NBA Analysis: Comparing Celtics Ray Allen and Pacers Reggie Miller

| by David Berri

Last week Ray Allen hit his 2,561 career three-pointer, breaking the all-time mark by Reggie Miller.  This event led me to wonder, how does Ray Allen compare to Reggie Miller?  In fact, I can imagine people spending some time this evening debating this issue (those some people don’t include me… my wife and I are watching the Lakers-Celtics game but my wife doesn’t really care to discuss this issue).  

So let me offer some thoughts.

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These thoughts – as is often the case in this forum – involves some numbers.  Let’s start with Wins Produced and WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes].  The following table reports each player’s career numbers (Ray Allen’s numbers are prior to Thursday night’s game).

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As one can see, these players are quite similar.

  • Each player was close to average his rookie season.
  • Each player hit his peak with respect to Wins Produced and WP48 at the age of 25 (players tend to peak in their mid-20s).
  • Each player had his second best season at the age of 28 (players don’t decline very rapidly after their peak).
  • Each player had his third best season after the age of 35 (Reggie Miller at age 38 and Ray Allen so far this season; and yes, it is possible — but not likely — that a player can keep playing well into his thirties).
  • Except for Miller’s rookie season, each player was always above average (average WP48 is 0.100; and good players in the NBA – unlike what we see in baseball and football — tend to be above average throughout their careers).
  • Their career marks are quite similar.   Ray Allen currently has a career WP48 of 0.168 while Reggie Miller had a career mark of 0.164.  After the age of 36, Miller had a career mark of 0.166.

When we turn to the individual stats we again see that these players were very similar.  

Both their career Win Score per 48 minutes [WS48] and their WS48 mark in their peak season were essentially the same.  And this production was achieved in much the same fashion.  Obviously both were amazing shooters.  Miller, though, was a bit better.  Then again, Allen was a bit better on the boards.  The net effect is that both have a level of productivity that is essentially the same.

So there you go.  If you got involved in a fight tonight arguing that Reggie Miller (or Ray Allen) was clearly the better player (or worse player), well… you might have wasted some energy.  At least, I think the answer is both players are quite good.  Furthermore, I think both players are pretty much the same. 

- DJ