In a couple of weeks the Denver Nuggets will start training camp. The Nuggets picked up some big help in Kenyon Martin and Greg Buckner, also bringing in Michael Cooper to help on the bench. Kiki Vandeweghe stated that he wants only 13 players for the regular season. Right now the Nuggets have 10 players (Buckner hasn’t signed, but he is going to be a Nugget). Here is how I rate each player, who are signed with the Nuggets.
Coaching Staff: C
Jeff Bzdelik’s job is on the line and it should be. When he learned that his team had a chance at the playoffs he forgot about developing the younger players (Rodney White and Nikoloz Tskitishvili). Bzdelik lost sight in developing the younger players and for a good reason. His third and final year of his contract, worth $1.5 million for next year, was guaranteed when the Nuggets clinched a playoff berth. He also had problems with earning respect from his team, opposing players and the referees. Having veteran coaches, like Doug Moe and John Macleod made his job as a coach easier, because they had experience working with players and making plays. He lost Macleod and Moe isn’t in the teams huddle, he is only a consultant. Bzdelik’s new assistant Michael Cooper has experience coaching the top team in the WNBA, the LA Sparks. The WNBA is no NBA, but he has experience playing in the NBA when he was with the Lakers and may be gunning for Bzdelik’s job.
Starters : (Name, Position and Grade)
Nene, Center/Power Forward, B
Everybody says Marcus Camby will start at Center with Nene coming off the bench. I personally think
Nene will start and Camby will be better bringing energy off the bench. Nene didn’t improve much his second year, but worked harder this summer than the past summers. Many times last year he had highlights of what he can be, but at the same time you could see his struggles (foul trouble and rebounding). He did show signs of having a jumper, but it was very inconsistent. I was surprised he didn’t get any votes for All-Defensive Team and he also did a good job on Kevin Garnett in the playoffs, when he wasn’t in foul trouble. I believe that with more experience Nene can be the KG-stopper. Nene still needs to work on his post game, jumper, rebounding and knowledge of the game and the Nuggets need to make him more of the offense this season and you will see his game rise to another level.
Kenyon Martin, Forward, A-
Martin may be the enforcer on the team and the player the Nuggets need who will bring it every night, which the Nuggets lacked from their team last year. He always plays hard and is one of the better defenders in the league. He may not be an All-Star, but with the addition of him the Nuggets are a contender. He always brings energy and his attitude brings the fans into the game.
Carmelo Anthony, Small Forward, A
There is no way Anthony doesn’t get an A for his play last season. He is the future of the Nuggets and should be an All-Star for years to come. He did a great job and scored in variety of ways. He did struggle in the playoffs, but that was because the Timberwolves defense was geared to stop him. That wont happen this year with the addition of Martin. Anthony was robbed in the Rookie of the Year voting and should have at least shared the award with Lebron. He did make some Rookie mistakes, but he was only 19 years old and should just get better. Compared to the superstars in the league, you didn’t see Garnett, McGrady, and Bryant putting up his averages or leading a team from last in the league to the playoffs in just his rookie year. Anthony had a rough time at the Olympics, where he couldn’t adjust to his role. But again he is only 20 years old. He does needs to improve his focus, as he tends to get lost in taking the game in his hands.
Voshon Lenard, Shooting Guard, C
I know that may seem low for a player who averaged 17.0 points, shot .458 percent from three-point land in the playoff series and for a player that won the three-point shooting contest last year. I personally think it’s too high, when I watched Voshon play this year I saw a player that didn’t pass the ball or rebound. A player who was a captain but didn’t cheer for his teammates when he was on the bench, a player who consistently got beat on defense, an inconsistent shooter and a player that is getting overpaid $3 million a year for three years. So while everybody talks about him being underrated, I think he is overrated. He isn’t a leader, he is an average teammate, he doesn’t pass the ball or play defense, but he is a good shooter. Everybody talked about how great of a free-throw shooter he is and I saw him miss half the free throws he attempted off of technical fouls. He is a great shooter, but his lack of speed hurts in the fast break. This is the Nuggets weakness and teams will attack him.
