Nuggets Lose Big In 2009 NBA Free Agency
Jones, who was with his third team in six seasons, had racked up only thirty-six career starts during his first five years in the NBA.
Jones joined Denver during the 2008 offseason and started seventy games for the second best team in the Western Conference. He was not a big contributor offensively, but did knock down open shots as well as throw down rim-rattling dunks.
Jones fit perfectly with Chauncey Billups' tough guy mindset. Billups and Nuggets franchise player Carmelo Anthony, both enjoy having the ball in their hands, while Jones preferred playing off-ball.
Jones' top quality was his defense.
He usually found him self matched up on the opponent's best perimeter player. In the playoffs Jones' defense on New Orleans Hornet's superstar Chris Paul was so aggressive it prompted Hornets coach to call Jones a dirty player.
Clearly Paul and the the Hornets were taken off their game and the Nuggets won the series easily 4-1 which was highlighted by a fifty-seven point win on the road in New Orleans.
Jones continued his lock-down defense against the Mavericks, and gave Kobe his best run in the Western Conference Finals.
Another player whom Jones did well with was Brandon Roy of the rival Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers and Nuggets look to compete with each other for the Northwest Division. The Blazers have been having a miserable offseason by missing out on the Hedo Turkoglu sweepstakes, and losing Paul Millsap to the Jazz.
Millsap was signed by the Blazers but the offer was matched by the Jazz.
The Blazers are an up-and-coming team with only two players over the age of twenty-four on the current roster.
The Nuggets had a player who could guard all perimeter positions and had proven he could guard the best players in the West. To Spurs fans, you could make the comparison to a more athletic Bruce Bowen.
The Nuggets now are hard-pressed to find another player that can fill the void Jones left behind.
J.R. Smith, a young, ultra-talented six-man for the Nuggets may be the answer as Smith is also a good defender.
The Nuggets may want to keep Smith on the bench so he can keep his high-energy role.
Smith is a much better offensive player, one of the leagues best pure scorers, but because of this Smith might lose attention and detail on defense if he is relied on to fill Jones' role.
Aaron Afflalo, who played college at UCLA, and started his pro career in Detroit, (two teams that focus on lock-down defense) might be the answer. Afflalo is long 6' 6" guard, like Jones, but does not possess the same athleticism.
Sonny Weems, who played garbage minutes for the Nuggets last season, is an ultra-athletic freak who can jump out of the gym. But Weems is young and unproven, so it is still a mystery if he can play at the NBA level.
If the Nuggets can replace Jones, they will remain a top team, but if they can't, every contending team can breathe sigh of relief as the Nuggets took a major step backwards in the Western Conference race.
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