Saturday, December 8, 2007

Take Me to Your Leader

(Boulder-CO) Since about the end of 2005, the Denver Nuggets have been Carmelo’s team. He’s been Denver’s leading scorer, All-Star, and face of the Nugget franchise, but is he still maintaining that status with Allen Iverson, a future Hall of Fame shoe-in, on the team?

I ask because for the last couple of games now it has seemed like Carmelo Anthony has been more of a side dish instead of the Mile High entrée. And if you haven’t been keeping an eye on the NBA’s scoring race this early in the season; let me bring you up to speed. Allen Iverson is now the Nuggets top scorer. At the twenty game mark, AI is averaging 25.5 points (4th in the NBA), 7.4 assists, three rebounds, and 2.5 steals while Carmelo’s average of 25.2 (still good enough for 6th best in the league making he and AI the only duo in the top ten) has dropped from 28.9 points last year when he came in second in scoring to only Kobe Bryant after leading the league for most the year. Granted, Carmelo’s assist average is currently at a career-high 4.3 per game, but it’s not like any of the other Nuggets are stealing his looks with the next highest ppg average being J.R. Smith at eleven.

So who IS the leader of the Denver Nuggets?

I’m not going to try and distinguish who exactly is the leader of this team between AI and ‘Melo based upon statistical achievements (or create controversy seeing how I don’t care which player people delegate for one reason or another), but I will clearly define what kind of qualities these very inconsistent Nuggets still desperately need in one. The Nuggets seek a player that knows how to bring the best out of our worst man. A player that sparks the Nuggets when they are down by ten or on the verge of putting a team away by 20+. A player that sets the tone. Not just offensively, but defensively too. Can AI be this guy? Maybe. We have seen him take an otherwise mediocre 76ers team all the way to the NBA Finals. Could ‘Melo do it? We have seen him take an otherwise mediocre Syracuse team to the NCAA Championship but the answer is again, maybe.

For now, the Nuggets “leader” role is one to watch because without it solidified, I still think that this year’s team is going to continue to show glimpses of greatness while also, at times, appearing like they are on the verge of falling apart. Anyone have thoughts on who, so far, has been the leader of this team? And no wise answers like “George Karl”, knuckle heads!

Go Nuggets!


Arthur said...

karl's always said that ai's the quiet leader of the team. if you listen to him talk, its all about how iverson has changed the entire atmosphere of the team. i don't think you give him enough credit.

TimmyD02 said...

Hey Nugg Doctor,

I was reading up on the NUGGETS win against the MAVS the other night and was reading the comments some people were making, everyone seemed to agree on who they thought the LEADER of this team was but there was one comment that stuck out to me. I woule like you to read it and tell me what you think:

"Alright guys this is what I want to say. I hope this doesn't make anyone upset. But please just try and read what I write to see where I am coming from first. If you don't agree, fine. If you do, thanks

I have been thinking about this team and I have come to the conclusion. Their situation is much like the Rockets. Coming in Yao was pretty much handed the team depsite Francis being there. And when T-Mac got there he lauded Yao and said all the right things. yes this is his team ,blah, blah, blah. It was a lovefest. Even the sports columnists etc said, yes the ball should go through Yao and this is how you play basketball. But when the losses in the first round began to pile, things began to change. When Yao was out last year, the Rockets rolled with T-Mac and when he decied to play the way he plays, they won. In the playoffs they went right back to, pound the ball into Yao and that got them another first round exit. My point is this, I am not in any way saying that T-Mac doesn't need Yao to be successful. B/c they do. What I am saying is this, it is clear that when you allow him to be at the center of everything that's going on during games, it bodes well for them. Let's be honest, he knows Yao is there. He will get the ball to Yao and Yao will do what he does. But he also knows, that coming down the stretch, it is up to him to take over. And that doesn't mean JUST SCORING. It means being in the center of all the action.

Look at Denver, let's just take game 1 of the season for instance. What AI did in that game is what he likes to do. He played free in that game, and look what he did. The last two games he played free and see what is going on. When you put players like that in a box to the detriment of the team, it typically leads to losses. Bottomline is AI isn't a pg or a sg, he is a basketball player.

