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Old 10-31-2007, 05:14 AM   #1
GMATCallahan
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Default Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

At first glance, this question might appear outlandish, but let's think about it. If you're an NBA general manager constructing a historical team, would you rather have Derek Harper or Allen Iverson? Iverson has been a "superstar" and a primetime volume scorer with moderate playmaking ability, but he's also been tremendously inefficient and he struggles to run an offense. Defensively, he gambles for steals but is otherwise of little use, and his personality can be combustible (he used to swear at head coach Larry Brown from the bench).

Harper couldn't match Iverson as a pure scorer, be but did average at least 16.0 points per game for seven straight years (1987-1993) and at least 17.0 points for six consecutive seasons (1988-1993), averaging over 18.0 or more three times and peaking at 19.7 in 1991. So while he wasn't a primary scorer, he would generate points at the point guard position (he scored 35 points, for example, in Game Four of the 1988 Western Conference Finals versus the Lakers).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3uTorVMwbM

http://www.eskimo.com/~pbender/playoffs/1988/box5-29

Harper was also a solid playmaker, averaging 7.0 or more assists for five straight years (1987-1991), peaking at 7.9 in 1987. Defensively, he was probably one of the best point guards ever, strong, tough, big (listed at 6'4"), quick, and committed with great hands. Like Iverson, he came up with steals (averaging 2.0 or more four times), but unlike Iverson, Harper was also a focused on-ball defender. He wouldn't be as effective nowadays with the rules forbidding hand-checking and more physical bumping-and-grinding, but he'd still be defensively superior to Iverson.

Harper was also an efficient player, unlike Iverson. He never averaged more than 2.5 turnovers in a season, and his career assists-to-turnovers ratio was 2.82:1.00, compared to Iverson's meager 1.65:1.00. Harper's career field goal percentage was a very solid .463 (three times above .500, from 1985-1987), compared to Iverson's .424. Even more revealingly, Harper's career playoff field goal percentage was .449, compared to Iverson's putrid .3996664 (in a whopping 26.8 attempts per game).

Now, some people will note that Iverson led a team to the NBA Finals in 2001 with Philadelphia, but that was in the awful New Century East at one of its lowest points. Harper actually enjoyed more team success, playing on four 50-win teams compared to Iverson's one, playing in two conference finals (1988 with Dallas and 1994 with New York) to Iverson's one, and also playing in the NBA Finals in New York in 1994. Granted, Harper wasn't the best player on that Knicks team by a long stretch, but he was the starting point guard and without him, New York may not have made it all the way to the Finals, or even past the second round.

The bottom line is that Iverson is a scorer to try and build around, but it's very hard to build around him because of his inefficiency. When your superstar scorer can't shoot .400 from the field for his playoff career and yet launches 27 field goals per game, it's very difficult to win, because you're just not scoring on too many of your possessions. And then on the other end, Iverson needs to be surrounded by strong defenders to protect his own defensive vulnerability and to cushion the blow of his offensive inefficiency.

In Harper's case, you may not build around him per se, but he's the kind of point guard that you certainly wouldn't mind constructing your team with. He wasn't a great scorer or playmaker, but he was capable in both respects, he ran an offense better than Iverson, he was relatively efficient, he took care of the ball, and he made sound decisions. Then on the other end of the floor, he was a superior defender, and he was also a respectable leader. Remember, in 1988, Harper averaged 17.0 points, 7.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 0.4 blocks, and a .459 field goal percentage for a team that pushed the defending champion "Showtime" Lakers to Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals. In his prime, Harper was always a cut below the best point guards in the game, but that's because his prime overlapped with those of some of the best point guards to ever play the game (Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Kevin Johnson, Isiah Thomas). In today's NBA, a prime Harper would be a top-five point guard, producing numbers at Chauncey Billups' level but with superior efficiency and defense. And certainly, Harper would fit into a team concept and structure better than Iverson.

I'd take Derek Harper over Allen Iverson in constructing a team, but what do you say?

Last edited by GMATCallahan : 10-31-2007 at 05:18 AM.
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Old 10-31-2007, 05:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

Had Derek Harper won anything AI didnt I might consider the "Hes more likely to win" argument. I think hes a really underrated player(more unknown than underrated really). But he was the 4th best player on the 88 Mavs in the playoffs. Roy Tarpley, Aguirre, and Rolando were better by then. Roy just wasnt healthy/drug free much after that. And he wasnt as good as Ewing, Starks, or Oakley on those Knicks either.

