Hate to make too much out of Pre-season, (and our peak into training camp on NBATV) but some of my very early (and perhaps premature) thoughts about this year's Nuggets team:
1) The absolute lack of bench scoring will force Karl to keep JR as 6th Man. I would strongly recommend the Nuggs add another scorer off the bench. This area is a real concern considering how often the starters seem to get off to slow starts in games. Last year, the bench (Kleiza and/or JR, and Bird) continually got the Nuggs back in the game after a sluggish start by Melo, Kmart, and the starting crew.
2) The Nuggets offense is stale and too dependent on one-one-on play. The Nuggs have great one-on--one players (Melo, Billups, JR) but those players seem overly reliant on drawing fouls that may not come every night. I don't know how to say it other than the Nuggets offense kind of sucks (scoring over 100 points does not mean you have a great offense). I would like to see more movement and passing, unselfishness, and find ing a way to put players in a position to get open, easy shots. Most of the Nuggs shots seem difficult or well-defended. With JR gone early on this season, the Nuggs are going to have to play well as a team to get off to a good start.
3) Petro may have the worst hands in basketball, and can not be relied upon for consistent minutes. Despite his decent size, Petro has no idea how to use his size to his advantage, nor can he hang onto a less than accurate pass or a loose ball. I still think the Nuggs are going to need another big man that can score in the post. Post scoring is a HUGE gap with this team, but luckily the West has gotten smaller with Yao and Shaq not in playing in the West this year. Unless there is a trade for solid big man, I think Malik Allen should get the bulk of the minutes off the bench, not Petro.
4) Melo is at his best when he stops worrying about foul calls and just plays. He needs to have the mentality that he is not going to get any calls, and not let the lack of whistles affect his effort and ability to dominate on offense. Melo really goes off the rails when he gets overly focused on officiating. He seems to become more selfish, less focused, and a less effective scorer when he is always playing for the foul. Melo has the ability to be one of the best pure scorers in the League (and the Nuggs need him to be), but he needs to forget the officials and quit worrying about drawing fouls, and focus on finding ways to score in traffic (he should watch some old films of Alex English who was the master at finding creative ways to score in traffic and to get open shots).
5) Balkman needs to play more. Play him at 2, 3, 4 wherever, but PLAY HIM. He is one of the few intangible players the Nuggs have this year, he is very disruptive to other teams, and he has knack for getting the Nuggs additional possessions through his hustle and crafty play. He is going to make a mistake or two, but you have to live with that. Karl has to find a way to get him 25 minutes or more a game. . . .Balk gives the Nuggs an edge.
5) Dahntay wil be missed. I think Dahntay will be really missed. No offense to Affalo who seems like a decent player and guy, but Dahntay was another one of these intangible players that helped the Nuggs win over 50 games last year. Dahntay's ability to guard the best two guard, provide explosiveness on the fast break, and , like Balkman, give the Nuggs a certain intangible "edge" will be really missed. Plus, he was very enthusiastic off the bench, greeting players at timeouts, and adding real energy to start the game. This year's bench looks asleep and I don't see the same team spirit as the Nuggs had last year with Dahntay. Dahntay was Chearleader in Chief and seemed to have a great rapport with JR. WE WILL MISS DAHNTAY!
Hate to make too much out of preseason, but the team seems to be missing something this year, Whether you call it chemistry, focus, or an edge, the Nuggs are going to have find their identity quickly or add another piece.
That is all for now....