Tim Duncan vs. Karl Malone, Who's the Greatest Power Forward?
(If you want to see Tim Duncan Karl Malone highlights in the video above, skip to 8:48)
These two players are Possibly the two greatest power forwards of all time. One is known for the defensive end and the other is known for the offensive end. They have combined for a total of 27 all NBA first, second, and third teams. What they have done for the game is great. Since there are many debates about who is the greatest power forward of all time, I have decided to get my own opinion out into the public. Today I will compare them by categories. The categories are, scoring, defense, rebounding, passing, and the finale. The finale will be made up of smaller categories. Please feel free to comment and voice your opinion. Don’t forget to follow me on twitter: @CJ_H_12.
Scoring: This one has to go to the Mailman. Karl averaged 25 points per game for his career while Timmy only averaged 20.3. The highest points per game averages for Karl was in 1990 when he averaged 31.0 points per game. Mr. Fundamental’s highest points per game average was 25 points in 2002. Did you notice Karl Malone’s career average was the same as Tim’s highest points per game average in a season? The last stat I have to share is, Karl Malone is second in total points of all time behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Tim Duncan is 26.
Advantage: Karl Malone
Defense: This is another easy one. Mr. Fundamental without a doubt gets this advantage. Karl Malone has only been on 1 defensive second teams and 3 defensive first teams. Those aren’t poor credentials but those stats against Duncan’s credentials are nothing. Duncan’s credentials: 8 defensive first teams and 5 defensive second teams. That’s 13 all defensive teams to only 4. We can also take a look at their defensive win shares and defensive ratings. (If you don’t know what defensive win shares are, go to this: http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/ws.html. If you don’t know what a defensive rating is, go to this page: http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/glossary.html.) Duncan’s defensive win share for his career is 89.24 (6th all time) His defensive rating is 95.38 (2nd all time). Malone’s defensive win share for his career is 92.41 (5th all time. Ahead of Duncan!) Malone’s defensive rating for his career is 101.1 (48th all time). Malone may have a slightly better defensive win share average but Duncan’s defensive teams and defensive rating is too much for Malone.
Advantage: Tim Duncan
Rebounding: This one is very close. Karl Malone averaged 10.1 rebounds per game but Tim Duncan averaged 11.3. Against each other (In regular season) Duncan outrebounds Malone 11.3 to 9.9 per game in 25 games. In the post-season Duncan outrebounds Malone again 10.5 to 8.9 per game in 11 games. These statistics can be deceiving though. Duncan came into the league in 1998. Malone went out of the league 5 years later. This means that when they faced, Malone was old and not as strong while Timmy was young and strong. Still, I got to go with the facts and give Duncan the advantage.
Advantage: Tim Duncan
Passing: This one is another tie. They both average about 3 assists per game and besides, passing is not largely important to a big man (Especially scorers like these two).
Finale: The finale will consist of mini categories. These categories are shooting efficiency, MPG/GPS, leadership, clutch factor, Diversity, and who knows how to win? I will go that exact order when I compare them.
Shooting Efficiency: The first one is shooting efficiency. This means free throw percentage, field goal percentage, and 3 point percentage. Let’s look at free throw percentage first. Tim Duncan’s free throw percentage for his career is 68.9%. Karl Malone’s is 74.2%. Obviously Karl is a better free throw shooter. The next category is field goal percentage. Karl Malone’s FG% is 51.6% and Tim Duncan’s is 50.7%. This is not a big enough difference for me to say Karl Malone’s stat is better. Considering that they both shot/shoot 1 three pointer per 10 games, I might as well not even compare. Karl Malone has now won 2 categories while Duncan has won 2. Therefore the score is 2-2.
MPG/GPS: The next category is MPG/GPS (minutes per game and games per season). Karl Malone’s MPG for his career is 37.2. Tim Duncan’s is 35.4. This is not as big as games per season however. Karl Malone over his career averaged 79 games per season (not counting 1999 due to a lockout). However, if you take out Karl Malone’s last season when he only played 42 games, it’s 81.5! (81.5 is what we will use with Karl Malone) Tim Duncan averaged (taking away the two lockouts he has played through) 77 games per season. This is how they matchup: Malone: 81 GPS and 37.2 MPG Duncan: 77 GPS and 35.4 MPG. To end this category, I will find how many total minutes they would play on an average season. To do this, I will multiply their MPG by their GPS. Here are the results: Malone: 3013.2 minutes Duncan: 2725.8 minutes. As you can see, Malone dominates in this category. The score is now 3-2.
Leadership: The third mini category is leadership. This one comes down to three things. The leader of a team is what most people think about when they hear a team’s name. When I hear Spurs, I don’t think Manu, Parker, or D-Rob. I think about Tim Duncan. When I hear Jazz, I don’t think Stockton, Maravich, or Sloan. I think about Karl Malone. The second thing this category comes down to is being a good teammate. Check and check. The last thing is gathering the team as one and winning. Check and no. I do think without Michael Jordan the Jazz would’ve won two championships but the Spurs won 4! If Tim Duncan had played 4 series against Jordan (with his 4 championship team’s) then I think he would’ve won 2. Jordan never won a championship against a team with a great center. 1991 is the closest with Vlade Divac. The Spurs had David Robinson and Tim Duncan for 2 championships. I think the Spurs big’s would overpower the Bulls. Overall I think Duncan is a better leader. The score is now 3-3.
Clutch Factor: The last category is the clutch factor. We all know Tim Duncan is clutch. Let’s all get that clear. Tim Duncan averaged 21.7 PPG and 11.4 RPG in 1999 regular season. In the 1999 NBA Finals he averaged 27.4 PPG and 14 RPG. In 2003 regular season Duncan averaged 23.3 PPG and 12.9 RPG. In the 2003 NBA Finals he averaged 24.2 PPG and 17 RPG. In Tim Duncan’s regular season career he averages 20.3 PPG and 11.3 RPG. In 4 NBA Finals he averages 22.3 PPG and 14.15 RPG. Now on to Karl Malone. Before I show you these stats, let me show Malone’s 1997 and 1998 regular season stats: 1997: 27.4 PPG, 9.9 TRB, and 4.5 APG. 1998: 27 PPG, 10.3 TRB, and 3.9 APG. Here is how Malone did in the finals: 1997 NBA Finals: Game 1: 23 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 assists. Game 2: 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 1 assists Game 3: 37 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists Game 4: 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. Game 5: 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists Game 6: 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Total: 23.8 PPG, 10.3 TRB, and 3.5 APG 1998 NBA Finals: Game 1: 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 assists Game 2: 16 Points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists Game 3: 22 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Game 4: 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists. Game 5: 39 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists Game 6: 31 points, 11 assists, and 7 assists. Total: 25 PPG, 10.5 TRB, and 4.1 APG. Let’s not forget 1998 NBA Finals game 6 when Karl Malone had a costly turnover which lead to Michael Jordan winning the game and series. The score is now 4-3, advantage Tim Duncan.
Diversity: I have to give this one to Duncan. He can average 25 PPG and still win defensive player of the year.
Who Knows How to Win: A lot of the times, this category ends in a tie. However, there is a clear winner in this situation. Malone had Stockton (Better than Tony Parker), Hornacek (Just as good as Manu), and Sloan (Might be as good, but I would take Poppovich over Sloan). Still Malone won 0 championships and Duncan won 4. The only case you can make for Malone’s 0 is Jordan. Jordan was just so dominant, no one was stopping him.
Winner: Tim Mr. Fundamental Duncan
By the way: Even if the score was 4-4 I would’ve chose Duncan for one reason. I would take great defense and good scoring over good defense and great scoring any day.