He was a very good playmaker and defender and a good scorer but he had no significant success that wasnt as a teams 4th or less best player. AI has never been in that position because you would need 5 hall of famers in their primes on one team to have AI and that many people better than him.

Might as well ask Norm Nixon or AI. I say that knowing you just might do it and take Norm.
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Old 10-31-2007, 05:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kblaze8855
Had Derek Harper won anything AI didnt I might consider the "Hes more likely to win" argument. I think hes a really underrated player(more unknown than underrated really). But he was the 4th best player on the 88 Mavs in the playoffs. Roy Tarpley, Aguirre, and Rolando were better by then. Roy just wasnt healthy/drug free much after that. And he wasnt as good as Ewing, Starks, or Oakley on those Knicks either.

He was a very good playmaker and defender and a good scorer but he had no significant success that wasnt as a teams 4th or less best player. AI has never been in that position because you would need 5 hall of famers in their primes on one team to have AI and that many people better than him.

Well, Roy Tarpley came off the bench for that Dallas team as a rookie. He may have been more talented, but I don't know that you could argue that he more vital to that Mavericks squad. And in a sense, you could argue the same for the others. Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman were superior scorers, but were they really better overall players, taking into account playmaking, floor leadership, and defense? In 1988, Blackman averaged 18.7 points and 3.7 assists to Harper's 17.0 and 7.0, kind of like Richard Hamilton to Chauncey Billups nowadays. Aguirre was a big-time scorer (25.1 points), but when he went to Detroit the next year, he became more of a role player (albeit an important one). So I don't know that Harper was simply the Mavericks' fourth best player. The relative importance of those guys was hard to distinguish, and you could even say the same about the '94 Knicks after Ewing. The rest of the guys played different but similarly important roles; if you'd removed any of them from the equation, then New York would have been much less successful.
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Old 10-31-2007, 05:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kblaze8855

Might as well ask Norm Nixon or AI. I say that knowing you just might do it and take Norm.

I'd think about it ... :)

But again, when your superstar shoots 27 field goals per game in the playoffs but doesn't convert at a full .400 clip for his career, what are your chances of substantial success? In Iverson's case, it only really worked once (one 50-win season and conference finals appearance, in 2001), and that was for two reasons:

1) Solid defenders surrounded him everwhere, most notably the 2001 Defensive Player of the Year and one of the greatest defensive centers and shot blockers ever in Dikembe Mutombo. These guys (also Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Raja Bell, Aaron McKie, Eric Snow) balanced the Sixers' offense because they didn't look for the ball or care about shots, and they held the opposition's scoring down so that Philadelphia could win despite Iverson's inefficiency.

2) The competition was really very mediocre (a thin Toronto team led by a hype-drive Vince Carter who wasn't terribly effective in Game Seven, and a jump-shooting Milwaukee squad).

In Harper's case, he proved to be a winner in very different situations on very different teams against superior competition. No, he wasn't a best player like Iverson, but when your best player is a black hole as much as a star, just how valuable is he? Iverson has only enjoyed great team success in the most particular of circumstances.

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Old 10-31-2007, 06:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

Roy Tarpley was a beast that year. He might have been a 6th man(of the year I might add) but he put up 18/13 in the playoffs. Old poster here named Miles and I used to talk about him often. Roy was a borderline terrorist when he wasnt high. Out there having 30/20 games vs Ewing. He got 15/15/, 14 and 16, and 13/11 the last 3 months of the year. He was supposed to be the future. Some Mavs fans still have him over Dirk as the most talented player in team history.

And sure Harper had a role thats hard to say for sure was less important than the teams two all stars but thats just basketball. One thing is for sure....Harper had little case to be listed as the best player on any team that ever did anything. The only years of his career where he was arguably the best his teams won 28, 22, and 11 games. Yes...11. The only season he was without question the best player on a team(Blackman was gone)...his team went 11 and 71.

People like to mention winning role players and compare them to less winning superstars but it just doesnt work here. Not only did Harper not win anything AI didnt when he was a supporting player...when he was the best player he had the second worst record in NBA history. And the next year? They went 2 and 27 before he was traded to the Knicks. And added to that he shot 42 and 38% those two years. Maybe being efficient was more a product of others than his own ability or approach to the game.

