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Evilmav2
09-09-2004, 03:13 AM
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Toil yielding unexpected 'Answer'

By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Wednesday, September 8
Updated: September 8
11:23 AM ET

A kinder, gentler Allen Iverson, one who passes more and praises his country often, might have been the best thing the NBA had going this offseason in Greece but come October, the Sixers will be screaming for the old Allen Iverson who shot more and apologized to no one.

The simple fact of the matter is that Iverson could not be Iverson forever. Standing on his tiptoes, he might be 6-feet even. He weighs 165 pounds if you take his jewelry into account. There was only so much punishment his body could take. There was a finite number of drives to the hoop any one human being could possibly make and continue to get back up with the same vigor and enthusiasm to remain effective.

The problem, now, though, is that that number might have passed.

Consider that in this past season, Peja Stojakovic shot the ball every 2.3 minutes he was on the floor while becoming the second-leading scorer in the NBA in 2004. Kobe Bryant shot the ball every two minutes he played and was called a ballhog.

Kevin Garnett also shot the ball every two minutes he played and was called the MVP. Heck, Baron Davis shot the ball every 1.9 minutes he was running up and down the court and his agent is demanding a trade because he doesn't feel his client should shoulder so much of a load.

Tracy McGrady, the league's leading scorer the last two years running, shot the ball every 1.7 minutes and was just traded.

Well, Iverson shot the ball every 1.8 minutes per game last year. That's more often than Stojakovic, Bryant, Garnett and Davis, and almost as much as McGrady. But he actually shot the ball less than he did the year before, when he took a shot every 1.79 minutes. The year before that, he took one every 1.57 minutes.

Iverson is maturing and becoming more of a team player. Is that a good thing for the Sixers?

That's 30.5 shots per 48-minute game. That's 2,507 shots per 82-game season. That's 2,995 shots if his team sweeps its way through the NBA Finals and wins.

And that's what Iverson almost did in 2001 when he won the MVP Award and the Sixers lost to the Lakers in five games in the championship series.

But during that series, the Lakers had to use three different point guards and Bryant to guard Iverson. By the time Los Angeles started to slow him down, they realized that they had their practice squad on the floor and, after sweeping their way to the Finals, had just lost Game 1 of the title series.

During that magical year for the Sixers, Dikembe Mutombo averaged a career-high 4.6 offensive rebounds per game despite being hobbled and in his 11th NBA season. Journeyman Tyrone Hill averaged 3.1 offensive rebounds despite playing a shade over 30 minutes a game. Non-descript George Lynch grabbed 2.4 offensive rebounds per game as a small forward.

As a whole, the undersized Sixers averaged 13.1 offensive rebounds per game to their opponents 12.

That was Iverson at the height of his powers, blowing by defenders and forcing opposing centers to abandon the key to try to stop him. Sometimes Iverson made the shot. More often he missed it. But who cared when that left the Sixers' power forward unguarded under the basket for an easy put back?

He allowed role players to fully function as passers and defenders without having to worry about shooting. That was the year the Sixers won the MVP award, the Sixth Man of the Year award, the Defensive Player of the Year award and the Coach of the Year Award.

The Sixers averaged 94.7 points per game the year everyone stopped saying Iverson shot too much.

Next year, Sixer fans will be wishing he would shoot the ball even more after shooting the ball much less last year.

Iverson was injured. He was tired. He played a full 82 games in 2003 at 42.5 minutes per, then spent the summer helping Team USA qualify for the Olympics before hobbling through a frustrating 2004 season before playing for his country in the just completed Olympics in Greece.

Now comes the 2005 season.

But let's not forget what happened last year when Iverson decided to tone down his game by shooting less and passing more. The Sixers fell to 33-49 and while that had a lot to do with Iverson playing only 48 games, the chemistry and dynamic of the team was already changing.

They averaged only 87.9 points per game, second-lowest in the NBA, and completely missed the playoffs while grabbing only 11.5 offensive rebounds to their opponents' 12.1.

Sure, Iverson averaged 6.8 assists per game, the second-highest number in his career but that didn't change the fact that when the Sixers won and he was on the floor, he scored 30.5 points. When they lost and he was on the floor, he scored 23.7.

His 26.4 points per game last season were a six-year low. His 38.7 percent from the floor, 48 games played and 3.7 rebounds per game were career lows. His 2.4 steals per game was a four-year low while his 4.3 turnovers per game was the highest number since his rookie season in 1997.

But the single biggest reason to think that Iverson is slowing down is that he seems to want to pass more, play a more team-orientated game and vocally encourage his teammates. He is maturing into what everyone thought they wanted him to be.

The problem, though, is that it might have taken two NBA regular seasons and two summer tournaments in the span of less than 24 months to do it.
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sike
09-09-2004, 09:22 AM
so now that hes an all around nice guy his team sucks?? I'll take the punk then, I guess