Allen Iverson in His Later Years

With all the talk about Allen Iverson’s recent struggles and the Pistons’ success without him in the lineup, I decided to take a look at Allen Iverson’s Composite Score numbers since the 2003 season (as far back as my data goes). We know he hasn’t been a great fit in Detroit, but how has his game been progressing over the last five years?

Iverson struggled in the 2003-04 season with the 76ers. He was above average in terms of both Offensive Composite Score and Defensive Composite Score, but he was certainly not living up to the reputation he had built in the past. He quickly turned it around for the 2004-05 season, starring on a decent Philadelphia team. His offense improved dramatically while his defense got better as well. This, of course, was his first season with Andre Iguodala, who would eventually prove to be his successor. The following season his offense was among the league’s very best. However, his defense slipped to around average. According to Composite Score, he was the league’s 32nd best player that season.

The following season, 2006-07, Iverson experienced a relapse. Amid many controversies in Philly, he was dealt to Denver. It was immediately evident that playing with new teammate Carmelo Anthony would be a work in progress. His numbers slipped back to their 2003-04 level, although his defense was as good as ever. In 2007-08 (last season), Iverson put things together quite nicely, compiling the highest Composite Score he’s ever had. His defense continued to be solid in Denver and his offense was extraordinary again. His balance on both areas of the floor led to him being one of the league’s 20 best players again. While Anthony sputtered, AI flourished.

It didn’t last long, however. Denver decided to move him for Chauncey Billups (an excellent player in his own right). As it has been discussed recently, Iverson has not fit in Detroit at all. The slow pace and strong scoring balance is simply not what he’s made for. Iverson needs to either play on a fast-paced team or one without many natural scorers. Detroit is neither of those. Iverson is now below average on both offense and defense, and his Value Rating is towards the very bottom of the league. The sad thing is that this once great player is now just a very large expiring contract for a team looking to rebuild.

Is AI done? The numbers think that’s a little premature. Remember, as recently as last season he’s shown that he is among the league’s best. In addition, he’s also shown that he needs time to adjust to new teams (although he’ll probably never get that chance in Detroit). Until he puts together two bad seasons in a row, I wouldn’t call him finished. He’s still got talent and would be a useful pickup for a team lacking scoring. As long as he finds a good fit and is given time to adjust to his surroundings, he could still be one heck of a player.

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