You can find a roster for the Denver Nuggets almost anywhere you want, but here at Pick Axe and Roll we give you a scouting report on every Denver Nugget. We will keep it updated to reflect either growth or regression in each players’ games.

Click on the player's name to jump to that player's scouting report:

Carmelo Anthony :: Chucky Atkins :: Marcus Camby :: Anthony Carter
Yakhouba Diawara :: Steven Hunter :: Allen Iverson :: Linas Kleiza
Kenyon Martin :: Eduardo Najera :: Nene :: J.R. Smith :: Former Nuggets

Carmelo Anthony – Carmelo can score from all over the court. He has become a deadly midrange shooter and has shown improvement form three point range, but he still is streaky from down town.

Melo likes the ball on the right wing or in the right post although he is effective from either side of the floor.

On the wing he can lull a defender to sleep with jab steps that must be respected due to his ability to drive before rising up to hit a jumper. He has the quickness and strength to drive on almost anyone that guards him. In the post he has developed a little turn around jumper that can be effective from 15 feet and in. He also has a great spin move, but has gotten away from it. He has a tendency to get called for a hook when using his spin move partly because he does it so quickly and partly because, well, sometimes he hooks his defender really bad right in front of the referee. Earlier in his career he needed to develop a consistent turn around jumper as a counter to his spin move. Now that he has a decent turn around, he has abandoned the spin move.

He is getting better at passing out of the double team, but too frequently holds the ball too long or tries to force his way through the double team. The Nuggets as a team do a poor job of cutting when he gets doubled.

Melo tends to get a lot of shots blocked in the paint. He needs to learn to be more deceptive with the ball when he goes up for the shot. He sticks it right up straight in the air with both hands which allows even smaller players to get a hand on the ball. He also is more explosive as a one foot leaper than a two foot leaper which hurts him under the hoop.

On defense Melo has almost always been a bystander only doing what he needs to in order to get by. For the 2007-2008 season he has shown signs of playing improved defense. He will play good defense for 10 or 12 seconds and then when his man drifts to the weak side of the floor he loses focus.

Carmelo has the ability to be a great passer and is a better than adequate ball handler. He is at his best in an open floor system that allows him to make decisions on the go. He is probably the Nuggets best or second best ally-oop passer, but he never gets the chance to throw it.

As the calendar flips to 2008 Carmelo has shown a greater willingness to rebound, especially on the offensive end. He has the strength and athleticism to be one of the top rebounding small forwards in the league. Up to this point, he has not reached anywhere near his abilities on the glass.

He has made many game winning or game tying shots early on in his career. So far in 2007-2008 he has not had the chance to hit a game winning shot to show if that clutch shot making is still part of his game. If and when he is called on in such a situation, Nuggets fans will feel confident that it will go in.

Carmelo has grown immensely since he came into the league both with his shot selection, work ethic and mindset on the court. In the past he has flipped out when things did not go his way. He has eliminated the off court issues. He has the ability to be a fringe MVP candidate thanks to his ability to score, but he does not exhibit the complete game, or consistently dominate games the way that MVP’s must.

Chucky Atkins – This is Atkins’ first season with the Nuggets and he has yet to truly show what he is capable of due to a lingering groin injury.

The Nuggets signed him to be a long range bomber and to allow Allen Iverson to get a break from having to run the "offense" (and I use that term lightly). Atkins is a good, but not great, shooter from long range. Unfortunately, the Nuggets have hyped him as nearly automatic from behind the arc.

Atkins can hit the three in a catch and shoot scenario, but he is not a threat to shoot off the dribble. He is very adept at running the screen and roll, but part of that may be due to the fact that teams do not aggressively jump him off the pick as they do Iverson. At this point, he is the Nuggets best pick and roll passer.

He can get to the basket as long as he is driving with his right hand, but has not shown the ability to get to the rim using his left.

On defense he leaves much to be desired. He is not quick and compounds that problem by being undersized by today’s standards.

The Nuggets brought him in to start, but he is a 20 minute a game back up at best. With the emergence of Anthony Carter as a quality player on both ends of the court, Atkins will probably never be able to fill the role the Nuggets supposedly intended for him.

