Allen Iverson is a Hall of Famer. This much is certain, both due to the on-and-off court impact that Iverson had in his 14-year career, and the Basketball Hall of Fame's comparatively low standards of induction. He won an MVP, led the league in scoring four times, he carried the 2000-2001 Sixers on his back to the Finals, and more importantly, he may have been the league's most culturally relevant player in the post-Jordan, pre-LeBron era. Iverson played the game with the reckless abandon of a special teams gunner, and his efforts will be rewarded with enshrinement in the Hall, probably on the first ballot.
But was Iverson one of the greatest fantasy players to ever live? Obviously the man could score, but did he provide the all-around production that is necessary from an elite fantasy player? When looking at his career body of work, there are a few glaring aspects that prove that AI was not as elite in the fantasy realm as one would originally consider him to be.
Shooting: Iverson led the league in shots attempted four times during his career. His shooting percentages during those years? 41, 42, 41 and 42 percent. Yes, I know he wasn't exactly taking layups all the time. But Kobe Bryant has also led the league in shots attempted four times in his career, and averaged 45, 46, 46 and 46 percent from the field in those years. Iverson's been even worse from three - in only six of his 14 years has he averaged more than 30|PERCENT| from long range. And it's not like he hesitated from shooting downtown either. Iverson ranks 31st in career three-point attempts, but only 49th in made three-pointers. Iverson's career shooting (42.5|PERCENT|) and three-point (31.3|PERCENT|) numbers leave a significant amount to be desired from a fantasy perspective.
Durability: Iverson was long lauded for his toughness and durability, and given how he played the game, he certainly deserves much of those accolades. For a guy who was generally listed at 6'0," Iverson sacrificed his body more ECW's Sabu. But his efforts may have done more harm than good. Iverson played in 60 or more games in only eight of his 14 seasons, and only once in the last four. And this isn't even taking into account the fact that Iverson was a constant risk for suspensions due to his off-court behavior, which certainly had his fantasy owners on edge every time they heard his name on the news.
Scoring: This was obviously Iverson's greatest strength, as he led the league in scoring four times, behind only guys named "Jordan" and "Chamberlain" in total number of scoring titles. His 24, 368 points rank him third among active (well, sorta active) players and 17th alltime. Great numbers obviously, and his scoring should be the thing above all else that gets him into the Hall. But at what expense? When looking at Usage Percentage, or the percentage of a team's plays used by one player, we see why he was able to score so much. A staggering 31.8|PERCENT| of all the plays in Iverson's career were used by him. That's fourth alltime, and ahead of such players as Kobe Bryant, Julius Erving and Larry Bird. So yes, Iverson scored a ton, but he took up a hugely disproportionate number of his teams' plays while doing so, negatively affecting the fantasy numbers for his teammates.
Turnovers: Fantasy players always know that they're taking a risk when they pick a player who carries the ball up the court every play, but Iverson was a much bigger risk than most. He led the league in turnovers twice, and averaged 3.6 per game for his career. He was among the league's top ten in coughing the ball up in seven different seasons. Among active players, he ranks second in career turnovers, ahead of even Shaquille O'Neal. If AI was your fantasy team's starting point guard, you were probably towards the bottom of your league in turnover ranking.
Now obviously Iverson was a great player, and I don't mean this column as a hit piece. His assist and steal numbers were exemplary, and we may never see a player of Iverson's size again able to put up the type of scoring numbers that Iverson provided throughout his career. But from a fantasy perspective, Iverson was always a huge risk, contributing greatly in one category while hurting your team in many others.