I got into a heated discussion the other day about who has had the better overall career: Ray Allen or Allen Iverson.
While we agreed that both players were future Hall of Famers and that their credentials were undeniably stellar, we couldn't form a consensus on which player we would rather have. There is no right or wrong answer to this question (no pun intended), but let's take it to the court of public opinion.
In Allen Iverson's Defense
Allen Iverson is the greatest player 6'0" or under the NBA has ever seen. His toughness is unquestioned and his body of work speaks for itself.
Since being drafted No. 1 by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996, Allen Iverson has been a 10-time All-Star, led the league in scoring four times, made the all-NBA team seven times (making the first team three times), has the second-highest playoff scoring average of all-time behind Michael Jordan and was the 2001 league MVP.
With his killer crossover and urban swagger, Allen Iverson revolutionized the game of basketball as we know it. He has left an indelible impression on the NBA landscape forever.
In Ray Allen's Defense
Ray Allen is undeniably the best shooter of his generation. He was the No. 5 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft (same draft as Allen Iverson) and has been a model of consistency ever since.
Although he is best known for his effortless jumper, Ray Allen has an excellent all-around game. Jesus Shuttlesworth is the NBA's all-time leading three-point shooter and a member of the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics.
Throughout his career, Ray Allen has been the consummate professional and someone you can count on to make big shots in the clutch. Ray Allen is also a 10-time NBA All-Star and averaged over 26 points per game four times in his illustrious career.
Ray Allen has had a consistently good career, but has never had a season as spectacular as Allen Iverson's best seasons.
Allen Iverson has put up remarkable numbers (especially for his size) but has never hoisted the Larry O'Brien trophy. Allen Iverson is the superior one-on-one player, but has never made his teammates better.
Ray Allen has never carried a franchise on his back the way Allen Iverson has, but he's also never been a malcontent and a problem for management. No one has ever accused him of missing practice—if you know what I'm saying.
If you had to start a franchise with one of these players knowing what you know now, who would you pick?
My pick is Ray Allen. You lose something in overall ability, but you don't take on the excess baggage associated with Allen Iverson. In the end, you get a more consistent player who provides leadership and durability over time.
Ray Allen has led his team to a championship (albeit with two future Hall of Famers) where Allen Iverson was unable to achieve that accomplishment. You can't go wrong with either player, but in my estimation Ray Allen would be less of a risk for virtually the same production level.