Marcus Camby – Many people believe that Camby is the glue that holds the Nuggets together. That may seem odd that a player who does not even average double figures in points can be that important to an offensive oriented team. The reason is he is the only Nugget with his skill set.

No other Nugget can grab 20 rebounds in one game and no other Nugget can consistently block shots. He was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and it may have been the first time a player won that award despite being a subpar one on one defender. Camby’s slight build makes it difficult for him to guard other centers mano a mano. Many times the Nuggets will assign Kenyon Martin to guard the opposing center if he is an offensive threat.

Camby is a natural rebounder with great instincts. He times his jumps perfectly and typically grabs the ball at the peak of his jump before it comes in reach of other players. He also has very good hands. You rarely see him fumble a rebound, or a pass, away.

As a shot blocker he has great timing and only occasionally jumps prematurely. He is always among the blocked shots leaders in the NBA, but unlike other great shot blockers, you do not get the sense he alters many shots.

Offensively he is much less skilled, but still poses a threat. He is not a natural scorer. He has a long slow release on his shot and continues to bomb away from 18 or 19 feet out no matter how few he makes.

The most damning thing about Camby's lack of offensive abilities is that earlier this season against Golden State he was being guarded by Mickael Pietrus for extended periods of time. Not once did the Nuggets attempt to post Camby up. Not one time! How deficinet must a center's post game be when his team does not attempt to have him take a shooting guard down low?

He is at his best when he drives to his right. He has a knack for hitting runners or off balance shots when he gets near the basket. Unfortunately, his greatest weakness also becomes an option when he puts the ball on the floor. That is the pull up jumper. When he shoots a jump shot off the dribble he probably has a success rate of about 10% and I am being generous.

Marcus is also a good passer, especially for a center. He is the best lob passer on the Nuggets. He has good vision and can see plays before they develop. He is also the best ally oop passer on the Nuggets roster.

Camby has the reputation of being more fragile than a glass egg, but he has been very durable since he arrived in Denver. Perhaps it is due to the escalator clause in his contract that increases his pay based on how many games he plays. Perhaps, he is just past an unlucky stretch of random injuries.

Camby is a flawed, but vital player for the Nuggets. He has NBA finals experience that hopefully one day will play a role in a Denver Nuggets championship.

Anthony Carter – The Nuggets signed Anthony Carter as an afterthought towards the end of the 2006-2007 season. He played very rarely and only after some good play in the fifth game of the playoff series against the Spurs did George Karl consider giving him more minutes.

Fast forward to this season and Carter has become the starting point guard for the Nuggets. He is a poor man’s Fat Lever. He plays defense, can shoot very well from 20 feet and in, he is a competent floor leader at point and he has shown a propensity for hitting clutch shots.

On defense he is always in the right spot, which is half the battle in the NBA, and is more scrappy than quick. He manages to stay in front of quicker players through good footwork and determination. He has the size and strength to hassle shooting guards which is good because AI sure cannot guard the Kobe’s and Tracy McGrady’s of the western conference.

He is a career 14% three point shooter, but has shown some improvement in that area with a limited amount of attempts. He is at his best from around 20 feet where he has proven himself to be almost automatic. The refreshing thing is he knows it and will regularly step inside the line to take his shot.

You can question whether or not a team can win a championship with a player like Anthony Carter as your point guard, but I think it is possible as long as you have scoring threats at other positions. He fits what the Nuggets need from their point guard almost to a T. He is unselfish, a good defender and able to hit from the perimeter.

And you have to wonder if he had not played those handful of minutes in game 5 of the 2007 playoffs if he would even be a Nugget this season.

Yakhouba Diawara – Depending on who you ask “Kuba” can either provide the Nuggets some much needed perimeter defense or he should be playing in Sioux Falls.

Diawara has proven to be a very solid defender. George Karl has claimed he has the ability to become a Bruce Bowen level of defender. He has prototypical size and strength to defend shooting guards. He is a little too slow to stay with the elite two guards, but nonetheless acquits himself well against them.

