7. The Emergence of J.R. Smith
After a loss at the hands of JR Smith’s hot shooting and the Denver Nuggets, Deron Williams of Utah Jazz said it best, “Once he gets going offensively, he is one of the best players in the league. He has unlimited range.” In that game, JR Smith torched anyone trying to guard him. On one play, he had a sweet turnaround and a three-point shot with taller Kyle Korver trying to guard him. There was not a chance Korver could do anything but watch him hit the three right on him. Watching JR Smith gets on a hot streak, it is a blast watching him make it rain or dunk on a fast break.
6. The Better Overall Play of Carmelo Anthony
This has not been talked by the media too much, but both Carmelo Anthony himself and Coach Karl are saying he is playing better overall basketball game this year. I will go with what the Coach says. It’s great to have this incredible talent finally start to mature. There is only one LeBron James, and we cannot expect everyone to be like him. However, Carmelo has the talent to be a top 5 player in the league in both scoring and defense. Yes, he is that talented. Once he puts his game together, he can be an MVP candidate for years to come. As much as I have been frustrated with his lazy play at times, I hope the Nuggets don’t pull a McDaniels and trade him.
5. Improved Coaching with Greater Focus on Defense
In the years past the run and gun offense was good in the regular season, but Nuggets always faced problems when it met a team that can execute on offense and force bad shots on defense. This year, the Nuggets defense has been incredible at times. I hope the Nuggets can play defense to their best ALL THE TIME. We already have a great post defender in Kenyon Martin. Adding Dahntay Jones and couple of glue guys did the trick. Now, everyone at least focuses on defense.
4. Healthy Kenyon “Kmart” Martin
Kenyon Martin is overpaid. I don’t dispute that, but the guy can play some defense with the best. He can face some of the best power forwards and take them out of their game… with exception to a very few guys like Tim Duncan of two years ago.
3. Healthy Nene
Ever since Nene went through that diet and training program with Steve Hess a few years ago, this guy has been a beast. He’s been dunking on everybody. Have you seen him against Amare Stoudemire? Nene typically just toys with that guy even a year or two ago when everyone was talking about how good Amare was. I love watching Nene dunk on other teams’ bigs.
2. The Emergence of Chris “The Birdman” Anderson
How cool is this guy? I know Chuck Norris is pretty cool, but in Denver, he would have a hard time being embraced and loved as much as this guy. A year ago, he wasn’t even playing basketball. This year, he is THE REASON why some fans come to the games. He even has his hair spiked up like a bird! Simply cool!
I will add this though: when the Nuggets were winning only 17 games and at the bottom of the league in standings, I loved going to the games. The Nuggets under Bickerstaff fought hard. They didn’t have much talent. They didn’t have anyone to go to on offense, but they hustled and played their hearts out every game. Nothing bugs me more than a big hunking 200-250 lbs and 6-7ft tall meat of talent just standing there. Basically, in short, what I am saying is that I love guys who hustle and play hard. Like those fans above, I love hustle guys. I love the Birdman’s play.
1. Chauncey Billups’ floor leadership
The difference between Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson is ocean’s apart. We’re glad to be on the long end of the stick. Even when he is not scoring or making assists, the Nuggets play is smoother. Their focus is better. I can’t really say too much since everybody and their mothers are talking about how great move this has been for the Nuggets. I even heard a Pistons fan wanting to give back AI plus Tayshaun Prince plus some other players to have Chayncey back. I don’t blame him. The Pistons are a poor resemblence of what they “used to be”. We are just glad to have Chauncey on our side. Man, he is great.