Can it work? Can the pairing of the league’s Nos. 1 and 2 scorers help the Nuggets become contenders? Sure, it can. By now most hoops-heads know the last time such a pairing occurred was 23 seasons ago, ironically also in Denver, when Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe – then the game’s two top guns – powered the Nuggets’s high-juice offense to a 45-37 record.
But neither player averaged 30 points per game. (Although they certainly had their nights; witness the box score above from a game on 12/13/83 when English netted 47, while KikiV dropped 51.) Carmelo Anthony and his new teammate, A.I., both are currently averaging more than 30 ppg. That will likely change.
That Nuggets team was fun to watch and English/KikiV, two mellow souls, got along blissfully. Yet that season, Denver lost to the Iceman-led San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semis. In fact those Nuggets never made the NBA Finals. The Nuggets reached the conference finals in 1984-85, losing to the Lakers 4 games to 1. (But prior to that season, the one-two punch was severed when KikiV was traded to Portland.)
So yes, ‘Melo and A.I. can work, unless “working” is defined only as winning an NBA title. That is a very high bar, one too high perhaps in the strong Western Conference. But the pairing will throw Denver into the mix and give us East Coasters yet another reason to stay up late.