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Monday
Apr022012

Reggie Miller: Worst Guard in HOF, Not Great During Own Era, Just as Worthy as Peja Stojakovic

If you think Reggie Miller is a worthy Hall of Famer, then I got an equally qualified candidate for you.So Reggie Miller finally made it into the Hall of Fame, and I’m here to tell that it was a terrible decision on the committee’s part. For starters, he does not compare well to the other HOF guards at all. Seriously, take a look – he is instantly the worst guard of the modern era in the Hall.

That being established, I decided to compare him to the other wings/guards of his time to see if maybe he was HOF-worthy for his position within his own era. The only guards I looked at were those who received any MVP votes from 1988-89 (Reggie’s first decent season) through 2001-02 (his last decent season). I didn’t include every single one of these players on each of the lists below, only the ones who did better than Reggie within a particular category. Here are the categories and Reggie’s place within each; the entire lists are laid out in the comments section so as not to stretch out the body of this article too long.

Highest MVP Finish: This category is pretty straight-forward. Reggie’s best finish in MVP voting was 13th, which ranks 26th best of the wings/guards, tying him with guys like Jalen Rose and Mark Jackson, and placing him behind guys like Mark Aguirre, Terry Porter, Mark Price, Fat Lever, and Latrell Sprewell.

Top-10 MVP Finishes: This is a look at the number of times a player finished in the top-10 in the MVP voting. Reggie obviously never did this, so his 0 ranks 23rd best of the wings/guards, behind guys like Tracy McGrady, Mark Price, Terry Porter, Fat Lever, Kevin Johnson, and Tim Hardaway.

Career MVP Shares: Here’s where we can see the sum of a player’s career MVP consideration. A complete 1.000 from a season would represent a unanimous winner (Derrick Rose got 0.977 last year) and a 0.001 would be a single 5th place vote in a season (Tony Parker got 0.002 last year). Considering Reggie has barely ever gotten MVP consideration, his career 0.003 MVP shares ranks 27th best of the wings/guards, tying him with guys like Darrell Armstrong and Terrell Brandon, and falling behind players like Kenny Smith, Mitch Richmond, Mark Aguirre, and Jerry Stackhouse.

All-NBA Teams: This category breaks down each player’s placement on the league’s 3 All-NBA teams that are announced at the end of the season. Reggie made the 3rd-team three times. Making three of these teams ties him for 18th best on the list, but if you then made a list of who ever finished on the 2nd-team or higher (which Reggie never accomplished), he moves behind another 7 players for 25th best of the wings/guards. These placements fall behind non-Hall of Famers like Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Kevin Johnson, and Mark Price.

Top-10 Statistical Finishes: This is a straight-forward look at the number of times each player finished in the top-10 annually in points, assists, or steals per game. Keep in mind that this is not nearly a complete list of every wing/guard to finish top-10 in one of these three categories during Reggie’s career, but only those who ever received any MVP votes in that timeframe (so guys like Stephon Marbury, Doug Christie, and Nick Van Exel won’t show up despite doing far better than RM on this comparison). Reggie once finished 8th in ppg and that’s it, so his 1 top-10 finish ranks 32nd best, behind virtually every guard of note from Reggie’s career—including Mike Bibby—and in most cases far behind.

Obviously these lists (again, they’re in the Comments section) aren’t a complete look at a player’s overall contribution, but it certainly sheds a lot of light on how un-dominant Reggie is compared to the other guards whose careers he overlapped with. Whereas you should think someone considered an all-time great would show some level of greatness on at least one of these comparisons, especially since the NBA’s talent level took a massive nosedive around 1993, Reggie looks like a complete afterthought in the league throughout his career. If a player can’t establish any sort of dominance as far as being considered an MVP candidate, one of the NBA’s 15 best players, or statistically, then we shouldn’t let a decade of highlights watching sway us from realizing where they placed as a HOF type of player when they actually played.

For the record, if you think Reggie would do better if All-Star Games were a criteria on these lists, you’re wrong. He only played in 5, and 4 of those were from 1995 on, when league talent was way down. Additionally, if you think career statistics should be used, Reggie’s 18 ppg, 3 rpg, and 3 apg don’t match up well against any of these guys. You can’t try to argue that his peak years would push him ahead because his 25-4-4 in 1989-90 is not that great by HOF standards and it’s completely one-dimensional, plus it’s by-far his best season, so it’s hardly representative of any sort of sustained peak. You can’t simply point at 3-point shooting as a criteria because its value only exists in that it earns points, which is already covered; to isolate one part of scoring without looking at all of it is to concede that he’s simply a role player. If you’re inclined to think Reggie’s post-season exploits were so impressive, know that he advanced past the first round of the playoffs only 5 times during his entire stretch of decent play (5 times – think about that) and he never won a title. There are plenty of guys on these lists who crush that type of playoff “success,” not to mention that for how much we hear about Reggie’s amazing clutch status, his Pacers were 9-15 in elimination games during his career and 3-5 in deciding Games 5’s and 7’s – not exactly the great “the season’s on the line, it’s Reggie Time” savior YouTube and a selective memory lead you to believe. It should go without saying that most of these guys were unquestionably far better defenders than Reggie considering he was quite bad on that side of the ball.

