Listen, if we’re going to keep the truth about Paul Pierce alive, we’re going to have to fight for it.
I’m for advanced metrics as much as anyone; I want as much information about the game as we can muster. I’m for film breakdowns and plus-minus and on-off and PER and everything else. I want to know everything before making a decision on how to evaluate a player in the short, long or historical term. But the numbers are never going to do Paul Pierce justice. His game wasn’t maximized for efficiency, wasn’t built to translate his gifts into how they would be received by formulas today.
This is similar to the fact that Larry Bird’s 3-point numbers don’t reflect what kind of shooter he was. The 3-point shot just wasn’t used when Bird played. It was a fringe element, a novelty of sorts. And when Pierce played, it was the grandest era of hero ball. Low motion, low ball movement basketball reigned, and that drags down efficiency.