Here Comes the 2010-11 NBA Season!

With the 2010-11 NBA season here I was reflecting back on all the posts I intended to pen before today.  I decided to compile the answers I provided for the ESPN.com Summer Forecast (if you missed it or simply want to take a lap around the summer pool for a refresher, click on this link and follow the links on the sidebar for the other sets of predictions).  I do not get to write about the league as a whole as much as I would like and this is my chance to dazzle you all with my significant knowledge of teams other than the Nuggets.  Or not.  Well, here we go anyway.

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Getting Carmelo, the Nuggets and Knicks What They All Want

The Indian Summer of Carmelo is certainly looking as if it could drag well into the winter at which point I will have to come up with a different name for it.  We have studied potential trade partners, what location gives Carmelo the best opportunity to win and how the Nuggets are hoping to convince Carmelo to stay as the season is drawing ever closer.  We have wasted hours of our lives dwelling on something that has not even happened and I know most everyone is burned out by it.

For all the pixels that have been pushed to the brink of burning out from all the multitude of words that have been written about Carmelo’s future I have a hair brained scheme that I believe has not appeared on anyone’s screen up till now.  I have a plan to land Carmelo Anthony a boat full of cash, allow the Nuggets to keep him in Denver for the entirety of 2010-11 to see how far this team can go and then Melo will have the freedom to sign with whomever he pleases when the NBA returns to action.

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Northwest Division in the Spotlight

The Northwest Division was recently featured in the annual CelticsBlog season preview smörgåsbord and you can peruse the various posts from the list of links below:

How will Big Al fit in out in Utah?  Will the Blazers stay healthy?  Will Melo still be a Nugget on opening night?  Can the Thunder avoid a sophomore slump?  Just what is the plan in ‘Sota?  All this and more in the Northwest previews.

Jazz : SLC DunkSalt City HoopsSBN Recap

Nuggets: Denver StiffsRoundball Mining CompanyThe Nugg DoctorSBN Recap

Thunder - Welcome to Loud CityPlanet BBallSBN Recap

Timberwolves - Canis HoopusTwolvesBlog

Blazers - Blazersedge.comSBN Recap

Recaps: All Previews

Daily Dime Live also spent a day on the Northwest where the consensus was that it will be probably the toughest division in the league, as least as long as Melo dons the garb of the Nuggets, and the Thunder are getting a little too much hype, a statement I do not agree with.  You can follow all the heavy hitting analysis right here.

Sorry for my lack of posts recently, but I am working on a research intensive post which requires me to watch a lot of film.  I think it will be well worth the wait.  I also have the long promised defensive scouting report of Al Harrington waiting in the queue so look for that soon as well.

A Pre-Season Season Preview

Below you will find my submission for this year’s Celtics Blog preview-palooza.  It is a little silly to write a season preview seeing as how we have no idea what will happen with Carmelo.  Regardless, it was fun to write and I recommend you head over to Celtics Blog to read the other Nuggets previews (update: the Nuggets previews have not been posted as of yet so keep checking back).  Up-update: links to the other Nuggets previews from Nate at Denver Stiffs and the Nugg Doctor are posted.

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More Previews

Here are the latest two rounds of team previews from the massive free for all that is organized by Celtics Blog every fall.

Pacific Division

ClippersClips NationSBNation Recap

KingsSactown RoyaltyCowbell KingdomSBNation Recap

LakersSilver Screen and RollForum Blue & GoldNBAtipoffSBNation Recap

SunsBright Side Of The SunSB Nation ArizonaValleyoftheSuns SBNation Recap

WarriorsGolden State of MindSBNation Recap

Recaps: All Previews

(Tardy) Knicks Preview: Straight Bangin’

Central Division

Bucks: Brew HoopNBAMateSBNation Recap

Bulls: Blog-A-BullSBNation Recap

Cavs: Fear The SwordWaitingForNextYear

Pacers: Indy Cornrows

Pistons: DetroitBadBoysDetroit BasketballNeed4Sheed.comSB Nation Detroit |

Recaps: All Previews

Getting Cranked Up for the 2009-10 Season

As you all know in addition to running RMC I have a “real” job.  Currently my job is encroaching on my free time and I have not been able to post nearly as much as I had wanted too lately and I am sorry for that.  However, I will do my best to keep everything here relevant and informative.

