Allen Iverson: Best Point Guard in the NBA?

That's what Mike Kahn says here. I beg to differ, and I'm not going to reach for the stat book to make my point. I'm merely going to say this: if he's a point guard, it's his job to make Chris Webber, Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson, and everyone else he has played with happy and productive. It's also his job to make the team win. Instead, those guys have all played their worst basketball alongside Iverson, and his team was only ever very good when Eric Snow ran the show.

Allen Iverson is an absolutely incredible guard. But to call him the NBA's best point guard is a slap in the face of the basketball gods. He's a gifted scorer, penetrator, and thief. But he's average at the things that make point guards so important to winning.One of the points Kahn makes: if you put Iverson in Steve Nash's position, on the Suns with Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, and Quentin Richardson, he says the Suns would be as good or better. Therefore, he reasons, Iverson is a better PG than Nash.

Running a team, and effective ball distribution, is a fine art that Allen Iverson has yet to master. He gets a lot of assists, but most of them are by drawing a million defenders and dumping it at the last minute--rather than creating a system with spacing, ball movement, and a shared spotlight.

The way Iverson runs a team is not wholly unlike Stephon Marbury--in that both want to both bring the ball up the floor, and then be the first option once they get there. It's not a recipe that gets teammates excited to be on the floor. (Have you ever played with a point guard like that? You run all the way down the floor--no one but him touches it, and then he misses and the possessions's over. It's human nature: After a few possessions like that, the team is uninspired.) And when Marbury ran with most of Nash's crew in Phoenix, the rest of the team underperformed. I doubt Iverson could inspire them to do a whole lot better.

Like Kidd in New Jersey, Nash makes the decisions that make those other guys much better. Both of those two guys have taken essentially crappy teams and made them extraordinary. Their arrivals have touched off two of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history. That's why those two are the best point guards in the league.