Kuba’s problem is he was a power forward in college. Those skills have not translated very well offensively to the NBA. He is a developing shooter to put it politely. Most Nugget fans recall his non stop bombing from long range while Melo was suspended for the fracas with the Knicks. Iverson kept kicking the ball out to him and Kuba kept shooting it. You have to admire his resolve to keep following instructions, but oh my, the results were frightening. He seemingly missed 100 three pointers in a row during one stretch.

For the 2007-2008 season he has shown some improved marksmanship from downtown, but he has had a more difficult time getting on the floor with the emergence of Carter and the signing of Atkins. Iverson plays well over 40 minutes a game at shooting guard and Melo plays almost 40 a night at small forward. Diawara is an intriguing player, but the likelihood he has a breakthrough with the Nuggets is becoming less and less likely.

Diawara may someday become the next Bruce Bowen of the NBA, but the bad news for Diawara is it took Bowen several tough years of bouncing around, and outside of, the league before he found a home in San Antonio. Kuba may be in for a similar ride.

Steven Hunter – When Steven Hunter was acquired by the Nuggets, he was believed to be a key player in the effort to keep Camby’s minutes around 30 per game. Well the joke was on us. Hunter has barely played for the Nuggets and when they needed him most he was out due to knee surgery.

Hunter is a quality shot blocker and rebounder, but has little offensive game and is not able to run the floor as well as the Nuggets other big men. He does have a nice jump hook when he is no more than a few feet from the hoop and he is an above average offensive rebounder.

It will be interesting to see if he gets more time on the floor after he returns from his knee injury. The Nuggets have been in need of another big body and it is unlikely the Nuggets are disappointed in him after the trade. It is not like they thought they were getting David Robinson. Everyone knows Hunter’s limitations, but his strengths in the paint make him a more than serviceable NBA big man.

Allen Iverson – We all know Iverson’s game. He is a lion on the floor. He plays all out for more than 40 minutes every night. His ability to take a pounding and continue to play at such a high level is nothing short of amazing. He is just as quick as ever and his endurance is simply stunning.

Offensively, AI can be both a scorer and a facilitator. He can take over a game when necessary, but has also accepted the role of secondary option when Carmelo is having a great game.

Iverson likes to get the ball on the wing and drive off of a screen. He can use that screen to get into the lane or take a midrange jumper, which has become his bread and butter. He is deadly from 10 to 18 feet when he gets even the smallest separation from his defender.

One of the techniques he needs to improve on is setting up his man when he drives away from the screen. He rarely gets an advantage in doing so because he does not fake as if he were going through the screen first and therefore he does not get his defender out of position before he drives. AI loves driving from right to left across the lane and taking a slightly off balance jumper from about 12 feet once he reaches the left side of the key.

Iverson has never been much more than an adequate three point shooter, but since he came to Denver he has shot as well from long range as he ever has. Another strong point of Iverson’s game is getting to the line. Year in and year out he gets to the line between 9 and 11 times a game.

Iverson played for years as the only scoring option on his team. He has seen players like Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes and most recently Chris Webber come and go, but no matter who is next to him, he has held the burden of being the primary scorer. In Denver he has been able to alter his approach somewhat, but he still tends to dominate the ball on offense. Seeing Iverson dribble for eight to ten seconds at a time is not a rarity.

On a team with such great talent he needs to trust his teammates to help him get his shots without having to work so hard. The Nuggets have good passers at every position and if he will give the ball up the offense will be much more efficient and he will be able to get good shots without taking on two or more defenders.

Iverson is at his best when he is working to get his teammates open shots. He has the ability to break down a defense and then feed a tough pass through to an open teammate. About the only pass AI cannot throw is the ally oop. He has high flying teammates like Melo and Kenyon Martin who always have to come down and go back up with his oop passes because they are so off target. It is proof that ally oop passes are not as easy as some players make them look.

On defense AI is obviously great at playing the passing lanes and when he gets a steal it triggers a one man fast break, but that leaves him susceptible to back door cuts and sometimes he takes himself out of the play leaving his teammates shorthanded. His man to man defense tends to suffer late in games when he has played heavy minutes, which is basically every night the Nuggets have a game. He also tends to flop a lot when trying to get through screens or defend someone cutting to the ball, which typically has a negative impact on his ability to guard his man. Refs never fall for it and he would be better off playing straight up and not trying to draw the foul.

