NBA / Aug 11, 2009 / 11:50 am

The Nuggets Better Hope Everyone Stays Healthy

Carmelo Anthony (photo. Mannion)

Carmelo Anthony (photo. Mannion)

Without a doubt, the Nuggets were one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA last season. Perhaps it’s because Chris “Birdman” Andersen could potentially be my favorite player, or the fact that on any given night J.R. Smith could drop 50. But after they lost Linas Kleiza for nothing yesterday, Nuggets fans should start to get worried.

Since last season, the Nuggets have parted ways with Dahntay Jones, Steven Hunter, Sonny Weems, Johan Petro and Jason Hart. While none of these guys other than maybe Dahntay were valuable contributors, they did make up the roster of one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

But even with the additions of Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo and Malik Allen, the Nuggets have a problem: they only have 10 guys on the roster and a payroll at about $69 million. If everyone can stay healthy, a starting five of Chauncey Billups, Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and Nene is as good as any in the League. But if any of those guys get hurt, the depth just simply isn’t there.

Losing Jones means that Smith will most likely start for the Nuggets, with Birdman and Renaldo Balkman coming off the bench, so Denver will have to make sure that they keep everyone healthy.

As for those last five roster spots, Wally Szczerbiak‘s name has been thrown around for the veteran’s minimum, as has bringing back Anthony Carter. I know that when I talked to Lawson on Sunday at the NBA Rookie Photo Shoot, he said that George Karl has basically given him the back-up spot, so I don’t see A.C. re-signing if he’s not going to play.

How do you see the Nuggets doing this season?

Source: Denver Post

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  • Steve A

    The Nuggs, like the article says, better hope everyone stays healthy. They remind me of the Spurs the last few years where if one of the big guns goes down (Billups or Melo) they have first round exit written all over them.

  • Kobeef

    I’m actually glad that JR will finally get to start.
    Dahanty was a better defender but in every other way JR is a better player.

    This team only had half a season to learn to play together and they finished the season in the Western Conference Finals.

    The nuggets will be one of the top teams in the league in 2009-10.

  • aj

    Agree with Steve A.

    It looks like they’ve set themselves up to fail. Unless Ty or Afflalo turns out to be a diamond in the rough. Like I said yesterday…Kleiza could get buckets, these other guys on their bench can’t…bottom line

  • Tbest

    I don’t think that starting 5 is as good as any in the league.

  • Soopa

    Lawson has all-star potential and afflalo has been very good through the stretches where he was starting when Rip was out. Malik Allen is probably just another big body. The 4 of the players they got rid of were no-names, only Jones had a role and he awful just as often as he was good. A 10 man roster is a problem tho…
    Ironicly Iverson would, in theory, fit in nicely in their back court…
    They dont really have any cap flexability to make trades happen or anything. Maybe they’re just taking a chance this year lol!

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    How was Kleiza untouchable in a trade last year and now they loose him for nothing?

  • JH

    Nuggets are gonna fight for a #5-#8 seed in the West. I don’t see a 2nd seed coming there way with the Lakers, Spurs, Portland, and Dallas/Utah taking the top 4 spots.

  • Ian

    steve a
    spurs the last few years?? they made the conf finals in 08 with one of them injured and it took one injury and half a timmeh to finally lose in the first round. not a good comparison.

    aron
    how the hell is that starting five as good as the spurs , lakers , celts , orlando hell even cleveland and dallas are better.

  • Michorizo

    Big Shot…looks like the Nuggets had a great hand and folded when they should have made a bet. When teams do what Big Shot mentions, I say the GM choked.

    Dime
    How about Worst choke jobs by GMs in the last 10 or 20 years?

  • Schakr

    Better than Dallas, Utah, Portland.
    Not as good as the Lakers and Spurs.

  • http://shaqtus.blogspot.com Lets Go Hawks

    I think its a severely underrated starting 5. An extremely close 3rd behind Lakers (2) and Spurs (1) in my opinion

  • http://luckylester.com luckylester

    Desmond Mason would be a nice addition for the Nuggets – Ty Lawson is a beast off the bench running the point, and Aaron Aflalo is underrated as a defensive presence that can hit open shots. The Nuggets got rid of a lot of nothing, besides Jones, but for the price Aflalo has way more value than the former Dukie.

    Wally? Please no. That guy might be able to put the ball in the basket, but his +/- is never a good thing.