Peja Stojakovic: Reggie Miller 2.0
A great and fitting career comparison for Reggie Miller is Peja Stojakovic. You probably don’t believe this since Reggie “feels” like a Hall of Famer and Peja definitely doesn’t, but examine the facts. Both were wings who could play SG or SF, both shot tons of 3’s, and neither was a particularly good rebounder, passer, or defender. Long story short, they fit the same mold. Numbers-wise, Reggie’s career stats of 18-3-3 are very similar to Peja’s 17-5-2. Reggie’s 47% FG, 39% 3FG, and 54% eFG are very similar to Peja’s 45% FG, 40% 3FG, and 53% eFG. Reggie’s 5-year peak of 22 ppg, 3 rpg, and 4 apg (’89-90 to ’93-94) is very similar to Peja’s 21 ppg, 5 rpg, and 2 apg (’00-01 to ’04-05). Reggie once finished as high as 8th in the league in scoring, but Peja once finished 2nd in scoring. Reggie made 3 All-NBA teams to Peja’s 1, but Peja made the 2nd-team, something Reggie couldn’t accomplish. Both received MVP votes in only two seasons, but Peja once finished 4th (right in front of Kobe and Shaq), so his 0.229 career MVP shares are way higher than Reggie’s 0.003. Both were starters on exactly 5 teams that made it past the first round of the playoffs during their good years, but Peja also won a title last season as a key Dallas reserve. If you honestly think Reggie Miller’s career of non-dominance is HOF-worthy, then I expect equally loud support for Peja in a few years.

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Reader Comments (10)

Highest MVP Finish
1st, Michael Jordan
1st, Magic Johnson
1st, Allen Iverson
1st, Kobe Bryant
1st, Steve Nash
2nd, Jason Kidd
2nd, Clyde Drexler
3rd, Scottie Pippen
3rd, Gary Payton
3rd, Anfernee Hardaway
4th, Tracy McGrady
5th, Isiah Thomas
4th, Tim Hardaway
6th, Chris Mullin
7th, John Stockton
7th, Kevin Johnson
7th, Mark Price
9th, Ray Allen
9th, Fat Lever
9th, Terry Porter
10th, Joe Dumars
10th, Vince Carter
11th, Mark Aguirre
11th, Mookie Blaylock
11th, Latrell Sprewell
13th, Mark Jackson
13th, Mitch Richmond
13th, Jalen Rose
13th, Reggie Miller

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Top-10 MVP Finishes
11, Michael Jordan
10, Magic Johnson
10, Kobe Bryant
8, Gary Payton
7, Allen Iverson
6, Tracy McGrady
5, Scottie Pippen
5, John Stockton
5, Jason Kidd
5, Steve Nash
4, Isiah Thomas
4, Clyde Drexler
4, Mark Price
3, Tim Hardaway
2, Anfernee Hardaway
2, Kevin Johnson
2, Fat Lever
1, Joe Dumars
1, Ray Allen
1, Chris Mullin
1, Terry Porter
1, Vince Carter
0, Reggie Miller

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Career MVP Shares
8.138, Michael Jordan
5.129, Magic Johnson
3.763, Kobe Bryant
2.423, Steve Nash
1.567, Allen Iverson
0.933, Jason Kidd
0.855, Tracy McGrady
0.823, Gary Payton
0.778, Clyde Drexler
0.716, Scottie Pippen
0.341, Anfernee Hardaway
0.336, Tim Hardaway
0.318, Isiah Thomas
0.161, John Stockton
0.107, Mark Price
0.088, Chris Mullin
0.063, Kevin Johnson
0.051, Vince Carter
0.047, Fat Lever
0.039, Mark Aguirre
0.038, Ray Allen
0.026, Terry Porter
0.012, Joe Dumars
0.009, Mitch Richmond
0.005, Kenny Smith
0.005, Jerry Stackhouse
0.003, Mark Jackson
0.003, Terrell Brandon
0.003, Darrell Armstrong
0.003, Reggie Miller

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

All-NBA Team (1st Team – 2nd Team – 3rd Team)
9-2-2, Kobe Bryant
10-1-0, Michael Jordan
9-1-0, Magic Johnson
2-6-2, John Stockton
2-5-2, Gary Payton
3-3-1, Allen Iverson
3-2-2, Scottie Pippen
3-2-2, Steve Nash
2-3-2, Tracy McGrady
5-1-0, Jason Kidd
3-2-0, Isiah Thomas
1-3-1, Tim Hardaway
1-2-2, Clyde Drexler
0-4-1, Kevin Johnson
0-3-2, Mitch Richmond
1-2-1, Chris Mullin
1-0-3, Mark Price
2-0-1, Anfernee Hardaway
0-1-2, Joe Dumars
0-0-3, Reggie Miller
0-1-1, Ray Allen
1-0-0, Latrell Sprewell
0-1-1, Vince Carter
0-1-0, Rod Strickland
0-1-0, Fat Lever