Another example is the Lakers. The only two people on the team that know how to play the triangle is Kobe and Luke. Finally Phil decided, hey, I don't have guys that can play a tru triangle, BUT I do have shooters. So now they play a hybrid, where he RUNS PLAYS to get his shooters open. They have been playing more fluidly. But STILL, even when he isn't scoring, Kobe is at the center of all the action.

Back to Denver and Houston. Yao suffers from the same thing Melo suffers from, which is lack of stamina. They both get tired quick, while T-Mac and AI can go for longer streches. Just like Adelman has seen how the Rockets need to play, Karl needs to realize this. Instead of AI playing off of Melo, Melo needs to play off of AI. AI can get Melo better shots that he can get AI. WHY, b/c ay time anywhere, AI can get his own shot. Take the 3rd quarter last night. Melo had been horrible, but in that period, he got in the paint and was able to dominate. WHY, b/c AI had been getting people and himself lay-ups ALL night. I just think that if all parties involved are able to play a freer game, it makes things more simple. The only person who had been resisting was Melo.I mean think to how the Nuggs play when Melo goes to the bench close to the end of the 1st quarter. Those guys come out and play with AI, like they have been playing with him for years.

For instance
1. If he drive baseline, he is looking to pass to the big man in the paint, pass to an open shooter on the baseline or, STOP for a lay-up

2. If he is isolated on the strong side and being double, the lande is wide open, he is looking for a cutter, or a lob.

3. Contrary to what we see, when he attempts to play ick and roll with Melo, he wants Melo to be the shooter, by poping out, so he can throw the ball behind him or roll to the basket. I know this b/c he and Webber played pick and roll to perfection. The problem was, Webber often couldn't hit his shot, but he got plenty in the ft line extened area. That is Melo's range all day.

Bottomline, this team will go as far as AI MENTALLY takes them. Meaning, if you get aligned to what his mindset for the game is, you will win more than you lose. A guy with tons of talent is never better than a guy with as much if not more talent, plus experience. This is why when MJ came back, he was able to school more than a few people. He learned how to play with his mind instead of his RAW gifts. And right now, that's what AI has that Melo doesn't. Not a knock, it comes with time, but this team doesn't have that kind of time".

Brandy Johnson
Joined: Nov 28
Points: 420 Posted by Brandy Johnson (aka lilone70)
at 9:48 AM on Friday Dec 7

Nugg Doctor said...

Hi timmy,

Well, as of right now I think that the Nuggets need to get mentally all on the same page with everybody together for once. If this group can build something that doesn't have the rug pulled out from underneathe it then, and only then will we be able to see hwo far they could go.

As for everyone being on the same page mentally with AI... It will never happen. He is one of the game's best of all-time and not every player in the NBA plays on that heady of a level.

AI needs to understand how everyone, individually needs to be coached into playing better while they play with him in the same way that Jordan always did, Kobe used to do, and what Tim Duncan has always done.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

ThaAnswer said...

I look at the Nuggets like this. It has been Melo's team, and I know he did great things in college and for Team USA. But when you ask yourself who should be the "leader" of this team, remember Melo is what, 24 years old? Where as Allen Iverson is 32, carried a team to the NBA Finals virtually on his back, was the leader in Philly for 10 1/2 years, I could go on all day with accomplishments. I just think AI simply has the experience to guide this team.
They always say if AI had help in Philly they could have won a championship. Well think of it like this. AI has all the help he needs now in Denver! Now let's beat these Kings

TimmyD02 said...

The more I watch Coach Karl, the more I realize that he doesn't know how to Coach THIS team. Doesn't mean he's not a great coach, just means that i'm not so sure if he knows how to Coach this one. When they made the TRADE for IVERSON, KARL said that they were not only bringing him there for his scoring, but for VETERAN LEADERSHIP and to help take this team to the next level. When they brought him there people were thinking "Uh-oh, the LEAGUE could be in TROUBLE", because you have two people on one team that DEMAND a double team and on any given night could go off and WIN the game on their own. The MEDIA was saying it is going to take sacrifices from BOTH MELO and A.I in order for this team to succeed. I feel like IVERSON has lived up to his promise of trying to fit into this TEAM by making some sacrifices, but not Carmelo. Truth be told, IVERSON is the one that is really sacrificing "scoring titles" (even though he already has 4)to be on this team. And i'm sure he doesn't mind that.

