The latest Denver Nuggets accomplishments, powered by the unstoppable play of center Nikola Jokić and combo guard Jamal Murray, made all loyal Nuggets fans recall some of the team’s most memorable combos throughout the years. The most memorable one is undoubtedly the early 1980s duet consisting of sharp-shooting forwards Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe.
Since their inaugural season in the NBA, 1976-77, the former ABA powerhouse featured many great players such as power forward/center Dan Issel and high-flying guard John Thompson. But in the early 1980s, in their intense effort to beat the mighty 1980 & 1982 NBA champions L.A. Lakers, the team from Colorado accompanied Issel and Thompson with English and Vandeweghe.
The two legendary forwards came to Colorado back in 1980; English was traded to the Nuggets by Indiana Pacers on February 1st, 1980, in exchange for George McGinnis; Vandeweghe, UCLA star initially selected by Dallas in the 1980 NBA draft, was traded to Nuggets on December 3rd, 1980. The trade happened two weeks before Doug Moe took over the Nuggets coaching helm from Donnie Walsh.
English and Vandeweghe very quickly became the team’s legit ‘one’ and ‘two’ options. On any given night, as soon as the game began, they would light it up from any given spot within a three-point arc. Powering the high-octane offense of a prototypical run & gun team coached by energetic Doug Moe, the two unstoppable scorers soon reached the top of the NBA’s top scorers list.
Even though the electrifying forward combo topped the NBA’s scoring department for the 1982-83 campaign, combining for remarkable 56.1 points per game, it never propelled the Nuggets to a championship level. The scorching team that combined for the league-record 370 points in an epic 3OT battle with the Pistons on December 13th, 1983, reached its postseason peak by making the Western Conference semifinal in 1983, where it suffered a severe 1-4 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
From there, Vandeweghe was traded to Portland before the 1984-85 campaign. In Oregon, he would provide significant assistance to a young guard by the name Clyde Drexler in developing his perimeter shot. After leading the league with 28.4 points per game in 1983-84, English tenure with the Nuggets prolonged to the 1990s. On August 15th, 1990, a household name in Colorado signed the deal with the Dallas Mavericks.