Whatever anyone thinks of AI its hard to do the usual "___ would win more than you could with Iverson" when he in fact went nowhere and won nothing AI didnt and led the worst teams since the ABA merger when he didnt have better players than him on the team.

Im all for propping up somewhat obscure oldschool players who dont get the respect they deserve....but AI is a first ballot hall of famer. A living legend. 4 time scoring champ behind only Wilt and Jordan per game, MVP, and several time steals leader who is all over the record books and led a team to the finals. If hes gotta be compared to a guard who was never even an all star and put behind him as a pick to win...at least have the other guy be someone who actually won something and didnt lead the worst teams ever while shooting worse than AI in the brief time he was in AIs position. Derek Harper was a very very slight notch up from Kenny Smith.

Terrell Brandon, Fat Lever, and Alvin Robertson types justify this question more.

Last edited by Kblaze8855 : 10-31-2007 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 10-31-2007, 06:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kblaze8855
Roy Tarpley was a beast that year. He might have been a 6th man(of the year I might add) but he put up 18/13 in the playoffs. Old poster here named Miles and I used to talk about him often. Roy was a borderline terrorist when he wasnt high. Out there having 30/20 games vs Ewing. He got 15/15/, 14 and 16, and 13/11 the last 3 months of the year. He was supposed to be the future. Some Mavs fans still have him over Dirk as the most talented player in team history.

And sure Harper had a role thats hard to say for sure was less important than the teams two all stars but thats just basketball. One thing is for sure....Harper had little case to be listed as the best player on any team that ever did anything. The only years of his career where he was arguably the best his teams won 28, 22, and 11 games. Yes...11. The only season he was without question the best player on a team(Blackman was gone)...his team went 11 and 71.

People like to mention winning role players and compare them to less winning superstars but it just doesnt work here. Not only did Harper not win anything AI didnt when he was a supporting player...when he was the best player he had the second worst record in NBA history. And the next year? They went 2 and 27 before he was traded to the Knicks. And added to that he shot 42 and 38% those two years. Maybe being efficient was more a product of others than his own ability or approach to the game.

Whatever anyone thinks of AI its hard to do the usual "___ would win more than you could with Iverson" when he in fact went nowhere and won nothing AI didnt and led the worst teams since the ABA merger when he didnt have better players than him on the team.

Im all for propping up somewhat obscure oldschool players who dont get the respect they deserve....but AI is a first ballot hall of famer. A living legend. 4 time scoring champ behind only Wilt and Jordan per game, MVP, and several time steals leader who is all over the record books and led a team to the finals. If hes gotta be compared to a guard who was never even an all star and put behind him as a pick to win...at least have the other guy be someone who actually won something and didnt lead the worst teams ever while shooting worse than AI in the brief time he was in AIs position. Derek Harper was a very very slight notch up from Kenny Smith.

Terrell Brandon, Fat Lever, and Alvin Robertson types justify this question more.

Yeah, but Iverson led the Sixers to 22-win and 31-win seasons, and how many games would they have won last year had he stayed in Philadelphia? His Sixers missed the playoffs four times in his ten full years despite playing in the much weaker conference, and finished with a cumulative record below .500 with Iverson (391-397, and that's not counting last season while Iverson was still there).

At the end of the day, I just don't see a major difference in winning impact between Iverson and Harper. They both played on a Finals team, and they both played on some rotten teams. Yeah, Iverson "led," his squad, but he faced the 2001 Milwaukee Bucks in the conference finals, not the 1988 Los Angeles Lakers. I think that we need to note the differences in context and competition, rather than creating an artificially level playing field.

Harper may have been a "role player," but he wasn't a John Paxson-type role player (as you know). You might as well see him as a semi-star, at least. The question is whether that semi-star was more valuable than a combination superstar/black hole (Iverson).

Harper might have only been a little better than Kenny Smith in 1989 or 1991, but overall, I think that his career and full range of skills hold up better (aside from the Jet's championships). Kenny Smith on those Houston teams in 1994 and 1995 was a true role player.

Iverson is more accomplished than Harper, there's no doubt about it, and he's a more prodigious individual player. However, that doesn't necessarily address the question of whether he'd be a better choice when constructing a team. I agree that those wretched Dallas clubs at the end of Harper's tenure clouds the question, but was that situation not on the verge of happening in Philadelphia with Iverson?

