I was just thinking - if David Robinson came to the NBA at the age of, say, 19 (5 years earlier than he actually came) - is there a chance he would have been considered a top 5 player of all time at the end of his career?
I mean his rookie season he averaged 24-12-4 and that is without any NBA experience whatsoever. David Robinson was 30 and declining in just his 7th season of the NBA, had he had 5 more seasons averaging 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and around 4 bpg and possibly won another chamionship, he'd have a chance to have finished his career as the top shot blocker ever (he's 6th of all time despite having come to the NBA at 24) and top 10 in overall points, would he be considered a top 5 player?
in my opinion he is one of the most underrated players ever..just because he won with Timmy he doesn't get credit..i mean he wasn't a winner as some alltime greats but if you look him simply as a player he was sick..over 7feet runner jumper maybe even better than Howard supreme muscles body control, supre versitile, good playmaker, GREAT shot blocker, one of the best if not the best center in steals.. he just dominated and his team already in his rookie year was 1nd in the west..
if i knew nothin about titles i would actually say he is the best spur ever
He also is only 1 of 4 players to record a Quadruple Doble in an NBA game along with Hakeem , Nate Thurmond , and Alvin Robertson who also played for the Spurs and is the only guard on the list.
The "Admiral" went for 34pts , 10reb , 10ast , and 10blk in a game and on top of that I got to meet him back during the summer of 2002 on vacation with my family in Hawaii. The way he portrays himself is the truth , he is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Met him at a Luau fundraiser he put on at the resort we were staying at for the week in Kona.
He's one of my favorite players of all time and was an absolute beast on both ends of the floor. Here's the thing though, even with a few more years in the league he'd still rank as the number 6 center of all time in my opinion. Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Hakeem, and Russell are the top 5. I just can't see him cracking that top 5 even with a few more years on his resume. Now if he had won a few more championships, maybe. But you can say that about any player. So to answer your question, no, I couldn't see him cracking the top 5 of all-time players, or top 5 centers for that matter. He's still an all time great, and one of my favorite players ever though....
his prime season was insane
30pts-11rebs-5ast-2stls-3blks with 41 minutes per game AS A 7'1 specimen. dwights best is 38mpg and he's 6'10.5
I think there would be a chance for him to overtake some centres you listed, like Shaq and Hakeem, I mean if he won one more championship in one of those 5 years and made most blocks ever - he'd have bettered or matched every one of Hakeems achievements and though he'd have less chamionships than Shaq, he'd probably have more individual achievements.
Bill Russel and Wilt put up stats that will probably never be bettered, so it's kinda impossible comparing them to anyone
I think Hakeem would be vulnerable to Robinson if Robinson had played more years. Wilt and Russell are untouchable, for different reasons, but untouchable. Kareems got the rings and the crazy stats as well. Shaq's stats are almost as good and he seems like he was much more unstoppable as an offensive weapon than Robinson. Robinson had that 30 point per game year, but it was an outlier. He was really more like a 25 point per game guy. It just seems like you could run more offense through Shaq than you good Robinson. And since Shaq was just as good a rebounder and almost as good (in his youth) a shot blocker, you aren't giving up that much on D.
always love d rob hes the type of guy id wanna build a team around he goes out busts his butt every night and never says a word one of the most likeable superstars ever
Robinson missed almost the 96-97 season due to injury allowing the Spurs to usher in a new franchise big in Tim Duncan. Robinson was very unselfish and took a back seat to Duncan for the rest of his career. I have do doubt, even with his declining athletic ability, that he would have been able to be more productive for another team, but he was such a high character guy he knew he could win in this scenario as a paint enforcer rather than a #1 option.
He was 17.8, 9.6 and 2.3 at age 34 as a #2 option. Compare him to just about any C in the league at that age and he's among the elite. I don't know if Robinson would be considered top 5 if he wouldn't have gone into the Navy and entered the League a couple years younger. He was 6'6'' when he graduated high school, so who knows if he would have comitted to basketball.
