To many Sixers fans, Allen Iverson was a legit superstar. A guy completely worth of the max deal the Sixers signed him to. Meanwhile, those same fans argue that Andre Iguodala is a second-banana at best. A guy who is overpaid, impossible to trade, and clogging the way for Thaddeus Young. Let's take a closer look at this logic after the jump.
I'm not going to build suspense, I'm just going to come right out and say it. Andre Iguodala has been a better player over the first five years of his career than Allen Iverson was. You can take a look at the comps for yourself.
Iguodala and Iverson came to the team under opposite circumstance. Iverson was the #1 overall pick and the man in Philly from day one. Iguodala was at best the team's 3rd option on offense for his first 2-and-a-half seasons in Philly, an afterthough. It wasn't until midway through his third season that he ascended to the role of the team's best player. Even with that handicap, Iguodala accumulated more win shares than Iverson over the first five seasons of his career (40.4 for Iguodala, 39.1 for Iverson).
I'm not an Iverson hater. I loved the guy when he was here, and I truly believe no other player in the league could've taken that 2001 team to the Finals. He was, and really still is, a unique talent in this league. By no means am I making a case that Iverson was overrated, or didn't deserve his contract. What I'm saying is that Iguodala is better. He's a better overall player than Iverson ever was and he's a much, much better building block to get the Sixers to championship contention than Iverson ever was.
For his career, Iguodala averages 1.35 points-per-shot, Iverson was at 1.20 over the same stretch. He's a player who produces without needing to jack up 20 shots per game. He's a player who thrives on making the players around him better on the offensive end and picks up the slack for his teammates on defense.
Most importantly, building around a guy like Iguodala makes it easier to develop other players. His overall skill not only makes them better, but his efficiency on offense allows them ample opportunities to contribute and grow. If Thad Young and Marreese Speights had joined the Iverson-era Sixers they wouldn't have even sniffed the moderate success they've enjoyed early in their careers. Larry Brown built a team of quality role players who could fit around Iverson to get that team to the finals. This Sixers team has the luxury of adding the best pieces possible because Iguodala acts like glue, molding his game to theirs.
Andre Iguodala is a budding superstar who can play with anyone. He's produced more wins over the first five years of his career than Iverson did, and he's being paid a fair amount for the production he's brought. If Ed Stefanski decided he wanted to move Iguodala today, his phone would be ringing off the hook tomorrow. I'm human, I still have fond memories of seeing Iverson drop 50 without breaking a sweat, but if you think these Sixers are boring, or middling, or mired in some kind of rut because they have a guy like Iguodala as their centerpiece instead of a guy like Iverson, you're mistaken. I expect Thad, Speights, Jrue and maybe even Lou to continue to progress, and the biggest reason for that is their emerging leader, Andre Iguodala and his unselfish game.