I agree that Tarpley was a beast and it's most unfortunate that he washed away his talent in drugs. I just don't know that he was better than Harper in 1988, or more important to the team. Even though the Mavericks featured a 25-point scorer in Aguirre, they kind of featured an ensemble cast as well (how about Sam Perkins).

I think that Harper's efficiency declined due in large part to age (that goes for many players, especially guards), and you have to admit that the organization surrounded him with incompetence. Dallas let Aguirre, Perkins, James Donaldson, and Blackman go with little to show for them (instead bringing in end-of-the line fading stars such as Adrian Dantley, Alex English, and Fat Lever); the Mavericks dealt away younger players such as Dale Ellis, Mark Price, and Detlef Schrempf who could have bridged the gap to the next generation; Tarpley blew his career on drugs, and the Mavericks took forever to sign Jimmy Jackson after drafting him in 1992. By the end of his era there, Harper might as well have been a man on the moon.

I might take Terrell Brandon and Fat Lever over Iverson, too, not that they were necessarily better individual players, but I suspect that it would be easier to construct a successful team with them.

Last edited by GMATCallahan : 10-31-2007 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 10-31-2007, 08:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

I'd take Derek Iverson hands down: or even Allen Harper.
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Old 10-31-2007, 10:26 AM   #8
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

i really liked harper. the mavs and blazers were my favorite western conference teams growing up, and harper was my favorite mav. i loved the way he wouldn't back down to magic and could get his shot whenever he wanted but instead ran the offense so well.

however, imo he's not on a level playing field w/ ai. as you've admitted and kblaze has stated very well, harper is simply not a franchise player. he's a solid piece of the doc rivers / kenny anderson variety (maybe even a notch up) but not a guy you could build a team around. he's not even a guy you'd want as your second best player. put harper at his best with shaq at his best and nobody would consider them a great duo. that would be shaq and all the rest. put iverson in his prime next to shaq and not only would they be considered a great duo, they'd be expected to win the title every year no matter what.

maybe that's not a great argument. let me try another tact. say a brand new nba time traveler league is starting. but you don't know who is going to be available for drafting or how many teams there are going to be. you've got no idea who is going to be on your team. you are a gm just starting out, and all salaries will be determined after the season is played. you have the chance to pick derek harper or allen iverson first (and nobody else). how do you argue yourself into taking harper? "oh, i'll probably get an all-star center and a couple high scoring forwards, so i'm better off with a more traditional pg?" you just don't know that. looking at the league today there are certainly teams that would benefit more from having harper than ai (and sadly denver might be one of them), but until you've got melo, that's not true. the ability to put the ball through the rim against stacked defenses is a premium skill, and ai has it.

and to be honest, i don't think ai's really that hard to build around except for two crucial things. all you really need is a couple reliable shooters with size, a bunch of defenders, and some offensive rebounders. the tough thing is you need guys who can stay focused with minimal touches, and that can be hard to come by. and if one of those defender / rebounders is a good post scorer, you've got a contender (even ty hill and mutumbo were enough to get them to the finals). but finding a good post scorer in today's game isn't that easy (the sixers haven't had one since coleman, and he was over the hill and a constant injury threat). that said, what does harper need to be on a contender? two or three players who are outright better than him wouldn't hurt - be they shaq, kobe, jones, campbell - rolando, aguirre (and maybe perkins or tarpley) - ewing, oakley, starks - or what have you. i think that asking for multiple all-stars is a little bit bigger pill than asking for defensive role players who can swallow their egos and play without the ball.

actually if you look at iverson's career, his poor winning percentage is really overstated. he had a talented team his first few years, but they were mismatched and young, and even after they hired him larry brown hadn't figured out how to use his assests best yet. they jumped above 500 during ai's 3rd season. they made the finals two years later when they had mutumbo. they had a drop off the following year when iverson missed 20+ games. they never really recovered after that because the mutumbo / mccullough + van horn trade back-fired when todd's nerve disorder took him out of the line-up. they haven't really had a starting quality 4 or 5 with good offensive rebounding instincts since then, and those are really the most crucial pieces to have with any high scoring guard.

