Kyrie Irving is one of modern basketball’s biggest entertainers. His handles are historically good, and the way he crosses defender reminds us of the likes of Allen Iverson, a guy that had a thing for breaking ankles.
Both players are incredibly talented and, while one is already a Hall of Famer, the other is a lock to make it eventually, especially if he wins the NBA Championship with the Brooklyn Nets.
But, who’s actually better? Who makes a bigger impact on a team? Who would you rather build a team around? Let’s take an in-depth look at both of them to try and figure this out once and for all.
Inside Scoring - Allen Iverson
Back in the day, players didn’t settle for the jump shot and the long-distance shots as much as they do nowadays, so obviously, Iverson did most of his damage from within close range. Kyrie is also an incredible finisher with both hands and has a never-ending variety of layups. Still, Iverson was slightly better.
Outside Scoring - Kyrie Irving
Allen Iverson wasn’t much of a volume scorer from beyond the arc, recording just 1.2 three-pointers per game on 31% shooting throughout his career. Kyrie, on the other hand, is incredibly efficient from beyond the arc. He knocks down 39% of his shots from three-point territory and averages 2.1 per game.
Playmaking - Allen Iverson
Neither of this guys was your average pass-first kind of guard, as they’re both true scorers that rather take matters into his own hands. However, Iverson was slightly better - and more willing - playmaker than Kyrie. Throughout his career, he averaged 6.2 assists per game, compared to Kyrie’s 5.7.
Athleticism - Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson was incredibly athletic, and he was even poised for a career in the NFL, as he played as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and even punt-returner, and he really showed up his skills during his career in the NBA. He was a good dunker with a solid vertical leap.
Defense - Allen Iverson
While Allen Iverson wasn’t truly known for his defense, he was a suffocating stopper, especially in passing lanes. He led the league in steals for three straight seasons and averaged 2.2 per his career with a career-high of 9. Kyrie isn’t much of a defender, has averaged 1.3 per game, and has a career-high of 8.
Rim Protection - Kyrie Irving
Both of them are terrible rim protectors, to be honest. Shockingly, Iverson wasn’t really a shot blocker even despite his aggressiveness as a help defender and his leaping ability. Throughout his career, he averaged roughly 0.2 blocks per game. Kyrie isn’t much better, posting a career average of 0.3 blocks per game.
Rebounding - Even
Once again, neither of them is actually much of a good rebounder and have posted nearly identical numbers over the course of his career. Iverson’s career average was slightly better at 3.7 per game compared to Kyrie’s 3.6. Also, neither of them ever snatched more than 11 rebounds in a game.
Clutch - Kyrie Irving
Allen Iverson was actually pretty clutch, but Kyrie Irving is one of the clutchest players ever. Iverson thrived in isolation in crunch time and even single-handedly led his Sixers with some of the best late-game performances ever, but Kyrie’s even better. He’s a closer and just can’t seem to miss in the fourth quarter. Don’t take our word for it? Ask Stephen Curry.
Leadership - Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson was by far the best player on his team throughout his entire career, and while some may claim he didn’t lead by example, he was actually quite a vocal leader and a willing mentor for his younger teammates. Kyrie openly called his young teammates out, and the team don’t seem to like him that much, to be honest.
Basketball IQ - Even
While Iverson was great, he was careless with the ball from time to time and quite reckless as well. Irving’s shot selection is superior and averages fewer turnovers per game. Still, Iverson was incredibly intelligent and knew how to make up for his lack of size against bigger defenders, truth to be told, we just couldn’t settle for one or the other.
Better Scorer - Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson is one of the greatest scorers ever, and some argue that he could easily average 35+ per game in today’s NBA. He led the league in scoring 4 times and was virtually unstoppable from all over the court. He averaged 26.7 points per game compared to Kyrie’s 22.2, and has a career-high of 60 points compared to Kyrie’s 57.
Impact - Allen Iverson
Iverson was able to embrace his role as a leader and the best player in the league at the time, leading his Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals despite the lack of a truly capable supporting cast. Irving is incredibly good, but the Celtics always seem to find a way to get by with or without him, and even looked better when he had to miss time in the regular season.
1 on 1 Game - Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson has the second-best handles ever, trailing just Kyrie Irving for that purpose. Also, Kyrie is a better scorer from downtown, but Iverson is a much better defender, a tougher competitor, and has way more moves (Crazy as it may seem). This one’s pretty close, but we’ll give him the edge here.