Paul Pierce once again insists he’s had a better career than Dwyane Wade

Say this for Paul Pierce, he is persistent.

You might remember a very strange, one-sided debate a few years ago where the Boston Celtics Hall of Famer went on ESPN and insisted he had a better career than Dwyane Wade. The most entertaining moment was when Jalen Rose went to the numbers and rattled off a series of numbers that smothered Pierce’s argumentin Pierce’s face.

That was 2019. Now, in 2023, Pierce had no problem banging that drum again during an appearance on Cam’Ron’s “It Is What It Is” talk show. He threw in his familiar arguments, that Wade benefited from having several Hall of Fame teammates — Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Chris Bosh — in their primes and wasn’t as good a shooter as Pierce.

Pierce’s argument:

“Put Shaq on my team. Put LeBron and Bosh with me. I’m not going to win one? You put me, LeBron and Bosh, we won’t win one? We’re not going to win a couple? Who is the best 3 point shooter? Is he top scorer? OK, he averages more career points than me. I can shoot the 3. I can do mid-range. I can post. I can reach the line. Who is the top scorer?

“For a long time my skills weren’t appreciated because I couldn’t play with a lot of great players,” Pierce continued. “And then I got to play with KG and Ray [Allen] past their peak. Four years ago you put me, Ray and KG together, you think we won’t leave with three “ships?”

Obviously, this is a stupid argument, just conceptually. Both Wade and Pierce have had great careers, are in the Hall of Fame, and can enjoy the life that comes with that status. It’s Pierce, however, who has to question it, so let’s look at the numbers again, even if it’s still a limited view of what makes a “better career”.

The Paul Pierce v. Dwyane Wade case

We’ll be doing this style of lightning round, with all the stats coming from Basketball Reference.

  • Championships: wade 3Drill 1

  • All-Star nods: wade 13Drill 10

  • All-NBA (first team): wade 2Drill 0

  • All-NBA (any team): wade 8Drill 4

  • All-Defense (any team): wade 3Drill 0

  • Notable titles: wade 1Drill 0

  • Games played: Wade 1,054, Drill 1,343

  • Points per game: wade 22.0Drill 19.7

  • Total points: Wade 22,365, Drill 26,397

  • Rebounds per game: Wade 4.7, Drill 5.6

  • Assists per game: Wading 5.4, Drill 3.5

  • Flights per game: Wading 1.5Drill 1.3

  • Blocks per game: wade 0.8Drill 0.6

  • Field Goal %: wade 48.0Drill 44.5

  • 3-point shooting %: Wade 29.3, Drill 36.8

  • True shot: Wade .554, Drill .568

  • Elimination matches: wade 177Drill 170

  • Playoff wins: wade 105Drill 87

  • Elimination points per game: wade 22.3Drill 18.7

  • Win shares: Wade 120.7, Drill 150

  • Earn shares/48 minutes: Wading .162Pierced .157

  • Plus/minus box: Wading 5.0Drill 3.7

  • VORP: Wading 62.8, Drill 65.5

This should hopefully paint a somewhat detailed picture of what we’re talking about here. It seems undeniable that Wade has enjoyed more success, both in the win column and in recognition from his peers and observers. There could be something to Pierce’s ‘top scorer’ argument judging by his shooting percentages, but also many of his best numbers have come from simply playing three more seasons.

(06/09/12, Miami, Fla) Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) comes under pressure from Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first quarter as the Celtics take on the Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Miami on Saturday, June 09, 2012. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill) (Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Paul Pierce reunites with Dwyane Wade. (Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

The beauty of this argument is that it is so subjective that it is impossible to stifle it. If you want to argue that Pierce’s Hall of Fame teammates are past their prime, and award him hypothetical championships if he had Shaq or James, and decide count stats matter more than per-game stats or playoff success, then more power to you.

You, in this case, clearly being Paul Pierce.

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