it will be interesting to see what the nuggets do this season. they were crushing it at the end of the season last year and might have advanced had ai been there long enough for them to earn a higher seed where they wouldn't have to go against the eventual champion spurs. they have never lost a game where iverson has had double digit assists. IF they can get him to really focus in on playmaking and hold back the non-stop challenging of opposing front line defenses and over-penetration in general, they could really make some noise. this injury to atkins may be a huge blessing for that reason.

my personal biggest gripe with iverson is his defense. i don't understand how anyone who is that quick can be beat off the dribble so easily. isiah was no bigger or stronger, but he played aggressive pressure defense that could take the ball right out of some pg's hands. i never see iverson play that way, and he has the physical tools to do it.
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Old 10-31-2007, 11:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dejordan
i really liked harper. the mavs and blazers were my favorite western conference teams growing up, and harper was my favorite mav. i loved the way he wouldn't back down to magic and could get his shot whenever he wanted but instead ran the offense so well.

however, imo he's not on a level playing field w/ ai. as you've admitted and kblaze has stated very well, harper is simply not a franchise player. he's a solid piece of the doc rivers / kenny anderson variety (maybe even a notch up) but not a guy you could build a team around. he's not even a guy you'd want as your second best player. put harper at his best with shaq at his best and nobody would consider them a great duo. that would be shaq and all the rest. put iverson in his prime next to shaq and not only would they be considered a great duo, they'd be expected to win the title every year no matter what.

maybe that's not a great argument. let me try another tact. say a brand new nba time traveler league is starting. but you don't know who is going to be available for drafting or how many teams there are going to be. you've got no idea who is going to be on your team. you are a gm just starting out, and all salaries will be determined after the season is played. you have the chance to pick derek harper or allen iverson first (and nobody else). how do you argue yourself into taking harper? "oh, i'll probably get an all-star center and a couple high scoring forwards, so i'm better off with a more traditional pg?" you just don't know that. looking at the league today there are certainly teams that would benefit more from having harper than ai (and sadly denver might be one of them), but until you've got melo, that's not true. the ability to put the ball through the rim against stacked defenses is a premium skill, and ai has it.

and to be honest, i don't think ai's really that hard to build around except for two crucial things. all you really need is a couple reliable shooters with size, a bunch of defenders, and some offensive rebounders. the tough thing is you need guys who can stay focused with minimal touches, and that can be hard to come by. and if one of those defender / rebounders is a good post scorer, you've got a contender (even ty hill and mutumbo were enough to get them to the finals). but finding a good post scorer in today's game isn't that easy (the sixers haven't had one since coleman, and he was over the hill and a constant injury threat). that said, what does harper need to be on a contender? two or three players who are outright better than him wouldn't hurt - be they shaq, kobe, jones, campbell - rolando, aguirre (and maybe perkins or tarpley) - ewing, oakley, starks - or what have you. i think that asking for multiple all-stars is a little bit bigger pill than asking for defensive role players who can swallow their egos and play without the ball.

actually if you look at iverson's career, his poor winning percentage is really overstated. he had a talented team his first few years, but they were mismatched and young, and even after they hired him larry brown hadn't figured out how to use his assests best yet. they jumped above 500 during ai's 3rd season. they made the finals two years later when they had mutumbo. they had a drop off the following year when iverson missed 20+ games. they never really recovered after that because the mutumbo / mccullough + van horn trade back-fired when todd's nerve disorder took him out of the line-up. they haven't really had a starting quality 4 or 5 with good offensive rebounding instincts since then, and those are really the most crucial pieces to have with any high scoring guard.

it will be interesting to see what the nuggets do this season. they were crushing it at the end of the season last year and might have advanced had ai been there long enough for them to earn a higher seed where they wouldn't have to go against the eventual champion spurs. they have never lost a game where iverson has had double digit assists. IF they can get him to really focus in on playmaking and hold back the non-stop challenging of opposing front line defenses and over-penetration in general, they could really make some noise. this injury to atkins may be a huge blessing for that reason.

my personal biggest gripe with iverson is his defense. i don't understand how anyone who is that quick can be beat off the dribble so easily. isiah was no bigger or stronger, but he played aggressive pressure defense that could take the ball right out of some pg's hands. i never see iverson play that way, and he has the physical tools to do it.