Andre Miller, Point Guard, B
Miller came to Denver and gave the Nuggets a great player to control the offense. He gave the Nuggets a great spark on offense and defense. He could create plays by passing the ball or driving to the basket. His defense was great and usually took the other teams best perimeter player. He showed his leadership in Game four of the playoff series, when he stood up for Anthony when Garnett went after him. He was known as a queit player who wasn’t vocal, but last year he was vocal on the court with the referees and in the huddle. Miller can only play better this season as he gets used to the Nuggets team and now can throw Alley-oops to Kenyon Martin.
Earl Boykins, Point Guard, B+
Boykins has to be one of the smartest and fastest players in the league. Many times he would pressure the point guard of the opposing team up and down the court and then beat them back down the court when he had the ball. He was a clutch scorer, who wouldn’t back down from anybody. He did dribble the ball to much and wasn’t able to get the ball to teammates when they needed it. Boykins gave the Nuggets a spark of the bench and finished fifth in the Sixth Man of the year voting. There is nobody that can hate this guy; he has been through to much.
Marcus Camby, Center A-
Had his best year of his career and was healthy for the first time. He played great defensively all year and should have received more than the one vote for All-Defensive Team. He also improved his offense through the year and in the playoffs when Anthony was out. His contract looked like he was overpaid, but half of it was incentives that he must meet, which makes him more valuable. Everybody says he will start, but I think he would be more valuable off the bench. Like he said it doesnt matter who starts the game, it only matters who finishes it. Another healthy season by Camby will help the Nuggets make it further into the playoffs.
Francisco Elson, Center, B-
Elson, a player who I personally didn’t expect much from, did a solid job last year. He hit jumpers, rebounded the ball, did a good job on defense and didn’t get pushed around. There was a game against the Suns in which he started for Nene, who was hurt, and had to guard Amare Stoudamire. Elson recorded his first double-double of his career and frustrated Stoudamire the entire game. Elson also did a good job on Garnett when he faced him in the season and playoffs. He may lose some playing time this next season with the addition of Martin.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Forward, C-
I know everybody is down on Skeeta, but he is only 21 years old. He worked hard the last two summers, got bigger, worked on his post moves and his overall game. He was on the All-Revue team and just worked on his game. He did well at the beginning of last year, but an injury to his hand set him back and Bzdelik never went back to him. I think that may have hampered his development, but hopefully he works hard and is back in the rotation this year. He will have to fight for minutes with the addition of Martin and if he shows he is a player, he may be valuable for the team and be it’s secret weapon.
Greg Buckner, Guard/Forward, B
Buckner is really going to help this team. He will give them an excellent perimeter defender, who can guard anyone from Jason Kidd to Kobe Bryant to Peja Stojakovic. He is a much improved scorer, but will be mainly be needed for his defense. His ability to hustle and come up with steals makes him very valuable. He could be another Raja Bell or Trenton Hassell, two players who guard and stops some of the top players in the league.
Players who may be coming to Training Camp:
Ryan Bowen, Forward, A
The Bowen Factor’s return is in question. If he leaves it will be a big blow. Nobody has made more out of his lack of talent than Mr. Bowen
Rodney White, Forward/Guard, Incomplete
Can he play or is going to prison for being stupid. Talented player, who lacks a little mentally. A great player when his head is on straight.
Byron Russell, Small Forward, C
Veteran Small Forward, who is a defensive stopper and is mainly known for playing against MJ (and getting schooled) in the championship games
Lucious Harris, Shooting Guard, B-
Veteran Guard, who could replace Jon Barry and his energy. He can do everything on the floor and played with Martin last year.
Dion Glover, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, B-
He could be a great player if he is given a chance. His game is a lot like Rodney White, only Glover plays harder. He doesn’t want a lot of money; he just wants to come off the bench and score.
Michael Curry, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, C
Veteran Guard, who is more valuable in the locker room than on the court. He is a defensive stopper, but could also be a coach.
Melvin Sanders, Guard, C
Rookie Guard, who was impressive this summer on the Summer League Team. He could be in the mold of a defensive-stopper.
Matt Nielson, Power Forward, C
Australian Forward, also had a great summer on the Summer League Team. He could make the team and help the team in the future
Keith McLeod, Point Guard, Incomplete
I don’t know anything about him, but I think his chances of making the final cut are slim.