GAME! That's the term we use when a player can play his defender like a fiddle
while not being overly athletic, not particularly fast, not very tall at his position and
doesn't have the quickest of releases on his jump-shot! In today's game guys like
Paul Pierce, Zach Taylor and Andre Miller come to mind. Guys who know how to use
their body, fundamentals and the gullibility of their defender to their advantage to put
themselves in a position to get their shot off! Though these guys got game, they pale
in comparison to the most efficient scoring machine in the history of the game under
7ft tall, Adrian Dantley! Most young bucks have never heard of him. Many old heads
have forgot about him. Basketball as a whole doesn't appreciate his legacy. And
because of this he is officially UNDERRATED!
A.D. NBA's Most unique player!
Many people say there will never be another Charles Barkley. Which isn't true. There
will be another 6'5" 250lb beast of a man with the break away speed of a cheetah and
jack rabbit hops! Trust me it will happen again! But we will never see a flatfooted, one
leg longer than the other, 6'5" man with mediocre foot speed , average hops dominate
opposing defenses the way Adrian Dantley did in the 80's! Adrian Dantley was a
nightmare for opposing defenses. Next to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquliile
O'neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, he has to be the next guy in line opposing defenders
dreaded guarding the most. Why? Because AD would embarrass you! He was
guaranteed to do two things: 1. Pump fake you off your feet at least a half dozen
times; 2. Get you in foul trouble. Make that 3 things. He was guaranteed to drop
anywhere between 20-40 points on you. Guaranteed!
No one could guard AD. He could back you down, fade away, face you up, put the ball
on the floor, go both ways, spin in , spin out, he had the whole kit and kabootle when it
came to breaking his man down! He was the Kevin Mchale of small forwards. one
thousand moves in his arsenal but he used them with maniacal precision along the
lines of the Saw character in a horror flick! He tortured his defender. He would post
his guy up, pivot to face him, actually give the ball a massage that's probably illegal in
all 50 states, put the ball on the floor, go right hard towards the base-line, spin back
left towards the paint, ever so slowly, shoot over the outstretch hand of his defender,
all nets! Defender shrugs his head in disgust, looking at his coach with that "nothing i
can do about it" look! After abusing a guy close to his size in the post, where he
mostly preferred getting the rock, the opposing coach would be forced to put a 6'10
guy on him. This usually was even more embarrassing! AD would bring his man out
the paint, get the ball, pump-fake his man out his shorts and blow right past him to get
the easy bucket. Did I mention this man had game? Everything you see Carmelo
Anthony do on a regular, Adrian Dantley perfected decades ago. Only he was shorter,
not as athletic as Melo. But Dantley is the guy who trained an already highly skilled
Anthony into being the offensive assassin he is today!
Though Dantley wasn't as fast or as tall, or as athletic as Carmelo (though probably
stronger), he was able to score at 6'5" at a much more efficient rate!
Carmelo's scoring stats- 24.8 ppg on 45.7% shooting from the field. (career stats)
Adrian Dantley's scoring stats- 24.3 ppg on 54% shooting from the field.(career stats)
Now you see that Dantley was extremely efficient over the entirety of a 15 year career!
Also you must take into account his ppg average is only 24.3 because of injuries at
the end of his career. In his prime Dantley could score like Jordan!
More efficient than Jordan!
Adrian Dantley is the only non 7 footer to lead the league in scoring while shooting
over 55% from the field! Jordan never done that! Neither has Kobe. Iverson, LeBron
Durant, Gervin, Wade, McGrady, Maravich, Bernard, Dominique, or even Tiny
Archibald! Actually only Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Shaquille O'neal have
accomplished that feat! They, with Dantley, have done this twice! Adrian Dantley for a
4 year stretch averaged over 30ppg while shooting over 55% from the field all 4
seasons. In the 1983-84 season Dantley set the record for averaging 30ppg on the
least amount of field goal attempts, at 18.2 a game! He combined his supreme
efficiency with an unparalleled knack of getting to the free throw line! In those 4
straight 30ppg seasons he got to the line an average 10.8 times a game, while playing
for the Utah Jazz! In 83-84 he got there 12 times a game! He lead the league in free
throws 6 times and actually made 28 in a one game! A record he shares with Wilt
Chamberlain (his 100 point game). While playing for the Jazz, AD averaged 29.5
points on 56% shooting from the field over 7 seasons! So for a seven year stretch
Dantley put up close to Jordan's career 30.1 ppg average while being much more
accurate from the field! In fact Dantley sacrificed alot of his scoring stats when he was
traded to the Detroit Pistons in 1986! Dantley went from shooting 19 times a game to
shooting 13 times a game. Now playing with a loaded Piston squad that had Isiah
Thomas, Vinny Johnson, Joe Dumars, and James Buddah Edwards, Dantley had to
deal with a drastic drop in shot attempts for the sake of trying to win a title!
