Without a doubt, the Rockets and Spurs have had superstar talent that led to tremendous success in their franchises’ history. These two teams have also been consistently relevant for the state of Texas, and are renowned for their ability to win and build the right culture of hard work and dedication.
As a result, many fans in Texas and all over the world wonder which franchise had the better all-time players? The Spurs have won more titles and have a legendary big three led by a great coach, while the Rockets have found success thanks to HOF big men.
Who would win in one game, to decide once and for all which franchise had the better players? Let’s analyze this by players per position and finally a game analysis.
Point Guard: Tony Parker vs. Chris Paul
Both point guards are legends who have been the main ball handlers on their teams throughout their careers. As a pure talent, Paul usurps Parker as the better player but Parker plays perfectly alongside Duncan and Ginobili. Parker is also one of the best finishers in NBA history, and he will be on the attack all game long.
Similarly, Paul will remain in attack mode and will use his floor leadership to feed Hakeem and also give McGrady some open looks. Overall, both point guards will run the show exceptionally well and will be pivotal for their teams from the first second of the game.
Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili vs. James Harden
Ginobili will be the man who delivers in the clutch and feeds off of the other 4 stars on his team. His playmaking and scoring at the rim will come in great handy when Duncan gets double teamed in the post. However, Harden will be the star shooting guard in this game and he will find it easy to penetrate to the rim. Even when guarded by Kawhi Leonard, he will use the pick n roll to his advantage to switch back onto Manu.
Even if Manu is no slouch defensively, Harden won’t have any problems attacking the rim. Eventually, the Spurs will find a way to slow him down a bit once they start double-teaming.
Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard vs. Tracy McGrady
Another intriguing matchup, Leonard and McGrady will go back and forth offensively. While T-Mac is no slouch on the defensive end, Leonard’s defensive presence will give the Spurs a favorable matchup here. McGrady will certainly score, but Leonard will find ways to minimize his impact as much as possible.
Not to mention, Ginobili will take turns bothering McGrady as much as possible. Even if Harden and McGrady outscore the Spurs perimeter players, the Spurs will be able to get key stops when needed down the stretch. That might be the difference in this matchup.
Power Forward: Tim Duncan vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
Duncan will be the difference-maker on both ends of the floor, no matter how skilled Hakeem was. His high basketball I.Q. and ability to impact the game will just about be enough to handle Hakeem’s perfect offensive game. Buffered by David Robinson, Duncan will find ways to minimize Hakeem’s effectiveness down low by fighting for boxout position and also contesting his shots around the rim. There are few better players in NBA history who could defend the rim better than Duncan.
Not to mention, Duncan will run plays from the middle and find open guys for easy buckets. Hakeem will still be the best player on the floor for the Rockets, and will likely lead them in rebounds and blocked shots in the game. If he does manage to get it going if could spell very bad news for the Spurs. But it is assumed that both Robinson and Duncan will be able to bother Hakeem enough to where he won’t completely take over the game in the Rocket’s favor.
Center: David Robinson vs. Yao Ming
Finally, the center position. Robinson was a great player, and so was Yao. Both players had tremendous footwork and scoring ability, along with great size. Yao will be a load to handle thanks to his height, but Robinson will have some success against Yao and will probably put up 15 and 10.
Both bigs will be equally as dominant, although Robinson’s ability to move his feet quicker and finish at the rim will favor him slightly here.
The Rockets will be very difficult to stop offensively. Harden and T-Mac are two of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, and they will find success when switching onto Manu Ginobili who, although it is crafty, cannot stop them from attacking the rim. Kawhi Leonard will be critical to slowing both of these guys down, and he will spend most of his energy trying to be the defensive anchor.
Paul’s playmaking and shooting will be slightly offset by Parker’s ability to push the pace, find the open man, and finish around the basket. Their matchup will be very intriguing but they will likely cancel out each other’s production.
The bigs are where the game will be won. Olajuwon will most likely snatch the most rebounds, and be a force inside. But Duncan will be too clever and too dominant on the inside, even venturing out and nailing mid-range shots off the bank. The Rockets will not be able to stop Duncan from controlling the pace of the game. However, Hakeem will be the main man for the Rockets and will finish the game as the leading scorer in the paint.
The game will be tight until the 4th, where Kawhi will do a number on defending James Harden. He will limit Harden to only 4 fourth-quarter points, while the Spurs chemistry will be clicking on the other end. Parker and Ginobili will feed off of Duncan, who will just take over down the stretch.
The Spurs squeeze this one 116-114 thanks to some timely buckets and key defensive stops.
All-Time Spurs Five vs. All-Time Rockets Five 116-114