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Times in Top-10 in PPG, APG, or SPG (Highest Finish)
29 (1st), Jason Kidd
29 (1st), John Stockton
25 (1st), Allen Iverson
22 (1st), Michael Jordan
18 (1st), Gary Payton
17 (1st), Magic Johnson
16 (1st), Isiah Thomas
15 (1st), Kobe Bryant
14 (1st), Mookie Blaylock
13 (1st), Mark Jackson
11 (1st), Steve Nash
11 (2nd), Tim Hardaway
10 (3rd), Clyde Drexler
8 (2nd), Kevin Johnson
9 (3rd), Fat Lever
7 (1st), Tracy McGrady
7 (1st), Rod Strickland
7 (4th), Mitch Richmond
6 (1st), Scottie Pippen
6 (3rd), Chris Mullin
6 (4th), Vince Carter
5 (2nd), Mark Aguirre
5 (4th), Terry Porter
5 (5th), Terrell Brandon
5 (7th), Mark Price
4 (3rd), Darrell Armstrong
4 (6th), Ray Allen
3 (4th), Mike Bibby
3 (6th), Anfernee Hardaway
2 (2nd), Jerry Stackhouse
2 (5th), Latrell Sprewell
1 (7th), Joe Dumars
1 (8th), Reggie Miller

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Ignoring Reggie Miller for a moment, what sort of career is HOF worthy in your view? What sort of attributes, accomplishments, etc. makes someone a good pick?

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGav

@Gav
Thanks for the question. It all comes down to how much a player helps their team win over the years. This can be far trickier to figure out than most fans probably think. For someone like Bill Russell, it's glaringly obvious to the point he won the MVP in the same season that Wilt averaged 50-25 and Oscar had his triple-double. This helping-his-team-win thought goes way beyond really simple arguments like "count the rings" because that's a team accomplishment with a zillion variables; a very thorough examination of context must be made in these cases. For example, switch which teams James Worthy and Dominique Wilkins went to in the 1982 Draft, and who knows how strongly we'd consider Wilkins' career as top-20 all-time at this point. Obviously Worthy provided a lot of things the Lakers needed/used that Wilkins could not, but Wilkins would have had at least 2 titles to go with all those points. For someone like Reggie, nothing seems real obvious to suggest he was a HOFer leading a team to great heights (the Pacers weren't exactly going deep in the playoffs a bunch of years, and he didn't have any stats to suggest they should have), especially during a stretch of league ineptitude. So then I'll take a look at some of the factors I listed above to see if he was at least viewed as dominant during his career. Here's where he bombs horribly. His stats didn't rank well at all, it's well known he only provided scoring and that wasn't great, and he was never considered a dominant player by any sort of vote. Don't get me wrong, I will never rely on these sorts of popularity contests to say a player is great, but it's at least one thing to look at to see if a player at least had a reputation for greatness during his career when the normal means of judging it don't look good.

So long story short, I want to consider how well a player improved his team's ability to win games and the surrounding context. Looking at the team's performance with and without that player seems relevant in that case, along with how well a player affected his team's Four Factors since those are mathematically proven (and accepted by anyone who puts any consideration into what individual factors can help a team win) to be the things that most affect a team's ability to win. And again it can't be stressed enough, proper consideration of context must always be made when judging a player's career, which is why someone like Wilt should not be held in the highest esteem as a top-5 player or probably even a top-4 center by fans who want to be honest about a player's contribution to their team's success (see also: he was traded twice in his prime and went through 9 coaches).

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

@Zach

Thanks for the detailed response. I'm noticing more and more as people rank players there are very different criteria, and that's often where disagreements are coming from. That is why I was interested in your "standard". Some value impact to team more than others.

Also sometime, maybe after season when things get slow, a post about the Four Factors and why they matter and examples of them in action.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGav

You guys at behind the basket are indeed prudent when it come's to b-ball

I would like to know your opinion on something.

What is the best basketball team that you can assemble?

players of any era.

And does my team comes close to the one you may have?

Starting 5

Center: Shaq

Power forward: Olajuwon

Small forward: Scottie Pippen

Shooting Guard: $

Point Guard: Lebron James

Bench

Gary Payton

Kevin Garnett

Larry Bird

Ray Allen

Tim Duncan

Magic Johnson

I've been contemplating this line up for a LONG time and it has been revised more times than I can count (Iverson, kobe, karl malone and even dennis ''freaking" rodman used to be in my roster)

You guys have also my affected my decison (the kobe hating).

can you guys give me an opinion on this.

thanks!

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenteraxLe

I've put a lot of thought into this before (just the starting 5), and I got

C: Bill Russell
PF: Tim Duncan
SF: Larry Bird
SG: Michael Jordan
PG: Jerry West

Without looking at it too closely, my bench includes Kareem, KG, Pippen, and Magic.

April 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

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