Ray Allen. Reggie Miller. The two share 36 years of NBA experience leading to 15 all star games and 5 all NBA teams. There are 49,784 points between them and a plethora of some of the greatest clutch shots in NBA history. Naturally, with Allen’s recent retirement there have been several discussions about his place in NBA lore among the ranks of the best shooters and overall players of all time.
Both of these sharpshooters will be forever linked due to being among the most prolific 3 ball shooters in league history. There are 5,533 made threes between Ray and Reggie with many of those sucking the souls out of those attempting to guard them. This begs a question, however. Who was better?
Ray Allen: 18.9 ppg 4.1 rpg 3.4 apg 1.1 spg 45.2 fg% 40 3pt% 89.4 ft%
Reggie Miller: 18.2 ppg 3 rpg 3 apg 1.1 spg 47.1 fg% 39.5 3pt% 88.8 ft%
As far as standard per game numbers, the shorter (6’5) Ray Allen has a marked advantage across the board. Reggie Miller at (6’7) was still a worse rebounder and play maker than Allen. Percentages from range and from the line are basically identical. However, Miller was a more efficient shooter from the floor specifically inside the arc.
Regular season numbers alone do not do justice to the legacy of primetime playoff performer Reggie Miller. All true NBA fans know of his storied battles with the Knicks among others in the Eastern Conference playoffs during the 90s. Miller elevated his scoring to 20.6 ppg in the playoffs while Allen took a dip to 16.1 in the second part of the season. More impressive is the fact that Miller played during an era when hand checking was not a penalty. One has to wonder how much bigger of a force he would have been during today’s times.
While lacking in standard numbers the advanced numbers show where Reggie Miller truly shined. Dean Oliver’s Offensive Rating system has Miller at a jaw dropping 121 points produced per 100 possessions. Of course we have to look at where that ranks all time to place that into perspective. Only Chris Paul at 122 rates higher on the list. That’s pretty elite company with Magic Johnson coming in 3rd place and John Stockton in 4th. Even more impressive may be the fact that Miller was able to accomplish this with a pretty low usage rate at 21.6%.
Ray Allen was a much better iso player which explains his higher usage rate than Miller’s. Reggie scored a lot of his points coming off of screens while Ray was able to break down his defenders especially earlier in his career to create his own shots.
Advantage: Ray Allen
Head To Head
This part of the comparison is a tad unfair as there is a 10 year age gap between the two. In 25 head to head contests Miller’s Pacers defeated Allen 15 times. Miller was the better scorer during these matchups with 20.5 ppg elevating to 25 ppg in their 8 playoff games against each other. The two played each other in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs two years in a row (1999 and 2000). After a Pacers sweep in 1999 Miller scored 41 points in the deciding game 5 the very next year to move the pacers on to the next round.
Advantage: Reggie Miller
Resume of Achievements
Ray Allen: 2x champion, 10x All-Star, 1x 2nd team All-NBA, 1x 3rd team All-NBA, 2nd team All-Rookie selection, 3x league leader in 3pt made, all-time leader in 3pt made, Olympic gold medalist (2000)
Reggie Miller: 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA 3rd team, 2x league leader in 3pt made, 5x league leader in ft %, 2nd all time in 3pt made, Olympic gold medalist (1996), NBA Hall of Famer
This category overwhelmingly belongs to Ray Allen with the main factor being his two championship titles. Allen saw more playoff success despite playing in 4 less playoffs than Miller. (11 to 15 respectively) He also went to twice as many all star games and is one slot ahead of Miller for the 1-2 punch in total three-pointers made.
It must be noted despite the rings that Allen was never the best player on his teams that went deep into the playoffs and played in finals. Reggie Miller never played with anyone near his caliber yet still managed to lead his team to the NBA finals in 2000 and reached the Eastern Conference Finals 5 other times.
For this category we will not hold the fact that Ray Allen has played with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett among many others. He was still a great individual player in his own right as evidenced by the all star appearances.
Advantage: Ray Allen
It is hard to answer “who was more clutch?” or “who was the better three point shooter?” Those questions aside Ray Allen gets the nudge as the more complete player who did more for his team across the board. He reached Reggie Miller’s 3 pt record in 309 fewer games and then went on to beat that total soundly during the last seasons of his career. Combine that with the 2 NBA championships and double the All-Star games and we are looking at a victory for the career of Ray Allen.