As days go, July 13 was a big and busy day for the history of the Denver Nuggets franchise.
David Thompson turns 57
Thompson may be the biggest star in Nuggets history (even more so than Carmelo Anthony). The one they call Skywalker began his career with the Nuggets in the ABA in 1976 and stayed with them when the ABA/NBA merged in 1977.
Thompson participated in the 1976 Slam Dunk Contest and was chosen the All-Star MVP while playing in the McNichols Arena – all as a rookie in Denver.
Statistically no Nuggets player could match his performance. In six of his seven seasons in Denver, he averaged more than 20 points and more than 3 assists. And during the first three seasons in the NBA, he led the Nuggets to three straight playoff performances. He also led the Nuggets to three straight playoff seasons, and helped Denver advance to the semifinals the first season and to the Western Conference Finals the second seas0n.
Afflalo comes to Denver
In 2009, The Nuggets knew they couldn’t pay Dahntay Jones the money that he wanted and so they needed to find a replacement and quickly found one very cheaply.
Denver sent its 2011 second round draft pick (Vernon Macklin) to Detroit for both Arron Afflalo and Walter Sharpe. Sharpe and Sonny Weems would later get traded to Milwaukee Bucks for Malik Allen.
Afflalo hasn’t quite lived up to Jones’
dirty defensive style, but Afflalo has been valuable to Denver in many ways. He has been the Nuggets most competitive and consistent player since Anthony was traded and has raised his scoring average in both seasons with the Nuggets (8.8 and 12.6). Not to mention he is one of the most accurate shooters in the League (.498 field goal percentage, .423 3-point shooting percentage and .847 free throw shooting percentage).
Afflalo may be the Nuggets most valuable of the team’s six free agents this offseason.
Blake and Buckner leave
In 2006, the Nuggets lost their so-called defensive stopper Greg Buckner. However, Buckner never lived up to the billing as a defensive stopper and was embarrassed numerous times by Manu Ginobili in the first round. He also was supposed to extend opposing defenses, who tried to double-team Anthony. And while he shot .405 from behind the arc in 2005, he dropped to .354 in 2006 and completely disappeared in the playoffs when the Los Angeles Clippers threw two to three defenders on Anthony. And somehow Buckner signed a 5 year/$29 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006.
Steve Blake lasted in Denver for little over six months, but that six months was when Blake finally got his chance. Blake was dealt to Denver in what looked like a one-sided trade, as Denver traded super sub Earl Boykins and former first-round draft pick Julius Hodge for the little used point guard. However, Blake made the best of it while Boykins and Hodges failed to match the production in Milwaukee.
Bliake fit right in next to Allen Iverson (who was just traded to Denver the month before), as a bigger pass-first point guard that could also defend shooting guards. Blake wasn’t much of his scorer but it was his gritty attitude and smart decision making that won George Karl over. Blake double his minutes in Denver and averaged 33.5 minutes and averaged 6.6 assists. However, Blake’s unselfishness came back to hurt him in the playoffs when the San Antonio Spurs made him more of a shooter. Blake did hit .45 percent of his shots and attempted 31 shots in five games. Blake signed a three-year deal with the Portland Blazers after the season.
Tags: Allen Iverson Arron Afflalo Carmelo Anthony Dahntay Jones Dallas Mavericks David Thompson Denver Nuggets Detroit Pistons Earl Boykins George Karl Greg Buckner Julius Hodge Los Angeles Clippers Malik Allen Manu Ginobili Milwaukee Bucks San Antonio Spurs Sonny Weems Steve Blake Vernon Macklin Walter Sharpe