The Denver Nuggets just traded away Allen Iverson to get back prodigal son Chauncey Billups. On the face of it, while both are excellent players, Iverson is probably excellenter. Former MVP. Still one of the few guys in the league nobody can guard alone. Chauncey ain't in that class, but he still probably makes the Nuggets more whole, by virtue of his specific skills meshing better with the Nuggets' team identity.
The goal is to find an identity that works. Find talent that fits that identity. Then, when the talent that should fit the clearly defined identity is in place, ideally the players will achieve a deeper understanding of how that particular team will win, and execute according to that understanding. It's up to the coach to spur along that metacognition and subsequent actualization, but it's up to the GM to identify and acquire the pieces.
All that is to say that the Denver Nuggets have done a near-complete identity makeover since the end of last season. While crazy is still a big part of it, from JR Smith to Carmelo Don't Snitch to The Birdman's Gonna Fly, gone is the Camby Man, gone is AI, and gone is the tension inherent to employing two elite scorers without an elite facilitator.
Never mind that the Nuggets' defense still has lots of room for improvement, the offense is totally revamped into logical tiers. Chauncey only scores when he has to, and he steers the possessions. Melo is the first option to finish. JR Smith, Kleiza, Nene, and even Dahntay Jones are all under the "other" option at this stage of the season. I don't know exactly what kind of offense they're running now, without Iverson's superior ability to get to the rim, but I suspect it's based on jumpers.
Compare to the Bobcats, who are built to slash with the starters, jump shoot with the bench, and yet jump shoot with everyone. Except the point guards, who slash for the purpose of kicking to the wings... when the bench unit is on the floor, and just kind of exist at the top of the key when the starters are in.
The Nuggets have an excuse for lacking an identity, seeing as Chauncey is still working his way into a groove. The Bobcats are just floating around with a tentative Gerald Wallace and an increasingly annoying Jason Richardson. Will someone please tell them it's okay to both step up and threaten the other team?
Fun Stuff to Look For Tonight
1 -- Melo vs. Wallace. Please, please, please have Wallace challenge Melo. Kenyon Martin is a shell of his former self, injured to the point he might not play, and can't guard Crash, so he'll probably be assigned to Dudley. For his part, Dudley should guard Martin, because his willingness to shove on the block may encourage him to stay out near the perimeter, as he has a tendency to do. If Renaldo Balkman starts, all the better.
2 -- Balkman went to South Carolina. Will he get a cheer when he enters the game?
3 -- George Karl: White turtleneck, black turtleneck, mock turtleneck of any color, or Other?
4 -- Felton and Augustin together on the court. DON'T DO IT, LARRY. IT'S A HORRIBLE IDEA. It's bad enough that Chauncey can just back down Felton if he chooses, but if Augustin gets out there with him, we could see our first full fledged embarrassment since JJ Hickson posterized Emeka in the opener in Cleveland.
5 -- All I want for Christmas, or my birthday, or Thanksgiving, or Valentine's Day, or International Porn Star Day, or whatever, is a Jared Dudley jersey. Will some kind soul hand me one tonight?