Dantley was brought to Detroit as the final piece of the puzzle to get them past the
supremely talented Larry Bird lead Boston Celtic team. With the added fire-power, the
Pistons pushed the Celtics to a game seven in the 87 Eastern Conference Finals. A
game in which Dantley had a head to head collision with teammate Vinnie Johnson
and had to leave the game with a concussion, with the game still in the balance. The
Pistons in Dantley's first season with them just missed a Finals trip losing in the Boston
Garden 117-114. Though Dantley had a great series (averaged 23.5ppg on 57%
shooting) many thought he took the easy way out, and didn't go back into that game!
Personally , me being a big fan of AD and actually copying his game, I was
disappointed myself. Vinnie kept playing, but Dantley didn't, so i'm ashamed to say I
kind've scapegoated him myself when the real scapegoat was Isiah that series when
he gave away game 5! Though they lost that season to the Celtics, the Pistons got
their revenge the very next season and finally defeated the legendary Celtic team in
the Eastern Conference Finals to finally get to the Promise Land! In 1988 the Detroit
Pistons pushed the Showtime Lakers to probably the best 7 game series in NBA finals
history. If not for an injured Isiah Thomas and a few questionable calls A.D could've
been a champion. The next season the Pistons were dominating and seemed destined
to win the title, but come mid-season, at the trade deadline, Adrian Dantley was traded
to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Aguirre! A high scoring small forward who just
happened to be Isiah's best friend! The Pistons went on to win 2 titles while Adrian
Dantley vanished into NBA obscurity!
Reasons Why Adian Dantley is Underrated:
Reason #1- He never won a title!
Adrian Dantley was seen as a guy who couldn't get the job done. Dantley had played
for at least 2 teams where there was ample enough talent to win a title! Both those
teams went on to win championships right after he was traded. In the 78-79 season
Dantley played his second season with an LA Laker team that had the likes of Kareem
Abdul- Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, Norm Nixon and Michael Cooper. He played well but
since he played the same positon as Wilkes, they traded him to the Utah Jazz for
Spencer Haywood and the Lakers went on to draft Earvin Magic Johnson and win the
title the following season! He was traded from Detroit for Mark Aguirre and the Pistons
with basically the same roster won 2 straight titles!. Many felt (including myself) that
the Pistons still would've won if they kept AD, but the reality is, he never lead a team to
a title. The knock was that Dantley wasn't willing to play the type of defense the
Pistons wanted him to, while Aguirre would. Also Aguirre was willing to come off the
bench so as to allow defensive specialist Dennis Rodman to start and solidify Detroit's
new defensive minded philosophy! Also offensively it seems the team Captain(isiah
Thomas) didn't like the way the ball stopped when it went into Dantley. He thought it
disrupted the flow of the offense. So because of his lack of championships and the
fact his former teams won multiple championships without him, Dantley's ability to
score was seen as not being conducive to winning!
Reason #2- Defensive Liability!
Adrian Dantley was a weak defender. Or more accurately he wasn't known to play
defense. He could when he wanted to, but his focus was on offense. Funny how much
Dantley and his understudy have in common! In the early eighties teams really didn't
care about defense. It was an afterthought. What was most important was putting
seats in the stands, and with little TV money out there filling the seats was the major
way to make sure everyone got paid. So to do this teams tried to put as many points
as possible on the score board! Then in comes the BAD Boy Pistons who changed the
way people thought about defense. It was now being seen as being just as, if not more
important than offense. Dantley was stuck in his ways and wasn't gonna exert the
amount of energy on defense that we now require great players to do. He was seen as
a one-dimisional player who only cared about scoring.
