Lost in all the hoopla over the four team trade that brought Dwight Howard to La Laker land is the fact that THREE other teams were also involved. And while the trade did not necessarily move the Sixers, Nuggets or (especially) the Magic into title contender status, the four-team swap of players showed a lot about the franchises involved. Affirmations were made, course directions were changed, and one team in particular decided tis best to blow the whole thing up and start from scratch.
Keep in mind that while I watch a lot of basketball several of my claims could be proven wrong in a couple of years time. Or right.
The first team we can look are the Denver Nuggets. For the longest time, the Nuggets had a team that was built around a star. And for the longest time, they were never able to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. In fact, their superstar only took them into the second round once. This happened despite talent at nearly every position in the starting lineup, despite talent coming off the bench, and despite having size. The Nuggets took the lessons from the Carmelo Anthony era to mold what is in effect their current motus operandi: forgo the star system in favor of the wealth of good, athletic players (brought in when Carmelo was shopped out). No superstars. Just good players.
Andre Iguodala is a poster child for that model. A very good, but not great, Olympian with good offensive skills and better defense. In other words, like nearly every other player on the Nuggets roster (except for DaniloGallinari, who should never have defense attributed to him). And the cost to add the other AI: the bad contract of Al Harrington and the underrated ArronAffalo. That is what we term a steal.
The Nuggets believe in coming at you in waves, much like a deep college basketball team (or an invasion force in World War II), hoping to wear you down by the fourth quarter with an up-tempo offense and a swarming (if not lock down) defense. While it is refreshing to see a basketball team embrace the team approach, NBA history does not favor it. Superstars win championships, and since the trade of Carmelo, the Nuggets cannot say they boast one superstar (Iguodala’s inclusion on the Olympic Team was more for the intangibles he could bring then because he was one of the most talented players in the league).
Perhaps the lesson the Nuggets should have taken from the Anthony era was not that they needed to instill a team-approach, but that they never had the superstar in the first place. After all, in two seasons in New York, Anthony still has yet to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
This trade is an upgrade for the Nuggets. They should have one of the deepest, talented teams in the West. Unfortunately, it most likely will not result in any more playoff victories than Anthony was able to deliver. This league is superstar driven. And the Nuggets are a couple of superstars short.
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