So lately there's been a lot of talk around Denver Stiffs about Carmelo Anthony and his future with the Nuggets. Most recently, our very own Andrew Feinstein spoke with Sandy Clough. Over the course of the conversation, trading Carmelo came up, and Feinstein suggested that he would "trade Carmelo Anthony for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in a heartbeat". Would you?
Facts: Since Melo has joined the Nuggets, we've seen seven straight playoff appearances. The Nuggets have also reached a game 6 in the Western Conference Finals in 2009, something the franchise had never done before.
Facts: Since joining the Nuggets, Melo has shot ~37% in elimination games, sports an ugly DRTG of 108, and is 1-6 in those same elimination games. He's had off the court issues and butted heads with the coaching staff (but those things are by and large in the past now). Reaching the Finals still remains an elusive goal.
So which is it, Stiffs? Is it Melo's inability to be great enough to take the team "all the way", or is the cast of players around him simply not good enough to supplement Carmelo's scoring talents?
My personal belief is that Carmelo Anthony has not ever had the pieces around him to get to a championship - with the exception of this past season - and to suggest trading him ludicrously ignores the fact that the Nuggets were beaten up and broken down from the coaching on down this past season, suffering injuries to all the starters throughout the season except Nene. This next season in 2010 provides what I believe, barring major, season-derailing injuries to starters and the head coach as we experienced this past season aside, the Nuggets best shot at the championship in franchise history - IF (and this is a big if) the right moves to help Carmelo are made.
The Nuggets are stacked at the guard position behind the capable Chauncey Billups, defensive stalwart Arron Afflalo, and up-and-coming speedster Ty Lawson (JR Smith's future with the team remains to be seen). Coby Karl will fill out the bench in Anthony Carter's current role. They have a strong backup for Carmelo in the making in Joey Graham (I strongly believe he'll be resigned), and his backup in Balkman. Brian Butch could also turn into a PF backup depending upon his work ethic this offseason.
However, Nene desperately needs some help or needs to be part of a package to bring in someone alongside Melo. When your only post threat comes in a player who more often than not passes the ball out, you're going to struggle mightily against any team that plays a semblance of post defense. We all see what happens when the Nuggets turn into a jumpshooting team. Kenyon Martin, Malik Allen and Chris Andersen are simply getting too old to provide the rebounding and defensive intensity that the Nuggets need alongside Nene (not much needs to be said about their scoring ability, which is next to nil if it's not a putback dunk or tip-in).
If we want to see the Nuggets win a championship, the biggest priority for the Nuggets is a rebounding, defensive big. Joakim Noah does fit that mold well.
But not at the cost of Carmelo Anthony.