All I know is that he's one of the most underrated centers of All-Time. He was being called "soft" after dropping 71 in a game, winning the MVP and dunking on about everyone in the league. Immediately after getting that tag he dropped 40/20 in a playoff game. He was a very nice guy and a great teammate, and I think his demeanor, unfortunately, lead to him being discredited. Shaq was the monster, Hakeem was the skilled tactician, Ewing was mean and played for a gritty team and Robinson dominated with a smile on his face. He deserves more credit than he gets, is really the point of my response. He was probably the 3rd best C in his era behind Hakeem and Shaq, but his era is among the greatest of All-Time. I'd probably have him 5th on my All-Time list.
Edit : 6th on my All-Time list
I am about like you and would have him either 6th or 7th on my list. I can't decide between Robinson and Moses for that 6th spot. NM top 10 Centers in my eyes.
The Admiral is certainly in my all time top 10 list for Centres, okay he came to the NBA a few years later than other guys although often in that era players didn't come to the NBA until they were 22 and had played their college senior year so he maybe only lost a couple of seasons. The flipside about coming to the league later is perhaps that you can play longer at a higher level rather due to less miles on the clock.
Mutombo was another guy who was 24/25 at least when he came to the NBA yet played at a high level until his late 30's so it is the flipside again.
Robinson is in the HOF and the only reason I feel he might be overlooked sometimes is due to the other star players of that era in his position alone before you factor in the likes of MJ, Pippen etc.
I'm with Joe Wolf, he doesn't quite crack the top 5. I'm a huge stats guy but when it comes down to Hakeem vs Robinson all you have to do is watch the '95 Western Conference Finals highlights
I cant see anyway to put him above Hakeem imo. Hakeem completely dominated and embarassed him in the 95 nba playoffs. No way to see him in the top 5, Kareems the top scorer of all time, Bill the greatest winner ever, Hakeem Shaq and Wilt Chamberlain all had top 5 peaks in league history and were all dominant. I think Robinsons lack of playoff success pre Duncan is what hurts him.
because he never spend 3 years as even the best or second best player in the NBA. I think he would easily be the best center in the League right now. He is a superior player to Dwight and Bynum. His elbow jumper from 15 to 17 was like Duncan's bank shot in his prime. Those young years as a big man in the League are often flawed and we cant assume that David Robinson would not have shown some of those growing pains during his years in the Navy. Think about it, imagine if we only saw Bynum from 24 on he would have just had an excellent rookie season this year. Bigs were so good in those days, kinda like point guards now and we really can't give them there due. He had a great set of 5's the deal with; Hakeem, young Shaq, Ewing, Mourning, Mutombo and a good centers in Brad Daugherty and Rick Smits.
P.S. I was a big fan of those Spurs teams. I hated Avery Johnson back then but somehow love him as a coach. I liked Vinny Del Negro as scorer but now hate him as a coach. Sean Elliot spent a couple years as my favorite player in the League. My best move as a kid was his triple threat first step baseline. He would catch kinda fake a pump and wait, then a couple deke moves then take off with a big quick first step to the cup. He was left handed too.
I have Robinson as the 7th best player ever
Somewhere between 5th and 8th best C would seem a fair place to rank Robinson, the top 3 in my opinion are Kareem, Russell and Wilt in varying orders depending how you look at them followed by Hakeem and Shaq but I'd have Robinson just behind those two with the likes of say Ewing.
When we talk about what players might have done if they had been drafted younger then Ralph Sampson would be another prime candidate to have had a much better NBA career. Also we can pick fault in any players performance for example Hakeem, one of the greatest all round C's ever won both his titles when MJ was retired or had just returned.
Still be in about the same range. Honestly, might even be judged more harshly. You have to take everything into account. Lets say a 19 year old David Robinson, who just averaged 23.6 ppg and 11.6 rpg as a sophomore (after averaging 7.6 and 4.0 as a freshman), enters the 1985 Draft. Now, remember, David was at Navy. His team went 26-6 and went to the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament (next year going to the Elite 8 while finishing 30-5, but without David Robinson, that ain't happening). Think he is the first pick in the 1985 Draft?
