I was doing some research over the weekend. If you’re familiar with this page, you get the idea of what I was doing with my precious, precious time (we only have so many years on Earth, what am I DOING with my life???).
For the most part, it’s pretty easy to determine who was the best Sonic at each respective jersey number, but there are a couple numbers giving me trouble. Probably the most trouble comes with Jersey #34.
I’m having a hard time with this. Mainly, I’m struggling because I saw the entirety of the Ray Allen Era and I saw none of the Xavier McDaniel Era. I don’t want to be one of those guys who jumps to the conclusion he’s familiar with just because he never saw the other guy play.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to bust out a ton of numbers here and then I’m going to try to talk my way through this.
|Ray Allen (SG)
||Xavier McDaniel (SF)
|Seasons||2002/2003 – 2006/2007 (29 games in 02/03 after mid-season trade for Gary Payton & other players/picks)||1985/1986 – 1990/1991 (15 games in 90/91 before mid-season trade for Eddie Johnson & two #1 draft picks)|
|Minutes per Game||39.37||33.79|
|Points per Game||24.57||20.68|
|Field Goal %||.440||.494|
|Free Throw %||.899||.713|
|Three Point %||.386||.269|
|Rebounds per Game||4.65||6.96|
|Assists per Game||4.19||2.47|
|Turnovers per Game||2.53||2.80|
|All Star Games||4 (2003-2007)||1 (1987/1988)|
|Reg. Season Win %||.481||.487|
|Best Reg. Season Finish||First (1 time)||Fourth (1 time)|
|Playoff Appearances||1 (lost 2nd round, 04/05)||3 (Lost in West Finals 86/87, Lost 1st Round 87/88, Lost 2nd Round 88/89)|
Now, I’ll start here and get it out of the way. If we were comparing overall careers, it would be no contest. Ray Allen has been the better NBA player overall. But, we’re exclusively looking at what they did while wearing a Sonics uniform.
You could argue, successfully, that both players experienced their greatest statistical successes while wearing the Green & Gold. Ray Allen was in the heart of his prime. On top of that, he was the best player on the team, so the offense pretty much ran through him. He came to the team and averaged 24.5 points in his 29-game first season with the team; he finished his tenure with the Sonics averaging 26.4 per game over a 55-game injury-shortened 06/07 season. Then, he was traded to the Celtics for a high draft pick that helped kick-start this team into the powerhouse you see in Oklahoma City today.
The X-Man, on the other hand, was drafted by the Supersonics and came out of the gate on fire. In his rookie season, he averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds; in his second (and best) season he averaged 23 points and nearly 9 rebounds. His scoring per-game average remained in the 20s for the duration of his Sonics career before he was traded for a bounty to the Phoenix Suns (and, subsequently, started his long, slow decline towards obscurity).
These two guys have a TON in common, even though they were very different types of players on the court. Probably the most important thing they have in common is: when they were traded away, the organization eventually went on to a sustained high-level of success (after some initial growing pains).
But, if you really want to see how similar they are, just take a look at the table up there! Essentially, McDaniel played an extra season, but Allen averaged more minutes per game, so they’re close on that score. Both averaged over 20 points per game. McDaniel had the higher field goal percentage, but Allen has him beat on free throws and three pointers. McDaniel has Allen on rebounds, but Allen has him on assists and turnovers. Allen had greater individual success (4 straight All Star Game appearances during a time when Kobe Bryant was a thing that existed in his very own conference), but McDaniel had greater team success (3 straight playoff appearances, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals).
If you took every catagory in that table and picked a winner for each, Ray Allen wins 12 and Xavier McDaniel wins 12. So, it comes down to: what do you weigh more heavily?
McDaniel played in more games and therefore scored more points, there’s gotta be something said for that. But, Allen had more points per game, so you could argue he was more integral to the team’s offense and its overall success. However, if you’re going to bring overall team success into the argument, then it’s no contest: McDaniel played a key role on a Sonics team that made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals (losing 4-0 to the Lakers), in what was statistically his best season. Ray Allen could only lead this team to one playoff invitation, and even then we ended up losing in the second round. Then again, if we’re going to look at the MVP argument, you could argue that Ray Allen was more important to the team’s success. He led a team that only had Rashard Lewis and a whole bunch of scrubs. X-Man was on a team with Tom Chambers and Dale Ellis both crushing it from the outside. You take Ray Allen off of any of those Sonics teams and you’re looking at one of the worst (if not THE worst) in the entire league. Take X-Man off of those 80s Sonics teams and I think they might still be okay.
When it comes right down to it, I think you have to look at some advanced stats. Basketball Reference has some good ones if you feel like comparing. The bottom line is: Ray Allen was a better offensive force and Xavier McDaniel was a better defensive force. But, when you put it all together, Ray Allen’s offense was SO good while he was in Seattle that he overwhelms whatever defensive advantage McDaniel had going for him.
Just look at Win Shares, if nothing else (an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player). It’s almost like WAR in baseball. Ray Allen’s looked like this: 4.8 (in his 29-game first season with the team), 6.9, 10.7, 9.5, & 6.3. Xavier McDaniel’s looked like this: 5.1, 7.4, 6.2, 5.3, 5.4, 0.9 (in his 15-game final season with the team). If you add them all up (which I suppose is a thing you could do; I don’t see why you couldn’t) then you’ve got 38.2 wins contributed by Ray Allen and only 30.3 wins contributed by Xavier McDaniel (who, as noted above, played in more games).
So, I guess my answer is going to reluctantly be Ray Allen. It’s too bad too, because if we were factoring in Trash-Talking Bad-Ass-ness, or one’s highlight reel, choosing the winner would be an X-Man slam dunk followed by a 5-second stare-down of a posterized Ray Allen.