Portland Trail Blazers: How would Rasheed Wallace have fared in the modern NBA?

Rasheed Wallace, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Rasheed Wallace, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /
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Rasheed Wallace
Rasheed Wallace, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by JOHN GRESS/AFP via Getty Images) /

The case for  Rasheed Wallace being better in the modern NBA:

With more of an emphasis on utilizing Wallace’s floor-stretching skills, it’s worth wondering how much better, if at all, Wallace would’ve been in the modernized game.  Here’s a case for it.

By most accounts, the prime of Wallace’s career began in 1999-00 — the first of four All-Star appearances, as well as commandeering a 59-win team — and ended in 2008-09, a year in which Kevin Garnett referred to him as the “best power forward in the NBA.” Numbers wise, here’s how the numbers pan out.

  • 15.6 points per game
  • 7.3 rebounds per game
  • 2.0 assists per game
  • 1.5 blocks per game
  • 13.4 attempts from the field
  • 3.6 attempts from 3-point range
  • 2.9 free throw attempts

From 1999-00 to 2008-09, the league averaged out at 91.4 possessions per game. In 2019-20, those numbers skyrocketed to 100.2 (an extra ten or so potential shots per game). Using strictly Per 100 numbers, here’s how Wallace’s new numbers would look:

  • 24.6 points per game
  • 11.6 rebounds per game
  • 3.1 assists per game
  • 2.3 blocks per game
  • 21.1 attempts from the field
  • 5.6 attempts from 3-point range
  • 4.5 free throw attempts

That’s special. Since 2009-10, only three players (Kevin Love, Karl-Anthony Towns, and DeMarcus Cousins) have walked that line.

And then there’s this: sign me up for a seat on the Rasheed Wallace, Hall of Fame bandwagon. But those that oppose point to his lack of hardware: “just” four All-Star appearances and no All-NBA selections or Most Valuable Player awards, or for the fact that he didn’t gerrymander the “stretch big” tendencies like that of Dirk Nowitzki.

In today’s era, opportunities for more accolades are there for the taking; there’s no longer having to be better than Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki, and some one-hit-wonder all in the same season.

Here’s another point for the road. With the league’s focus on improving mental health and controlling emotions, you’d have to imagine a clearer state of mind from the start has his benefits.

By the end of his career, Wallace was tagged with: 29 ejections, 373 technical fouls, eight technicals in the 1996 preseason, and 22 for that season alone (somehow this ranked sixth in the NBA).

The funny thing about Rasheed Wallace’s career is that maybe the ball did lie.

Those 15-point averages were impressive, but they won’t tell his whole story. In many ways, I’d compare Wallace to one of those birthday cards with money inside. You know? The first thing you notice is the money (the scoring), but the thoughtful words inside (the defense, the swagger, etc) are what prevail long beyond that. Plugging him into this new era maybe gives him a chance to everything in its entirety.