Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Charley Rosen on Duncan vs the Dream

Charley Rosen is among my favourite sport writers. He is forthright, doesn't mind calling a spade a spade, is no-frills, appreciates the fact that sport is a "character-building-activity" (of course the definition of character for him is his subjective opinion), is an excellent writer (with a degree in English literature to boot), and is heavily opinionated (after all, thats what you want in an opinion writer, don't you?). Plus, he has had some wacky experiences as a coach in the obscure Continental Basketball Association (including a free-for-all that resulted in a "jailing") and he has written more than a dozen books on basketball. Add some excellent X and O analyses every time he writes about a game in his articles and his bylines are generally a delight. Enough intro'ing.

Rosen answered a question that I posed to him on his column today. He was comparing Tim Duncan (a favourite sportsman of mine) with former Nigerian basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon who played for the Houston Rockets and was nicknamed, "The Dream". Am posting the question and the answer verbatim here:

It is obvious that your promotion of fundamentals and poise as being two essentials of a basketball paragon makes Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan among your favorite big men. Just to delight us young viewers who never had the opportunity to relish the Dream's play but are familiar with Duncan, could you compare these two four-and-a-halfs? Thank you. — Srinivasan R, New Delhi, India

It would be my pleasure to do so.

They were of comparable stature — Olajuwon at 7-0, 255, and TD at 7-0, 260 — but their body types were different. Whereas the former had well-defined musculature, the latter was rounder, less well-muscled, and had a slightly broader butt. This anatomic feature actually helps Duncan establish and maintain better pivotal position that Olajuwon.

Because TD is more of a low-post player, he's also able to induce more fouls.

Hakeem was much quicker and faster, which gave him greater range on defense (making him a better shot-blocker) and enabled him to actively participate in the Rockets' running game. Also give Olajuwon a significant edge in pure athleticism.

Duncan, though, is more fundamentally sound — meaning that his footwork is superior and that he has a more expanded repertoire of moves in the low post. Plus, TD is a more accurate passer and sets more solid screens.

Olajuwon was a slightly better mid-range shooter, with his unstoppable turnaround-fadeaway jumpers being much more reliable than Duncan's bank jobs. And Olajuwon was more efficient at the stripe as well. Although they each managed to drop a trey from time to time, their taking 3-point shots was usually an act of either folly or desperation.

1 comment:

cpatt1124 said...

Are you serious? Tim Duncan is a Hall of Famer but superior footwork to Hakeem? Did you proofread that post? Olajuwon's footwork put him in the Hall of Fame.

And statistically speaking... Olajuwon is in the top ten ALL TIME in Blocks (1), Steals (8), and Points (8), and he's #11 in rebounds by less than 1 game's worth from top 10.

Only NBA player EVER top ten in 3 major statistical categories. Even though he only did it twice, he was a quadruple-double waiting to happen. Duncan is great but there's no comparison.