These are respectable points, and I agree in most cases. That said, most would assume that a player of Iverson's status and prodigious scoring talent would have played on more than one 50-win team and in more than one conference finals in eleven years, especially given how awful the East has been for close to decade. As you indicated, Iverson now enjoys a fairly impressive supporting cast in Denver, so this season should be a true test. What's troubling, though, is that in last year's playoff series versus San Antonio, Iverson shot .368 from the field yet attempted 22.8 field goals per contest, while his high-scoring teammate, Carmelo Anthony, shot a healthy .480 from the field yet only received 19.6 field goal attempts per game. Given the night-and-day difference in efficiency and the fact that Iverson was being guarded by the NBA's premier perimeter defender, Bruce Bowen, and then had to deal with a huge shot blocker in Tim Duncan at the rim, shouldn't those FGA marks have been at least reversed, and wasn't it Iverson's responsibility to see to that? And if he had, might not have Denver made it more of a series?

At the end of the day, it's just hard to wrap my arms around a career playoff field goal percentage of .3996664 in 26.8 attempts per game. If you look at the fact that Michael Jordan shot .487 in the playoffs on 25.1 FGA, that difference goes a long way to explaining the distinction between the mega-scorers, and it renders Iverson's scoring titles relatively irrelevant. At the end of the day, it's not just about how much a player scores, but how successfully he scores.

That said, I agree about Iverson's premium scoring talent and how exceptional it happens to be. It some cases, it's better to build around it, but the "black hole" effect also has to be reason for caution. If you figure that you can find scoring elsewhere, or that you can resort to a balanced attack (see Detroit in 2004, or even San Antonio in recent years), or that you can win with defense, then Harper might be the choice. After all, if you can win a championship in this day and age without an 18.0-point scorer (the Pistons in 2004), then maybe Harper would be the better option. The '04 Pistons probably could have won the title with a young Harper instead of Billups at the point; with Iverson, however, the whole team's offensive and defensive dynamic might have been disrupted to the point of not even being a serious contender.

Granted, that's just one team, and explosive scoring often makes the difference in the playoffs. However, it's more likely to make the difference if it's efficient along with being explosive, hence LeBron James and Dwyane Wade the last couple years in the East. With Iverson, it's more like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Henceforth, he made the Sixers competitive, but only once were they a true contender with him and it's just hard to find consistency amid so much inefficiency.

Finally, in a strong conference, I think that Iverson needs to be surrounded by multiple All-Star-caliber players as well, which he now has in Denver with Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, and Kenyon Martin. After all, just surrounding him with young role players in Philadelphia wasn't working. Granted, Iverson doesn't need to play with as many scorers as Harper might have needed, but as you indicated, sometimes it can be harder to find truly selfless defensive role players (the sort that Iverson needs and had in 2001) as it is to find scorers. Harper would have probably been a better fit than Iverson with all the other scorers who passed through Philadelphia over the last eleven years (Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes, Joe Smith, Jimmy Jackson, Don MacLean, Clarence Weatherspoon, Derrick Coleman, Toni Kukoc, Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson, Chris Webber). All those guys averaged at least 18.0 points at some point in their respective careers.

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Old 10-31-2007, 11:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

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The '04 Pistons probably could have won the title with a young Harper instead of Billups at the point; with Iverson, however, the whole team's offensive and defensive dynamic might have been disrupted to the point of not even being a serious contender.

Granted, that's just one team, and explosive scoring often makes the difference in the playoffs. However, it's more likely to make the difference if it's efficient along with being explosive, hence LeBron James and Dwyane Wade the last couple years in the East. With Iverson, it's more like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Henceforth, he made the Sixers competitive, but only once were they a true contender with him and it's just hard to find consistency amid so much inefficiency.

Finally, in a strong conference, I think that Iverson needs to be surrounded by multiple All-Star-caliber players as well, which he now has in Denver with Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, and Kenyon Martin. After all, just surrounding him with young role players in Philadelphia wasn't working. Granted, Iverson doesn't need to play with as many scorers as Harper might have needed, but as you indicated, sometimes it can be harder to find truly selfless defensive role players (the sort that Iverson needs and had in 2001) as it is to find scorers. Harper would have probably been a better fit than Iverson with all the other scorers who passed through Philadelphia over the last eleven years (Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes, Joe Smith, Jimmy Jackson, Don MacLean, Clarence Weatherspoon, Derrick Coleman, Toni Kukoc, Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson, Chris Webber). All those guys averaged at least 18.0 points at some point in their respective careers.

