russell shot worse than perimeter players
like Al Attles and Oscar, SFs like Twyman, Howell and Hagan and other centers like Bellamy (led the league at .519FG%) Embry and Clyde Lovelette.
He also was a bad FT shooter.

Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan’s MVP years their fg% was "above average but not outstanding at all.

Hence, he couldn't be a go-to guy on offense due to his limitations (didn't matter cause Jones, Havlicek, Heinsohn and others were there to pick up the slack).


In 61-62 he led his team in the playoffs in scoring. During the reg season he was 2nd in scoring. Both in the playoffs and during the reg season he was 2nd in assists. That team won a title and they were 60-20. One other year he was less than a point off the lead in scoring in the playoffs while being 2nd in assists.

He is very much an integral part of the offense and imo he must have been “go-to” but the problem is Red Auerbach’s offense – the zipper offense wasn’t a go-to offense nor was it designed o feature one player nor was it designed for fg efficiency. See link.
Two key points – offense built on continuity (which imo means you don’t feature a palyer) and secondly read paragraph 7 how he offense can result in player’s having lower fg% because he offense can lend itself to having players force shots.

http://functionalbasketballcoaching....ipper-offense/

It’s all opinion all of us. If you want to slam him for this okay. But – they were winning and if you have a continuity the offense, the center must have a tremendous passing skill imo more than “get the ball ot the center and low post and then have him pass out of the eventual double-team.”
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