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All-Time Basketball IQ Rankings [TOP 20]

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Richie_Rich, Aug 21, 2013.

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Who's got the highest basketball IQ of All-Time?

Poll closed Aug 26, 2013.
  1. Bird

    55 vote(s)
    48.2%
  2. Magic

    22 vote(s)
    19.3%
  3. Cousy

    3 vote(s)
    2.6%
  4. the Big O

    1 vote(s)
    0.9%
  5. Hondo

    1 vote(s)
    0.9%
  6. the LOGO, Mr. Clutch

    5 vote(s)
    4.4%
  7. CP3 (Mr. President, flops and all)

    6 vote(s)
    5.3%
  8. that old dude Nash (but when he was younger)

    5 vote(s)
    4.4%
  9. LerBern Jerms (King maybe, but no Prez)

    8 vote(s)
    7.0%
  10. Someone else, dude (but NOT John freakin' Stockton)

    8 vote(s)
    7.0%
  1. Richie_Rich

    Richie_Rich Member

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    Long time lurker, first time poster.
    [warning: long post, guys]

    Decided to join CF when I moved to Colorado in '09. I've bounced around quite a bit since (career), but always felt at home on the BBS. So here's a long-deserved shout out to Mr. Hardisty for creating/maintaining the best fan site in the world. (Hope you don't run me off for this long first post. Not too many red-blooded Clutch City fans in the SF Bay Area these days.)

    Well, the offfseason's been excruciatingly long (we can all agree) ... but I've noticed a few new threads in the Dish (e.g. Iverson retiring, Melo vs. Prime Grant Hill, Melo better scorer than Durant, best team of high schoolers, etc.) and it got me thinking about one of my favorite discussions: basketball IQ.

    I'll narrow down this particular topic to high BB IQ.

    Generally speaking, my idea of high BB IQ is expanding your game beyond yourself -- to the point where your teammates are made great simply by playing with you. What I mean is that a truly gifted player will reflect uncommon intelligence on the court by developing winning chemistry with his teammates.

    I'm reminded of an old Bill Bradley quote:
    “Basketball can serve as a metaphor for ultimate cooperation.
    It is a sport where success ... requires that the dictates of community
    prevail over selfish impulses."

    This is often seen (as we've heard over the years) by 'making the extra pass', understanding help defense, executing complex rotations, boxing out, drawing charges, controlling the pace, setting back picks, moving without the ball, etc.

    It's also evident during non-'game time' hours when great pros spend countless hours in practice with their teammates developing each other's skill sets while learning advanced team concepts necessary for building a winning culture. Sorry AI. You missed the Answer on this one, buddy.

    In my opinion, the 'benefits' of high BB IQ are seen in developing a winning team chemistry (offense and defense). These IQ traits can be measured by observing (1) fundamentals, (2) instincts, (3) court awareness (4) individual sacrifice, (5) clutchness, (6) leadership, and (7) work ethic. A strong work ethic, as in every day life, is the catalyst that transfers great 'potential' into great 'kinetic' results. Suffice it to say, while their minds raced at quantum speeds, the actual game moved much, much slower for the these hardwood legends.


    [DISCLAIMER: These rankings are subjective; meaning no list will adequately measure the greatest IQs in order. I'll miss some. Also, I'm likely biased given that I've watched more of Bird and Magic, while being limited to random old footage of Cousy & Hondo. At the end of the day, I'm just hoping for an intelligent discussion on a fun topic I've enjoyed over the years. Thanks.]


