Friday, December 22, 2006

Breaking down the Sixers-Nuggets deal

It took 12 agonizing days, and the recurring theme is the Sixers got ripped!

Amidst rumours he was headed to Charlotte, Boston, Dallas, Denver, heck even Toronto, 76ers disgruntled guard Allen Iverson was finally dealt to the Denver Nuggets along with rookie forward Ivan McFarlin (future trivia question?) for guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and two first-round picks in 2007.

Early reaction to the deal has been critical of the trade from the Sixers perspective. We think that criticism is exactly the problem with the way fans and analysts look at the NBA these days. Star power always wins out, even if it doesn't always win on the hardwood.

There's no doubt A.I. is the best player in the deal, and there are those who feel the team that gets the best player in the trade wins it. But we think the Nuggets gave up far too much for a player they knew was going to have to be dealt sooner or later anyway.

Big mouths that feel that need to form an opinion one way or another (see: Bill Simmons). Simmons claims Miller is "a decent point guard" proceeding to knock him down a peg based on the fact he has played for four teams and because he's 30-years-old.

OK, here's the punch line: Andre Miller was as, if not more, valuable to the Nuggets than Allen Iverson will be.

Miller is 30-years-old, eh? Uh oh...

Wait, how old was Steve Nash when he won his first MVP? That's right, 31.

Four NBA teams, huh? Quite the journeyman. He must not be very good then...

Wait, Nash is technically with his third team (he has had two stints with Phoenix), so is Jason Kidd. Those two are widely considered the best point guards in the world right now. He doesn't play the point, but Tracy McGrady is playing with his third team - at only 27 years of age. Last we checked he was one of the best all around players in the game. Joe Johnson, Baron Davis, Shaquille O'Neal. Three teams, three teams, three teams.

The point? The amount of teams you play for has absolutely no bearing on your past and present success. Never has, never will.

In fact, all it proves is teams still have enough interest in you to acquire you.

So please, Mr. Simmons, spare us the rhetorical arguments.

Being 30-years-old? Another non-factor. Miller is still in the prime of his career. Oh yeah, and Iverson is 31.

So let's take a look at the stats from the start of the 2006-07 season:

Iverson: 31.2 PPG, 7.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 4.4 turnovers
Miller: 12.7 PPG, 9.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 turnovers

There's no doubt Iverson has an edge, but the difference isn't as large as most would think. That's because most have a bias leaning towards scoring. Points equal popularity, and A.I. epitomizes flash and offense. He is a sexy basketball player. Miller is not.

But Denver doesn't need to be sexy. They already have the hottest girlfriend on the block. Her name is 'Melo.

Comparing Iverson and Miller is without a doubt comparing apples and oranges. But why take another apple if you already have one? Miller was the orange that complemented the apple - Carmelo Anthony.

Who? Yeah that guy. The one who leads the NBA in scoring, and has put up more shots this season than anyone else in the league. Guess whose number two in that category?

The answer? The Answer. That's right. The Nuggets will now have the top two scorers in the league, and the top two shot-takers in the association.

Miller and Anthony were working. Denver was 13-9 and in sixth place in the tough western conference with that combo. Word is they aren't going to be able to overtake Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, Utah or the Lakers anyway, so how will this deal help exactly?

Never in the history of the NBA have two more shoot-first scorers been teamed together. It just doesn't work. Both Iverson and Anthony are going to be fighting for the ball all game long, and there aren't enough shots in a game to satisfy them both. Neither is afraid to speak out when things aren't going their way. This spells disaster.

The Nuggets had one of the best quarterbacks in the league and one of the best wide receivers to complement him. And they just dealt that receiver for another quarterback. Two guys can't throw passes at the same time, let alone two egos.

Miller is still one of the best point guards in the league, and at only 30, he and Anthony had many years ahead. This apparent "quick fix" is being applied to something that ain't broke.

Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention. The Nuggets threw in TWO first-round picks for next season (Philly now has three) and a serviceable power forward in Joe Smith.

So, tell me again. Who got ripped?

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