I still have a few thoughts to share prior to the start of the season, but they will have to wait.  Right now what you get is updated player scouting reports.  My in depth reviews of Arron Afflalo, Malik Allen, Chris Andersen and Carmelo Anthony have all been updated with current insights.  I will be updating or creating reports on the remaining players over the next few days.

In addition to the TrueHoop Network preview I also took part in the Basketball Prospectus season preview.  It may cost a few bucks, but the content is well worth it.  Kevin Pelton and his crew do great work and I was honored to be a small part of what they put together.

I also answered some questions over at OregonLive.com as part of their Northwest Division Season Preview.

You also should read the preview over at Denver Stiffs where Andrew and Nate continue to do a very good job.  Andrew also put together a very good post on the weight that has been placed on Carmelo Anthony’s shoulders.  Plus Chris Tomasson has a must read preview over at AOL Fanhouse.

I also encourage you to check out all the other Nuggets blogs that are linked on the sidebar.

TrueHoop Network 2009-10 Team Previews

TEAM BLOGGERS SAY WINS*

Bret Lagree | Hoopinion

“The Hawks have not built, nor do they appear to be building, a championship contender. … Joe Johnson is poised to be a free agent in the summer of 2010. Johnson is not a franchise player, yet he’s the Hawks’ best player.”

45

Zach Lowe | CelticsHub

“It seems reasonable to say anything short of an 18th championship would be a disappointment.”

58

Brett Hainline | Queen City Hoops

“Great defense + equally bad offense = average. With an improving division around them, that equation does not get them their first playoff berth. But at least they won’t suck.”

36

Matt McHale | By the Horns

“During the offseason, the Bulls lost free agent Ben Gordon, whom many people considered the team’s best or second-best player (after Derrick Rose). Memo to Chicago fans: Don’t sweat it. Seriously. Gordon will be replaced by John Salmons, who not only gave the Bulls almost as many points per game (18.3 versus 20.7) but was slightly more efficient in how he scored them.”

43

John Krolik | Cavs the Blog

“After last season’s playoff heartbreak, Danny Ferry has changed up the equation … However, Shaq could disrupt the delicate offensive and defensive chemistry the Cavaliers rode to 66 wins and the conference finals, despite the fact he will be the best player LeBron has ever played with if he continues to play like he did last season. The big question for the Cavs this seasons whether they overreacted to two clutch 3s by Rashard Lewis, or made the risk they needed to take to finally get LeBron a ring.”

61

Rob Mahoney | The Two Man Game

“’Rebuilding’ teams seek financial flexibility and the acquisition of young, productive assets. Quality squads amass veteran talent, no matter the cost, in pursuit of a title. Defying all logic, the Mavs have simultaneously moved in both directions.”

50

Jeremy Wagner | Roundball Mining Company

“The only players still on the roster who exceeded expectations in 2008-09 were Nene and Birdman. It is reasonable to expect every member of the Nuggets, other than thirty-something Chauncey Billups, to improve.”

53

Dan Feldman | PistonPowered

“However the minutes shake out between Chris Wilcox, Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace, they won’t be as good as Rasheed Wallace. But Sheed wasn’t that great last year. He looked old and disinterested, so the drop here won’t be too steep.”

36

Rasheed Malek |Warriors World

“Under the ownership of Chris Cohan, the Warriors have made the playoffs exactly one time and have gone through numerous coaches, players and executives. Going into this season, Larry Riley is the man in charge taking over for Chris Mullin.”

28

Anup Shah and Brody Rollins | Rockets Buzz

“The speed revolution has overtaken some of basketball’s peers, most notably football … Is basketball headed in the same direction? [Aaron] Brooks provides an excellent case study. Beginning the year as the Rockets number one threat on offense with Ron Artest’s departure and injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Brooks will have every opportunity to prove that size really doesn’t matter.”