    ALL-TIME BB IQ list: (factoring BOTH offense & defense)
    [source for stats: http://www.basketball-reference.com/players]


    1. Larry Legend [pure genius--dominated the best w/ sheer grit and intelligence]

    2. Magic Johnson [most prolific floor general ever--made his teammates legends]

    3. Bob Cousy ["Mr. Basketball"--he invented the modern PG position and fast break]

    4. Bill Russel [greatest winner ever, most dominant defensive player of all time, 133.64 DWS]

    5. John Havlicek [before Jordan there was Hondo--greatest clutch winner in NBA history]

    6. Oscar Robertson [most complete player in NBA history--elite in every facet of the game]

    7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar [ALL TIME LEADER in combined offensive -AND- defensive WIN shares]

    8. Michael Jordan [most dominant scoring guard EVER--defensive wizard--highest career PER 27.91 of all time]

    9. Tim Duncan [greatest combination of offensive AND defensive efficiency in the modern NBA]

    10. Jerry West ["Mr. Clutch"--the purest, sharp-shooting guard to ever play]

    11. Nate Archibald [ONLY player to ever lead in scoring (34.0) & assists (11.4) in same year]

    12. Hakeem Olajuwon [big man explosiveness + guard agility + instincts + footwork = GAME CHANGER]

    13. LeBron James [basketball prodigy aging like fine wine--perfect do-it-all wing--2nd highest career PER 27.65]

    14. Rick Barry [perfected art of shooting--invented point-forward position--2nd highest career PER 23.76 (ABA)]

    15. John Stockton [tough as nails, all time NBA steals & assist leader, 2nd all time point guard TS%]

    16. Steve Nash [career 60.5 TS% -- commanded the best team offensive rating in the modern NBA]

    17. Wilt Chamberlain [greatest offensive force ever, led the NBA in assists one season--IQ blossomed late]

    18. Lenny Wilkens [NBA assist leader for 2 years while also head coach of winning Supersonics]

    19. Dennis Rodman [per Chuck Daly, the most intelligent player he's ever coached. Period.]

    20. Pete Maravich [most prolific collegiate scoring machine and playmaking PG of the '70s--offensive wizard]



    Wildcards (in no particular order):
    ('what might have been' high BB IQ greatness cut short by freak injuries/death/drugs):

    Bob McAdoo [ROY, 3-straight scoring titles, 1 MVP award--ALL in first 4 seasons]
    Bill Walton
    John Lucas
    Michael Ray Richardson
    Arvydas Sabonis [7'4" Soviet version of Larry Bird with better defense in his prime]
    Drazen Petrovic
    Ralph Sampson
    Len Bias
    Grant Hill
    Brandon Roy
    Yao Ming


    Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
    (the best of the rest; exemplary IQ in their era)

    Bob Pettite, Artis Gilmore, Earl Monroe, Sam Jones, Gail Goodrich, Dave Bing, Norm Nixon, Elgin Baylor, Dave Cowens, Julius Irving, Billy Cunningham, Wes Unseld, George Gervin, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Kiki Vandeweghe, Alex English, Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre, Alvin Robertson, Fat Lever, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Cedric Maxwell, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Karl Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Danny Ainge, Terry Porter, Clyde Drexler, Kevin Johnson, Jeff Hornacek, Tom Chambers, Ricky Pierce, Sidney Moncrief, Brad Dougherty, Mark Price, Rod Strickland, Hersey Hawkins, Scottie Pippen, Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf, Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Robert Horry, Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace, Andrei Kireilinko, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, David Robinson, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Durant.



    Great potential -- limited sample size (games started):
    (in no particular order)

    Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, James Harden, Paul George, Kwahi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Ricky Rubio, Kenneth Faried, and Anthony Davis.



    ALL-TIME IQ (starting five/reserves):

    PG - Magic Johnson / Bob Cousy
    SG - John Havlicek / Jerry West
    SF - Larry Bird / Rick Barry
    PF - Tim Duncan / Hakeem Olajuwon
    C - Bill Russell / Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


    Please note, these rankings are strictly for BB IQ. There's no way His Airness or Dream wouldn't make the 1st Team if we're talking about All Time Greats.

    Sorry for the long novel. Would've definitely inserted 'spoilers' if I knew how. But I did include a poll for greatest BB IQ of all time.
     
