Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Denver Nuggets 2009-10 Season Preview

The Denver Nuggets were one of the biggest surprise teams in the NBA last season, finishing with over 50 wins and securing a trip to the Western Conference Finals before they finally bowed out to the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. This was not at all what most pundits expected, especially when they made such drastic changes in the middle of the season, trading away Allen Iverson and getting back Chauncey Billups.

Billups turned out to be a perfect fit to add stablity and create a sense of unselfishness on a talented roster. With guys like Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, and Nene Hilario, a lot of talent was there, but there was no way to put it together with Allen Iverson running the point. That all changed with Billups. He added a new mindset to the team, and his experience winning a title in Detroit resonated with the rest of the Nuggets. The team took off after his arrival, and there was even some talk that Billups should get some MVP votes for the way that he helped turned the team around.

The most talented player on the team is Carmelo Anthony, who is easily one of the most talented scorers in the NBA. He can shoot the 3-ball, score on the block, or take the ball to the rim. He is an excellent midrange shooter, which makes him especially dangerous in crunch time. Over his career there have been some concerns about his maturity and leadership, but he took big strides in those areas last season, thanks to Billups and to his time on Team USA. He was also much more consistent defensively last season, an area of his game that he had not shown before.

JR Smith is expected to take a big leap this season, as they hope he will be able to consistently play a lot of minutes. He has the talent and shooting ability to be an excellent scorer, and they hope he can provide that every night, not just in spurts, as he has done for most of his career. Nene Hilario had a great season last year, and they hope he can keep his efficiency and rebounding ability. Kenyon Martin also rebounded to have a solid year, and he is a guy that sets the tone for them defensively with his intensity and athleticism.

The Nuggets should again be in the mix for a division title. It is hard to see them getting back to the Conference Finals with both Los Angeles and San Antonio in the Western Conference, but with a couple of breaks, they could be there. They should be a very entertaining team to watch as always under head coach George Karl.

What are your thoughts on the Nuggets?

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