Nuggets: Is Iverson the answer for Denver?
Trades involving megastars like Allen Iverson have a tendency to tilt the NBA off itís customary axis. But before we proclaim the Denver Nuggets a bona fide championship contender we should remember that Iverson will be asked to do certain things heís never really done in the past. Now that The Answer has arrived in Denver, the questions will begin.
Iverson joins a team with a high-powered, fast break offense, which should suit him fine, but aside from additional firepower, what the Nuggets will really need from him is veteran, leadership.
Iverson has never been and never will be a pure point guard, but for the Nuggets to move up to another level he will have to make up for some of the play-making and on-court leadership that Andre Miller provided during the past three seasons.
It may be of small consolation for the post-Iverson Sixers, but the addition of Miller gives their very young team an experienced, pure point guard who can give direction to a directionless team. In Millerís initial performance with his new team, he had 11 assists and led them to a 25 point victory.
The Nuggets would do just fine with 20 rather than 30 points a game for Iverson, along with 8-9 assists and getting his teammates involved.
The newest Nugget is blessed with good playmaking skills, which have grown over the years, but A.I. has always had a shoot-first mentality and most his of assists come as a by-product of his aggressiveness on offense.
The only time that Iverson led his team to The Promised Land of the NBA Finals was in 2001. The Sixers would never have gotten close to the Finals without Iversonís MVP season, but they also had gritty tough-minded role players like Aaron McKie, Theo Ratliff and Dikembe Mutombo to help out, with and Eric Snow running the offense.
In Denver, Iverson has a different accompanying cast. He will have physical frontcourt role players like Marcus Camby, Eduardo Najera and Reggie Evans as comrades in arms, but he wonít have the benefit of a true playmaker and will have to integrate his game with those of high flying young talents like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith when they return from suspension.
Iverson is enormously talented, intensely competitive and dying to win a title so heís entirely capable of making the transition, but he will need to make a mental adjustment for the Nuggets to thrive.
Itís unfortunate the Minnesota Timberwolves couldnít pull off an Iverson trade. Kevin Garnett deserved an opportunity to play with someone of Iversonís talent, fire and intensity. And Iverson's adjustment to the Timberwolves would have been easy.
We will have to wait until Anthony and Smith return from their lengthy suspensions (and when the snow stops in Denver) to get a true read on the new-look Nuggets. Itís a combination of team play and ability rather than pure talent alone that wins NBA championships. Bonding and and on-court chemistry takes time to develop and is never a sure thing. We'll find out later in the season if Iverson is the true Answer.