After watching the game against the LAKERS I realized how much A.I has been sacrificing. During halftime the interviewer asked KOBE about IVERSON and KOBE said "He's playing like he used to in Philly, he caught us off gaurd", KOBE and other players from around the LEAGUE don't know who this NEW A.I guy is in DENVER. This new DENVER A.I is not the guy KOBE has been accustomed to going to WAR with over the YEARS. KOBE was reminded the othernight. My point is that Iverson is who we though the was. Its one thing to make little sacrifices but it's another to try to completely change a GREAT players game. IVERSON is a LEADER by NATURE, he doesn't know anything else. The NUGGETS should have went for the LAKERS throat the other night. I seen one of the NUGGETS saying they wanted payback, but come game time, the only one who seemed to know what PAYBACK meant was IVERSON. IVERSON didn't just want to win by 4 pts., he wanted to BLOW THE LAKERS OUT the way the LAKERS did them in L.A... the othernight is what makes IVERSON who he is, the other night is what makes KOBE who he is...PASSION to win like that is something you can't's in their DNA. Their BUILT like that. The MEDIA jumped on it saying KOBE shut IVERSON down in the fourth quarter (forgetting that IVERSON was getting doubled and TRIPLE teamed the entire 4th quarter), but a lot of people feel the only people that stopped IVERSON was the NUGGETS. IVERSON had FIRE coming from his FINGERTIPS and what does COACH KARL do? He takes ANTHONY CARTER out (who did a great job by the way) and puts IVERSON at the point and tells him to PASS the BALL (when his teammates are shooting 4-26), WTF!!! Iverson could have went for 65 pts...but I don't think they wanted him to get that, and I can't help but to wonder if it was MELO...would KARL have stopped him? It seems like Karl wants the ball in MELOS hands in the fourth at all cost. I'm not sure if Karl has been watching A.I the last 11 yrs. but IVERSON is a 4th quarter player (as well as MELO). DUH!!

After the game they showed IVERSON walking to the TUNNEL and all the fans were patting him on the back as if to say "great game A.I" and IVERSON looked pissed. I thought to myself "okay this could be TROUBLE". The MEDIA ripped IVERSON (as always) for something that actually wasn't his FAULT. Where were IVERSONS teammates? Were was MELO in the 4th while Iverson was getting triple teamed?! I know where he was...making BAD shot selections. And don't even get me started on J.R SMITH in the 4th! Then Karl had the nerve to say that in the 4th "Iverson was winded", sinse when do we know IVERSON to ever be winded? Karl pretty much threw IVERSON under the bus. People on other blogs were saying Karl needed to be FIRED just for the other night alone. When you have a player shooting 80% from the field, you don't stop him. IVERSON has come to that FRANCHISE, and is averaging 6 pts. less per game to fit into this "TEAM"... the one night he goes off I feel like the least his teammates could have done is play some D to back him up. Everyone always talks about IVERSONS D'...the man only is 6 ft tall! What more do people expect him to do? I sat back and watched MELO let KOBE fly passed him and put the ball in the basket towards the end of the game. As big as MELO is, he needs to step it up...take a charge, SOMETHING! You trade for Iverson to help take this team to the NEXT level, and when he tries to you stop him? People should be scared of this team, they should be scared when A.I and MELO come to town. A.I scares the HELL out of people (can't noone play him 1 on 1), MELO has the tendency to scare the HELL out of people. Karl is stoping them from being that as a TEAM. Does A.I need to score 60 pts everynight (like he had to in PHILLY, LOL) NO...but when he does, it's not a BAD thing. Iverson is a BOX OFFICE player, this is what people have paid to watch him to do his entire career. Give the FANS in DENVER some great moments to talk about for crying out loud. And I feel IVERSON can help MELO give the crowd great moments of his own as well. I also feel like IVERSON can help MELO take his game to that NEXT level we've been waiting for.

