Many people consider the 1980’s to be the golden age of NBA basketball. The league saw the peak of the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, the two most historic franchises in the NBA.
The decade is famous for being very physical compared to the modern NBA. For that reason, many critics often believe that some of today’s players would not last if they played in the 80’s.
Despite the criticism received by players today, there are some players who would be able to dominate in the 80’s, regardless of how physical it may have been. Here are three players who would have dominated the NBA if they played in the 80’s.
The Greek Freak has become one of the most dominant players in the NBA today. Giannis Antetokounmpo gets a lot of his points from his strength and speed in transition. These are attributes that would help him be a successful scorer in the 80’s.
The lack of shooting would benefit Giannis. He isn’t a great shooter, but there would be no pressure for him to develop a three-point shot in the 80’s. He could focus more on attacking the basket and dominating inside. Although there would be several defenders trying to bother him in the paint, Giannis is a good enough passer to make the right basketball decisions. He would never need to force anything.
Defensive rules were less restrictive in the 1980’s. This would benefit an elite defensive player like Giannis. He could essentially sit in the paint and shut down opponents. The lack of shooting means less spacing, which means that the passing lanes are shorter. Antetokounmpo’s length would allow him to get multiple deflections each game, then run in transition on the other end.
Don’t let his sweet smile fool you. Growing up in Europe, Luka Donic became a tough player. He led the NBA in technical fouls last season. By letting his emotions out within games, he has the right attitude to be a successful player in the 80’s. Luka also has great strength and size to help him be a more physical player when he has to be.
Luka Doncic has a play style that is similar to the way Larry Bird played. He is a great scorer who excels at creating space for his own shot, or for others. If he were just half as talented as Bird, he would succeed in the 80’s. However, Doncic is one of the best players in the league and will likely go down as an all-time NBA great when his career is finished.
LeBron James is fit to play in any era of basketball. He has incredible size, speed, strength, and athletic ability. Combining that with his elite skill and IQ for the game, he becomes one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA.
If LeBron’s playstyle were to be compared to anyone in the 1980’s, it would be Magic Johnson, who was the best player of the 80’s. Both are stellar playmakers who excel at pushing the pace in transition and distributing the ball to teammates.
LeBron James was about just as good a passer as Magic, if not better. However, LeBron possesses even more abilities that would have allowed him to have even more success than Magic, such as his defensive versatility and scoring ability.
No one can question the talent of LeBron James. The way he is built and the way he takes care of himself would set him up for success, regardless of what decade he plays in. That is why he has dominated the NBA for nearly two decades.
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