  • bigdoggchad

    Everyone forgets they have a big trade exception they can use till November I believe. They have a little cap space and roster space to grab a veteran that gets bought out during the season.

  • bigdoggchad

    NW Division Champs, 2-4 seed, and Melo having a monster season getting some MVP love.

  • karizmatic

    I think the Nuggets will be aiight. Nene may emerge this year as a true force in the paint. The West is weak on centers anyway. Affalo might actually fit better with the team than Jones did, I wasn’t too big on him anyway, he plays great d but he made a lot of bonehead mistakes for the Nuggets. The question is going to be does Chauncey still have the wheels and is Tyreke going to be a good backup, and of course can they stay healthy, but honestly they are well stocked with big men, the problem is at the 1,2, and the 3.

  • LB

    Frontcourt depth will be a major issue for them. K-Mart and Nene have both had serious injury/health issues in the past, and I dont think one relatively healthy season from them wipes out any doubts regarding their abilty to stay healthy.

  • control

    Best thing Nugs could do is put Chauncey’s brain into Tyreke’s body…I’m sure there’s an underground fleshmarket in China that could do the procedure fairly cheaply.

  • http://dimemag.com Dime Magazine

    @Ian

    I stand by that, and it appears others on the site do to. Not as good as Boston, LA and maybe SA – but who are the Spurs starting at center?

  • Steve A

    @Ian
    I could have been more specific with just referring to the Spurs from Last year. Either way, they aren’t winning anything if any of the big 3 is hurt at all, nor can Denver.

  • Ian

    steve
    yup agree spurs arent going anywhere without the big three 100%.

    dime
    maybe san antonio?? parker manu rj duncan and a longley are better than the nuggets starting five. btw would love to see duncan slide to center and start blair.
    dallas with marion can play denver imo.

  • Brown

    Q: Who’s going to score off the bench now that JR is starting?
    A: …crickets…

    JR is much better when he has the green light to score off the bench. As a starter, he won’t get as many touches or shots and he won’t be nearly as productive as he was last year.

  • steven

    Which team will have more trouble with injuries this year: Nuggets, Rockets, or Clippers?

  • AB_40

    top 5 in the west seccond round at best or melo must have taken another step forward then they’re contenders other wise uhm… not so much

  • KT

    honeslty i’m kind of disappointed with the Nugget’s offseason ,but the reason why they didn’t beat the lakers was not that they were not talented, it was that they were not disciplined in the clutch. Another year with chauncey, another year of melo playing the right way and I think they can still make noise in the west.

  • http://shaqtus.blogspot.com Lets Go Hawks

    @ Dime

    Mcdyess is their center. He’s a really solid contributor. Plus, Timmy can play some C if Blair proves to be good enough to get some burn.

    Witha a Starting 5 of Parker, Ginobli, Jefferson, Duncan and Mcdyess and a rotation of George Hill (who filled in admirably for Parker in spurts last season, Michael Findely, Roger Mason, Matt Bonner and the immortal Theo Ratliff, the Spurs have a deep and underrated group. I’m not including Blair yet because I would like to see how he holds up to the NBA season

  • sh!tfaced

    Chris Andersen is the best BIRDMAN since Koko B. Ware! LOL.

    The Nugs front office jumped right off the gates in preparing for the 09-10 season by acquiring Ty Lawson and re-signing the Birdman. But have slowly fallen back and faded as the summer went on.

    Olympiakos have done more off season moves since then and even took away Linas Klieza from them.

    And even if it’s a longshot, why not bring back AI and enjoy the best of both worlds (of the trade they made with Detroit last season)?

  • nidal

    All they need is an enforcer like a legit center ala David harrison and a bench scorer maybe flip murry or stackhouse lk will be missed but they still have there core intacted….maybe even carney…suggestions any1???

  • Young Money (R.I.P. D)

    Not worried about them at all. W’ell be fine. Trust me. 2nd in the West again. Put it down in print, Fax it, Tweet it.

  • pak-yaw

    i dont think the nuggets will be starting Jr.
    I see them putting afflalo in dahntay’s role last season.
    but they do have a very thin front court..
    I think there’ll be a little dropoff from last season. but losing in the 2nd round is more likely than reaching the wcf again.
    the key will be how billups holds everyone together and how melo follows up his postseason performance.

  • e

    i just want to see mello add some edge to himself get a little mean streak