It's a little over three months after the Iverson-Billups exchange, what many believed to be the case at the time of the trade is becoming painfully clear. The Nuggets got better, possibly even a lot better. Detroit made a mistake.
The Pistons shipped Billups to Denver in exchange for Iverson with two hopes in mind. Iverson could provide the missing spark to lift the Pistons back to the top of a rising Eastern Conference, and secondly, that Rodney Stuckey would mature into one of the game's rising stars at the critical position of point guard.
Three months later, neither is happening. Iverson is failing to administer a spark, because his contributions are coming at the expense of another. Iverson's presence on the floor usually indicates fellow slasher Richard Hamilton is sitting on the bench.
What about Stuckey? Yeah, what about Stuckey? Was there really a doubt in Detroit brass' mind that Billups was twice the player Stuckey was?
Detroit is learning the hard way what Denver folks already knew, A.I. doesn't fit everywhere, and he doesn't fix all problems. While it is easy to argue that Allen Iverson might be the best player to ever take an NBA floor standing under six feet tall, it is just as difficult to find a comfortable spot for him on an NBA roster.
Denver discovered quickly that they did not need Iveron's scoring in addition to that of Carmelo Anthony. What they needed was a floor general to get the ball and maybe play a little defense in the process.
That's exactly what they found the day Detroit came calling for Iverson. Billups provides a great deal of the scoring threat Iverson carries, but expands upon it with a brain chilling ability to manage the Nuggets' offense, and their games in general.
His presence has rallied Denver from a defensive liability to dangerously near a defensive force.
These are two teams going in different directions, and ironically enough, this can be directly traced to the Nuggets' roster looking increasingly similar to the mold of a Detroit line-up from not too long ago.