Iverson’s improved efficiency
Much to the contrary of the current landscape of the NBA, at no point in time during Iverson’s career was the three-point shot as heavily utilized as now, and thus, defenses deployed much different strategies.
Aggressive defense and lack of floor spacing suffocated offenses and it was not until 2004 when the NBA outlawed the defensive hand check. Nonetheless, Iverson broke down defenses with his shifty ball-handling, elusiveness, and relentless pursuit. Because Philadelphia used every ounce of Iverson and then some (52 percent of minutes at point guard, 46 percent of minutes at shooting guard), his shooting percentages suffered.
Although Iverson played just three seasons in Denver, the Nuggets provided him an opportunity to play alongside a primary scorer for the first time in his career. Iverson’s usage percentage, though good for the 94th percentile in 2006-07, was 2.0 percent less than Carmelo Anthony’s. Iverson’s minutes per game did not decrease by any amount of significance, but rather, he shot 3.2 fewer field goals with the Nuggets than with the Sixers.
Iverson did not get any better with Denver than he already was with Philadelphia, but he grew more efficient. In Iverson’s three seasons with Denver, which included 135 games, he improved his three-point percentage, two-point field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and offensive rating from previous years in Philadelphia.
Both he and Anthony shared merely the same usage percentage in 2007-08, but Iverson reached an almost career high in field goal percentage (45.8) and three-point percentage (34.5) while setting career highs for true shooting percentage (56.7), offensive win shares (8.9), and free throw attempt rate (51.2 percent).
Instead of being responsible for the entire offense, the aid of a young Anthony (averaging 25.8 points per game with Iverson) relieved Iverson of the pressure to do everything. Iverson’s turnovers per game in 2007 reached an all time low (3.0) and he turned the ball over a total of 245 times in 82 games, which was his lowest mark since 2003 where he played just 48 games.