Since the Nuggets traded away Carmelo Anthony in late February of 2011, has the team really gotten any worse?
After drafting Melo in 2003, the Nuggets went 369-261 with a winning percentage of 0.591. Since trading him they have gone 66-51 with a winning percentage of 0.564. That isn’t an outstanding change so let’s take a look at scoring. There’s got to be a big difference there, right? Not so much. Denver averaged over 100 points per game in every season but Carmelo’s first two and even then they put up 97.2 and 99.5 points per game, respectively. On the defensive side of the ball, they are still in the middle of the road. They’ve given up over 100 points per game in every season except those first two seasons with Melo. This season, they are averaging 102.0 per game, good enough for 7th in the league and giving up 99.3, putting them as the 22nd best scoring defense. These stats are nothing new and haven’t changed at all really since shipping the one-time face of the franchise out to the Big Apple.
So now let’s take a look at what the Nuggets gave up and got in return for Melo to see if we can find something there. Denver gave up Anthony, veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, and Renaldo Balkman to recieve Ray Felton, Danillo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks 2014 1st round draft pick, the Warriors 2012 and 2013 2nd round pick, and $3 million in cash. Not a bad deal. Felton turned out to be a bust in Denver because he didn’t like playing off the bench behind former UNC teammate Ty Lawson and was traded to the Trail Blazers for Andre Miller and a pick which turned out to be Jordan Hamilton. Again, I think Denver won out there. Also in the Melo deal, Denver picked up Gallinari, who is starting to blossom before everyone’s eyes this season. By giving up Melo and Billups, the Nuggets essentially gained Gallo, Miller and Hamilton. Miller has accepted his role as a veteran and a leader and hasn’t minded splitting time with Lawson, Gallo is developing nicely, and fans hope that Hamilton turns into a gem.
Also by giving up Melo, the Nuggets got rid of a bad attitude. In Anthony’s last seasons in Denver, he was obviously unhappy. Much like LeBron James when he was in Cleveland, Anthony was the sole producer on the team. Even though the Nuggets started surrounding him with talent, he just wasn’t happy. So in shipping him across the country, the Nuggets are now hoping to get rid of the sense of entitlement and replace it with hardworking effort. The Nuggets are trying to realize that going forward and with veterans like Miller and newly acquired Andre Iguodala, I believe that the Nuggets are on the right track. I also believe that Denver is better off without Melo, who is now known for chasing down players after games, getting technicals and still losing playoff games.