actually if the 04 pistons had played like the 01 sixers with iverson out there, they might have won it anyway. the wallace boys were nice replacements for the combo of deke, hill, and lynch. prince brought the versatility and defense of mckie. of course he'd be better off replacing rip than billups though. in any case i understand your point which is that harper would fit into a share the ball contender better. but again that is sort of an exception to the rule example (looking at the spurs, i feel it all falls apart sans duncan, so though everybody gets numbers, it is still a big man star driven team imo).

i tried to explain that iverson honestly only had one year where all the pieces were in place and he was healthy, but i might not have done a good job. so i'll try it again. pieces / coaching wasn't a good fit until 99/00. made the finals in 01. he got hurt in 02. deke left in 03 and his replacement center couldn't play due to injury. never adequately replaced lynch or hill. i do think they should have been somewhat better the last 4 years. i don't think they've had the parts to get past the first round without falling into a perfect storm situation ( a la cleveland v. washinton last year).

harper might have fit better with ai's scoring teammates in phili, but remember that with two exceptions (van horn and jim jackson) none of them were in their primes with iverson.

i do share your concerns for his role on the nuggets and the fact that the ball did not go through anthony nearly enough in the playoffs (anyway you look at that - be it ai's fault, karl's fault, or anthony's fault that was a serious mistake). also share your concern with the shooting percentage which is just horrendous, though his tendancy to draw help does do some good for his team on the offensive glass and in getting the opposition into foul trouble.

this season will be a big test for ai. now we just need to figure out what the benchmark should be. what is a fair level of expectation for the nuggets this season? the west is stacked at the top. all three texas teams, the jazz, and the suns are all very talented and have good continuity coming in from last year. where does denver fall out in that group?
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Old 10-31-2007, 11:47 AM   #11
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

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actually if the 04 pistons had played like the 01 sixers with iverson out there, they might have won it anyway. the wallace boys were nice replacements for the combo of deke, hill, and lynch. prince brought the versatility and defense of mckie. of course he'd be better off replacing rip than billups though. in any case i understand your point which is that harper would fit into a share the ball contender better. but again that is sort of an exception to the rule example (looking at the spurs, i feel it all falls apart sans duncan, so though everybody gets numbers, it is still a big man star driven team imo).

i tried to explain that iverson honestly only had one year where all the pieces were in place and he was healthy, but i might not have done a good job. so i'll try it again. pieces / coaching wasn't a good fit until 99/00. made the finals in 01. he got hurt in 02. deke left in 03 and his replacement center couldn't play due to injury. never adequately replaced lynch or hill. i do think they should have been somewhat better the last 4 years. i don't think they've had the parts to get past the first round without falling into a perfect storm situation ( a la cleveland v. washinton last year).

harper might have fit better with ai's scoring teammates in phili, but remember that with two exceptions (van horn and jim jackson) none of them were in their primes with iverson.

i do share your concerns for his role on the nuggets and the fact that the ball did not go through anthony nearly enough in the playoffs (anyway you look at that - be it ai's fault, karl's fault, or anthony's fault that was a serious mistake). also share your concern with the shooting percentage which is just horrendous, though his tendancy to draw help does do some good for his team on the offensive glass and in getting the opposition into foul trouble.

this season will be a big test for ai. now we just need to figure out what the benchmark should be. what is a fair level of expectation for the nuggets this season? the west is stacked at the top. all three texas teams, the jazz, and the suns are all very talented and have good continuity coming in from last year. where does denver fall out in that group?

Yeah, I understand about all the pieces falling into place in 2001, but that sort of falls back to my pin-the-tail-on-the donkey analogy. With Iverson in Philadelphia, was it really just a case of bad luck, or was it that the cirumstances had to be just so in order for him to lead a contender?

You're right about the defensive similarity of the 2004 Pistons, but as you indicate, it was also a team marked by scoring balance. Rasheed Wallace was much more talented offensively than Tyrone Hill, and likewise for Richard Hamilton versus Eric Snow. I don't know if they would have been as effective with Iverson instead of Billups (or a young Harper).

Chauncey Billups only shot .384 in those playoffs, but the difference is that he only attempted 12.4 field goals per game, whereas Iverson probably would have doubled that average with a similar percentage.
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

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Yeah, I understand about all the pieces falling into place in 2001, but that sort of falls back to my pin-the-tail-on-the donkey analogy. With Iverson in Philadelphia, was it really just a case of bad luck, or was it that the cirumstances had to be just so in order for him to lead a contender?