Reason #3- All he did was score!
A.D. played his best ball during the 80's. This is the era of Bird, Magic, Jordan,
Hakeem, Kareem and Isiah Thomas. All guys who could score, but they all did
something else well! Magic and Bird were great all around players, they along with
Isiah, made their teammates better. Bird could score a bunch, pass and rebound with
the best of them . Magic was great at everything, Jordan was a ball-hog but he was
the best perimeter defender in the League. The great centers of the eighties all could
score, rebound, and block shots! Dantley was only known for scoring. He wasn't a bad
rebounder at 5.7 a game for his career, he actually was pretty decent but his 3 assists
a game for a guy who seemed to have the ball alot makes him look like a ball hog
during a time where the game was played at a much higher pace than the game is
today. So being a guy whose only real concern was to put the ball in the basket
soured his image in the eye sights of basketball historians!
Reason #4- He played in Utah!
When Dantley did his best work he was a victim of circumstance. He did what he did in
a place that got almost zero media coverage. In Utah, the jazz were largely forgotten
until playoff time because they were never televised! Everyone would see what
Dantley was doing in the box score of newspapers, but they really couldn't connect
with him because they never saw him. The franchise was one that had almost zero
fans outside of Utah! If Dantley had of continued in LA he would've been a Legend. Or
if he played for the Knicks like Bernard KIng he would be an Idol. Dantley and King
were both super -dooper scorers who weren't known for much else. One is revered,
one is forgotten. The east coast media bias was in full effect during the 80's!
Reason #5- No flash in his game!
There are other one dimensional players that played during Dantley's era that are
held in higher esteem than Dantley. You have Pete Maravich, who was as flashy as
they come, Bernard King who played with a marked tenacity that inspired people,
Dominique Wilkins, a human highlight film, and you had George Gervin, who scored
so smoothly and was cold as ICE! Then you have Adrian Dantley, the inventor of the
"old man" Game! Dantley's game was like the old guy at the rec who embarrasses
young athletic guys regularly with just fundamentally sound basketball. The type of
guy you respected but didn't understand why he was so good! That was Dantley! The
way he would use 15 out of the 24 seconds of the shot clock to set up his man just to
goad him into fouling him was ingenius, but to many it was boring. His flashiest move
was his spin move that was sweet but kind of slow(I mastered this in my backyard on
my crate rim when i was little watching him when he played for Detroit!). It was very
effective, but he had a game no one really tried to emulate outside of the cities he
played in. He was all skill, no flash.
Dantley Should be considered a Legend!
I understand why one dimensional scorers are low-rated! They don't make their
teammates better and they almost never win titles! But I think we go overboard in
discounting these hired guns! The hardest thing to do in the game of basketball is
score the ball against the best players on the planet! For a guy to work on his game
and get it to a point where no one on the planet can guard him one-on one, that is to
be commended!The fact Dantley was probably the most efficient scorer under 7' tall in
the history of the NBA needs to be noted as nothing short of remarkable! He was
unstoppable for a 7 season stretch as the main focus of his team while putting up
shooting percentages only centers have been known to claim. He was able to do what
he did with flat feet and one leg longer than the other! His knack for scoring should be
on the tip of everyone's tongue whenever the greatest scorers of all-time are
mentioned! Dantley was better than Bernard, Gervin and even Dominique, but for
some reason, it took him 16 years after his eligibilty to be voted into the Hall-of-Fame!
Honestly, pound for pound, inch for inch, Adrian Dantley was the best scorer the
League has ever seen, not named Michael Jordan. And for him to not be regarded as
such is a travesty, and for this reason, and the fact his inability to win a title is
overstated, Adrian Dantley Is indeed UNDERRATED!
ThaLoeDown.com © Copyright 2012: All rights Reserved
Created by David T Willis
|HE'S UNDERRATED!: #2
By Lorrance "Loe"
Dantley blowing pass Kevin Mchale!
Common site when playing Boston.
Mchale often Guarded AD to keep Bird
out of foul trouble
Dantley made a living at the free
throw Line. He also could make
his breakfast, lunch and dinner!