LAST ONE OUT HIT THE LIGHTS: 2011 DENVER NUGGETS PREVIEW

Aka The Clock Is Ticking…

By Wes Lilliman

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Head Coach – George Karl

Projected Rotation:

PG – Chauncey Billups
SG – Arron Afflalo
SF – Carmelo Anthony
PF – Al Harrington
C – Nene
G – Ty Lawson
G – J.R. Smith
F – Kenyon Martin
F/C – Chris Anderson

Despite what you may have heard, Carmelo Anthony is coming back for his final year with the Nuggets.

He claims he never asked to be traded. He didn’t have to ask. Everyone knows he wants the hell out so he can get to New York, but they couldn’t make it happen.

So, instead, ‘Melo returns to Denver, and we essentially have the same group of talented whackos that can put up points like crazy and seem to have no concept of “defense” whatsoever (excluding Arron Afflalo).

Just look at this group:

Kenyon Martin: A pretty nice player early on, but then started having knee issues. A bit suspect upstairs. It’s probably not very nice or wise to mock Alonzo Mourning for his serious kidney disease. It’s best to not engage hecklers and threaten to beat them up. Loose cannon? I’d say so. Go look up some of his rants on his teammates, reporters, and just life in general if you don’t believe me.

(editor’s note: A fairly well-known NBA sideline reporter once told my brother than Kenyon was pretty much the biggest dickhead in the entire league. By far. Brent Barry was the coolest, in case you were wondering)

J.R. Smith: Likes to shoot and likes to score. Actually, will shoot whenever he can. So much so that it gets idiotic, to the point where it causes his own coach to reference his shooting by saying, “… I just love the dignity of the game being insulted right in front of me.” Also, not the most sure-footed behind the wheel. From vehicular manslaughter on down to more speeding tickets, license suspensions, and other violations, he’s not the guy you want as your designated driver.

Chris Andersen. THE BIRDMAN. An endearing fellow, but was kicked out of the NBA for drug abuse. Think about that. That takes a lot of damn drugs. He brings energy on the court, but his knees suck, too.

Nene: I can’t ever commit to trusting a man with one name. It doesn’t matter if he’s from Brazil. Knees are destroyed.

Alright, I’m done. Everyone has their faults, I know. But here’s my point – there’s too much that can and will go wrong.

A coach with health issues. A superstar who has to be looking towards the future just a little bit. A bunch of dudes who are either getting older, getting more broken, or make poor decisions on a regular basis. A kid owner who was GIVEN the team by his rich father. Basically, I question Denver’s stability and mental toughness, especially when it matters the most.

That’s not to say that this team won’t have some success. Anthony is one of the best offensive players in the game, demonstrating an ability to improve from year to year and a knack for hitting big shots. Make no mistake about it: Melo is likely a future hall of famer and he’s got plenty of good years ahead of him (not with Denver, of course). You also have the rock-solid Chauncey Billups, who is a veteran leader and still productive (and about the only guy on the team who you’d trust to house-sit for you for a weekend). As mentioned, Afflalo is a great defender and developing his offensive game, as well.

The slew of already-mentioned big men are all capable of contributing when healthy, and the Nuggets went and acquired Al Harrington to add to the mix. He’s perfect for them – he scores, plays no defense, and is already hurt! Oh, and did I mention SHELDEN WILLIAMS?! No, I didn’t.

There’s talent but little depth because everyone is always hurt. Everyone knows it, including the organization, who did everything they could to ship ‘Melo out and get a bunch of young guys in the process. It’s panic time in Denver, because they know that this year has the potential to be rough, and it’s likely going straight to hell in the years to come.

IF THEY GET LUCKY: Anthony has another typical year and stays inspired. The big men can somehow all get healthy, and they have their coach all year. A little momentum and enough wins, and they squeak into the playoffs.

IF THEY DON’T: Anthony goes through the motions. Every one of the injuries flares up. Kenyon Martin makes fun of Karl for having cancer. Birdman goes deeper and deeper into “Rodman territory.” J.R. Smith is allowed to fly the team plane.

REALITY: I expect Anthony to play up to his potential, for the most part. But, like I said, the frontcourt unit is made of glass, and this team isn’t the type that can fall back on “resolve” or “heart.” In the past, they had enough to get to the postseason, but I think that ends this year. 45 wins at the most, and too many teams in the Western Conference that are just a little bit better. It was fun while it lasted.

BONUS SECTION: DENVER IS WHERE WACKY NECK TATTOOS HAPPEN

One thing the Nuggets have are neck tattoos. Interesting ones. For instance, take Chris Anderson:

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FREE BIRD!

Or how about J.R. Smith:

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SWISH!

And, of course, Kenyon Martin:

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Trina’s lips. Never smart, man.

As an added bonus, Deshawn Stevenson (even though he doesn’t play for the Nuggets):

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Yeah, that’s Lincoln on the $5 bill. I love Abe Lincoln, but come on now.

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