Every once in a while Pierce reminds us that he is the greatest pure scoring machine in Celtics history. Many old-timers bristle when you say that, citing John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, or whomever. But it just happens to be the truth.
He can get his own shot, which is a major plus. He is an extremely proficient, highly ambidextrous, driver. He takes a lot of free throws. He is a constant 3-point threat. And he is the best fast break finisher the team has ever had. No argument.
There is an argument. I understand loving Pierce after the 41-point game 7 takeover for the ages, but a better scorer than Bird? Here are some important metrics:
- Pierce is a 44.2% FG on his career, Bird is a 49.6% FG on his career.
- Bird finished in the top 10 in points per game six times, Pierce has done it five already.
- Pierce has finished in the top 10 in ‘Player Efficiency Rating’ three times. Bird finished as #1, twice.
- When looking at their offensive production, the biggest difference is that 18% of Bird’s total offensive production came from the free throw line, while Pierce has gotten 27% of his points at the stripe. Pierce needs to get to the line to have his scoring machine working on all cylinders, but Bird didn’t.
“Paul Pierce is one of my favorite players,” said LeBron. “I always say, second to Kobe Bryant, he has some of the best footwork I’ve ever seen in a player. I love going against the best, and Paul Pierce is one of those guys.”
He’s 30 right now. If Pierce hovers around that 20-point per game mark for just over three years, he’ll surpass Bird in total of points scored. Maybe if he has a championship ring to go with those superior stats, the argument will look a lot more convincing.