Off the court there is one big issue with Iverson on the horizon. He can opt out of his contract at the end of the 2007-2008 season. The Nuggets would have to make a big decision on whether or not this team can contend with AI or not. If they keep him, they will remain over the luxury tax for at leas the next three seasons and they will be locked into the current roster until then. If they let him go or sign and trade him, they have lost a big piece of their team that will be difficult to replace. If Iverson opts out, what the Nuggets will do will shape the team for the next three to five seasons.

Having followed Iverson’s career from his days at Georgetown, he is playing at as high a level as he ever has. He has been invigorated by his trade to Denver and he is doing everything in his power to try to make the Nuggets a contender.

Linas Kleiza – Kleiza is an intriguing player. He seems to be limited and somewhat of a tweener, but he has proven that he fits in well with the Nuggets and may grow into that role player along the lines of a Robert Horry or Mario Elie that every championship team needs. In 2008 Kleiza has been playing at a high level. He is improving rapidly and we may have underestimated his ceiling at the beginning of the year.

Kleiza is at his best running the floor. He is always leading the pack when he is on the floor and has proven himself to be a good finisher.

Offensively, he is very good at driving to his right and has confidence shooting little floaters or runners from the lane. LK has gone left a couple of times with success. Hopefully he is working on that. He is a surprisingly vicious dunker and is a very quick jumper. He seems to have an uncanny ability to carry his speed into his jump and is thus able to finish his dunk before defenders can react. Many occasions it looks like he will get his dunk blocked or be stopped before he reaches the rim only to see him explode to the rim and put the ball home.

Kleiza is developing a decent three point shot, but is still very streaky. His shot tends to be flat and when he gets some arc on it the results are positive. Other good news is that most of his misses are either long or short. He has very good line on his shots.

On defense Kleiza has shown he can be an adequate defender, but this is where he can look like a fish out of water. He is too slow to guard many small forwards and too small for almost every power forward. He plays hard and is learning to use leverage and anticipation to help him defend better. He is an emerging rebounder and has really shown growth as the season has progressed. He will not get a lot of steals and blocks, but has shown the ability to make smart plays on the ball on high percentage steal opportunities. By being conservative in this area he limits the risk of putting his teammates at a disadvantage by running out of the play and he can surprise opponents by getting to passes they expect to get past him.

From time to time you see glimpses of what Kleiza can become and it gives you a warm feeling in your tummy. He played very well in place of Carmelo when he went down with an ankle injury.

In order to reach his potential he must become even more consistent from long distance and continue to learn the tricks of the trade on defense. Denver is probably the perfect team for him and it looks like he may be here for a while.

Kenyon Martin – Martin has become known as just an untradeable contract, but he has come back healthy this season and is producing quite well for the Nuggets.

I am very impressed with Martin’s tenacity and desire to return from not just one, but two microfracture surgeries. He is the only player to have had the procedure done to both knees. For a player whose primary strength has always been his exceptional athleticism there has been a great deal of concern regarding what kind of player he would be should he ever get back on the floor.

So far the answer has been he may not be the player he was, but he is good enough to make a strong contribution to the Nuggets.

Offensively Martin is very limited and not just because of his injuries. He is not a very good shooter and he does not have much of a post game. He is very good at running the floor and finishing, driving to the basket and getting put backs from working the offensive glass. His only real offensive weapon in the half court is a running push shot that he excels at. Once he gets in the lane he can shoot it off of a pivot or from the run. He is nearly automatic with it from ten feet and in.

Kenyon is the Nuggets bet screen and roll player. He sets strong screens and then gets very good separation on his rolls which he executes with great enthusiasm. That part of his game was developed from playing with Jason Kidd.

Another aspect of Martin’s game that is frequently ignored is his passing ability. This is the primary way he can hurt a team from the post. If teammates cut, he can hit them with a crafty and accurate pass. He is also unselfish on offense and rarely will force a bad shot.

He has shown the ability to hit jumpers out to 18 feet, but that shot seems to have abandoned him this year. When he is fouled he is not a particularly good free throw shooter because he shoots the ball from the wrong side of his head causing his follow through to go away from the rim instead of towards it. He also lets his left hand dominate his release a little too much.

