Ray Allen vs. Reggie Miller

Posted on February 10, 2011 by


Tonight 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.

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).

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 35, Miller had a career mark of 0.169.

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

P.S. By the way, Ray Allen’s record is not the big story tonight.  Jerry Sloan departing the Jazz is definitely something I will comment upon.  Hopefully I can get those comments posted tomorrow.

Update: Received an e-mail that noted that there was a mistake in Ray Allen’s numbers.  Allen played for two teams in 2002-03 and his numbers with Milwaukee and Seattle from that season were listed as separate seasons.  This has now been fixed.  That change, though, changed the story somewhat with respect to the second and third best seasons of Allen’s career.  The basic story — Allen and Miller are quite similar and each peaked at 25 — remains the same.