Guess again. It would have been Patrick Ewing. Patrick was considered one of the best college basketball prospects since Lew Alcindor. I honestly believe he might have been the first pick in 1984 over Hakeem Olajuwon, who he had just beaten to win that years NCAA Championship. In hindsight, Hakeem and David Robinson were both better centers, but hindsight is 20/20. Patrick was indeed considered every bit what Greg Oden was, only add another three seasons of much craved college success. He was seen as a potential Bill Russell type player. Safe to say, 19 year old David Robinson is not getting drafted over that.
Than, add to the fact that he would have gone to the Indiana Pacers at 2 (if chosen over fantastic college PF Wayman Tisdale). But, lets just say that David Robinson went to the Spurs as a 19 year old. Do you honestly believe 19 year old David Robinson is going to come in and do what 24 year old David Robinson did as a rookie? Not even close. This guy was just getting used to being 7 feet tall, as Joe Wolf pointed out he had a late growth spurt that got him there. Plus, look at those Spurs teams before he got there. He winning a ring or even coming close with those?
I know how impressive David Robinson was as a rookie. He led that Spurs team to a 35 game turn around. People seem to miss out that he also had a perfect storm of doing so. One, he was indeed near his athletic prime. Yes, he may not have been playing as consistently as one would want, but he was in Naval training and more than likely in immaculate shape. He was 24 and I dare say, a great deal better than he would have been from ages 19-21.
The Spurs got the 3rd pick in the draft in 1989, a 6-8 SF named Sean Elliott. They also acquired a PF named Terry Cummings, a guy who could put in nearly 20 ppg and was an All-Star one year prior in Milwaukee. All of this while keeping a young 6-7 SG who had averaged 18.6 ppg (on 49.8% FG) as a rookie the previous season. They were a young team, but with David Robinson at the helm, were set for a major turnaround. Nonetheless, the Admiral had quite a bit of help for that insane turnaround. Their PG's were not bad either, first Maurice Cheeks than trading for a young Rod Strickland. I mean, that is a pretty decent line-up 1-5.
Beyond that, David Robinson was indeed a fantastic player. His numbers were huge and his team won a lot of games. What people seem to forget though is that he had serious question marks when it came to winning the big one. The closest he got without Timmy (who is BY FAR the best Spur of All-Time. No freaking question) was 1995. He got FRIED by Hakeem. Now, his getting fried was him averaging a still impressive 23.8 and 11.3 on 45% FG, to Hakeem's 35.3 and 12.5 on 56% FG (also outblocking the Admiral 4.2/2.2 in the series). Still, not a lot of people bring that up.
What they do bring up is Hakeem getting the better of Shaq in that years NBA Finals. Well, he did. They have a point. It was a clean sweep, but Shaq still went out with much more of a fight than David Robinson. Hakeem put up a very impressive 32.8 and 11.5 on 48% shooting in those 4 games against the Magic. A 22-year old Shaquille O'Neal, coming off his first scoring title, went for 28 and 12.5 (plus 6.3 assists per game, though Hakeem also averaged an impressive 5.5) while shooting 59.5% FG. Now, did Hakeem best him? Of course he did. But, could it be argued that Shaq at 22 was more of a player than the 1994-95 MVP David Robinson? Certainly think it could, think the writing was on the wall.
Why am I bringing up Shaq with regards to this? Well, I feel many people here have Shaq further down the list than they should. I feel he was indeed a superior player to David Robinson and his relative prime lasted far longer. He came into the NBA at 20 and I feel if David Robinson did the same thing, odds are he would still be behind the same people he is now. If anything, he would more than likely have retired sooner, which might make his statistics stronger, yet would also have probably put more pressure on his body during earlier times.
So, I think that David Robinson being a top 5 player of All-Time would not have happened. Simply not enough evidence to the contrary for me. He played on the Olympic team in 1988, was their second leading scorer (behind Dan Marjerle of all people). That team won the Bronze Medal and I am fairly sure he got owned by Arvydas Sabonis. I think Hakeem and Shaq were flat out better than him, would have had the same argument.
