Rik Smits: Was He Any Good?

Do the Indiana Pacers just have a team-wide trait, like a fantasy race in a role-playing game, where “centers who protect the rim but can’t rebound worth a lick” are part and parcel of that trait? Because they have Myles Turner today (6.6 rebounds per game for his career), they had Roy Hibbert before (6.3 rpg), and the OG Pacers center who couldn’t rebound is the subject of today’s edition of Was He Any Good, the Dunking Dutchman, all 7-foot-4 and 6.1 rebounds per game of him, Rik Smits. Smits was All-Rookie in 1988-89 after the Pacers drafted him with …

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Bill Walton: Was He Any Good?

In the first article in this series looking back at historical NBA players and whether their impact matched their reputation, the central question revolved around whether only six years’ worth of NBA games in a career was enough to qualify someone for the Hall of Fame, no matter how good those six years’ worth of games actually were. And in Yao Ming‘s case, the verdict was ultimately Confirmed; he was and remains a true Hall of Famer. But Bill Walton adds another wrinkle to this question. The man’s career was so plagued by injury that he made only two All-Star …

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Adrian Dantley: Was He Any Good?

Adrian Dantley was traded by the Utah Jazz to the Detroit Pistons during the 1986 offseason for Kent Benson and Kelly Tripucka, and from there his career arc was one of going from regular Western Conference All-Star and one of the best small forwards in the league (at least by reputation) to a guy who never sniffed another All-Star Game and who would be traded in 1989 for Mark Aguirre just in time for Aguirre to integrate himself into two Detroit title teams. Now, on the surface, that looks like a precipitous decline, and in terms of counting stats, it …

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Detlef Schrempf: Was He Any Good?

Detlef Schrempf is the patron saint of Goofy Foreign White Guys Who Wear Number 11 in the NBA. It’s quite the list. Besides Schrempf, there’s Arvydas and Domantas Sabonis, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Enes Kanter, among others. If you prefer your goofy tall white dudes to be American, you can see them wearing number 11 as well—just look at Meyers Leonard and Chris “Birdman” Andersen. But we’re not here to talk about goofy white dudes. We’re here to talk about a guy who, before he got traded to Seattle and established himself as the prototype of the slick-shooting German tall 3/stretch …

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Rasheed Wallace: Was He Any Good?

“Ball don’t lie” is the guiding principle for every single thing I write for this site. From statistical analysis to comparing teams within and across eras to this very series you’re reading right now, the only thing that ultimately matters is what happened on the court, as measured and counted by the tools we have available to determine not just who won or lost and by how much, but how and why each player on the court contributed toward or actively hindered his team’s efforts. “Ball don’t lie”, of course, has another name around here: “Sheed’s Law”, after Rasheed Wallace. …

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Robert Horry: Was He Any Good?

The ultimate counter-arguments to “count the rings” as a measure of NBA greatness exist in the forms of James Jones (“the only player besides LeBron James to appear in eight straight NBA Finals since the merger”, because Jones was LeBron’s teammate first in Miami and then in Cleveland), Steve Kerr (piggybacked off Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan to win five rings), and our subject for today, Robert Horry, Big Shot Rob Himself, a legend of the ’90s and the Dark Ages who won a combined seven rings with the Rockets, Spurs, and Lakers, or “more rings than anyone who never …

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Vinnie Johnson: Was He Any Good?

Since the NBA started tracking Games Started as a stat leaguewide in the 1981-82 season, the top 5 seasons by Win Shares of any player who played in at least 70 games while starting 10 or fewer of them represent the pinnacle of what a sixth man can do. The list, in order? Kevin McHale (10.5 WS, BOS, 1983-84), Detlef Schrempf (9.8, IND, 1991-92), Antawn Jamison (9.0, DAL, 2003-04), Schrempf again (9.0, IND, 1990-91), and Montrezl Harrell (8.7, LAC, 2018-19.) As you look further down that list, you see great bench guys; Steve Kerr is at 7th and 21st for …

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Steve Nash: Was He Any Good?

Steve Nash is a Hall of Famer, one of the best players never to win an NBA championship, and one of the key figures along with Amar’e Stoudamire and coach Mike D’Antoni who helped bring the NBA out of the Dark Ages in the mid-aughts. He is a four-time member of the 50/40/90 Club, an 8-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA, 5-time NBA leader in assists, and two-time MVP. And speaking of the 50/40/90 Club, he averaged those numbers across 8 years of his prime in Phoenix plus 141 games at the beginning of his career before he went to join the …

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Isiah Thomas: Was He Any Good?

At what point do NBA statistics become completely meaningless? The Detroit Pistons won three straight Eastern Conference championships between 1988 and 1990, initially falling short in the NBA Finals against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers before slaying the demons from Tinseltown a year later and providing the first of what would be two close-but-no-cigar Finals defeats for Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers for their second title. But when you look at those Pistons teams statistically, what you see is what was supposed to be a very good but not quite great team, exactly the team the …

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Antoine Walker: Was He Any Good?

Antoine Walker is as well-known for being a punchline in jokes about broke athletes (thanks to blowing $100 million on bad investments) as he was for anything he ever did on a basketball court. The epitome of both wasted potential and hilariously inefficient shooting—well, it was funny if you were a fan of the other team—Walker is a guy whose legacy is one of a cautionary tale. But he was also the second-best player on a Celtics team that nearly went to the NBA Finals at a time when the Eastern Conference existed entirely to provide cannon fodder for the …

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