We are roughly halfway through our #NuggetsGreats tournament, and the next vote comes in the second round of The Blade Region. Titled for Alex English’s nickname, this region saw all four of the top seeds advance, and it includes some very interesting names. The aforementioned English advanced in a landslide over the massively underrated 8 seed Bobby Jones. Fat Lever advanced rather comfortably. Ty Lawson and Allen Iverson were locked in close matchups over Nick Van Exel and Marcus Camby respectively, but the two small guards won out and advanced to this round.

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With some very interesting matchups on deck, let’s take a closer look.

Alex English (1) vs Allen Iverson (4)

The Blade versus The Answer. English versus Iverson. The two players were elite in their own ways, but the one trait that united the two of them: both could flat out score. English averaged 25.9 points per game during his Denver Nuggets career, while Iverson averaged 25.6 points per game himself. English’s scoring came over a much larger period of time, with English amassing nearly 30,000 minutes played in a Nuggets uniform alone, not even including the playoffs. Iverson played a little over 5,500 minutes in a Nuggets uniform by comparison.

English played parts of 11 seasons with the Nuggets and was the top scorer in the NBA for the entire 1980’s decade. Not Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, or any other mainstream greats. English had a versatile scoring skillset with elite touch in the midrange, generally focusing on hitting short jumpers in Denver’s fast paced offense. He was so good at, and the supporting cast around him was strong enough, that he helped guide the Nuggets to nine straight playoff appearances, including one Conference Finals against the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers.

Iverson didn’t have near the amount of longevity or playoff success of English, but his individual seasons with Denver were highly impressive. Only five other players managed to accumulate 2,100 points, 500 assists, and 160 steals in a single season: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Stephen Curry. Those are individually astounding numbers put up only by five top 20 players of all-time, and they underscore just how impressive Iverson was in Denver. He and Carmelo Anthony teamed up to form one of the most lethal 1-on-1 scoring duos ever, and Iverson contributed 7.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game on top of that. Unfortunately, that Nuggets squad ran into a brick wall in the first round of the 2008 playoffs in the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

So, will it be the longevity and overall excellence of English or the flash-in-the-pan greatness of Iverson?

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Fat Lever (2) vs Ty Lawson (3)

Two of the most important point guards in Nuggets franchise history square off here, and they impacted the game in vastly different ways. Fat Lever played basketball like he was using a Swiss Army knife. He averaged 17.0 points, 7.5 assists, and 7.6 rebounds during his six seasons with the franchise. His versatility and ability to rack up triple doubles complemented the elite scoring prowess of English during the 1980’s. Ty Lawson played basketball like he was using a scalpel. He averaged 14.2 points and 6.6 assists per game during his six seasons with the Nuggets, using his lightning speed and quickness to create elite offense for himself and others.

For those 1980’s Nuggets, Lever truly filled up the box score and made life easier for the players around him. He never had a season in Denver averaging under 6.5 assists, nor a season averaging under 5.0 rebounds. Lever was a machine. His 43 triple-doubles lead the Nuggets franchise all-time, and some of the numbers he put up were mind-boggling. In separate games, he amassed 38 points, 23 assists, and 22 rebounds as a 6’3 point guard. Lever has the most games with 20+ rebounds in NBA history among guards 6’3 and under at four, which is just absurd. He helped contribute to Denver’s winning ways in the 1980’s, along with Alex English, and consistently had the Nuggets as an elite team in the NBA.

Lawson began his career as a bench player behind Chauncey Billups, but after Billups and Carmelo Anthony were traded to the New York Knicks for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and other stuff, Lawson became the starting point guard and ran the show in Denver for several years. He was the driving force offensively on the 2012-13 Nuggets that won 57 games, averaging 16.7 points and 6.9 assists per game, both team highs. At one point, there were fair comparisons between Stephen Curry and Ty Lawson as point guards drafted in the 2009 draft before their careers went in opposite directions after the 2013 playoffs.

Unfortunately for Lawson, the two best individual seasons of his Nuggets career came during the Brian Shaw era, a time when injuries and losing marred what could have been some solid teams after Andre Iguodala left for the Golden State Warriors. Lawson also dealt with off-the-court issues, including multiple DUI’s during the final stretches of his Nuggets tenure. That cut short one of the best careers for a point guard in Nuggets history, and his ability to impact an offense and help elevate everyone around him helped mask some inadequacies of a good-not-great Nuggets squad.

So, the 6’3 do-everything point guard during a winning era for the Nuggets, or a 5’11 (if that) lightning bug that could help the Nuggets create elite offense in any situation? You decide.

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