Sunday, March 16, 2008

Delicious, if Strange, Irony In Philadelphia

Last season the 76ers traded Allen Iverson to the Nuggets because this AI didn't grasp the concept of team basketball after a decade in the NBA. The 76ers figured they'd be rebuilding, and the Nuggets figured they'd be contending for a title.

Well. . .

As it turns out, the 76ers look to be solidly in the playoffs. They're 7th overall in the East, 5 up on the 8th place Nets. They have a shot to finish as high as 5th, although I'd say that they probably have the best shot of overtaking the Wizards for the sixth berth. Not so bad for a team that looked to have no inside game in the fall. I read one report where a rival scout said that they're the fastest team in the league, and everyone is contributing. Last night C Sam Dalembert blocked shots by Tim Duncan on two straight possessions down the stretch, and guys like first-round pick Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams are making serious contributions. They're not the bigggest team out there, but they play well together and have demonstrated a lot of heart.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, are a handful of games out of the last playoff spot in the West, despite having around a .600 overall record that would make them fifth in the East. One interesting stat I saw a week ago was that the Nuggets were 23-2 when Iverson has 10 or more assists. My guess is that many have tried to tell Iverson over the years that if he focused more on passing, he'd open up the floor more for his teammates, get better shots and help his team to a better record. You'd think that the coaches in Denver tell him this frequently and point to the stat that I just did. Then again, it's hard to talk to AI, and he's been in the league long enough to change his behavior.

Philadelphia is better off without Allen Iverson and the drama he brought to the team. Denver, ironically, has played better with him, if not good enough in the West.

The trade's a win-win proposition, but right now you'd have to say that the 76ers got the better of the deal.

If only, though, they had made it several seasons earlier, as the AI soap opera had outlasted whatever popularity it had generated when the 76ers went to the finals in 2001.


Escort81 said...

Give Mo Cheeks some credit -- he has done a pretty good job. Stefanski came in and said it was time to see what the young guys can do, and really made only one roster move (Korver for an expiring contract), and Young has certainly produced. Cheeks and his staff actually improved individual players and the team's execution of fastbreak offense triggered by tough defense.

Amazing that the Sixers will likely make the playoffs and it looks like the Flyers may not. The drought continues (no major pro sports championships in Philly) -- 25 years and counting!

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