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Denver Nuggets: 30 Team Previews in 30 Days

John Friel@@JohnFtheheatgodAnalyst IAugust 8, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - APRIL 30:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets stands on the court during their game against the Utah Jazz in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on April 30, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

2009-'10 Statistics

  • Finished 53-29, first in Northwest Division, fourth in Western Conference

Postseason

  • First Round: Lost to Utah Jazz 4-2

Additions and Re-Signings

  • Al Harrington via free agency, Shelden Williams via free agency, and Anthony Carter via re-signing.

Losses

  • Joey Graham via free agency and Johan Petro via free agency.

Two years ago, the Denver Nuggets were two games away from clinching their first championship berth, and tied their franchise high for wins with 54. Last season, they finished with 53 wins only to fall well short of their goal by losing in the first round to division rivals, the Utah Jazz, in six games.

The Nuggets know they are capable of greater things and are not the type of team to fall in the first round. Over the offseason, they made sure to make the right moves that would enable them to get past the first round and on the road to the championship that they've been pining for.

While Carmelo Anthony's contract expiring soon, he has been at the center of attention. The Nuggets managed to make some moves over the offseason to bolster an already powerful bench by adding swing man, Al Harrington.

Harrington, who has spent his last two seasons with New York, has averaged 14 points and six rebounds over his 12-year career, and has spent most of his career as a sixth man with numerous teams. His role on the Nuggets will be as a seventh man backing up Kenyon Martin and adding versatility to the power forward position. Harrington adds a shooter's touch to a position where the Nuggets have previously struggled.

While 'Melo is contemplating testing free agency, for now he remains the statistical leader of this team. Coming back from a disappointing 2008-'09 campaign where he averaged only 23 points, he managed to secure his position as one of the more versatile offensive threats in the NBA last season, averaging a near-career high of 28 and earning an All-NBA second team nod for the first time.

Carmelo has been the offensive leader of the team since joining the Nuggets as the third pick in the 2003 draft and a prodigious college product. At 25 points and six rebounds for his career averages, Anthony remains a versatile, dangerous threat who has the ability to explode at any given moment. He has turned the Nuggets into a Western Conference powerhouse after years of suffering as a cellar dweller.

The Nuggets can also thank Chauncey Billups not just for his game, but for his ability to create plays for his teammates and hit big shot's down the stretch. At 34 years old, Billups has not shown his age at any moment over his past two seasons with Denver, especially last season when he hit a career high 19 points per game.

Chauncey's leadership has been beneficial to the Nuggets the past two years, and they have become a significantly better team since his arrival. Much like he did with Detroit when they were a championship contender, Billups ability to lead the team and hit clutch shots has made the Nuggets into the contender they are today.

He will continue to utilize his veteran leadership to his full potential in order for this team to advance further in the postseason.

Denver can always look to their deep bench as well to win games. Three-point shooting specialist J.R. Smith adds another threat off the bench with his unbelievable range and at a consistent rate of hitting more than two three-pointers per game over the past four seasons makes him one of the more dangerous sixth men of the league. Entering his seventh season in the league, Smith continues to make the Nuggets an extremely dangerous offensive team.

The team might have also picked up a steal in last year's draft when they took undersized guard Ty Lawson out of North Carolina.

Lawson impressed everybody last season when he averaged eight points on 51 percent shooting while dishing out three assists in the process off the bench. With veterans in Billups and Anthony Carter teaching Lawson the ropes of being a point guard in this league, Ty could be the future of Nuggets basketball if he continues to grow with experience under their tutelage.

The Nuggets have high expectations and they need to show Carmelo that they are a championship caliber team if they don't want him to walk come next offseason.

For now, they're going to need everybody to come together and play as a team if they want to do better than a first round exit. They'll need all their threats on offense and defense to play to their full potential if they want to make another legitimate championship run.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG-Chauncey Billups

SG-Arron Afflalo

SF-Carmelo Anthony

PF-Kenyon Martin

C-Nene Hilario

Prediction

52-30

This is Part Seven of a 30-day series of 2010-11 season previews of each NBA team. My profile will contain every other team that has been previewed before.

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