Monday, November 3, 2008

Changes coming to the Northwest Division

We're about a week into the regular season and already a blockbuster trade has been made. According to various sources, the Denver Nuggets are trading Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess. Nothing official yet, but if it goes down, there may be some changes in store for the Northwest Division.

It seems like a decent trade for both teams, but from where I'm sitting, Denver is getting the better of this one. The Nuggets need a real point guard and a defensive presence, which Chauncey Billups provides, and they also get some toughness inside with McDyess. Iverson is in the last year of his contract, and if the Nuggets thought they couldn't or shouldn't re-sign "The Answer" then this move is a no-brainer for Denver. They get an All-Star point guard and a serviceable power forward for a guy they were going to lose anyway.

For Detroit, they get some scoring punch while paving the way for the Rodney Stuckey point guard era in the Motor City. They've got Rasheed Wallace's contract coming off the books at the end of the season, so if they decide to let Iverson walk as well, they're looking at some serious cap flexibility with no other contracts (save Jason Maxiell) of note coming up for renewal.

But we're all about the Trail Blazers around here, so my interest in this trade goes as far as how it changes the playoff picture in the Western Conference. This move probably isn't good news for Portland fans, as it clearly makes the Nuggets a better team. It might be a rough go initially in the Mile High while the team gets familiarized with each other (four of Denver's regular rotation players from last year are now on different teams), but once they lock it in, this looks like a better team, at least on paper.

What about you? How does this change the race in the Northwest Division? Are the Nuggets a playoff contender again? Where they to begin with? Lets here it.

7 comments:

Colin said...

The thing about Denver is that you had to worry about their two scorers (who were both near the top of the league in scoring). Now one of them is gone and replaced by more of a facilitator and defender. If nothing else, there are fewer guys the Blazers have to worry about getting torched by. Plus, they can focus on shutting down Anthony and dare someone else to shoot.

I'm not sold on the fact that Denver got better by this trade. Maybe a little on defense, but not on scoring. Plus, George Karl's teams (of late) haven't focused on defense, so... less offense and potentially better defense = blazers still win.

JDizzledeuxzeros said...

Iverson is a volume shooter, but he actually has surprisingly high assist averages. Iverson is also a gambler on defense, which of course comes with the price of getting burned from time to time.

For the Blazers sake, I think it's good to have Iverson out of the division because he's a matchup nightmare. At least with Billups, you don't have to worry about him exploding on you offensively.

I don't think this improves Denver as much as you might think.

Orion said...

If I was Denver, I would have tried to trade Carmelo first. He's a great scorer, but couple that with his lazy defense and high-volume shooting, and I think the team still has some big problems.

I believe the Blazers will finish above the Nuggets.

partywithbill said...

I agree that Denver got better at the point defensably while giving up some scoring. I think overall, Blazers have more talent and depth at every position and we should be able to beat Denver as soon as everyone gets back and all of the rotations are set. We have a lot of new guys who are not used to playing with each other or in the NBA. I think this team will get stronger as the season goes on. My only concern is how Nate is going to play all of these guys.

felix said...

Perhaps the Nuggets see that JRSmith can score in the 20's and Billups will for sure provide good team leadership and assists. Denver has now a roster more typical and they should be a threat for any team, at least with their first unit. A playoff berth in the West demands a good bench, though.

Philski said...

Casey,
The question that I have is ... What's Denver's "identity" ? Are they still a fast-breaking team ? Even if Chauncey plays good defense, will it matter if Carmelo doesn't ? Will Chauncey's ability as a facilitator matter if 'Melo, J.R. and Kenyon are tossing up the first open shot that comes their way (i.e. the first time either one of them touches the ball). I just don't see one player being able to change the identity of a team, when you have so many other "me first" players.

Phil

Casey Holdahl said...

Colin: I agree with what you're saying, but Denver didn't have a problem with scoring points; they had a problem with the other team scoring more points. I don't think losing Iverson necessarily means losing all of the points he produced. Someone, probably Billups, will pick up some of those points. Iverson gone means more shots for JR Smith, which some people believe to be a good thing.

For me, it boils down to who is the better player. Overall, right now, I think Billups is a better overall player than Iverson.

jdizzle: If Billups scores 7 fewer points a game but doesn't allow his man 8 points that would have been scored on Iverson, then it's a net-positive for the Nuggets. We'll see how it plays out, but from the people I've talked to, they think it's a steal for Denver.

orion: Iverson is in the last year of his deal, which is why he's the logical guy to move. Carmello is also about 8 years younger.

partywithbill: I agree about depth, but not talent at every position. Carmello, as much as I dislike him, is a better SF than anyone we have to throw out there. Same for Billups at PG.

felix: my thoughts exactly.

Philski:; I would consider it an identity shift rather than a change. If you agree with guys like John Hollinger, Denver wasn't a bad defensive team; they just up the number of possessions in a game.

Will adding Billups make the Nuggets much better defensively? Probably not right away, but it won't hurt either. Stopping guard penetration is probably the single most important defensive skill in the halfcourt, and you've got a guy in Billups who has that ability, whereas Iverson was more than happy to cheat for the steal, then run back in anticipation of an outlet pass.