Yeh Points — Allen Iverson: What was the question?

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It’s no secret that Iverson is hardly a WoW favorite. But Iverson still gets a lot of respect from mainstream hoops fans, who wonder why the former MVP doesn’t have an NBA job right now. In this installment of “Numbers Nostalgia,” I’ll take a look at The Answer, and see what the numbers tell us. As always, all facts and figures are courtesy of theNBAGeek.com 

Editor’s Note: The two metrics we’ll use are Wins Produced, which estimates how many wins a player earned for their team. The other metric is Points over Par per 48 minutes (PoP48), which estimates how many extra points a team could expect to win (or lose) by if the player played the full game. 

1) AI won the MVP in 2000-2001, when “he took the 76ers to the NBA Finals”. How good was he that year?

Not very good. AI produced 4.8 Wins in nearly 3,000 minutes of play, which works out to a below-average PoP48 of -0.8

His Wins Produced total tied him for 5th on the team, with his backcourt mate Eric Snow (whom my wife always refers to as “The Serial Killer” for his scary facial expressions), and Snow played 21 fewer games. AI trailed Theo Ratliff (who suffered a season-ending injury after 50 games and was traded), Dikembe Mutombo (who only played 26 games for the 76ers that year, albeit at a superstar clip of +6.5 PoP48), Tyrone Hill (AKA “The Walking Dead”), Aaron McKie, and Wins Produced leader and unlikely star George Lynch, who produced 11.3 Wins at a PoP48 of +3.3

The 76ers won 56 games, but would have been even better if they kept AI on the bench, allowed McKie to play SG, and started the immortal Jumaine Jones instead, who had a PoP48 of +2.5 in consistent minutes.

2) In 2006, the 76ers traded AI to the Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two #1 picks (which I believe turned into Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith). Who won the trade?

Before the trade, AI produced 0.6 Wins for the 76ers, at a below-average PoP48 of -1.6. After the trade, the 76ers got 2.4 wins out of Joe Smith (at a below average but still better than AI -0.5 PoP48) and 5.9 wins out of Andre Miller, at a reasonably efficient PoP48 of +1.0

Meanwhile, the Nuggets got 4.0 wins out of AI after the trade, at an improved, but still below average -0.2 PoP48.

The 76ers clearly got more production out of the trade, along with two draft picks.

The following season, the Nuggets got AI’s best season — 11.0 Wins Produced at a well above average +1.7 PoP48. Iverson was actually the second best player on the team, behind the always productive Marcus Camby.

Meanwhile, the 76ers got 8.8 Wins Produced out of Andre Miller, along with 4.73 from Thaddeus Young, both around +1.3 PoP48.

In other words, the Nuggets actually did reasonably well on the AI trade! (Editor’s Note: Oh Chris, we’ll be talking this next podcast :)  ) Now if only they had traded Melo to the 76ers for Andre Iguodala at the same time….

3) In 2008, the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess to the Nuggets for AI. What was Joe Dumars smoking?

AI represented an expiring contract, but in every other way, the trade was a disaster.

The previous season, the Pistons won 59 games and went to the Eastern Conference Finals. They were led by Chauncey Billups, who produced 15.0 wins at a PoP48 of +5.8 (nearly a superstar), and got significant and efficient contributions from Tayshaun Prince (8.6 WP), McDyess (7.8 WP), Rip Hamilton (7.5 WP), and Jason Maxiell (7.2 WP).

The trade took away two of the Pistons’ top three players, along with 22.8 Wins Produced. In their place, the Pistons got 2.1 Wins out of Iverson, at his usual below-average clip (-1.5 PoP48). Even Kwame Brown did better than Iverson that year!

The Pistons slumped to 39 wins (a 20 game drop).

Meanwhile, Billups led the Nuggets in Wins Produced (10.1), and the Nuggets improved to 54 wins.

To add insult to injury, Dumars than used all of his cap space on Ben Gordon (-2.6 PoP48) and Charlie Villanueva (-3.0 PoP48). Ugh.

Conclusion:

Over the time period covered by TheNBAGeek’s numbers, AI played 10 seasons and produced 44.5 wins at a PoP48 of -0.8, well below average.

Just for comparison’s sake, among SGs this season, even the much-maligned Roger Mason Jr. is producing a PoP of +0.2 for the wretched Hornets.

In his final two seasons in Cleveland, LeBron James produced 44.6 wins at a PoP48 of +7.9!

Despite The Answer’s many accolades, which include the NBA MVP and being named the 5th greatest shooting guard of all time by ESPN in 2008 (he beat out Clyde Drexler and Reggie Miller, who ought to be rolling over in the graves at that slight), his true destiny is to be the answer to the following question:

“Which so-called NBA superstar is the clearest example of the Yay Points hypothesis?”

-Chris

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