2008-2009 Denver Nuggets Season Preview
2008 Denver Nuggets basketball preview from Maddux Sports handicappers. After reading be sure to view today's NBA point spread odds for the scheduled games.
The Denver Nuggets (50- 32) were not known for playing solid defense last season, yet they did. Their defensive efficiency was ranked ninth, while their offensive efficiency was rated 11th. But Denver was and is a deceptive team. Because they play an up tempo game—the fastest pace in the league—they appear to be uninterested in “D.” But that’s not the case at all. Overall, the Nuggets had a fine defense. However, during the course of the 2007- 2008 season, the Nugget defense was inconsistent, going from fifth prior to the All-Star break to 14th in the second half. The team’s defense was basically average. Opponents, for some reason, had a tough time hitting from the charity stripe when they played Denver. Teams knocked in only 73.0% of their frees, which was 2.5 percentage points under the league average.
Along with playing overall good defense, the Nuggets were experts at drawing fouls. The team’s foul shooting was also on target. Overall, the club played well on both sides of the court but they weren’t spectacular. They managed to put up winning numbers despite the fact that two projected starters, Chucky Atkins and Nene were lost for the season. Atkins had an ongoing groin problem and Nene broke a finger and was then diagnosed with testicular cancer.
The Nuggets were looking to contain costs, and they followed suit in the following way. The Nuggets got 39th pick Sonny Weems in exchange for their 2009 second-round draft-pick. They dealt Marcus Camby to the Clippers for a $10 million trade exemption and let Eduardo Najera go. Forward Chris Anderson was signed to a minimum contract and Renaldo Balkman was acquired from the Knicks. Allen Iverson got a one-year extension, forgoing a multiyear extension.
Nene is the team’s center and Kenyon Martin the power forward. Nene has seen less than a season’s games in the past two seasons. Last year, he appeared in just 16 contests. Martin has been more consistent and healthier than Nene. Forward Carmelo Anthony averaged 25.7 PPG and 7.4 RPG. Six year vet Anderson and third-year man Balkman will both vie for minutes with each hoping to contribute points and “D.”
The backcourt offers little defense and some fine offense. Here’s the major dilemma for this team—Allen Iverson. Iverson averaged a team high 26.4 PPG and 7.1 APG. That sounds great. But there are two major problems with the guy—he tries to be a one-man team, and he’s a terrible defensive player. J.R. Smith is a promising talent who could become a decent defender if he’s willing to work hard. There are very few defenders in the backcourt on this team, and that is a major problem.
This is a club on the cusp, but it is not on the cusp of a championship. They cut payroll for this season and will be looking to make some moves. Coach George Karl has noted that losing Camby will compromise the team’s ability to win. The Nuggets will finish third in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference and will not likely be playoff bound.