After reading Andrews post about Lebron/Melo/Bosh I had to respond, fanpost style, on what the real issue is for the Nuggets.
PART 1: His name is Maybner "Nene" Hilario.
I've watched the last two weeks as everything from the Nuggets failure to get to the finals to the sorry state of morals in the American cinema get blamed on Carmelo Anthony by some people who frequently post on here. That's fine. I'm actually of a fan of the diversity of opinion on Denver Stiffs (unlike some other local sports blogs *cough*) and it's helped me clarify my own view of the Denver Nuggets and how they should go forward.
Travis Heath of Hoopsworld had an excellent column last week regarding what the Nuggets can do
In it he talks about the various odds and ends of the Nuggets off season including the Front Office situation as well as the need to get a big man and the many complications the Nuggets face because of their salary cap situation. When on with Sandy Clough last week Heath said one thing that stuck with me, "When has Carmelo Anthony ever played with a dominating post player?" The answer is, never. While dominating big men are few and far between nowadays....the "faith" in having Nene is what we as fans have been sold on by the organization. Not the other way around.
Chris Dempsy was also on with Clough earlier this week (I'm frequently quoting Sandy's show because he's the only sports talk host in Denver who is willing to go in depth about the Nuggets) and Dempsy said that a lesson we must learn from Lebron's recent horrid performances is that maybe people are who they are. We, as Nuggets fans, have been sold a bill of goods by the organization that Nene has only touched but a small percentage of his potential. That he is too quick, too athletic, too skilled for your average center. As Dempsy said....Nene, at his best, is only a 16 and 7 guy. If the Nuggets are to go anywhere....they need a 20 and 10 guy.
Remember earlier this year when the Nuggets players were quoted in that Denver Post article saying Nene needs to "dominate" Carmelo Anthony was prominently quoted saying the same thing. That Nene is too passive. How many times have we seen Nene receive a PERFECT pass two feet from the basket, only to completely turn his back to the basket and pass to the 3 point line? How many times have we seen Nene get boxed out to the point of oblivion while on defense? When will this change? If ever?
While we bitch, moan, complain about Melo...he has by and large been a victim of the high expectations we place on him and he on himself. Meanwhile, Nene has coasted along and has been constantly pumped up by the Front Office as some potential unstoppable force. After 8 seasons I think we all realize that the time to put up or shut up was last year. Now it's time to move on.
PART 2: The Evil that is Cancer
The Nugget's had systemic issues resulting from George Karl's cancer that we, as fans, can only appreciate in the slightest bit. I had the pleasure of meeting Chauncey Billups briefly after the Nuggets Game 5 this year. I asked him if he missed George, and Chauncey said "Man......more than anyone will ever know. We miss him alot" and that spoke HUGE volumes to me. While we as fans complain about the Nuggets not "rising to the occasion" we must take in to consideration that as a long time coach of one team, George is essentially team "dad". When you lose your guiding light, even if you disagree with him, you are constantly reminded every time you step on the court that he is gone. Every time you do an interview. Every time you look at that interim coach who, while he's trying his best, much like a step-father he will never be your true dad. We can lecture, and pontificate about how the Nuggets should have done this, or that, while George has been out.....but you need to ask yourself...what would "I" do in this situation? At this point, quite frankly, I'm proud the Nuggets were even able to win 53 games. One day someone will write the story about the end of this last season for the Nuggets, and maybe, just maybe we will all gain a greater appreciation for what they went through.
PART 3: The Bench that wasn't there
In High School I read alot of HP Lovecraft. In his stories there was always some "horror" from some dark and stygian place that was always indescribable....but the very sight of which will cause a man to go insane. That is how I view the Nugget's bench this season.
While we laud the performance of Ty Lawson this year....it occurred to me that he played much better with the starting unit than he did the bench. I think that's a great sign for Ty eventually taking over, but for the next two years while Chauncey is here....we need better bench cohesion. I have no complaints about Ty and I'm encouraged every time I see him play.
JR....he had maybe 10 good games this year. And it's sad. I'm not going any further than saying his attitude at the end of the series with the Jazz was despicable. It's corrosive to team chemistry. I think he will be dealt somewhere.
Chris "Birdman" Andersen was the second biggest disappointment to me after Nene. While Andersen was "injured" most of the year....when he was semi healthy he didnt play very well and watching him get shoved around like a rag doll while attempting to "box out" on a free throw was sad to say the least. He looked less motivated this year, and his actions at the end of game 4 left a seriously bad taste in my mouth. Also, while I got a sick pleasure out of him knocking the snot out of Derron Williams at the end of Game 6....it was a cheap shot. Chris needs to live up to his contract and play ever game like it's his last, like in 08-09. Otherwise his contract will look like an albatross for a long time.
The rest of the bench performed adequately in spot duty. Petro was both good and horrible. Joey Graham was great when he wasn't fouling. Balkman.....nevermind. Malik "Tacos" Allen was proof that at 193 years old you can still chuck up ill advised jumpers and have the strength to drag an entire team down with you. Amazing
In 08 09 our bench was a BIG energy asset....this year they were a liability. If the Nuggets are to improve at all next year....the bench is a HUGE must upgrade.
PART 4: Conclusion
THere are those who wish to fill our team with "plucky" "can do" players who "try hard" and have lots of "gumption" and very little talent. That's all well and good. When it comes down to it, the Nuggets must take advantage of the talent they have and amplify it with the RIGHT complimentary players who have both talent and heart. We can sit here and complain again and again about Carmelo....but the fact remains that he is the best player on the team....and having him makes us better. So if Melo walks out that door for whatever reason, I want us as fans to look at the situation that he leaves and know that the Nuggets, as an organization, did it's best to capitalize on the time he was here. Andrew made the erroneous ( in my opinion) conclusion that the Nuggets have "done their best to surround Melo with a team that can contend". While for one year that was true, the rest of the time has been filled with gimmicks (Iverson trade) and selling the fans on a wasted talent (Nene) This offseason is a critical one. Rather than whining about the "distraction" of Melo's free agency, how about the Front Office just put up or shut up.
If the organization shows that it's commited to putting together an excellent team....then the chances of the team advancing are greater....and the greater the chance is Melo will stay where he is. Those who wish that we could trade Melo for a bunch of "talentless try hards" (as I call them) will have to be greatly disappointed. And that will be fine with me.