After more than a week of shopping, the Denver Nuggets bought themselves a last-minute holiday gift: the league's second-leading scorer and 2001 NBA MVP, Allen Iverson.
The Nuggets have agreed to a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, sending Iverson out west in exchange for point guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and two first round picks in the 2007 NBA Draft. The Nuggets also receive forward Ivan McFarlin in the trade.
Iverson, who has not suited up for the Sixers since requesting a trade from the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 1996, is averaging 31.2 points and 7.3 assists in 15 games this season.
The move leaves many wondering if there are enough basketballs to go around in Denver now that the Nuggets have the top two scorers in the league. Iverson (31.2 ppg), however, would be in action without Carmelo Anthony (31.5 ppg) until at least Jan. 20. Anthony was suspended on Monday for 15 games for his role in Saturday's altercation in New York.
"We need another scorer," Denver's Marcus Camby told the Denver Post earlier this week. "We need a guy that can complement 'Melo. That would be crazy to have them two here, the one and two scorers in the league. (Iverson's) a guy that can fit into our offense running up and down the court."
When both finally suit up as teammates, they should find their share of shots in George Karl's high-octane offense. The Nuggets rank first overall in the league in field goals attempted per game (85.2) and put more points on the board (108.8) than any team outside of the Phoenix (110.6).
In 23 games as a starter for the Nuggets, Miller is averaging 13.0 points and 9.1 assists, ranking third-best in the NBA this season. In 11 games off the bench for Denver, Smith is averaging 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds.
The teams meet for the first time since the trade when the Sixers travel to Denver on Jan. 2, 2007.
Allen Iverson was the show in Philadelphia. Period. He has been for several years. The offense was Allen Iverson, and the ball was owned by AI. He did distribute, and make no mistake that Allen Iverson made his teammates better, but the offense was built around and flowed through him. What will happen in Denver
I like what happens to Iverson's value in Denver. He owns the ball, and I fully expect him to own the ball in Denver as well. As much as Carmelo will want the rock, AI is the point guard. Unless Anthony or George Karl pry the ball out of Iverson's cold, dead hands, he'll dominate the ball. It also helps that the Nuggets play an up-tempo transition offense. Even though Iverson will inevitably concede more than he is used to, he will still score, and I expect him to continue to approach the 30-point number. And considering he will be passing more in a high scoring offense will only help his assist totals. The steals may inevitably suffer, but overall I expect good things to come out of this move for Iverson.
I am not as excited about Carmelo Anthony's prospects. This was his team and the offense flowed through Carmelo. He also handled the ball more than you would expect for a small forward. Now, the ball will be in Iverson's hands and whether or not Carmelo gets his typical looks will be entirely up to the point guard. Also, Iverson gets to establish himself as the man for 14 games while Carmelo sits out his suspension. All the more difficult to try and get Iverson to switch his game.
Some people will try to tell you that this trade helps both players and you can expect much of the same in terms of scoring. It's simply not possible. Someone will suffer when it comes to scoring numbers, and the first person in line will be Anthony. Instead of 31 points per game, a more reasonable expectation going forward will be 24. His assist and rebounding totals, however, should take a slight bump as Iverson will demand the rock in scoring situations (more assists) and Iverson will hoist up plenty of errant shots (more offensive rebounds).
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