All season long fans have asked for another big man and the push hasn’t been stronger than it is now with Big Z — Zydrunas Ilgauskas becoming available.
While the 7-foot-3 post player would be huge (no pun intended) for the Nuggets, it was pointed out to me the other day that there is no guaranteed minutes for Z. Whose time would he take? K-Mart’s? Nene’s? Or Birdman’s? Something that Big Z has probably realized as well and so the chances of him coming to Denver are slim.
No doubt Z would help the Nuggets, but a bigger need for the team is a hustling big. Nene has great size, a good passer and solid scorer, K-Mart is the defensive leader and the Birdman is the energy off the bench. But where is the big that doesn’t care about minutes, that leaves it on the floor, plays tenacious defense and attacks the offensive glass?
Malik Allen has seen better days and plays to his strength, Johan Petro is too timid and Joey Graham cares about one thing and that is making Joey Graham look good. Renaldo Balkman was suppose to be that guy this year, but his lack of work ethic has rubbed the coaches the wrong way. Eduardo Najera was that guy two years ago and Reggie Evans and Ryan Bowen before that.
And the World Champions over the last few years have each had that hustling big (outside of the Lakers last year who made up for it for having Kobe and Phil Jackson). The Celtics had Leon Powe in 2008, the Spurs had Fabricio Oberto 2007 and Udonis Haslem started for the Heat in 2006.
And while Denver should be fine without a hustling big this season, but come this offseason Denver may have found its ideal big and he was on the other side of the court on Monday in Phoenix.
And no his name wasn’t Amar’e Stoudemire, but he is definitely smarter. He isn’t as big as Robin Lopez, but he did have more points and rebounds than the 7-foot center. In fact this player may be the second-coming of Bill Hanzlik. The Suns were +16 when he was on the floor and he was one of the main catalysts in the Suns outscoring the Nuggets, 33-11 in the second quarter.
At 6-foot-9, Louis Amundson played all 12 minutes of the second quarter scoring five points, grabbing five rebounds and gathering two steals to go with two fouls.
He outhustled the Nuggets’ entire frontline, frustrating Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups on offense and also had two timely fouls. For younger Nuggets fans imagine Dahntay Jones, only in the post.
His minutes have been inconsistent at power forward and center this season, but still Amundson, a alumni of Monarch High School in Louisville, Colo., finds a way to impact the game. Whether it is attacking the offensive glass, setting solid picks or frustrating opposing players – which he has a solid history of doing.
Last season, he got under the skins of Zach Randolph and Nene – getting each ejected. In fact, Randolph threw a punch that knocked out some of Amundson’s teeth and Nene threw an elbow that drew an ejection.
The funny part is that Amundson is a good 30 pounds smaller than each player, but went toe-to-toe with both beasts.
He also has connections to Colorado, not only did he go to high school in Colorado (he originally went to Boulder High School before Monarch) but he also played for the Colorado 14ers, who were formerly the Nuggets’ D-League squad and was actually the D-League MVP. So I couldn’t tell you how he escaped from the Nuggets grasps, but they weren’t the only team to miss out on this give-it-all player.
Amundson went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft, as many saw him to small for the power forward position and not offensive or quick enough to play small forward. But if there is a list of free agents for the Nuggets to look at in the offseason, I’m willing to bet Amundson is at the top of the list. Not only would he fit the role, he also would come cheap.
While he may not play for $855,189 this season, he won’t be asking for an arm and leg like many selfish players in the NBA this season.
And not to mention he would quickly be a fan favorite, with his style, give it all effort and his love of riding his bike.