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March 20, 2015

Jimmer vs Tyler Haws

-- A not-so-comprehensive comparison of Cougar scoring legends

Tyler Haws' BYU career is over which means the time to evaluate his greatness is upon us, or as some might say, it's legacy check time!  Where does Haws rank among the Cougar legends?  As BYU's all-time leading scorer is he the best to ever pass through Provo?

Perhaps like me you view such a statement as BLASPHEMY!!! against the holy name of Jimmer.  But just a week ago I asked my two most informed BYU basketball friends who they thought was the better player, Jimmer or Haws?11.  To preserve the integrity of this underwhelming sample size, I asked them separately, with neither being aware of the other's answer.

They both replied Haws and my eyes popped out of my head.

We could run a full-blown analysis on this question, comparing the players across every measurement possible: shooting percentage, rebounding, passing, hair style, turnovers, usage, defense and so on.  But the question of who you think is better between the two comes down to a simpler debate: would you rather have a pretty good player for a long period of time or a once-in-a-lifetime player for a shorter amount of time?

Jimmer and Haws each played the same number of years at BYU, but their paths to graduation carried distinct trajectories.  Haws was a machine of consistency, a robot at his best and the exact same robot at his worst.  He averaged 22 points as a sophomore, 23 as a junior and, yup,  22 as a senior.

Jimmer's first two years were forgettable, his third year on par with Haws' best and his fourth year was no big deal, just the most fun I've ever had watching basketball.  Absolutely anything was possible with senior year Jimmer – 52 points in one game, why not?22.  With one free throw. ONE!!  And by the way, there have been four march madenss teams that didn't pass the 52 point mark in their entire game this week. – which is something no one could ever say about Haws.

(That fact alone tells you Jimmer was the better of the two players, at least for that great year of 2011, but I digress.)

So what do you prefer?  In Bill Simmon's ‘Book of Basketball’ he asked this same question using two professional players as example.  Would you rather have an A-plus point guard for ten quality years (Isiah Thomas) or an A-minus for seventeen years (John Stockton)?  I read this and answered Stockton without hesistation!  Partially because I grew up in Stockton’s backyard of course, but also because I admired consistency and the ability to avoid injury as it equates to longevity.  Anyone can be great for a limited time, I reasoned, but do it for years on end and then I'll be impressed.

The thing is I read that book in 2010, a year before Jimmer came along and started dropping bombs on the future NBA Finals MVP and everyone else who passed through his jet stream.  It only took a few 40-point games and a half-court shot to tell me I was wrong, that outer-planetary unstoppability is better than gravity-bound excellence, even if the latter outlives the former. And so to my two friends and any others of similar persuasion, go ahead and take your three years of Haws.

I like my chances with this:

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