Isiah Thomas was better than Kevin Johnson

Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Myles Brown and Bomani Jones had a discussion on Twitter last night that began with Strauss declaring Kevin Johnson was better than Isiah Thomas. What followed was Brown and Jones telling Strauss he was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Brown and Jones are correct. Isiah Thomas was better than Kevin Johnson.

Before explain why, here’s what everyone said:

The exchange

Strauss:

Kevin Johnson was better than Isiah Thomas. Had we known that, Isiah might not have been granted free reign to destroy the Knicks

Brown:

@SherwoodStrauss No.

Strauss:

@mdotbrown Yes. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/j/johnske02.html …http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/t/thomais01.html …

Brown:

@SherwoodStrauss No. This is inarguable.

Jones:

@mdotbrown @SherwoodStrauss k.j. better than zeke? that’s cute.

Strauss:

@bomani_jones @mdotbrown KJ was better statistically. He just didn’t play on the league’s best defensive team (Also got hurt a lot)

Brown:

@SherwoodStrauss @bomani_jones He also didn’t beat Bird, Magic or Jordan in their prime. Or lead a team, much less in the manner Zeke did.

Jones:

@mdotbrown @SherwoodStrauss think about it: zeke turned his game DOWN to get the most of that roster with no other star.

Strauss:

@bomani_jones @mdotbrown The title Pistons weren’t a great offensive team & Zeke wasn’t responsible for that defense

Strauss:

@bomani_jones @mdotbrown Also, the people deeming this opinion ridiculous should at least acknowledge that the numbers don’t flatter Zeke

Brown:

@SherwoodStrauss @bomani_jones It may be childish and dismissive, but there’s few other ways to say it: Fuck yo numbers. Zeke was better.

Strauss:

@mdotbrown @bomani_jones I’d say fuck our old non-League Pass, non-Internet era (and the memories it produced)

Strauss:

@KNelsonDX @bomani_jones @mdotbrown Why’s the burden of proof on me to show that a statistically worse player is worse? It should be on you

Strauss:

NBA isn’t MLB, but the numbers have to mean SOMETHING. It’s that or our collective memories are always perfect & can’t be questioned

Jones:

@SherwoodStrauss @KNelsonDX @mdotbrown yeah, but you told us we’re just old and on some "good ol days" noise. what would you listen to?

Strauss:

@bomani_jones @KNelsonDX @mdotbrown Nah. The claim is that our old days memories suck, given those old contraints

Jones:

@SherwoodStrauss @KNelsonDX @mdotbrown except when they both played, and folks were in the present, nobody said this sh t you’re spittin.

Strauss:

@bomani_jones @KNelsonDX @mdotbrown Nobody says it because they’ll get THIS kind of response. But there’s plenty of reason to say it

Strauss:

@bomani_jones @negativedunks @mdotbrown Okay, hypothetical. Zeke never plays with a top-5 defense. How do we remember him?

Strauss:

@bomani_jones @negativedunks @mdotbrown KJ led two consecutive No. 1 offenses. Did Zeke ever do that?

Strauss:

To those asking, I’m not citing PER in this Zeke-KJ thing. Don’t need to. PER, Win Shares, Wins Produced, all the aggregate stats agree

This went on a bit longer, and you can check the various Twitters to read it in full, but I’m going to stop here.

The reasoning

PER

  • Isiah Thomas: 19.8
  • Kevin Johnson: 19.1

Win shares

  • Isiah Thomas: 12.5
  • Kevin Johnson: 9.4

Win shares per 48 minutes

  • Isiah Thomas: .143
  • Kevin Johnson: .117

Why do my numbers favor Thomas when Strauss’ numbers favor Johnson? I’m looking at the playoffs. He’s looking at the regular season.

Can’t we all agree the playoffs are more important than the regular season?

Plus, factor in that Thomas, in sum, advanced further in the playoffs than Johnson – meaning Isiah’s playoff numbers presumably came against tougher competition than Johnson’s – and Thomas blows Johnson out of the water.

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