SI's 2008-09 NBA Scouting Reports
Denver Nuggets
Projected Finish: 13th in Western Conference
 
Carmelo Anthony says the lessons he learned from his Olympic experience will help him on both ends of the floor.
John W. McDonough/SI
Fast Fact
 
Last Season
 

They've vowed to finally get defensive, but without their stopper it's too tall an order

Denver isn't known for its D. The Nuggets averaged the second-mostpoints last season (110.7) but also allowed the second-most (107.0). Ifthey were going by the NBA book, priority No. 1 this off-season would have beenupgrading that defense. Instead, after a fifth consecutive first-round flop theytraded center Marcus Camby -- the NBA's leading shot blocker and the 2006-07Defensive Player of the Year -- to the Clippers for two second-round draft picks sothat they could get his remaining $28.9 million off their books. ThenDenver allowed gritty forward Eduardo Nájera to sign with the Nets as a freeagent.

Coach George Karl at least says that he will make defense a priority, vowingto "use a bigger hammer" on his troops. "Our concepts are going to have to bestronger," he says, "and our commitment at every position is going to have to bebetter focused. What happened [with Camby] doesn't make basketball sense andnever will."

The Nuggets are counting on veteran forwards Kenyon Martin and CarmeloAnthony to energize the D. (After winning a gold medal with the U.S. Olympicteam in Beijing, Anthony pledged that he'll pay more attention to defensivedetail.) Sliding into Camby's slot will be Nenê, 26, a 6-foot-11, 250-poundbruiser who missed 66 games last season while recovering from testicular cancer.Denver will also run some of the offense through him in the low post and use hisathleticism on the perimeter in pick-and-rolls.

Still, after failing even to make the playoffs next spring, the Nuggets willneed to turn to another NBA instructional: How to Rebuild aFranchise. -- Chris Mannix

 

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