Four-time NBA champion Andre Iguodala recently made a bold claim by saying former Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons big man Rasheed Wallace would be a top 5 player in today's era.
According to Iguodala, the do-it-all forward is even better than Giannis Antetokounmpo, who many consider the best basketball player in the world today. Iguodala's statement is indeed a head-scratcher, but in fairness to him, he backed up his claim with his facts.
"Rasheed Wallace probably could have been a top-five player in the league for a 10-year stretch. He just chose 'Ahh, I'll do my thing over here.' He was shooting half-court shots left-handed and right-handed. If Rasheed Wallace played in modern-day basketball today, if he played in our league today, he'd be a top-five player. He'd be better than Giannis, and I love Giannis," Iguodala said in his recent appearance at The Dan LeBatard Show.
Rasheed vs. Giannis
Based on recency bias, many would probably scoff at Iguodala's statement as many view Antetokounmpo as one of the most dominant big men to grace the NBA hardwood. However, it's at least fair to consider how Wallace would match up against Giannis. In Wallace's defense, he was also a physically dominant big during his time.
Wallace's peak happened in 2005 when he averaged 17 points and shot 37.5% from the 3-point line in the Playoffs. In 2008, Rasheed scored 14.5 points and shot 44.8% from the 3-point area against Iguodala's Sixers. He's a 6'7 ft big that can defend, stretch the floor and impose his will inside the paint — skills that almost every successful big man embodies in today's era. So to say that Wallace would thrive in today's game isn't an overreaction at all.
Nothing beats Giannis
However, with all due respect to Wallace, it's hard to perceive him as being better than Antetokounmpo if he played today. Remember, Giannis is a two-time MVP, Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and was clearly the best player on his team that won the championship before turning 27 years old— something Wallace frankly wasn't. No single man on earth can physically outbattle Antetokounmpo unless a team builds a wall around him.
Antetokounmpo is a walking double-double who tallies MVP numbers almost every game. The Greek Freak averaged 28.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in 67 games last season. He was also on the verge of winning his second championship, but unfortunately, Antetokounmpo's sidekick, Khris Middleton, was sidelined due to a knee injury.
So to circle back to Iguodala's point, he's right to say that Wallace could be successful in this era but that he's better than Giannis? Maybe the Warriors forward hasn't recovered from all the champagne he drank during his team's championship celebrations.