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Lost amid all the confusion circling the Nuggets’ organization that is grown so large that it has taken a name of its own, “Melo-drama”, is the fact that there is still a very good team in Denver.
The Nuggets not only boast size in Nene and Al Harrington, shooters in JR Smith and Chauncey Billups, shrewd coaching to keep the somewhat combustible locker room in line thanks to George Karl, but they still have Carmelo Anthony.
For now at least.
Though Melo is on pace for one of his lowest scoring averages in his career, he is also on pace for a career high rebound average and is still a large part of the reason why the Nuggets are still right in the mix to secure a mid-level seeding in the West.
What many, perhaps even Anthony himself, has forgotten is that the Nuggets have the pieces to win in NBA Championship.
As unpopular as it may be to say, what likely inspired Anthony’s emotional detachment from the Nuggets is James’ departure from Cleveland and the all-star team James became a part of as a result.
Though the Nuggets may not match up to the Heat on paper, when healthy they are every bit as talented as the 2004 NBA Champion Pistons and perhaps even the 2005 Champion Spurs.
Though the level of competition in the NBA has undoubtedly risen since then, Anthony cannot reasonably expect to be any closer to title contention in New York than he currently is in Denver.
Though the Knicks boast Amar’e Stoudemire, there’s no doubt that the team the Nuggets currently have in placed is more stacked than what New York has to offer.
Aside from the rugged, but not often used Ronny Turiaf, there is no semblance of a defensive presence in New York.
What New York does offer is a boat load of shooters, a fair amount of athleticism but a system that succeeds only when ran completely through Stoudemire.
When the Miami Heat came together, one of the biggest question facing the team was whether or not there would be enough ball to go around.
However, James has made a living for himself impacting the game in more ways than sheer scoring, Bosh has proven the potential to be one of the game’s better rebounders and all around post players and though Wade does not impact the game in as many ways as James, he too has established himself as a premier perimeter defender.
I had little question that the Heat would eventually work it all out.
Stoudemire is not nearly as notable a force on the defensive end and impacts the game almost solely from his offense.
If the Carmelo joined the Knicks, he would be taking away a size-able portion of the time Stoudemire has his hands on the ball and would also threaten the balance of a system that drives on Stoudemire’s sheer dominance and perimeter passing.
In Phoenix, Stoudemire has proven capable of producing on a team with a ball dominant presence, but he was not nearly the MVP candidate he’s established himself as today.
Getting back to the Nuggets, I would even argue that part of what is preventing them from taking a step up and becoming true title contenders is the fact that Anthony has not done much to step up his game.
Though he’s improved considerably on the defensive end of the floor since the arrival of Chauncey Billups in ‘09, he still is not a premier defender and he also wavers in his offensive production.
Even worse, Anthony does not possess all of the intangibles that those in the Bryant/James/Wade class do.
He was never as aggressive in looking for his shot as those three were to begin with and it seems that he’s even less aggressive this season.
To sum it all up, I would not want to be in a dark alley in between Kobe Bryant and the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Hell I would not want to be in the middle of a police station standing in between Kobe and the trophy.
Though Anthony talks about his desire to win, it seems that his desire is simply to play on a bigger stage and its really a shame.
The Nuggets had a chance to be something really special.