People that have watched A.I throughout his CAREER can see that KARL does not know how to COACH a PLAYER like IVERSON. When he was in Philly I know he played his first two years as a PG then the next 6 as a SG (thats when the SIXERS were successful) and his last few seasons in Philly he was at the PG position. In DENVER, I don't know what IVERSON is, KARL switches him up so much. This TEAM is entirely too VERSITILE to have a set offense. They need to go with whoever is HOT that night, if MELO is hot go for it and let A.I and others back him up..if A.I is hot, go for it and let MELO and co. back him up if the team is shooting well as a whole go for it! The SUNS, who also play the running game, goes with whoevers do the do the CELTICS. My point is you don't make a TRADE for a player of IVERSONS caliber just to limit his abilities. If all the NUGGETS needed was a 2nd scoring option, they could have traded for anyother average NBA cat that can shoot well. You don't trade for a player that holds the 3rd highest ppg average in the HISTORY of the league to play the 2nd option. That is one of the silliest things I have ever heard of. There shouldn't be a 1st or 2nd scoring option, they should be set free to go for what they know. MELO can still get his shots and so can Iverson, but you have to let A.I play his game in order to get MELO the shots he needs. There will be nights that IVERSONS shots will be off, there will be times MELO will be off...thats when either or should back eachother up and takeover. I remember the NUGG DOCTOR saying that he is a little hard on IVERSON because you look at the game through an old school point gaurd view, the only thing is IVERSON isn't a PG...he's a SG that is versitile enough to play PG if need be, the only think that makes Iverson a PG is his height. Iverson will never be a PURE PG. Thats just like everyone asking for J KIDD or STEVE NASH to do what IVERSON does on a night to night basis. I just feel like ENOUGH is ENOUGH. It's time for IVERSON to take over this team and take this team to where they need to be at (an ELITE team). It doesn't matter whos leading this team in scoring, either or can do it...but it takes more then just scoring to be a leader. I love MELO, but to me MELO is NOT a LEADER...and thats not to say that he doesn't want to be and cant become one. I'm just saying its one thing to say that you're a LEADER and its another thing to actually be ONE. MELO'S body language on the court tells the truth. You can see it in IVERSON...he plays to WIN, MELO coasts through games entirely too much. MELO has been in this league for 5 yrs. he should know better then that by now. Every 5 minutes someone from this team is talking about "who's the LEADER" (the MEDIA stays talking about it), on MARCUS CAMBY'S BLOG he says "Theres NO EGO'S on this team, A.I knows that this is MELOS team and we are all here to help, this team will only go as far as MELO takes us"...but not understanding that they made the TRADE for IVERSON to help take this team to the NEXT level. If MELO could do it on his own there would be no need to make a trade for a player of IVERSONS caliber. You don't trade for players like A.I, SHAQ or KOBE to just have them come there to "help", they are not ROLE PLAYERS. Other players on the NUGGETS have said IVERSON is the LEADER, One minute KARL is saying IVERSON is the LEADER the NEXT he is saying MELO. Which goes to show me they don't know who the LEADER is. If you watch the game, the players play off of IVERSONS lead (including MELO). They shouldn't have to remind the fans 100 times that this is "MELOS" team. If that were TRUTH, so many people wouldn't be questioning it. I don't feel like they should have to BABY MELO every other minute by telling him "MELO this is you're team". This team does not have the LUXURY of time to sit back and wait for MELO to become a LEADER. The time is NOW. IVERSON is not the type of player to sit back and wait. It's time for IVERSON to be the player we knew he always was and take over this team. I don't mean by him scoring 50 pts. a night, I mean by going out there like we have seen him these past few nights and getting his teammates involed by setting them up to succeed.