All in all, most people do not consider Hakeem and Shaq All-Time top 5 players (mainly in the top 10-12 range, but very few would say top 5). Even with some extra years and getting closer to or surpassing Hakeem or Shaq in career points (28,000 rather than close to 21,000), who is to say he was better than either? Would he have won without Tim Duncan? Certainly next to no evidence supporting that. He did not have the most help, had no Clyde Drexler or Kobe Bryant (that first Hakeem team, wow he was beastly but the NBA was at a transition). Who is to say he would have had one or that he could take it into the play-offs with much success?
Those three seasons everyone is marvelling at? From 1994-96? David was not himself in the post-season. 24 and 11 is good, but when you are averaging 27.5 and 11, it was flat out not good enough. When he was not getting killed by Hakeem, he had subpar play-off series in exits against the Jazz in 1994 and 1996 (in '96 he averaged 13 and 6.3 in the 3 games in Utah, all losses). His statistical prowess was impressive, but also remember he had a couple of ho-hum seasons by his immediate standards at the ages of 26-27 (23 ppg, dipping in the standings. He averaged around 25 ppg in his first two seasons combined). One may say I am nitpicking, but the claim is top 5 All-Time player. Just do not see it.
He was a great player, I think he is probably in the top 25-30 range, more than likely higher. But, entering the top 5 centers is not something I even think would have necessarily been a gurantee. He would have been sided by Hakeem and Patrick even more so, with both of them being probably much better through his first few years in the league as a 19-20 year old. I think a more realistic scenario might have been him playing right away rather than serving his 2 year term in the Navy. Even than, add a couple strong statistical seasons, but I think he still is outside Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Hakeem and Shaq. Just never really had the fire power without Timmy, not to mention never really stepped up when it mattered the most.
So, hope this gives a little background on why I think David Robinson, despite his incredible numbers and obvious ability to make teams much better than they were otherwise, might not have been all that much different in histories eyes had he entered the league sooner. With two more seasons, he would be close to about 25,000 points (as I do not see him coming in at 22 and doing what he did at 24. Certainly possible, but guessing around 23 ppg over those first couple of seasons). Couple of seasons with 300 or so blocked shots puts him still behind Hakeem, though closes the gap on average. Their is little doubt that he was impressive, and might have been more so had he entered the league at a younger age. Just find very little evidence to believe he would be a top 5 player and I doubt he would move ahead of the 5 centers who I am fairly certain were flat out better players on the whole. Even Moses Malone would still more than likely be a guy I keep in front of him.
him being an older rookie is part of the reason he came in so polished...at 19, the NBA game can be too much for some and it stunts their development
David Robinson is right behind the all-time Mount Rushmore of the NBA guys. I was thinking of a grouping and there is the Trilogy of Centers: Russell, Kareem, and Wilt. Then you have the BIG FOUR (best non-centers) who are on the same level basically: Jordan, Magic, Bird, and now I have LeBron there.
That's the first Tier. Second tier has the Best Other Three Guards: Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, and Kobe Byrant. Tier 2 A is Shaq. Tier 2 B, basically in the Second Tier but just behind the guards and Shaq are the great power forwards/bigs: Hakeem, Moses Malone, Tim Duncan, and Charles Barkley.
Tier 3 are the rest of the top 25 or so. You can put Stockton there. And probably Pippen. You could make a case for KG. GREAT case for David Robinson, a guy who did it all and was a complete freak, and put up sick stats to go along with two titles late in his career. I can't put D Rob ahead of the BIG THREE and Hakeem's total domination in two NBA Finals for his two titles (plus another appearance in 1986), and Moses' 3 MVP's and his '83 title with the Sixers as the team's meal ticket also are ahead of the Admiral. TD is slightly better too. But, I have him in the Third Tier AT WORST. Ranking wise, this puts him at number 18. Old school guys like Mikan, Bob Pettit, and Cousy are also somewhere in Tier 3, too. I think that Kevin McHale and Jason Kidd (basically a lifetime achievement award who also took THE NETS to back-to-back Finals and won a title with the 2011 Mavs) belong somewhere in the Top 25. Elgin Baylor could be higher but he never won a title and leaned a lot on Jerry West (and then Wilt). He was one of the best ever but his knee injury hampered his game. Elgin is an all-time geat and others might have him higher. At 25 I will go with Bob Cousy. One of the best passers ever and the original true point guard who quarterbacked the early years of the Russell-led Celtics dynasty.
