Friday, May 26, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell reviews a book that concludes that players like Allen Iverson are overrated. It includes this:

We see Allen Iverson, over and over again, charge toward the basket, twisting and turning and writhing through a thicket of arms and legs of much taller and heavier men—and all we learn is to appreciate twisting and turning and writhing. We become dance critics, blind to Iverson’s dismal shooting percentage and his excessive turnovers, blind to the reality that the Philadelphia 76ers would be better off without him.

I would amend that and propose that, say, the Detroit Pistons are better off without and Allen Iverson who plays like he does on th Sixers.

I have not read the book, but it seems to place a high value on scoring efficiency; i.e. a high shooting percentage.

But the reality is that in order to score, somebody has to shoot before 24 seconds elapse. So to say that the Sixers would be better off without Iverson, it's not sufficient to say that he scores his points in an inefficient manner. You must also demonstrate that the shots Iverson takes and misses are inferior options to the alternatives. An what alternatives have the Sixers had?

I agree that a team with an offense built arouns 2005-6 version of Allen Iverson is not a contending team. But how much of Iverson's play is determined by his environment. If you put Iverson on the Pistons or Spurs or Mavericks, would he take as many shots and commit as many turnovers? I tend to think not.
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