When IVERSON was first coming to DENVER people were asking will he and MELO be able to co-exist. Iverson said "I'm not trying to come in here and take over MELOS team, he has to understand that it is going to take BOTH of us to make this team better", and when he said he wasn't trying to just come in and take over, I beleived him. Even though people say that IVERSON has an EGO, I wasn't worried about IVERSON...I was worried more about MELO. IVERSON knows what its like to go years of carring a team on his back without much help and the majority of the time getting nowhere, so I knew that he would do what he had to do to make the best of this oppertunity to play with this much talent. MELO is young and I still believe that MELO has some maturing to do. Also, MELO has been playing second fiddle to LEBRON sinse he got into the league. Melo should have been in All-Star games and last year was his first one, meanwhile D-WADE and LEBRON have already been there. I felt that MELO deserved that ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award just as much as LEBRON (they should of made it co-rookies of the year). So I can understand some people in DENVER being overprotective of MELO and wanting him to get his due, MELO will get his DUES and then some. My point is that MELO has had to fight to prove that he is just as good as they are, which he is, but I worry if MELO can handle playing next to another SUPERSTAR. Last year MELO was starting on the best season of his career, then comes the PUNCH at NEW YORK, and it set him and his reputation right back to were it was. Then the big trade came and here comes IVERSON. And while Iverson might be willing to average a few points less then MELO, A.I's STAR POWER will take a back seat to NO ONE. That is something MELO is going to just have to get used to. A few weeks ago Iverson was named Western player of the week and was in the top 3 of the race to MVP. Lets imagine if IVERSON were to take this team to another level (with the help of MELO ofcourse) and won MVP, would MELO be able to take that? I'm not so sure. But the fact is when you make a trade for a player to make youre team better then it was and they do, if it comes down to it they do deserve the MVP. MELO can get one too. Do you think PAUL PIERCE cares if K.G gets the MVP this year? Heck NO, as long as their winning I don't think NO ONE cares. When SHAQ was traded to MIAMI, D-WADE was very mature and understood that SHAQ was there to get them to where they needed to go. He also understood that he was no longer going to be the BIGGEST star on his team. And they rode eachother to a CHAMPIONSHIP RING. SHAQ also helped D-WADE become a much bigger star then what he already was (and a FINALS MVP). The formula to all that though is WINNING. This team needs EVERYONE be on the same page in order for it to succeed and that starts with COACH KARL. He is one big ball of CONFUSION and that's why this team is CONFUSED. The fact is that both MELO and A.I are extremely important to that NUGGET FRANCHISE and that teams success. They have the chance to be something special, they could build around MELO and A.I for years to come. BOTH can hit the game winning shot. BOTH should have the ball in their hands the 4th qaurter. That is what makes this team so dangerous. PHIL JACKSON, PAT RILEY, LARRY BROWN would have been figured this team out by now and knew how to capitilize on their strengths. FANS have figured it out. Coach KARL is the only one who seems not to get it. If he doesn't figure it out quickly,this team will continue to be inconsistant and under acheive (even when NENE and CHUCKY comes back)...and if this team fails, he should be the first one to be shown the DOOR. The truth of the matter is that although MELO was here before A.I, if team loses...IVERSON will get the majority of the BLAME (as he's been getting in the MEDIA). If he does score, he gets blamed and if he doesn't score he gets blamed. I've read the DENVER POST, and it's almost as if they seem to forget that MELO totally disappered in the forth or shot the ball 9 for 30 times in the game the other night. I mean lets be fair. IVERSON went from getting VILLANIZED in the MEDIA in PHILLY to getting VILLANIZED in DENVER. Thats why I feel like IVERSON is the LEADER in DENVER now. Because this team lives and dies with him. He's the one that is continuously taking hits to his reputaion in the MEDIA not CARMELO.

Nugg Doctor said...


Arthur said...

damn, that dude spoke the truth.

NoYPi said...

When AI was traded to Denver one of the first things he said was that it is still Anthony's Team. That was him being mature, and that is what Anthony lacks.

My opinion is that if Anthony could just not worry about his stats, his title as a leader of the team for the greater good of the team the Nuggets will consistently win.

Charles Barkley put AI down the other day on TNT for him not being a passer, even if he is something like 10th in the league in assists. That is wrong, just because a guy can score better than he can pass doesn't mean that he is a worse passer than someone who passes first but doesn't get as many assists as him.

Bottom-line, obviously AI leads by example, and he will do everything required for the team to win so Anthony should let him lead the team for about 3 years. Then when Anthony has learned everything there is to learn from AI, he can take over. This will not happen unless Anthony is willing to do this for the team though, he may be too young and proud to, I hope not though.

Only time and Karl will tell.


ThaAnswer said...

timmyd02, holy shit. that's the truth, hallelujah where's the Tylenol?

Nugg Doctor said...

Seriously, that is the truth! Great stuff, Timmy.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Jonathon said...

That was quite a tirade timmy, and I'm glad I took the time to read it. Bet you feel better after getting that all off your chest.

