Division Previews: Denver Nuggets, Northwest Division – Western Conference

October 21st, 2010 | by Mychal

In the final days leading up to regular season action, SCH will be posting divisional previews of the top teams in all six NBA divisions. Come back early and often for updates.

J.R. is going to miss Carmelo

Key Matchups

D-Will vs Chauncey Billups

This very well could be the only key matchup of the season series between the Jazz and the Nuggets.  With the likelihood of Carmelo being traded before the trade deadline this matchup could be the reason to come see this game.

Last regular season Chauncey Billups made the Jazz pay when he was healthy.  He averaged 27 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds a game against Utah.  In the playoffs, however, Deron Williams flipped a switch and became dominant in this matchup.  Chauncey might as well have been a bowl of Wheaties because D-Will was eating him for breakfast in that series.  Deron was averaging 26 points, 11 assists, and 3 rebounds a game.  Chauncey still is a killer 3 point shooter but Deron Williams has taken his game to the elite level and is considered by most (including Tim Leglar) to be the best in the NBA.  Chauncey has been with the olympic team training and competing all summer.  That will wear him down as the season progresses.

Advantage: Deron Williams


Carmelo vs Anybody*

Did you know that after this season there will only be 2 players from that epic 2003 draft from the top ten picks that still remain with the team that drafted them?  Dwyane Wade and Chris Kaman  There were four franchise changing players in that draft.  Four!  Can you believe that? Out of those 4 teams that drafted those franchise changing players only one still will have one playing for them.  In fact that one team with have 3 of those franchise changing players.  The Miami Heat.

While in the past I have been skeptical of Carmelo being a franchise player my view of him changed slightly when I saw his playoff numbers and watched his playoff performance against the Jazz.  Simply put, his team did not show up at all in the playoffs.  The fact that Denver was in a position to compete on most nights was a credit to Carmelo Anthony.  After his team’s no show in the playoffs, I do not blame him at all for being skeptical about the future in Denver.  His playoff numbers per game:

30 pts  8 reb  3 ast 2 stl

On any given night in the playoffs he accounted for at least a third of his teams points at least.  The fact that the series was competitive was a credit to his will to fight back.  The Jazz will have trouble guarding him.  If he is still in a Denver uniform.  Tomorrow we could be editing our New York preview and adding him to their key matchups.  Who knows.  But if he is in a Denver uniform, or any uniform, expect him to do damage.

Advantage: Carmelo Anthony

*I was very tempted to make this Carmelo vs Fesenko.  “Fesenko? Fesenko? Man…”

High Notes | Low Notes

Denver’s offseason has played out like a season of Real Housewives of Orange County.  It was as messy as J.R. Smith’s neck tattoos.  Where do I even start?

Head Coach George Karl undergoes treatment for throat cancer.

Fired their front office and replaced them.

Ownership went from Stan Kroenke to his 30 year old son.

Signed Al Harrington.

The infamous LaLa toast at Carmelo’s wedding mentioning that they should form their own Big 3 in New York.

Sources say that Carmelo is making demands to leave Denver.

Woman by the name of Kat Stacks, known for her late night “escapades” with big time stars, flirts with ‘Melo on his official twitter page.

LaLa responds to Kat Stacks threatening her.

On Melo’s twitter there’s a response saying, “I got 5k for whoever see @ihatekatstacks and slap the **** out her pigeon face ***. Real talk. U ***** with the right one now,” with a picture on his official yfrog account of 5 thousands dollars.

Melo’s twitter mysteriously is removed from Twitter.

A new official twitter of Carmelo’s is renewed and Carmelo claims that it was hacked and not him.

[Author's Note: Talk about a PR nightmare.  And you wonder why the NBA is not thrilled about their players using twitter.  Also, if this whole thing was really a practical joke and not a giant cover up, who would have the time to punk Carmelo Anthony and have 5,000 dollars cash lying around to for the yfrog picture?  My money is on Ashton Kutcher.  He is a stay at home dad to Demi Moore, known for punking, is really rich, and is very twitter savvy.]

Carmelo refuses to sign extension with Denver.

Then reports to camp and says he never wanted to leave Denver.

Clear as mud?

History

Jazz lead the series 95-65 all-time; 1-3 last season; 4-2 in the playoffs.

The Jazz and Nuggets have been the class of the Northwest division for the last few years.

Last season it appeared the Jazz would be easily swept out of the playoffs by the Nuggets.  The Jazz were without two of their starters, Kirilenko and Okur.  The Nuggets, however, were fighting through a bigger injury to their roster.  Head coach, George Karl, was undergoing treatment for throat cancer.  Without the leadership of George Karl, the Nuggets, being led by assistant coach Adrian Dantley,  quickly fell to an injury plagued Utah team that had found a pulse through a surging Deron Williams.

In the offseason the Jazz were linked to a 4 team trade that would have sent Kirilenko to Denver and brought Boris Diaw, currently of the Charlotte Bobcats, to Utah.  This proposed deal fell apart and AK is still a member of the Utah Jazz.

Player/Coach Notes

George Karl is returning to the pine this year after receiving treatment for throat cancer.  There was a story during the playoffs on George Karl watching the playoffs at home.  It actually made me feel bad that the Jazz were winning that series.  It felt unethical that they should be without such a great coach.  It broke my heart.  I personally feel that George Karl is one of the league’s best coaches.  He is a class act.  The fact that he can rein in so many different personalities in that locker room and get them focused on winning is amazing to me.  I personally wish him the best of luck this season.

Outlook

Even with George Karl back at the helm this year I don’t see this being a good season for the Nuggets.  A tumultuous offseason will bleed into the regular season.  Carmelo Anthony will be the elephant in the room as long as he wears a Nuggets’ uniform.  Denver will not be able to truly move forward  this season until a trade is made involving Carmelo.  Denver will attempt to learn from Cleveland’s unfortunate offseason pain and get value for Carmelo before he leaves Denver with nothing once this season ends.  This will still be a competitive team with George Karl as Head Coach, but, without Carmelo, the Nuggets could be watching the playoffs on television much like their head coach did one summer ago.  I see the Jazz going 3-1 against the Nuggets this season.

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Mychal

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