You're right about the defensive similarity of the 2004 Pistons, but as you indicate, it was also a team marked by scoring balance. Rasheed Wallace was much more talented offensively than Tyrone Hill, and likewise for Richard Hamilton versus Eric Snow. I don't know if they would have been as effective with Iverson instead of Billups (or a young Harper).

Chauncey Billups only shot .384 in those playoffs, but the difference is that he only attempted 12.4 field goals per game, whereas Iverson probably would have doubled that average with a similar percentage.
i actually think it was a little of each but that it didn't have to be as hard as billie king made it. but who knows?

you know what team iverson might have been highly successful with? the second bulls dyansty. put him on there in place of mj, and his undersized, high volume sg act might have come off without a hitch. you've got harp to cross match on the 2 guards. you've got scottie to do the controlled point forward / secondary scorer work. you've got dennis to destroy the glass. he might mess up their defensive concepts and would certainly undermine the triangle, but it could work if they took larry brown's strategies. don't know why that just came into my head.
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:14 PM   #13
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

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i actually think it was a little of each but that it didn't have to be as hard as billie king made it. but who knows?

you know what team iverson might have been highly successful with? the second bulls dyansty. put him on there in place of mj, and his undersized, high volume sg act might have come off without a hitch. you've got harp to cross match on the 2 guards. you've got scottie to do the controlled point forward / secondary scorer work. you've got dennis to destroy the glass. he might mess up their defensive concepts and would certainly undermine the triangle, but it could work if they took larry brown's strategies. don't know why that just came into my head.

Relatively speaking, I see your point, especially if you could transplant that team out of the East of ten years ago (when the conference was better, if not great) and bring it into this decade. At the same time, the difference in field goal percentage between Jordan and Iverson would have had to make a difference, the Bulls' defense wouldn't have fully been the "Bulls' defense" with Iverson instead of Jordan, and Iverson lacked the post-up game that made the triangle work so well with Air. So I don't know about "highly successful," but it's true that players such as Rodman, Pippen, and the older version of Ron Harper would have been decent fits for A.I. At the same time, Iverson has dominated the ball more than Jordan, so might Pippen have been less effective?
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

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Relatively speaking, I see your point, especially if you could transplant that team out of the East of ten years ago (when the conference was better, if not great) and bring it into this decade. At the same time, the difference in field goal percentage between Jordan and Iverson would have had to make a difference, the Bulls' defense wouldn't have fully been the "Bulls' defense" with Iverson instead of Jordan, and Iverson lacked the post-up game that made the triangle work so well with Air. So I don't know about "highly successful," but it's true that players such as Rodman, Pippen, and the older version of Ron Harper would have been decent fits for A.I. At the same time, Iverson has dominated the ball more than Jordan, so might Pippen have been less effective?
all true. i'm certainly not saying that he'd be an equal or better fit for the team than mj. they couldn't play the same style. no way. but they could be successful using a more guard centric game (though you may be right about eras). pip's role would change, but he is a good off the ball player and would be able to stabalize the bench and give iverson more rest (which could only help his fg%). i think that would be a good team for him.
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:06 PM   #15
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Default Re: Derek Harper or Allen Iverson?

Harper couldn't match Iverson as a pure scorer, be but did average at least 16.0 points per game for seven straight years (1987-1993) and at least 17.0 points for six consecutive seasons (1988-1993), averaging over 18.0 or more three times and peaking at 19.7 in 1991. So while he wasn't a primary scorer, he would generate points at the point guard position (he scored 35 points, for example, in Game Four of the 1988 Western Conference Finals versus the Lakers).

Harper was also a solid playmaker, averaging 7.0 or more assists for five straight years (1987-1991), peaking at 7.9 in 1987. Defensively, he was probably one of the best point guards ever, strong, tough, big (listed at 6'4"), quick, and committed with great hands. Like Iverson, he came up with steals (averaging 2.0 or more four times), but unlike Iverson, Harper was also a focused on-ball defender. He wouldn't be as effective nowadays with the rules forbidding hand-checking and more physical bumping-and-grinding, but he'd still be defensively superior to Iverson
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Please, I doubt that Harper would be able to put out those kinds of numbers in todays game.
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