Really I have just a couple of things to add, but as long as we're ranting...

First off, many of the things you wrote about were the exact reasons I was so excited to get ai last year, and I don't mean his style of play (although you'd have to be crazy not to get excited about watching that guy flying all over the floor). His personality seemed like a perfect fit for a Nuggets team that consistently took quarters off and made boneheaded, selfish plays (how many times have we all seen camby follow a good make with two or three terrible shots? Not nearly as often this year, and I'll get to my theory on why in a second). One of ai's trademarks is his fiercely competitive, balls to the walls mentality, regardless of the month or opponent. What's more, he was coming to denver at a time in his life when he knew what it takes to win and, more importantly, to become a winning team. He was the larger-than-life leader that a nuggets team brimming with egos could actually follow, plus he had the "street cred" to make a team that, let's face and embrace it, is one of the more "gangster" in the league, really sit up and listen. I had high hopes for ai's influence on the team, and he's delivering more and more in that capacity every day, especially now that he's gotten more comfortable with all his teammates. Take camby for instance. Has anyone seen him play so unselfishly as he's been playing this season? It may be that he's realized his shot is off right now so he's avoiding shooting, but I like to think that ai's presence alone has coaxed him into buying into his role like never before. What happened to camby taking ill-advised shots whenever he thought he was "hot?" What happened to him dribbling the ball up the court all the time, resulting in a ratio of about 5 turnovers to every 1 great play? We're seeing nothing but good camby this season, and I like to think ai is a big reason why. However, I would like to see iverson take a little bit of a firmer tone with Melo...

Ai's continued assertion that "this is melo's team" is really just further proof that ai is the team's leader. True leader's deflect credit to their teammates whenever possible because they realize the good it does for a team's confidence and unity, and they realize that individual credit is fool's gold. People who watch basketball know when somebody's playing well- they don't need to be reminded all the time. Ai, in his interviews all season long, has been jumping at any opportunity to praise his teammates, saying things like "we really just jumped on melo's back tonight" and "k-mart really carried us defensively." Melo, on the other hand, sounds like a freaking broken record sometimes. When he plays well, he says something like "I knew I had to carry the team tonight," and when he plays poorly he takes the opportunity to remind us all that he was double and triple teamed all game--something everyone who watched the game probably knows already and a comment that implicitly throws all his teammates under the bus. Melo absorbs credit and deflects blame when it should be the other way around. As timmy said, ai has been babying him for quite some time (which is understandable because they just became teammates and melo seems a little, shall we say, emotionally fragile at times), but its about time that he stops. I don't know if he needs someone to explicitly tell him how leaders act, but melo needs to toughen up and start looking at the big picture, and ai needs to help him with this. It may lead to some confrontation, but if melo can't accept criticism from ai then he's not the player I thought he was.

Oh yeah, a lot of you will probably disagree with me on this, but I think we could do worse than George Karl. One of my good friends works pretty closely with the nugs and spends a good chunk of time with coach Karl, and believe me, handling all the personalities on that team is no picnic. George is one of the better coach's at doing so. What's more, he's been a coach in this league long enough to realize what it's going to take for the nuggets to win a championship, and that involves becoming a team that is self-led, self-motivated, and has the ability to adjust on its own. It seems to me that some of his choices are as much about teaching lessons as they are about winning particular games, preferring to drop the occasional contest in favor of progressing to playoff form. He's trying to walk that fine line between getting his points across and forcing the nuggets to learn for themselves. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it will pay off as the nuggets really come together down the stretch, at which point Karl will tighten the reins on a team that's pulling in the same direction. It certainly stings when the nugs drop a game they shouldn't, but it will feel awfully good once they start seeing for themselves how much better they are when they move, pass, and play hard-nosed d. Look, the nugs are going to have to win on the road in the playoffs to get to the only place that will satisfy them, and so long as George is careful not to lose too many games as a result of laziness, stupidity, and late timeouts, I think this approach is the right one. Am I giving George a little too much benefit of the doubt? Maybe. But I think I can see what he's building towards, and I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a tough, persistent, scary good team. (Then again, I'll probably be calling for his head during the nugs next underwhelming performance. Oh well, that's what you get for supporting the most schizo team in the league.)