Defensively Martin is as good as he has ever been. When going all out he can hound post players into long nights. However, because of Camby’s physical and defensive limitations he is forced to guard centers from time to time. When matched up against players so much bigger than he is he can get into trouble. He has developed a great ball slap that is his primary weapon when playing post defense. As soon as the offensive player turns to shoot, Martin slaps down with great force and accuracy to dislodge the ball. He is very rarely called for a foul because he rarely fouls when he does it.

One area where the surgeries have hurt him is in his perimeter defense. He used to be able to go out and guard even the quickest small forwards, but that is not longer the case.

Martin also brings some intangibles to the table. He has a mental and physical toughness that many Nuggets lack. He does contribute some of that, but I believe that his impact in those areas is generally overestimated.

You can say what you want about how bad his big contract is, but no one foresaw the injury problems he has experienced. Kenyon could have sat back and collected checks, but everyone must give credit to his character and competitiveness as he has worked tirelessly to return from not only the serious nature of the surgeries, but also the mental and emotional toll that he has experienced.

Obviously, you have to question if he can stay on the floor long term, but Martin is an important asset to the Nuggets and they are much better off when he is on the floor.

Eduardo Najera – Najera is the type of player that every team needs. He will do the dirty work, play hard, hit the glass and provide some offense here and there.

First of all, Eduardo is the Michael Jordan of Mexico. He does play with the weight of his country on his shoulders as much as Yao Ming does. Of course, his country does not have quite the population of China, but it is something that not people know about.

Offensively Najera is a tremendous cutter. He has a knack for knowing exactly when and where to cut. Many players make cuts that are not legitimate threats because they make their move when the player with the ball is not in a position to pass or the lane is not there. Najera has great instincts that help him make good meaningful cuts.

He has worked very had the last couple of years to add a three point shot. Early in the 2007-2008 season he was shooting very well. He went into a bit of a slump that may have been related to an injured elbow, but has come out of it and has led the Nuggets in three point accuracy from time to time. He is a solid midrange shooter, but does not get the chance to shoot from there very frequently.

Najera does a good job of taking advantage of the way the referees call, or do not call, moving screens as he is the only Nugget who seems to sneak up behind a defender and then jump to one side or the other just as the player with the ball makes his move. He is not particularly good at running the floor, but that is because he is stocky and usually nicked up with little maladies.

On defense Najera is usually stuck guarding power forwards. He is strong and hold his position well, but he is usually much shorter than the players he guards which allows them to shoot overtop of him. He is good at drawing charges and helping out when a teammate gets beat. You will not see him block shots nor grab many steals. He is strictly a position defender. Because of this he is almost always in position to box out and thus is a solid rebounder.

He is at his best when he can fill in here and there behind Martin or Nene, but he has played center when the Nuggets go small. Overall Najera is a good player who plays with passion and plays well even when he is banged up.

Maybyner “Nene” Hilario – Nene is another player that has struggled with injuries and had his development stunted because of it. Every time it seems he is ready to break through he misses a month or two with a strained calf or a sprained thumb or an ACL tear.

Most recently Nene had surgery on a testicular mass that was found to be malignant. There is currently no timetable for his return to the basketball court.

Nene was a complete unknown when he was drafted. All we knew was that he was big and could run the floor, but needed to learn how to play the game. Well, today he is even bigger, does not run the floor quite as well and still needs to learn a lot about the game.

Nene is very inconsistent on offense. He has learned how to play in the post, but his moves are not fluid or particularly well planned. It is almost like he decides to try doing this or that not because of how the defender is playing him, but because it was something he worked on in practice. He still has not grasped the art of the primary move and then counter move. His primary strength is his combination of strength and quickness in the post. Despite his awkwardness in the post, he can still get decent shots off on a regular basis. However it seems to me that he has a great deal of his shots from point blank range roll off the rim. I do not know if it is because he flips the ball up with some weird spin, poor aim or just bad luck.

