By the Numbers, is There Any Truth Behind Paul Pierce’s Opinion?
There may not be a more petty “NBA analyst” than Paul Pierce, but that being said, nothing can be taken away from the phenomenal career that ‘The Truth’ had.
A former NBA champion and a multiple time All-Star, Pierce now enjoys a career in broadcasting, where he is predominantly seen on ESPN’s: NBA Countdown. Very quickly, Pierce has become well known for being unable to leave his playing career in the past, constantly throwing out petty comments and at times, possibly even voicing insecurities of his status as one of the game’s best players.
Maybe that was a bit harsh.
But on that matter, Pierce did recently say that he was a better shooter than Klay Thompson, a statement that is blatantly untrue. On Friday night, Pierce added to his growing legend of most petty sports analyst where he confidently claimed himself to having a much better playing career than Dwyane Wade.
Beadle: "Paul, riddle me this: who's the better NBA player?"
Pierce: "That's easy! I can say that off the bat, that's me." pic.twitter.com/MYEmma7ju9
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) April 6, 2019
At one point during the conversation, Pierce even went as far as throwing his former teammates under the bus, claiming that Wade benefited from playing with some of the greatest players of the era. Granted, Wade did play with the names of the calibre of Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh in his time in Miami, but let’s not forget that Pierce won a single NBA championship playing a half-decade with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and pre-ACL tear All-Star Rajon Rondo. Earlier in his career, he did also play with three-time All-Star Antoine Walker, and in his twilight years he was on teams with the likes of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin.
So the question that now needs answering, was there any truth behind Pierce’s comments? Or is it just another episode of the retired NBA star displaying hints of pettiness and an overblown ego?
Since Pierce specifically said that he has had a better playing career, let’s begin by comparing resumes.
Pierce has just one championship ring compared to Wade’s three, despite playing in 19 seasons compared to Wade’s 16. Pierce was a 10-time All-Star, while Wade cracked the team 13-times (12 if you discount his honorary nod this past year). Wade made eight All-NBA teams and three All-Defensive teams, while Pierce was named onto four All-NBA teams and never seen his name appear on an All-Defensive team.
So if we go by who had the better career, I mean, the conversation can end already, but for the sake of Pierce’s sanity, let’s dive into the numbers.
To Basketball Reference we go!
For his career, Pierce averaged 19.7 points points per game, which is rather neat if you don’t consider the fact that Wade averaged 22.0 points per game. Even if we take the latter two years of Pierce’s career away – the years with the Clippers that he probably doesn’t even remember – he would still average 20.6 points, 1.4 few points per game than a top-five two-guard in league history in Wade.
The most points Pierce averaged in a season came in the 2005-06 campaign, where he put up 26.8 a night. Wade has had three seasons in his career in which he averaged over 27-points, including the 30.2 points a game that he amassed in 2008-09. That same year, Wade took home a league scoring title, an award Pierce never won.
But no matter, points per game is just one way to evaluate scorers, but since the two were known as “shooting guards” it’s important to also see how each one shot the basketball.
I’m not known to be petty so I’ll give Pierce the nod from beyond the arc where he shot 36.8-percent, a mark far better than Wade’s putrid 29.2-percent. But overall, Wade has shot a career 48-percent from the field compared to Pierce’s 44.5-percent. That being said, Pierce slightly edges Wade in effective field goal percentage and when I say slightly, I mean 50-percent compared to 49.2-percent.
You can win this round, Truth.
Before we move on from points, which is important, although I’d argue not the greatest evaluator of overall talent, Pierce has totalled 26,397 career points compared to Wade’s 23,009, albeit in 292 more games. If Wade did play an extra 292 games, even averaging the 14.6 points he’s scoring in his age-37 season, he would finish his career with nearly 1,000 more points than Pierce.
Diving into the analytics, Wade tops Pierce in career PER, Box Score Plus/Minus (BPM), Offensive BPM, Defensive BPM, and average annual VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). Pierce only leads Wade in average annual Win Shares by 0.4 points and even that is because Pierce on average has played 70.7 games per season compared to Wade’s 55.3 – but that’s water under a bridge.
If the saying goes the best ability is availability then Paul Pierce can take home that crown, while Wade takes home the extra $2-million in career earnings, despite playing three fewer season.
Okay, maybe I can be a little petty.
Of course, there is no stopping Pierce from dropping the occasionally petty comment, but if Pierce ever attempts to compare himself to Wade again, the Heat legend can always just plug his ears with two of his championship rings, while still rocking the third one on the finger that got Anthony Davis fined a couple of days ago.
NBA legend Jared Dudley can take care of the rest.
You said it better than i could. https://t.co/5LhKnHW9xX
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) April 6, 2019