    6 people like this.
  2. basketballholic

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    Good list and good thread, OP. Basketball iQ is what separates the greats from the other greats Guys like Russell, Magic, and Bird top my own list. I truly believe those guys would dominate today's game. I think Lebron and Paul have outstanding iQ as well. Jordan had good iQ as well but he was probably the greatest psyche out intimidator of all time. Bird was very good at that a well. I put psychological intimidation in a slightly different category than iQ but it is closely related.
     
  3. DonatasFanboy

    DonatasFanboy Member

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    Interesting thread, but ultimately I find this impossible to choose / rank. I voted Bird but that was more of an "I like watching him" type of vote.

    Btw, isn't Dr. J on the list, or am I missing him? Definitely belongs, and very high.
     
  4. DeAleck

    DeAleck Contributing Member

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    Hate him all you want, John Stockton should be top 5. If you are #1 in assists (beating #2 by 31% margin) and #1 in steals (beating #2 by 22% margin), you are top 5 in my book.

    By the same token, Jason Kidd (#2 in both categories) should be on the list.
     
  5. sealclubber1016

    Supporting Member

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    So only all-time greats have high IQ?

    This is almost an impossible list to assemble. Shane Battier types who's basketball IQ is off the charts, yet they didn't have the physical ability to go along with it.

    I have no doubt Battier had superior knowledge of the game, but you seem to be taking their physical ability as part of IQ, which it isn't.
     
  6. CCorn

    CCorn Member

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    Royce white?
     
  7. Easy

    Easy Very Calm
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  8. VBG

    VBG Member

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    I think Chris Paul has to be on the all time list even though I despise him
     
  9. cheke64

    cheke64 Member

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    hajon hondo
     
  10. HeyBudLetsParty

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  11. dragician

    dragician Member

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    Bird by far.
     
  12. pugsly8422

    pugsly8422 Contributing Member

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    Good post. I definitely put Shane Battier on my list. Didn't he have a great GPA at Duke, like 3.5? Another underrated person is/was Dikembe Mutombo. I know he had a couple of degrees from Georgetown and spoke like 7 like languages. Wasn't it Bill Bradley that lost to Al Gore in the democratic presidential nomination? You have to be pretty smart and/or pretty popular to make it that far.

    Of course, I'm talking more about book smarts, and not necessarily court smarts. I definitely think of players like Stockton, Nash, Billups (I believe he's definitely underrated when it comes to this topic), Bird, Duncan, Dream, Battier, and Magic when I think of court smarts.

    Court - Battier
    Book - Dikembe

    Combined - Got to give it to Battier.
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. cheke64

    cheke64 Member

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    Battier bro! the hell with you
     
  14. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    Among stars, In the past 30 years that I've watched basketball, CP3 has been the best decision-maker I've seen on the court. Brutally efficient and everyone around him look better.

    I say among stars because it's much harder to judge BBIQ of role players. For example, if it weren't for Morey's NYTimes interview, would fans really know about Battier being kind of a QB of the defense type of player? I think there are plenty of players with very high BBIQ, but we don't know about them because they may just be bit players.
     
  15. Zboy

    Zboy Contributing Member

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    Just on the defensive side alone, Hakeem's IQ was off the charts.
     
  16. CometsWin

    CometsWin Honorary 99’er
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    Magic v Bird is the ultimate. Magic's creativity and leadership vs Bird's skill and assassin mentality. Both of them cold blooded in crunch time.
     
  17. Patterned919

    Patterned919 Member

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    I'll take unathletic white guy for $500
     
  18. Patterned919

    Patterned919 Member

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    Serious answer, I can't sit here and give you a genuine assessment of the basketball IQ of players from the 70s and 80s, and I don't think most people on this board can, but the person who has been most impressive in the past decade or so I've actually been watching has to be CP3.
     
  19. Alvin Choo

    Alvin Choo Member

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    Nash?
     
  20. Patterned919

    Patterned919 Member

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    Maybe it's unfair, but I lend a lot more credit to CP3 since he's a half court player and Steve Nash is a high tempo, gun it player. The former is a more cerebral type of game, in my opinion. Also, CP3 controls the pace of the game like no other while Nash's game doesn't allow him to do that nearly as well.
     
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