As we roll forward with my 20 greatest Denver Nuggets of all time, we stop at Number 15 and find…….Antonio McDyess. McDyess was actually drafted by the LA Clippers with the 2nd pick of the 1995 NBA Entry Draft. He was then subsequently traded to the Nuggets along with guard Randy Woods for Guard Brent Barry and Forward Rodney Rogers. McDyess had 3 stints with the Nuggets during his 16 year career in the NBA although the last time McDyess became a Nugget in 2008 he was immediately waived after being acquired in the trade of Allan Iverson to Detroit Pistons and never donned a Nuggets uniform. McDyess was a star at Alabama University and was considered one of the elite players coming out of college in 1995. Dan Issel, then the Nuggets General Manager had targeted him to replace Laphonso Ellis whose career had been derailed by knee problems for the last 2 seasons. At the conclusion of his rookie season in which he averaged 13.4 points, 7.,5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, McDyess was named to the NBA All-Rookie first team. He only spent 2 seasons in Denver during that first go around before he was traded to the Phoenix Suns after the 1996-1997 season in a blockbuster trade that included 3 teams, 2 other players and 6 draft picks. The Nuggets did not receive any players in this transaction because the Nuggets Ownership situation was a complete mess at the time and they just wanted draft picks to rebuild the roster. After only one season in Phoenix, McDyess was waived by the Suns as his contract had expired and he became a Free Agent. The Nuggets went after McDyess very aggressively and landed him that offseason. This would mark the beginning of a 4 year stint as a Nugget that was the most successful seasons of his career until he ruptured his Patella Tendon in the 10th game of the 2001-2002 season. This would mark the end of Antonio’s time in Denver as he missed the entire 2002-2003 season recovering from the surgery to repair the Patella and never played another minute for the Nuggets. The Nuggets ended up trading McDyess to the New York Knicks on Draft Day 2002 for the rights to Nene Hilario, Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson.
Although his career was slowed by the devastating injury in 2002, McDyess definitely left his mark on the Nuggets and their record book. He is one of only 3 Denver Nuggets players ever to average 20 points and 10 rebounds in a season which he accomplished in the 1998-1999 season, his first since returning to the Nuggets. The only other players in the history of the franchise to accomplish this feat were Dan Issel in 1977-1978 and George McGinnis in 1978-1979. During that 1999 season, McDyess Averaged 21.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game and made the All NBA 3rd team at Power Forward. McDyess would duplicate the 20 and 10 feat again in the 2000-2001 season when he averaged 20.8 points and 12.1 rebounds, his high in rebounding for his career in any one season. McDyess made the All Star team during the 2001 season and was the first Nugget to make the game since Michael Adams in 1989. For his Nuggets Career which spanned 6 seasons, McDyess averaged 18.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting almost 50% from the field. The thing I remember most about Antonio when he was in his prime between 1999 and 2001 was the unbridled athleticism, leaping ability and the tenacity that he went after rebounds. By 2001 he had also developed a pretty damn good mid-range game with 15-18 foot jumpers and baseline turnarounds that were impossible to guard. Had McDyess not fell victim to the Patella Tendon injury in 2001, he would have stayed a Nugget for the balance of his career and been much higher on the all time lists that what I will show you below.
He was fun to watch and an outstanding player who ranks as follows on the all time Nuggets statistical list:
10th in Made Field Goals with 2,612
9th in Field Goals attempted with 5,371
7th in Blocked Shots with 604
10th in minutes per game playing an average of 34 minutes a game during his Nuggets career
10th in Points per game (Tied with Michael Adams) at 18.2 per contest
6th in rebounds per game with 9.0
9th in blocked shots per game with 1.7
I still remember that game in November of 2001 when McDyess went in for a putback dunk, came down in a very strange way on his leg and crumbled to the floor in agony with what we learned was a devastating Patella Tendon injury. The Nuggets were on the rise that year and when McDyess went down, Nuggets fans all over knew the season was lost because our best player had hit the floor and would not return. That was the last time I saw Antonio McDyess play in a Nuggets uniform and it was a sad day in franchise history. I feel lucky to have watched this amazing talent for the 6 good years we got out of him and that is why he is my 15th greatest Denver Nugget of all time…..Antonio McDyess! Stay tuned to @Nugg_Love for all the upcoming draft news as we see what pick the Nuggets get in the Draft Lottery tonight. Photo Credit to Denvernuggets.com.