Iverson's Career Suggests End Near for Wade

Dwyane Wade turned in his second strong performance in a row with 25 points and 10 assists Sunday. The game before he became the first player since Allen Iverson 11 years ago to put up 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a Finals game. At 31 years old Wade is within a year of when Iverson quickly slid from All-Star to out of the league using a same style of play.

Like Iverson, Wade is an incredibly quick player who was unstoppable driving past opponents, but does not have the bulk or outside shot to prolong his career once he can no longer do that.

The two stars have been very similar since college - players who put up huge steals and rebounds for a guard. But more importantly, they have been two of the most unstoppable players on the drive to the hoop as best measured by dividing free throw attempts by field goal attempts. In their final year of college, Iverson's Free Throw Rate (FTA/FTM) was 49% and Wade's was 50%, well above the 36% average in college and incredibly high for any guard:

Iverson G FT Rate STL REB PTS Yr Wade G FT Rate STL REB PTS
GTOWN 30 48% 89 99 613 Fr MARQ 32 34% 79 211 571
GTOWN 37 49% 124 141 926 So MARQ 33 50% 71 209 710

The stats in the tables for this article are pulled from information at Basketball-reference, which ranks  Iverson as the 18th best player in history. A further look at the two players' key figures from the age of 22 to 31 shows that Wade has been every bit Iverson's equal during that 10-year stretch. In fact, he was worth an average of two more wins a year (10 Win Shares to 8 Win Shares) during those 10 years, with a better Free Throw Rate and Rebounds. Iverson was one of the greatest scorers and steals men in NBA history, and yet Wade even beat him out in those two categories four of 10 seasons at corresponding ages:

Iverson G WS FT Rate STL REB PTS Age Wade G WS FT Rate STL REB PTS
PHI 80 9 38% 176 296 1758 22 MIA 61 4.6 39% 86 247 991
PHI 48 7.2 45% 110 236 1284 23 MIA 77 11 58% 121 397 1854
PHI 70 6.9 36% 144 267 1989 24 MIA 75 14.4 57% 146 430 2040
PHI 71 11.8 40% 178 273 2207 25 MIA 51 8.8 56% 107 239 1397
PHI 60 6.9 35% 168 269 1883 26 MIA 51 3.3 50% 87 214 1254
PHI 82 9.2 38% 225 344 2262 27 MIA 79 14.7 44% 173 398 2386
PHI 48 2.8 40% 115 178 1266 28 MIA 77 13 46% 142 373 2045
PHI 75 9 43% 180 299 2302 29 MIA 76 12.8 47% 111 485 1941
PHI 72 10.6 45% 140 232 2377 30 MIA 49 7.7 35% 82 237 1082
PHI-DEN 65 6.2 46% 123 193 1709 31 MIA 69 9.6 39% 128 344 1463
22 to 31 67.1 8 41% 156 259 1904 26.5 22 to 31 67 10 47% 118 336 1645

From the age of 23 to 25 Wade had an incredible run in which he got to the line more than twice as often as the league average (58%, 57% then 56%). Opponents used modern software to publicize any time Wade received a call he did not deserve - not hard to do when pulling from a couple of hundred calls a year - in a desperate attempt to allow him to get to the line a time or two fewer per game.

From 26 to 29 he kept up a very strong percentage of getting to the line, but with a notable falloff to  between 44% and 50% each season. However, the big concern for Wade is during the last two seasons he had dropped to barely above the NBA average of 27%, registering only 35% to 39% the past two years.

When a thinner player like Wade or Iverson rely on driving to the basket and drawing fouls, the decline can be quick as they do not have the power game like a bulkier player like LeBron James and do not have the outside jumper to continue to pull up like Ray Allen.

The good news for Wade is that Iverson had one more phenomenal year - at the age of 32 - when he suddenly had his second best season of his career at 11.6 Win Shares and scoring 2164 points and coming up with 160 steals. The bad news is at the age of 33 those numbers dropped about in half and Iverson was suddenly a medicre bench player. By 34, Iverson was a complete liability on the court, and was cut by Memphis and then even by Philadelphia where he had his glory years within the same season.

Iverson G WS FT Rate STL REB PTS Age
DEN 82 11.6 51% 160 243 2164 32
DEN-DET 57 2.9 42% 88 173 995 33
MEM-PHI 28 0.7 41% 19 79 385 34

The bottom line is Wade could be on the bench in two seasons and out of the NBA in three seasons, so the last hurrah could come during the last game or two of the NBA Finals, or next year.

Rnk Team FT Rate
1 Los Angeles Lakers 34%
2 Oklahoma City Thunder 34%
3 Charlotte Bobcats 31%
4 Houston Rockets 31%
5 Denver Nuggets 31%
6 Minnesota Timberwolves 30%
7 Brooklyn Nets 30%
8 Miami Heat 30%
9 Indiana Pacers 29%
10 Los Angeles Clippers 29%

With Wade often playing hurt and not having the same ability to get to the line at will, the Heat have dropped to eighth in the league in their ability to get to the line as a team (FTA/FGA). The Oklahoma City Thunder tied for the NBA lead at 34% with the Los Angeles Lakers, who not only have Kobe Bryant - but the often fouled Dwight Howard.


advertisement

Breitbart Video Picks

advertisement

advertisement

advertisement

Send A Tip

From Our Partners