Little over two months ago the Denver Nuggets were disappointingly knocked out of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz, and the Nuggets have done little to make fans forget about the early exit.
The disappointment started when the Nuggets struck out in the NBA Draft, and fell short of adding a big man like Derrick Caracter. And so far, the free agent period has been just as unsuccessful. Denver has recruited the services of Jermaine O’Neal and Udonis Haslem and have missed the boat both times. In both situations, the Nuggets have finished second with nothing to show for it.
O’Neal has joined the Eastern Champion Boston Celtics and Haslem has decided to stay in Miami where he was born and played college ball – not to mention he gets to play with Trio of Egos.
While Denver has chased opposing players services, their big man on the home-front have grown short. Brian Butch has dislocated his kneecap while competing in the Vegas Summer League and backup center Johan Petro has signed a multi-year deal with the New Jersey Nets. Both were doubtful to get regular playing time, but it never hurts to have more big man.
The Nuggets are rumored to be in talks with veteran center Brad Miller and former Monarch High School star Louis Amundson. Miller’s outside shooting and veteran savvy would be a big assistance to the Nuggets, as will Amundson’s hustle and heart. Miller has stated he will make a decision at the end of the week and it could come down to the Chicago Bulls and the Nuggets. Sources told Denver Post’s Chris Dempsey that Amundson wasn’t likely to sign with Denver.
Denver was also dealt a serious blow when its conference rivals, Utah Jazz, snatched center Al Jefferson from Minnesota Monday night for as little as a trade exception. Jefferson is a 20 point, 10 rebound player who will replace Carlos Boozer.
It also didn’t help that the the Phoenix Suns added Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress, the duo should help dampen the loss of All-Star power forward Amar’e Stoudemire.
The Nuggets are rumored to be interested in Golden State’s center Andris Biedrins, whose length and rebounding skills will be an asset. Of course it all depends if the Warriors are willing to let Biedrins go, or if they feel newly acquired David Lee and Biedrins would be a formidable duo in the post. If Nuggets missed out on Biedrins, this offseason will be most trying one in a long time – especially with its star Carmelo Anthony being recruited by the Knicks, to play at the limelight of the world.
Probably the only good thing that has gone right for the Nuggets this offseason has been the play of the Summer League team – especially Ty Lawson. Lawson has led the team to an impressive 3-0 record, he has averaged 19 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.7 steals. He has also shot an impressive .576 from the field and .50 percent from the field. The Nuggets team should take notice of the summer league squad and its tough defense and smart-shooting. Other highlights have been:
- Othello Hunter’s hustle has been impressive. He scored 19 points (mostly due to Lawson’s driving to the basket), but if he is going to make as a consistent NBA player it will be due to his hustle and willingness to defend. He lacks the touch near the basket to be considered for his offense.
- Shane Edwards has scored in double-figures in each game, but he hasn’t shown any range and needs to make more of an impact in the game to be invited to a NBA training camp.
- Coby Karl’s defense has been impressive. He has a Tayshaun Prince-type length which allows him to give shooters space and using his long arm to impact the shot. While he has good control, he tends to get wreckless driving to the paint and has averaged 4.3 turnovers a contest. Karl could find a role as a shooter in the NBA and with his basketball IQ, but he needs to limit the mistakes to get consistent minutes.
- Dontaye Draper is a steal waiting to happen, but the rest of his game has a way to go.
- Richard Roby has had a pretty disappointing performance in the Summer League. His shot has been inconsistent and he has done little to show he is ready for the NBA. He makes unwise passes and gets lost on defense. The one thing he has done well has been rebounding the ball.
- Laurence Ekperign hasn’t played many minutes, but he is a lot longer than his listed height (6-foot-7). He may have only played less than nine minutes a game, but he can rebound (2.7 rebounds a game). He is doubtful to get an invite, but he is intriguing. There is very, if any information on Ekperign – mainly due to him playing at Division II school. However, he averaged 21.6 points, 12.1 rebounds his senior year and has proven he is a dog on the board. He also lead his team to an upset victory of Syracuse in an exhibition game.
Topics: Al Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Brad Miller, Brian Butch, Carlos Boozer, Coby Karl, Denver Nuggets, Derrick Caracter, Dontaye Draper, Jermaine O'Neal, Johan Petro, Laurence Ekperign, Louis Amundson, Othello Hunter, Richard Roby, Shane Edwards, Ty Lawson, Udonis Haslem