A Good Answer

Bill Simmons gets a good question. If the problem is that Allen Iverson’s never had adequate teammates, then “which four players in your opinion would be a perfect match (and perfect teammates) for Allen Iverson?” The proviso is that it needs to be semi-realistic, “be aware of the salary cap limitations — i.e., no five superstars could be on one NBA team so forget about Jordans, Magics, Birds, Hakeems, etc.” Simmons replies:

You’d need a shot-blocking center who could protect him on the defensive end, handle the boards, set picks and not care if he doesn’t get a ton of shots (like Emeka Okafor). You’d need a big point guard who could bring the ball up (allowing Iverson to play like a 2-guard), make open 3-pointers and defend 2-guards on the other end (like Shaun Livingston, only if he had a reliable outside shot). You’d need a small forward who couldn’t be left alone from 3-point range (like Rashard Lewis). And you’d need a power forward who could protect the rim, score on the low post, set picks and run the floor (like Elton Brand).

I completely agree: A team like that would be really good. I would only point out that, by the same token, there are several high-scoring guards who, playing alongside Okafor, Brand, Lewis, and super-Livingston would make for a really good team. Dywane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Joe Johnson, or Ray Allen all come to mind. Those are all very good players, but they can’t all be top-30 all-time guys. It’s important to realize that if Livingston had a reliable outside shot he’d be a fantastic basketball player — the 6’7″ point guard with a reliable outside shot is the genuinely rare commodity on that team, followed by the “power forward who [can] protect the rim, score on the low post, set picks and run the floor” high-volume perimeter scorers are relatively common compared to those assets.