The NBA has sparked debate among fans for generations. Mark Jackson recently stated that Dwyane Wade is the third greatest shooting guard of all time behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, respectively.
Wade is a three-time champion, but he has been fortunate enough to win championships when surrounded with good talent. If not for some goods moves by Pat Riley, would Wade be considered a better player than Allen Iverson?
Over their first five seasons in the league, Wade and Iverson averaged 24 and 26.4 points per game, respectively. Each of them had one Finals appearance, but Iverson was not able to capture a championship. Comparing the talent on the Miami Heat‘s roster in 2006 to the Philadelphia 76ers of 2001 shows that Iverson had to carry much more of the load for his team than Wade.
Iverson carried a team to the finals with Aaron McKie and Eric Snow as his primary help on offense. Wade played with Shaquille O’Neal in his final season as a dominant big man. He also had Alonzo Mourning, Antoine Walker and Gary Payton contributing late in their careers.
Wade is a better on-ball defender, but he and Iverson created turnovers by playing the passing lanes. Iverson averaged 2.2 steals during his career, while Wade currently sits at 1.8. If Iverson had a player of O’Neal’s caliber in 2001, he would’ve won a ring without question.
So Iverson put up the better individual numbers, and had a much larger impact on basketball from a cultural aspect. Wade has three more championships, and has played with far more talented teams than Iverson ever did.
By virtue of rings, Wade will be considered better than Iverson, but the latter could do more with less. For that reason, Iverson is a better player than Wade.