Last Year: Coach: George Karl (4th year with Nuggets) Record: 50-32, 2nd place in Northwest Division, 8th in Western Conference, swept in first round of the playoffs by the Lakers
Scoring Leader: Allen Iverson Rebounding Leader: Marcus Camby Assists Leader: Allen Iverson Steals Leader: Allen Iverson Blocks Leader: Marcus Camby
2008-09 Probable Starting Lineup PG: Anthony Carter - 6'1", 190 pounds, 33 years old 2007-08 stats: 7.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.5 SPG Anthony Carter's point guard duties are pretty much used up by the un-positioned Allen Iverson (meaning he isn't really a shooting guard, isn't really a point guard. Didn't really know how to put that). Carter is more or less used to feed Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson while they pick up the many buckets. Last year he was given the most minutes that he's had ever in his career (20.8 per game), and he delivered, putting up career highs in every stat category except for blocks per game. He is a good shooter, passer and ball handler, and he is great defending the perimeter. Look for Anthony Carter's minutes to be lessened by potential-laden two guard J.R. Smith so that him and Iverson can be on the floor at the same time. But we won't be sure who's playing which position when that happens.
SG: Allen Iverson - 6'0", 180 pounds, 33 years old 2007-08 stats: 26.3 PPG, 7.2 APG, 3.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG Iverson is a top-notch superstar, and he has been for his whole career. Getting off shots well, he gets to the line almost at will, and he hits his free throws. Ranked third all-time in career points per game, AI has shown minute signs of slowing down since he came into the league in 1996; he is still scorin', stealin' and assistin' - just not much defendin'. There is no dispute that Iverson plays with heart and plays hard every night, but he doesn't have a huge commitment to his defense, which is good when he tries hard. But look for Denver to use him as trade bait during the season, as he has a big salary, and is a veteran superstar, something that is very attractive to a good deal of teams.
SF: Carmelo Anthony - 6'8", 230 pounds, 24 years old 2007-08 stats: 25.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG Carmelo Anthony is one of those 2003 draft picks that has already started to be a face of the league. Along with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Anthony has been one of the top producers in this mega-draft, averaging over 20 points for every one of his five seasons in the NBA so far, one of the elite scorers in the league. With great quickness, Melo is fairly consistent with the 15-20 footer, which is improving, and he has a great post game on the offense. But he doesn't show much interest in playing defense, something that the Nuggets have very little of. But he can score from anywhere on the floor, and his court vision is impeccable. He was selected to the all-star game twice in his career so far, and look for it to become a habit.
PF: Kenyon Martin - 6'9", 229 pounds, 30 years old 2007-08 stats: 12.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.2 BPG K-Mart is now an average NBA power forward, nothing special. Out are his all-star days of 2003 New Jersey Nets, in are the days of being just a pretty good NBA player. A terrible free throw shooter, he isn't bad in the post, playing on the offensive side or defending it. Adequate on the boards, his numbers in that category have gone down since his career high of 10 per game in 2006. Averaging 30.4 minutes per game last year, his playing time has decreased every year, so look for Renaldo Balkman and maybe even Chris Andersen to take some minutes from him.
C: Nene - 6'11", 268 pounds, 26 years old 2007-08 stats (16 games): 5.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, .9 BPG After missing almost all of last year with testicular cancer, this Brazilian big man is back to show the league that he can more than fill the absence of Marcus Camby, we won't even know he left . . . well, that ain't gonna happen, but he could surprise some people. Having the potential to be a 14 point, 7 rebound guy, Nene will probably get his chance this year with Denver's lack of good quality big men. Very bad at the free throw line, he has basic solid low post moves down low to complement his adequate shot blocking ability.
Anthony Carter/Dahntay Jones Allen Iverson/J.R. Smith Carmelo Anthony/Linas Kleiza Kenyon Martin/Renaldo Balkman/Juwan Howard Nene/Chris Andersen/Steven Hunter
Bottom Line After trading away two of their best defensive players - Marcus Camby and Eduardo Najera - the Denver Nuggets even lessened their interest in playing defense for this upcoming year (hold on, I don't think that's possible . . . hm.). George Karl is trying to stress the D, but the Nuggets are looking to be Enver once again. And in the incredible Western Conference, I don't see the Nugs making the playoffs, even with their great scoring ability. I think they will win 43-48 games and will be placed 9th in the West. But Melo in these last couple years, Melo has shown that he can play with the best of them, so keep an eye over there in the mountains.