20 Shots: Why the Sixers Will Never Improve

Although I am admittedly, not the world’s biggest Allen Iverson fan, Lord knows I love the way he plays the game. He’s the biggest “little man” in the game and has been ever since he entered the league almost a decade ago. He’s a player after my own heart too – one who plays with reckless abandon and no regard for his own health and well-being.

You see, I’m a little guy too – and anyone who knows me or has ever played against me, will tell you firsthand I’m as resilient as Iverson too – bouncing back from numerous injuries to continue playing the sport I love so much. Like Iverson, I, also have never been shy about shooting the rock. Just ask the guys I exploded on this past weekend at the local YMCA (as much as a 39-year-old can explode) when my team went 6-1 in over three hours of playing.

As I have aged however, I ultimately came to the conclusion, that less, can many times, mean more – and in the case of the Philadelphia 7ers – I believe less Iverson will translate into more wins and a better overall team in the long run.
The best and most recent example of a superior scorer sacrificing his scoring for the betterment of his team would be none other than Michael Jordan, who scored at will for years and amazed spectators and opponents alike with his dizzying array of aerial acrobatics.

However, Jordan and the Bulls didn’t become an elite team until Jordan bought into head coach Phil Jackson’s system and began trusting his teammates. Case in point, how many game-winning jump shots did John Paxson make throughout his career with Chicago? He never would have made those shots though had Jordan not trusted him enough to pass him the ball.

My point is – if the Sixers and Iverson ever want to return to their winning ways, then I believe Iverson should limit his shot attempts to 20 per game. Let me explain my reasoning.

Number one, I think the best point guards in the game are the ones who can score when called upon but are more playmakers than scorers – guys who look to get their teammates as involved as themselves.

Case in point; I looked at the shooting statistics of Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker and Steve Nash and compared them to Iverson’s.

Iverson averages just a shade over 26 shots a game – an insane amount for a point guard – while Billups takes 17.8 shots per game and Nash 18.3. Parker averages a mere 15.1 shots per game.

Now those numbers are staggering when you consider that each of these three players are generally recognized as the best point guards in the game. Heck, Nash is the best player in the game, period.

Don’t get me started on Billups either. The man is an assassin. I don’t know any other way to say it. When a big shot or big play needs to be made, he is the man.

Likewise, Parker is leading the Spurs in scoring, averaging nearly 20 points per game, not to mention the fact that he is shooting a mind-boggling 54 percent from the field.

My second argument for Iverson to lessen his shot attempts is the fact that the Sixers have played with Iverson hoisting the majority of the team’s shots every year – searching for that elusive “second option” to compliment Iverson.

The reason why the Sixers have gone through guys like Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson and Toni Kukoc is simple. Even when the Sixers have acquired a legitimate scorer, a la Robinson, or now, Chris Webber, is because each player they’ve bought in has been told upfront he is the second fiddle offensively, to Iverson. What usually ends up happening is a whole lot of standing around watching Allen Iverson.

Now many people might say, who else do the Sixers have that can shoot the ball?’ Well, the answer to that is simple. Andre Iguoadala. No – not Chris Webber. As a matter of fact, Webber needs to take a few less shots per game too if he’s going to continue to shoot an abysmal 42 percent.

The simple fact is that Iguoadala is the Sixers best shooter. Like Parker, he is shooting an eye-opening 54 percent from the field. It’s a shame he only gets to shoot the ball eight times every game.

Here’s some simple math. If you take away those six shots from Iverson and give them to Iguoadala, he now gets a more reasonable 14 per game. Take away another four from Webber, who shoots 18.5 times already, and give two of those to Iguoadala and two to Korver who only averages 9 shots per contest, a paltry figure for a guy who is the best outside shooter on the team.

Now, the Sixers shot attempts look like this. Iverson, 20, Iguoadala, 16, Webber, 14, and Korver, 11. The funny thing about my plan is that, as much as Iverson goes to the foul line, he should still average well over twenty points per game. However, the Sixers would now be looking at Iguoadala averaging about 20 a game and Webber somewhere in the neighborhood of 18.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think Allen Iverson is an incredible player and one of the league’s best players, but from my experience, teams that have at least two scorers of the same ability, are the teams that win championships.

Look back at every team to win a championship title. The common thread on nearly every team is the fact that at least two offensive threats, and many times more, were available to take pressure off of their respective teammate.

Just look at the Sixers last championship team. They had four guys who could score 20 points – Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. Oh, did I mention that the Sixers’ current head coach was a lethal offensive player as well. One who affected every game he played in but only took about 10 shots per game.

How about Bird, Parrish and McHale? Or, Magic, Kareem and Worthy? Need another one? Okay, how about Duncan, Ginobili and Parker or even Billups, Hamilton and Wallace?

The point is, until Iverson and the Sixers allow another player to equal Iverson’s offensive output, or at least have the chance to, the Sixers will continue to flounder.

It’s just an NBA reality. As old-school rapper, Rob Base once said, “It takes to two to make a thing go right.”

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