Upon his arrival in Denver in 1980, English commenced a highly low-key assault on the NBA scoring books. With the erratic, fast-paced, and high-scoring Nuggets, he averaged 21 points through the final 24 games of the 1979-80 season, then proceeded with averages of 24, 25, 28, 26, 28, nearly 30 (in the 1985–86 season), 29, 25, 27, and 18 points per game during his decade-long scoring spree. He also led the Nuggets to nine consecutive playoff appearances, two Midwest Division titles, and the 1985 Western Conference Finals. English set 31 team records throughout his decade in Denver, and was the leading scorer in 55% of the games he played for the Nuggets.
In total, English played 15 seasons in the NBA for four different teams, averaging 21.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during his NBA career. He was named to eight NBA All-Star teams and made the All-NBA Second Team three times. His number 2 jersey was retired by the Denver Nuggets in 1992 and he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.
After playing four years at the University of South Carolina, English was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2nd round of the 1976 NBA Draft with the 23rd pick.
English signed with the Indiana Pacers as a free agent after the 1977-78 season. English became a starter in Indiana and began to establish a reputation as a scorer, averaging 16 points per game during the 1978-79 season on another rebuilding team.
English was traded to the Denver Nuggets midway through the 1979–80 season for George McGinnis, a former Pacers star from their ABA days. Though coming off of an All-Star season in 1978-79, McGinnis was only a shadow of his former self and was out of the league by 1982.
In his first full season with the Nuggets in 1980-81, English averaged a then-career high 23.8 points.
In 1981-82, English averaged 25.4 points and the team advanced to postseason play. He earned a position on the All-Star Team and All-NBA Second Team. The following year, in 1982-83, English won the league scoring title with an average of 28.4 points per game, while teammate Kiki Vandeweghe placed second averaging 26.7 points. Then in 1983-84 English placed fourth in the league in scoring.
In the 1984-85 season English raised his scoring average to 27.9 points to pick up some of the slack from Kiki Vandeweghe's departure. Denver won its division and secured the second seed in the Western Conference. In the 1985 playoffs, English averaged 30.2 points as the Nuggets defeated the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz to meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, where they would fall to the eventual NBA-champion Lakers in five games. English recorded his career-best average of 29.8 points per game in the following 1985-86 season, finishing third in the league behind Atlanta's Dominique Wilkins and Utah's Adrian Dantley. In the 1986 NBA All-Star Game, English set his All-Star career high by scoring 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting in 16 minutes off the bench for the West squad.
After the 1989-90 season, in which English's scoring average dipped to 17.9 and he largely struggled to maintain his level of play compared to previous seasons, English became a free agent, and the Nuggets elected not to re-sign him.
At age 36, English signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks where he once again played off the bench, this time averaging just under 10 points per game. No other NBA team signed him for the next season, and after a stint in Italy with Basket Napoli, English retired.
When English left Denver, he was the holder of nearly every team record, including most career points (21,645), assists (3,679), games (837) and minutes (29,893) in a Nuggets uniform, along with the highest career scoring average with the team (25.9) of any player. The Nuggets retired English's number 2 jersey in 1992. As of 2017, English's career 25,613 points place him 18th on the NBA's all-time career scoring list. English was the first to achieve eight straight 2,000-point seasons, and he has the distinction of being the top scorer in the 1980s. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.
From June 2004 to July 2011, English was the director of player development and an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors. He joined the Raptors after spending the previous two season as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks. On June 5, 2009, it was announced that English would stay with the Raptors as an assistant coach. On July 13, 2011, with the team heading in a new direction, English was not given a new contract, and his services were not retained.
On January 13, 2012, he was added to the Sacramento Kings coaching staff under head coach Keith Smart. On June 5, 2013, new Kings coach Michael Malone announced that the 2012–13 assistant coaches, including English, would not be retained for the 2013–14 season.
It was announced that Alex English was added as a color analyst on SEC Network on November 11, 2014.
Since 2014, English has also been an active participant in the SportsUnited Sports Envoy program for the U.S. Department of State. In this function, he has traveled to Italy, the Republic of Korea, and Chile, where he worked with Nykesha Sales and Candace Wiggins to conduct basketball clinics and events that reached more than 1900 youth from underserved areas. In so doing, English helped contribute to SportsUnited's mission to reach out to youth populations in order to promote growth and a stable democratic government.
Alex English has dabbled in acting. His debut came in the 1987 motion picture Amazing Grace and Chuck, playing a fictitious Boston Celtics star. He has also had roles in the television series Midnight Caller 1989 and played the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Eddie (1996). To date, his last role was as "The Premiere" in 1997's "The Definite Maybe."a The NBA adopted the three-point line in the 1979–80 season.
a The NBA adopted the three-point line in the 1979–80 season.
b Incomplete statistics.