I was a big fan of the brief David Robinson-Dennis Rodman teams. Those guys dominated inside and gobbled up all the rebounds. D Rob controlled Rodman's antics and Rodman made the Admiral tougher. Then Rodman gets traded for Will Purdue in one of the best trades in NBA history that really helped both teams (along with the Spurs lucking into Tim Duncan). After that trade, the Bulls won 3 straight titles with David Robinson winning two titles (and the Duncan era adding two more titles after D Rob retired).
If a prime David Robinson were playing today he would feast on the weaker competition at center. He would be in the modern day trinity with LeBron and Kevin Durant, and in a class by himself among centers.
David Robinson had a great overall career along with some eye-popping games. The 71 points he dropped on the Clippers. The quadruple double. Only Wilt's 100 point game stands out better on stat sheets. Two titles, an MVP and two Olympic gold medals add to his legacy.
Mikey pretty much covered it all but to add to the Shaq vs Robinson debate I thought it was interesting that apparently Shaq never liked The Admiral because when he was a kid he asked Robinson for an autograph and Robinson brushed him off. Not many rivalries start even before both are in the same league
At the same time, Shaq put Robinson in his top five all time centre list back in his book, I don't think he had Ewing in the list but did include Wilt, Russell and Hakeem as well
I think Robinson is quite underrated. And yes, coming into the league later than normal does have something to do with it
1) Robinson was a dominant offensive force. Yes, shaq was more dominant overall because he was unstoppable physically, but Robinson was close in terms of overall effectiveness. He was very versatile and efficient.
In fact, he was a more dominant offensive player than either Hakeem or Duncan.
2) A huge gaping hole in Robinsons reputation is from that playoff series against Hakeem. I agree that it was a huge letdown, but I also think that we put way too much emphasis on it. It's a small sample size. Robinson didn't have his best series, but it was more that Hakeem played perhaps the best series of games in his career. Definitely a negative, but it was only 1 series.
3) He is one of the greatest defensive players ever. On par with Hakeem, and probably better than Shaq.
Put that all together, and I think he could be in that debate. However his career didn't turn out that way due to a number of factors: his 90s teams not being good enough for a very competitive era, his letdown in that Rockets series (and relative letdown in the playoffs in general), and his late start which might have given him more chances to win.
I think it's fine to have Robinson rated below those centers. But that's also because center is such a dominant position. I think Robinson could definitely rate as a top 10-15 player.
Personally I would rather have Robinson than Hakeem.
If he was in the League today he would probably be the best Center ... and probably a top 5 player of all time if he played in this Era ... but he played in the 90's with probably the best crop of talent at Center ... Hakeem Ewing Shaq and + Jordan dominated this era too ... I would still choose Hakeem over him ...
In head to head Regular season matchups they are pretty much even .. but in the 1 playoff series they played together Hakeem destroyed Robinson ..
Easily, if Dwight Howard were playing in 1994 he'd be behind Shaq, The Dream, Robinson and Ewing.
I would say instead of 19 years old, focus on the 2 years he lost to the service. In his generation he is only behind Shaq & Hakeem, so add in another 3000 points, 1600 rebounds, 325 blocks to his numbers and re-evaluate his career and rankings to them. Yes he would still be behind them but closer to them than he is now and a bigger margin than he has over Patrick Ewing. Top Centers ever is the hardest position to rank as of the 15 greatest players ever 5 are centers.
Career stats are impressive but I tend to look at the achivements that players did on court, if MJ had not missed nearly two years then he would have been far closer to Kareem's career point total. Magic could have maybe played another 5 plus years if he had not got ill etc.
I fully agree that Robinson would have been near Shaq, Ewing, Hakeem total career points, blocks etc if he had joined the league a bit earlier and not missed nearly all one season.
On the all time list David would be in my top 25 to 30 players easilly but any choice is subjective, how can you judege him say against Steve Nash for example as both played different positions entirely.
Although he did play fewer career games than a lot of the other legends, he perhaps did have one of the best career finales finishing on a winning championship team.