Allen Iverson Trade: What It Means to Bettors
by Trevor Whenham - 11/04/2008
Joe Dumars, the main man in the front office of the Detroit Pistons, can be called a lot of things, but a coward certainly isn't one of them. The guy is fearless when it comes to making big trades, and he was at it again on Monday. He sent his starting point guard, Chauncey Billups, and top-class bench depth in Antonio McDyess to the Nuggets in exchange for Allen Iverson, the controversial pure scorer. I'll say right up front that Iverson has been my favorite NBA player since he entered the league so I am a bit biased. That being said, this is a trade that makes a lot of sense for both teams. Both teams should be better after this one, and they both should be able to provide some value for bettors as the season unfolds. Here's a look at how the Allen Iverson trade breaks down:
The Nuggets haven't had a pure point guard since Andre Miller was traded to Philly for Iverson. They also haven't had a leader with defensive discipline. In Billups they get both. He isn't in the first tier of point guards at the league, but he's not far off. He is definitely a guy who looks to set up the shot before he looks to take it himself, so the offensive powers on the team will get what they need.
There are two players on the Nuggets that will benefit most from the addition of Billups. Since the new point guard is a real threat to shoot from the outside, defenses will have to respect him. That means that there will be far more room inside for Melo to operate. With Iverson, defenses didn't necessarily know who was going to be moving to the basket, but they knew someone was. Now there is another level to the offense. Melo certainly didn't struggle playing with Iverson, but he should have the opportunity to be even better here. The flip side of that, of course, is that he'll have to score well because the team just lost a lot of offense.
The other guy who will have a chance to step up and fill the offensive void thanks to Billups is J.R. Smith. He's a heck of a player, but he couldn't score as much as he seems able to because he had to share time and opportunities with Iverson. The addition of Billups opens things wide open for Smith to do his thing. The team had two shooting guards and no point guards. Now they have much better balance.
McDyess has twice been a Nugget before, so he'll be comfortable immediately. He may not be at his prime anymore, but he is still more than competent. He provides frontcourt depth, and that is what the Nuggets desperately needed. Nene and Kenyon Martin are a very nice frontcourt duo, but they are also ridiculously fragile. Up to this point, an inevitable injury from one of them would be a disaster. Now the team can manage it.
The downside of the deal for the Nuggets is that they lost flexibility. Iverson was a free agent after this year. Billups and McDyess are under extended contracts. This seems like a safe gamble, but if it doesn't work out then the team is stuck. That being said, the Nuggets are a better bet today than they were yesterday.
At first glance the addition of Iverson seems like a risk. The more I look at it the more I like it, though. The Pistons have been pretty good for years, but just not good enough. The addition of Iverson will shake things up and remind everyone on the team that what has happened in the past won't cut it anymore. It also gives the team a new dimension. The Pistons have been a strong defensive team that hasn't really scared anyone in the frontcourt. Iverson will single-handedly change that. Teams can't settle in for a defensive battle when they come to Detroit because Iverson will burn them.
I've read that the biggest risk of the deal is how Iverson will fit in. I have no concerns about that. Iverson is older and wiser now, and he was a fine citizen in Denver for the most part. He also can read a calendar, so he knows that his chances of winning it all are getting more and more limited. He is a hall-of-famer, but he isn't a champion. I expect him to work very hard on a team that has potential to get him a title. A hungry Iverson will do what is needed.
Iverson is the only player that moves, but not the only one that benefits from the trade. With the departure of Billups, Rodney Stuckey becomes a starting point guard. The guy is an exciting, dynamic player who was a joy to watch in college. He will have the room he needs to do what he does best. He's not yet a better player than Billups, but he adds an explosive dimension that Billups didn't have. The potential is high. Jason Maxiell is another guy that has to be thrilled with the move. The departure of McDyess opens up room for Maxiell to get more minutes and develop into a top rate player.
The last impressive part of this deal is that the risk is minimal. If it works out this year then Dumars looks like a genius. Even if it doesn't, though, it is still brilliant. Iverson's $20 million contract expires at the end of the year, so Dumars has freed up all sorts of cap space - with the addition of the expiring Rasheed Wallace contract - to chase huge free agents in the next two years like Chris Bosh and LeBron James. No matter what, the team is likely to win.
For bettors it will be interesting to see just how Iverson fits in and what impact it has on the team. The most interesting impact could and should be with totals - this team is likely going to score more, and perhaps also give up more points. We'll just have to see how big the impact is, and if the books and the public overreact or underreact to the changes. There will be value, we'll just have to find it.