Why Allen Iverson Isn't Really an All-Star
(published during the 1999-2000 season)
Last night, Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson had an off shooting
night. He was only 9 for 22 from the field (41%), as opposed to his
season-long average of 41%. Wait! These two figures are the
same! In other words, an off night is an average night for
Yet, Iverson was selected to start the NBA All-Star Game. Now,
no one disputes that Iverson can be fun to watch. He's probably the
quickest player in the league, and his crossover dribble is deadly.
But the guy is just not that good.
Per minute played, Iverson is a 48% worse rebounder than the average
NBA player—which is not surprising since he's a guard—but he's only 28%
better than average at dishing out assists. In addition, Iverson
is much more likely (34% more likely) to turn the ball over. And
this is in comparison to the NBA's average player, including all
the bench-warmers. Compare Iverson to the NBA's best guard, Gary Payton.
Per minute, Payton turns the ball over 13% less often than Iverson, Payton
is a 62% better rebounder, and Payton is an 80% better assist man.
Furthermore, Payton shoots 45% (the league's average player shoots 43%),
and he has hit twice as many 3-pointers as Iverson.
All Iverson really does is score—or, to put it more correctly, all Iverson
really does is shoot. He scores more than 30 points per game, but
he does so at an extraordinarily mediocre clip. The average NBA player
scores essentially as many points per shot as Iverson. Iverson does
get a fair number of steals, but he's a full 33% behind deserving All-Star
Eddie Jones in that category.
How much is a guy who contributes little besides a lot of not-particularly-efficient
scoring really worth to his team? Well, in Iverson's case, he's worth
7.7 Points Added per game and .192 Points Added per minute—and those are
not All-Star numbers.
*Note: Iverson finished the regular season ranked 38th in the
NBA in Points Added Per Game, with a 7.2 P.A./G average, and he was not
among the NBA's top-100 in Points Added Per Minute.