Oh hell yeah. As I said a few weeks ago, I am all in on these NBA Twitter Debate questions. Some have been better than others, but it's one of the few things keeping me sane right now. I have to say, this one right here is a fantastic pick em, worthy of breaking down every option. When you're talking about four of some of the all time greats and then adding the fix to what was maybe a "flaw" in their game, it's not as easy a choice as you might think. Here's a case for each
I imagine a lot of Lakers/Kobe fans will be all bent out of shape with the idea that Kobe can't shoot. Don't be so sensitive. We're talking about giving Kobe the ability to be a 50-40-90 guy. You know, something only 8 players in the league have ever done. Nash's career splits are 49/42% compared to Kobe's 44/32%. Can you imagine if Kobe's three point shooting went up that much? What would you even do trying to defend him? Remember, he still has all the other Kobe offensive skills, only now he shoots like one of the most efficient shooters the league has ever seen. That's a monster.
We all see how good LeBron is in Year 17 right. Shaq in his 17th year? Not so good. Trust me, I saw Shaq every night when he got to around that time in the league and it was not pretty. You could argue LeBron is still in his prime even today, so if the idea is that in Year 17 we could still get Prime Shaq, I mean that's the most dominant force known to man. I don't see how that player doesn't win every title.
MJ had very few flaws as a player, we all know that. Perhaps his biggest flaw was that he played in an era that didn't really embrace the three point shot. He was as dominant as he was while taking just 1.7 3PA a night for his career, shooting 32%. In today's NBA? Teams are on average taking 33.9 3PA a night shooting 35%. I would say an above average number when it comes to 3PA for a single player would be like 9 a game. That would put Jordan in the top 8 in terms of 3PA based on this season. An above average 3P% I would put at something like 39%. To put that into context, imagine adding Buddy Hield's (9.7 3PA / 39%) shooting ability to Jordan? Is there a different level of GOAT that's even possible?
The Big Fundamental attempted a total of 168 threes in 1,392 games. He made only 30 of those 168. Dirk? He made 1,982 threes in 1,522 games. That's a pretty terrifying player who can give you the business on the block but then take you outside and kill you from deep like only the greatest shooting Euro ever. Now you may think this would be worthless since the Spurs have developed into a team that would rather die than shoot threes. Year in and year out they rank in the bottom 5 in the league in threes. But during the Duncan era? They were much more willing. They were more often than not league average or even in the top 10 in threes, so you add a three point shooting Duncan to that system, that's a real weapon.
So which way are you leaning? For me, the answer is Shaq with LeBron's longevity. I just think that getting 17 years of Prime Shaq would be more impactful than any of the other options. Kobe had seasons where he wasn't terrible inefficient, there were already a couple seasons here and there where Jordan shot over 37% from three, and while the Duncan option is interesting, it doesn't trump Prime Shaq for me. That's my rationale, Prime Shaq is my final answer.