Who’s Better: Baron Davis or Mike Bibby?

08.25.09 9 years ago 43 Comments

We argue. You decide…

BARON DAVIS (by Ben York)
When he wants to be, Baron Davis can be an elite player in the NBA. Judging by his trips to India that culminated in his recently found enlightenment, it’s my belief that he wants to be a threat again in ’09-10.

When he asserts himself, Baron can be downright unguardable. He’s not that far removed from his phenomenal seasons in Golden State where he averaged over 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds a game. In Los Angeles, he should finally have a healthy squad of teammates and a renewed sense of motivation to make some noise in the West. He also announced publicly that he feels the Clippers are “his” team now and wants to inherit more accountability — something that was not the team-wide sentiment last year.

In regards to Baron’s ability over Mike Bibby, it’s really not a contest. Davis is far superior and has been more consistent over the course of their respective careers in nearly every statistical category despite being on teams with far less talent. Even on his most inconsistent nights (which Baron has), he still puts up more points, gets more assists, more rebounds, draws more fouls, and is a constant threat to catch fire. The same cannot be said for Bibby who is, at best, a streaky shooter and questionable distributor.

Once again, I’ll go back to the analogy I used when we compared Nash and Kidd — if the players switched teams, how much better or worse would that team be? The Clippers, undeniably, would be a worse team with Mike Bibby at the helm with no true leader, scorer, or go-to player. The Hawks, on the other hand, would actually be more dangerous with an explosive player like Baron feeding the ball to Joe Johnson and Josh Smith throughout the game.

If you had to choose which player you’d want to build a team around, would anyone truly take Mike Bibby over Baron Davis? Even if it’s solely based on potential, Davis has to be the clear choice with the possible rewards far outweighing the risks. Bibby might be the more safe choice but this is in large part due to a lesser role that he’d have on the team.

Again, when Baron wants to be, he can be a very skilled leader of men and a key piece to the success of a team. Bibby, however, has always been (and always will be) just an OK point guard.

No hesitation at all – Baron takes this one.

MIKE BIBBY (by Austin Burton)
This shouldn’t even be an argument, right?

Baron Davis is clearly more talented than Mike Bibby. He’s stronger, faster, more athletic. He scores more points, dishes more assists, collects more steals. He has two All-Star nods, versus zero for Bibby. And even if Baron (30) isn’t that much younger than Bibby (31), he at least plays like it. Just recently I included Bibby in the group of NBA players who “stopped attacking the rim around the same time they stopped wearing t-shirts under their jerseys.”

And yet here we are, posing this question, with me arguing for Bibby. Why? Because contrary to everything stated above, Bibby is currently better than Baron. How? Because he manages gets more out of that slower, weaker, less-talented body than Baron gets out of his luxury model.

Over the last five seasons, Baron has led his team to the playoffs once; Bibby has done it four times. And this isn’t one of those Tony Parker-type arguments where the point guard in question has Hall of Fame talent around him: In 2005, Bibby anchored a Sacramento team that traded Chris Webber mid-season. In ’06, Bonzi Wells was the Kings’ top postseason scorer. (Not to mention in Sacramento’s heyday, they weren’t truly dangerous until Bibby emerged as a crunch-time killer, taking the big shots C-Webb and Peja shied from.) In Atlanta he joined a young squad lacking experienced leadership, and they’ve only improved since Bibby’s arrival, scaring Boston in ’08 and making the second round in ’09.

Meanwhile, Bibby has quietly established himself as one of the more consistently productive PG’s in the game. Last season he averaged 14.9 points, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and only 1.6 turnovers, tying for eighth in the NBA with 167 threes. In the playoffs, Bibby hit 54% from three, 46% from the field and 95% from the line, although his averages dipped to 13 points and four dimes.

As for Baron, he made Terry Fator money while leading a talented Clippers team with big expectations to another Lottery reservation. Moreover, he might have been the League’s worst-shooting point guard. Baron hit 30% from three, and according to 82games.com, 33% on two-point jumpers (worse than Tyrus Thomas and Kenyon Martin) and 49% on “inside shots” (NBA-leader Andre Iguodala made 72%). Contrasting Baron’s reckless jacking, Bibby, with his non-existent vertical and bow-legged gait, simply finds good shots and makes them.

These “Who’s Better?” arguments are meant to judge players at their current skill level, not the past. But in some cases, a man’s track record has to count for something. Baron is often called one of the best PG’s in the world “when he’s on,” but all Bibby has done is outperform him and succeed at almost every turn. Forget the highlight reel: Bibby wins because he achieves consistency and poise at a position that demands it.

After all, what good is all that talent when you’re not getting the most out of it?

Who do you think is better?

Follow Ben York on Twitter: @bjyork
Follow Austin Burton on Twitter: @AustinatDIMEmag
Follow DIME on Twitter: @DIMEMag

“Who’s better?” archives
8/21 — Shaquille O’Neal vs. Pau Gasol
8/19 — Andre Iguodala vs. Rudy Gay
8/14 — Ray Allen vs. Michael Redd
8/12 — Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd
3/3 — David West vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
2/26 — Kevin Durant vs. Danny Granger
2/19 — Paul Millsap vs. David Lee
2/17 — Caron Butler vs. Tayshaun Prince
12/24 — Marcus Camby vs. Andrew Bynum
12/19 — Deron Williams vs. Chauncey Billups
12/17 — Manu Ginobili vs. Tracy McGrady
12/12 — Amare Stoudemire vs. Al Jefferson
12/10 — Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chris Bosh
12/9 — Derrick Rose vs. O.J. Mayo
12/8 — Rasheed Wallace vs. Elton Brand
12/5 — Kevin Martin vs. Vince Carter
12/4 — Brandon Roy vs. Joe Johnson
12/3 — Dwight Howard vs. Yao Ming
12/2 — Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony

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