Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Player Report Card: Allen Iverson

(Boulder-CO) Well, this is it. This is the last Player Report Card of the season and it belongs to Allen Iverson. Bubba Chuck had another tremendous season this year for the Nuggets while coming in tops in the league in minutes played at 41.8 minutes per game, third in the league in scoring at 26.4 points per game, and leading the Nuggets in assists (7.1), steals (2.0), charges drawn (46), and games played (all 82 regular season and four playoff games) during the 2007-08 campaign. And whats even more is how AI led the Nuggets with his toughness (he played with a broken finger for months) and veteran savvy. On numerous occasions throughout the year for the the Nuggets, Allen Iverson put this team on his back and kept things interesting.
But beneath the shiny surface of the game of AI are other aspects which really do need to be appreciated. This past season AI posted his best assist to turnover ratio (+2.4) and lowest turnover average (3.0) of his impressive career. In addition, AI was the model of consistency for a Nuggets team that sure could have used more of it. In wins, Iverson averaged 26.5 points per game. In losses, 26.3, which means two things; First, the Answer still brings his game to the arena every single night without question. The second is when a player puts up that steady of a scoring line it usually means that whether the team wins or loses is not because of what kind of night they had.
And please believe me when I say he had his fair share of nights to remember. Bubba exploded for 30 or more points 26 times this season, including a team season-high 51-point explosion against the Lakers in an unfortunate Denver loss.
Now here is the one stat that matters most. Of the 15 separate occasions that AI recorded a double-double of assists and points in the Nuggets finished a stiff 12-3 overall. It's only unfortunate that Denver only got that well rounded of an effort out of the Answer 15 times this season because as proven, the Nuggets are a damn tough customer when AI gets others involved. The only question remaining is when is the Answer going to start doing what it obviously takes to win games and ultimately take this, scratch that, one of HIS teams to the promise land? Allen is not getting any younger, and his situation reminds me of a player of similar size who needed to tailor his game for the good of the group to win an NBA championship in Nate "Tiny" Archibald. Tiny, the only player to ever lead the league in assists and scoring in the same year, became more of a floor general with a scorer's mentality after proving able to dominate offensively early on in his career to eventually win a ring with the Celtics during the 1980-81 season.
So, the overall grade for Allen Iverson is an A-. The only reason for the minus was the Nuggets' disappointing finish in the playoffs for the second straight year with Iverson on the team. Because the way I see it is simple: When your the leader of the team, the team's success falls squarely in your hands. An Iverson team has not been deep in the playoffs for quite some time now and if he is truly going to make a return to the NBA's greatest stage. I am a firm believer that he has to tap into a more team oriented style of play that not only allows his greatness to still shine apparent, but one that also brings out the greater good of his team.
Thanks for yet another great year, Bubba.
Go Nuggets!

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