The Pre-Season is under way in the NBA and the Denver Nuggets had their first game against the division rival Utah Jazz in Utah Thursday night. The Nuggets lost by 16 points in a 103-87 loss to Utah, but there were a few positves that came out of this game.
Before I start to break down what happened, take note that JR Smith and Kenyon Martin did not play in the game due to injuries. JR Smith should be playing tonight and Kenyon Martin may be good to go but we won't know if he can go until game time. Keith Brumbaugh (injury), Dontaye Draper (coaches choice) and kurt Looby (coaches choice) did not play in the game against Utah as well.
The Nuggets starting line up seemed to be good. Carmelo Anthony lost 15 pounds in the off season and appears to be quicker. Arron Afflalo ony shot 1-4 from the field but he was 1-1 from three point line. Billups posted solid stats as usual. Nene and Chris Anderson (Anderson started in Kenyon Martin's place) both posted a decent stat line for limited minutes with getting 7 points and 8 rebounds between the two of them.
Newly acquired Joey Graham netted the Nuggets 5 points in only 6 minutes of play time. This may help ease some of the Nugget fans who are worried about the lack of scoring off the Nuggets bench.
Malik Allen and Johan Petro both posted solid stat lines incuding Johan Petro, who had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Nuggets. Allen had 11 points on 5-6 shooting.
The two players who suprised me the most were Renaldo Balkman and James White. Balkman had the only double-double for the Nuggets last night with 10 points and 11 rebounds on 3-4 shooting from the field and 4-7 from the free throw line. This is assuring for the Nuggets seeing that Balkman's real struggle last year was his shooting percentage. George Karl is playing with the idea of Balkman playing as Melo's back up at small forwward, and he helped his cause last night.
The most suprising player of the night was James White, who had 13 points (tied the team lead with Melo). White got 10 of his 13 points at the free throw line and his other three from a three pointer. White was agressive at getting to the hoop and was rewarded with 14 free throws and converted on 10 of them. White had a great game with the only flaw being his three turn overs. Regardless of the turn overs, George Karl had nothing but good things to say about White after the game.
It appears as though James White has the early advantage over Keith Brumbaugh for landing a permanent spot on the roster. Reports out are also saying that James White and Joey Graham are competeing for the assured roster spot. Graham will most likely get the spot, but George Karl and the Nuggets Front office are very intruiged with James White, and if he doesn't make the Nugget's roster this year, he will be offered a spot in the D-League.
People are comparing James White to a "poor mans JR Smith," and with work could be a player who could make the Nuggets roster in the next couple of years if not this year. Stay tuned for the recap of the Nuggets pre-season game tonight against Partizan Belgrade.
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