Nene has worked to add a 15 foot jumper since the day he arrived in Denver. He is confident enough to take it in games, but is not quite accurate enough with it yet. Nene does have good hands and is a smart and capable passer when he gets the chance to be. He does not run the floor like he used to when he first arrived from Brazil primarily because he has added some bulk, but it also may be because of the plethora of injuries his legs have suffered.

During his rookie season I believed Nene would someday be defensive player of the year. He had the quickness and size to be a shut down post defender. Nene is still quick for his size, but people do not remember how agile he was when he first entered the league. He was amazing at jumping screen and rolls which resulted in a number of times he picked point guards clean and raced the other way for a dunk.

He was not a particularly good rebounder early in his career and it was never clear why. Part of the problem is that he is not particularly explosive from a stand still and because of that other players could tip the ball away from him before he could grab it. He has improved his rebounding and is now probably the Nuggets second best rebounder behind Camby. He still tends to pick up silly fouls and if he does not change that his playing time will always be limited.

Nene is still a project and still has a high ceiling as a player. He has shown glimpses of what he can be when he stays healthy and the Nuggets have to still be excited about what he can become. Nene is the Nuggets only true beef in the paint and his post offense is something the Nuggets will need in the playoffs.

J.R. Smith – Nuggets fans either love the potential of J.R. Smith or they want him out of town yesterday. Smith has all the physical talent in the world and can be a near all-star caliber shooting guard one day if he can just play smart basketball. George Karl has tried various ways of reaching him, but none of them seem to have completely worked.

Smith has shown growth in 2007-2008. He is putting forth effort on defense and trying to keep himself from jacking up three pointer after three pointer on offense. He still is plagued by inconsistency as he can make an amazingly smart play one trip down the floor and then follow it up with a mindless three or horrible turnover.

Smith is probably the third most talented player on the Nuggets after Melo and AI. He has tremendous range and when he is hot he is unstoppable. He can toss in five or six threes in a half without breaking a sweat.

However, he is much more than a three point bomber. He does have an all around offensive game which was put on display when he was forced to play point guard because of injuries to Atkins and Carter. He showed that he can set up his teammates, drive to the basket and run an offense. Those couple of weeks early in 2007-2008 opened his mind to the kind of player he cold become.

Since his stint at point guard ended he has done a good job of driving to the basket, which he can do with either hand as well as finish with either hand. J.R. is cat quick with the ball and has a very good handle. He is also a talented passer and can make both the spectacular pass and the routine one.

His only real weakness on offense is midrange shooting. Once he crosses the three point line he has to get to the rim to be an effective scorer. When he adds that little pull up jumper off the dribble he really could be an unstoppable offensive player.

The reason he cannot stay on the floor and in George Karl’s good graces is now exclusively his defense. The good news though is it is not his effort on defense, it is his positions and decision making. He is frequently out of position and makes poor rotations. It seems like he mentally checks out when they start practicing defense then when he gets on the floor, he wants to do well, but ends up getting lost. He has the tools and size to be a very good defender and has shown an ability to do so from time to time.

Once he gets his head straight on both ends of the floor, he should be the shooting guard for the Nuggets for years to come. If he is paired up with AI, they could both handle the ball and use their quickness to break down the defense. He will also get a great deal of open shots because of the attention teams must give to Melo and Iverson. Smith more than anyone is the player that could take the Nuggets to the next level once he figures out how to play focused on both ends of the court.

Former Nuggets

Von Wafer – Wafer was viewed as the Nuggets’ first round draft pick in 2007 (they traded their actual first round draft pick to Philly for AI). He was signed out of the D-League late last season as another possible answer to the Nuggets constant lack of outside shooting.

Wafer has not gotten off the bench much when anything is on the line so it is difficult to know what he can and cannot do at the NBA level. He has shown an ability to hit threes both off the dribble and catching and shooting. He also does not have to be wide open to make it unlike some other Nuggets. He can then drive to the basket off of the threat of the shot, but from what I have seen he can only get to the basket when driving right.

Defensively Von is a bit overmatched. He is a little undersized to guard shooting guards and he is not an exceptional athlete.

He is still young and is a player the Nuggets might be able to count on for more production in the future, but right now, he appears to have a long way to go in order to reach that point.