2010 NBA Preview: Denver Nuggets


While Orlando is one big man and a bunch of shooters, the Nuggets are taking the more traditional approach of getting smaller, highly talented volume scorers and adding on just about any big men they can sign with the remaining cap space. And Al Harrington. Shuffling pieces around a core of Carmelo Anthony has got the Nuggets a lot of playoff appearances and a lot of playoff exits. Is the team, as it stands this season, enough to take on the Lakers (or Dallas, or even the Thunder or the Blazers?)

Of course, now that the Nuggets are exploring trade options with Carmelo, it’s difficult to say what the team is going to look like even as far as midway through the season. Not only do they have Carmelo, but Kenyon Martin’s expiring contract, so there’s a lot of potential trade bait.

Perhaps they can dump K-Mart off on someone in exchange for an enticement for Carmelo to stick around. I mean, it totally worked for the Cavs. Of course, the Nuggets already have an outside-shooting Power Forward in Al Harrington, so they could use their teacup pig to lure a nice upgrade at SG where the current talent pool is JR Smith and his 41% gunning, or the decent-but-not-outstanding play of Arron Afflalo.

So, now that I’ve thrown some names out there, let’s take a look at the Nuggets’ depth chart so we can mine it like fantasy prospectors. *Bah Dum Ching*

Depth Chart

PG: Chauncey Billups, Ty Lawson, Anthony Carter
SG: Arron Afflalo, JR Smith, Anthony Carter
SF: Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Renaldo Balkman
PF: Al Harrington, Kenyon Martin
C: Nene Hilario, Chris Andersen, Shelden Williams

Carmelo Anthony may have cursed the team by getting married to a trophy in college, but that doesn’t stop him from being a second round fantasy pick every year.

Carmelo and Chauncey Billups are both playing some extra games this summer, but on some level, we have to assume that they were going to be practicing, if not with Team USA, then with a trainer and perhaps teammates or other players from around the league. For those two, I don’t see if being as big a deal as for someone like Chris Paul or, a more obvious choice: Yao Ming.

Big time players, even those with some durability issues (see also: Wade, Dwyane) seem to be able to handle the tournaments in the summer, and while they may come back a little more tired, they also have the chance to acquire a new outlook and perspective on the game while practicing with and playing against some of the best in the world. So, while Carmelo might not win his own ring, he might be the reliable person you want holding on to yours when you find yourself standing at the fantasy basketball altar next April.

Chauncey Billups
As easily as you can rely on Melo missing 10+ games per season, you can rely on Chauncey to just be Getting Things Done. With only 5.6 assists last year, he wasn’t a productivity black belt, but his numbers were good enough for 16th on the Player Rater. The Fantasy Basketball Blog / Weakside Help draft has Chauncey dropping to the third round, but that seems little bit late. Yes, he’ll probably slip a little more (or at least no better than remaining even), but he was at #16, and with a slight stat drop, I put him at the end of the 2nd round, or at the very latest, #26 where The Fantasy Basketball Blog picked him.

Nene Hilario
When you look at the fact that Nene was #36 on the Player Rater last year, Carmelo’s supporting cast is actually looking pretty good. I mean, is everyone serious about the Knicks? Let’s swap Eddy and Danilo for Carmelo and then let him hang out with Amar’e and, um, yeah… Anyway, Nene grabs rebounds, puts the ball back in the hole, dunks, steals, and even blocks a shot a game (which, I mean, is not exactly blowing my mind considering the guy is an inch too tall to play Brazillian football). Nevertheless, the combo of Points, Rebounds, FG%, Steals, Blocks, and low Turnovers is more lethal than testicular cancer. (Too soon?) Al Harrington might actually leave a couple more rebounds out there for Nene because Harrington plays 30+ minutes and K-Mart (the better rebounder of the PF options) won’t be. Yeah, I’m going with Harrington as the majority stakeholder in Denver Nuggets Power Forward.

Al Harrington
Oh, no, Big Al is going from the fantasy friendly confines of 94 possessions per game in the Big Apple to – oh wait! – 94 possessions per game in the Mile High City! Bring it, Al Harrington! Of course, Al’s statistical output garnered a mere 86 on the Player Rater, and it’s not like going to a team with more talent is going to improve his rank. We already took a brief look at Harrington’s old team with that part about Melo getting traded (which was actually under the Nene part if you’re just looking at the pictures), so we know that Harrington is coming from a team with one Allen Iverson-replacement All Star to a team with a legit All Star, a Chris Paul-replacement All Star, and an almost-could-be All Star (referring to Nene).

JR Smith
Hello risk taker! No, not you, fantasy manager. I’m talking about Smith. Gunner? Yes. Plays the passing lanes like he has a near-seven-foot goalie behind him? Check. Doesn’t bother trying to draw fouls? You got it. If you want threes and steals, you know what you’re going to get from Smith. I’m not sure how this whole “fight with Afflalo for playing time” thing is going to work, but it can’t really be good for either of them. Moreso for a guy like Smith, though, who relies on minutes for output like Hilary Duff is going to rely on Mike Comrie’s cash for when it comes time for retirement. If only someone would Photoshop JR Smith’s Field Goal Percentage like Maxim did for Duff in her totally unrevealing lingerie.

Kenyon Martin
Martin’s getting taken down a peg or two (at least, until he gets traded… but probably after that too), and our 2010 Fantasy Basketball Rankings reflect that. Maybe the reduction in playing time will mean he misses less than 20 games this year. I’ll give it the same odds as these to saying “I do.”

Chris Andersen
His enthusiasm for blocking shots, rebounding, and just being a basketball player in general have kept him as a marginally relevant fantasy player for years on end. Except that year when he didn’t play.

Arron Afflalo
I hate the dude for his name, which I’ve had to mercilessly pound into my head in order to be able to type it without looking it up every time. I’m okay with his game, though, and he got a huge jump in minutes when he came over to the Little D from the Big D. Or is one of those Dallas? I don’t know. He’s got good FG% for a SG, but as long as he’s sharing the minutes that are available at the SG spot, his fantasy cap is fitting his head like it’s a quarter size too small.

So, that was a bunch of words. Here’s the official summary that we call GMTR Guidance:

Carmelo Anthony – 2nd round
Chauncey Billups – Late 2nd / Early 3rd round
Nene – 3rd/4th round
Al Harrington – 8th round
JR Smith – 9th round
Kenyon Martin – 10th round
Chris Andersen – 11th round
Arron Afflalo – 12th round (? If you’re a Nuggets fan, I guess)

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