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12 Denver Nuggets Can feeding hungry shooters cure a point guard's Clipperitis?

Oct. 27, 2003
Oct. 27, 2003

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Oct. 27, 2003

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12 Denver Nuggets Can feeding hungry shooters cure a point guard's Clipperitis?

The Nuggets may win fewer than 30 games this year, but you won't
hear 27-year-old point guard Andre Miller complaining. Anything
beats playing for the Clippers. "I'm going to look back at last
year and say it was the worst place I ever played," says Miller,
who escaped from L.A. by signing a front-loaded, six-year, $51
million free-agent contract in July. "I look forward to playing
with guys who want to get better and want to win."

This is an article from the Oct. 27, 2003 issue Original Layout

After averaging a league-high 10.9 assists for the Cavaliers in
2001-02, Miller was shipped to the Clippers in a four-player
trade. He entered a locker room filled with young players
demanding the ball--not to help the team win but to pad their
stats in anticipation of moving on as free agents. Miller
couldn't thrive in that atmosphere; his assists fell by 4.2 per
game and his field goal percentage sank to a career-low 40.6.

Desperate to improve the worst offense in the NBA, the Nuggets
were willing to dismiss Miller's regression as a temporary bout
of Clipperitis. To make his recovery easier, they also signed an
aggressive backup in 5'5" Earl Boykins, a clutch shooter who can
play alongside Miller in tight games. Denver is counting on both
to push the tempo and direct young frontcourt players Nene,
Carmelo Anthony and Nikoloz Tskitishvili--tasks out of the reach
of last year's starter, Junior Harrington.

Though other teams have expressed doubts about Miller's
leadership, saying he was too quiet and passive during his season
in L.A., the Nuggets are confident they have the right man.
"Andre is a hungry, driven young man who wants a team that plays
with discipline and unselfishness," says second-year coach Jeff
Bzdelik. "He wants what we have, and we want what he has." --I.T.

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO (MILLER) Andre MillerCOLOR PHOTO: GREG NELSON LOOK OUT, LEBRON Coming off his championship performance at Syracuse, the high-scoring Anthony is in the best position to challenge James for Rookie of the Year honors

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Nuggets

"Last year they had the worst collection of talent I've seen on an
NBA team. They were last in turnovers and in all the shooting
categories, but they pulled off upsets in 17 games by playing
hard every night.... This year's team is almost the opposite of
last year's. They might go from number 29 in scoring to number 1,
because they're going to be like the old Doug Moe-coached teams
and try to run you off the floor in that high altitude.... The
Nuggets have two big weaknesses. First, Jeff Bzdelik is big on
discipline and defense, but he has offensive-minded guys who will
have to work hard to play good D. Second, their only big men are
Marcus Camby and Nene, and both of them get in foul trouble.
Still, if Camby can stay healthy--he looked good in
preseason--this should be a comeback year for him. He's playing
for a new contract, and the running game is good for him because
he's so mobile.... Nikoloz Tskitishvili has gained 30 pounds and
he's more confident playing inside, but he's so inexperienced
that it's going to take another two or three years to see how
good he is.... Every team dreams of having a second unit of
hustlers like Chris Andersen, Jon Barry, Ryan Bowen and Earl
Boykins .... I'm not one of those who wrote off Andre Miller, who
is coming from a bad situation with the Clippers. He can do
whatever they ask, whether it's push the ball or run the
half-court offense, and he's smart and big enough to play good
positional defense.... Carmelo Anthony might lead the team in
scoring, and he'll give LeBron James a run for Rookie of the
Year. Anthony can score inside and outside, and he's a much
better shooter than I thought. He's a bit like Adrian Dantley:
You don't know how he gets it all done in the post and on the
perimeter. He's very crafty and he plays much older than he is."

FAST FACT

The Nuggets' average of 84.2 points last year was the lowest
ever for a full season. (Chicago scored 81.9 per game in
lockout-shortened 1998-99.)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
with 2002-03 statistics

Record: 17-65 (14th in West)
Points scored: 84.2 (29th in NBA)
Points allowed: 92.4 (9th)
Coach: Jeff Bzdelik(second season with Nuggets)

MARCUS CAMBY

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG BPG SPG FG% FT%
C 99 7.6 7.2 1.6 1.38 0.69 41.0 66.0

CARMELO ANTHONY (R)[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG BPG SPG FG% 3FG%
SF 42 22.2 10.0 2.2 0.86 1.57 45.3 33.7

ANDRE MILLER[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
PG 33 13.6 4.00 6.7 1.24 40.6 21.3 79.5

VOSHON LENARD[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
SG 115 14.3 3.4 2.3 0.94 40.2 36.5 80.4

NENE

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG BPG SPG FG% FT%
PF 84 10.5 6.1 1.9 0.81 1.59 51.9 57.8

BENCH PVR* 2002-03 KEY STATS

G[1] EARL
BOYKINS 168 8.8 ppg 1.3 rpg 3.3 apg 0.56 spg 42.9 FG%
F RODNEY
WHITE 180 9.0 ppg 2.6 rpg 0.63 spg 40.8 FG% 23.9 3FG%
G[1] JON
BARRY 195 6.9 ppg 2.6 apg 0.79 spg 45.0 FG% 40.7 3FG%
F NIKOLOZ
TSKITISHVILI 259 3.9 ppg 2.2 rpg 1.1 apg 0.36 bpg 29.3 FG%
C[1] FRANCISCO
ELSON (R) 287 9.7 ppg 8.3 rpg 1.00 bpg 60.0 FG% 55.0 FT%

NEW ACQUISITION[1]
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 94)
(R) Rookie (Spanish League statistics)