39

Jared Wade | Eight Points, Nine Seconds

“It’s hard to believe that anything short of the postseason will remove the dark cloud over Conseco. … Ultimately, it will come down to one thing: [Mike Jr.] Dunleavy’s knee.”

32

Kevin Arnovitz | ClipperBlog

“[Blake] Griffin and [Eric] Gordon may not be saviors, but they’re something. Griffin’s skills and his tenacious work ethic (the guy runs up sand dunes in his free time) will be a boon to a team desperate for cultural overhaul. Gordon offers an enticing combination of spot-up shooting and forays into the paint. He finished third in true shooting percentage among starting off guards in his rookie campaign, something that can only help a team that ranked dead last in offensive efficiency last season.”

32

Kurt Helin | Forum Blue and Gold

“God, is it good to be hated again.”

64

Chip Crain | 3 Shades of Blue

“The 2009-10 version of the Grizzlies have put together a starting five where every player scored 30 points or more in a game last year. The oldest starter is only 28 years old (Zach Randolph) and the youngest won’t turn 22 until after the start of the season (O.J. Mayo). They are young, talented and hungry for success. So why do most people focus on the two players not on a rookie contract this season?”

20

Matthew Bunch | Hot Hot Hoops

“38.6 minutes. 30.2 points. 49.1 percent shooting. Five rebounds. 7.5 assists. 2.2 steals. 1.3 blocks. That’s what [Dwyane] Wade averaged last season. You’re going to keep that guy out of the playoffs? Good luck.”

44

Jeremy Schmidt | Bucksketball

“If the Bucks get anything out of their three small forwards, if they can keep [Andrew] Bogut and [Michael] Redd healthy and if they get a season worthy of the number ten selection out of Brandon Jennings at the point, the playoffs will be within reach. But that’s a lot of ifs.”

29

Patrick Hodgdon | Howlin’ T-Wolf

“”Ever since his arrival, David Kahn has had seemingly one mission, other than to look like the smartest guy in the room at every turn, and that is to get as much cap space for next summer as he possibly can. … The obvious question lies in whether or not the Wolves will actually be able to lure one of the better free agent players to come to Minnesota.”

23

Mark Ginocchio and Sebastian Priuti | Nets are Scorching

“Lingering doubts about Brooklyn could spoil any change the Nets have of landing a top free agent next summer.”

29

Niall Doherty and Ryan Schwan | Hornets247

“Enter Emeka Okafor. He’s a near match to a healthy Chandler, is more durable, and doesn’t look like he’s having muscle spasms when making a post move.”

47

Mike Kurylo | Knickerblogger

“2010 could be New York’s return to winning.”

31

Royce Young | Daily Thunder

“The Thunder may not win more than half their games, but with over half the roster unable to get an alcoholic beverage still, steady improvement and progression is the name of the game.”

34

Zach McCann | Orlando Magic Daily

“Take away either Hedo Turkoglu or Courtney Lee and the Magic aren’t getting to face the Lakers in the Finals. No way. But does that mean the Magic were wrong to let them go? Were the Magic foolish to allow a borderline All-Star and a possible future All-Star leave the team when both clearly wanted to stay in Orlando? Absolutely not. I believe the Magic are an entirely better team than they were four months ago.”

59

Carey R. Smith | Philadunkia

“The travesty of a deal that Billy King gave to Samuel Dalembert remains easily one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Hopefully this season Dalembert, his inflated self-worth and his contract will be dealt for a couple of expiring contracts and some much-needed cap space.”

39

Michael Schwartz | Valley of the Suns

“Two years ago the Suns were chic championship picks. Last year, the Suns were (accurately) thought to be a fringe playoff team. This year there are almost no expectations outside of their locker room. … There will be no mistaking what the Suns are this season: a lightning-speed team that will score points in bunches and likely give them up almost as quickly while struggling badly on the boards. But they will once again be the most exciting team in basketball.”

46

Max Handelman | Beyond Bowie

“The Blazers effectively bumbled their way to a 54-win season despite a mediocre performance from Greg Oden, the loss of Martell Webster for the season, and at times starting three rookies. This team is only getting better, kids.”

53

Zach Harper | Cowbell Kingdom

“Enter Tyreke Evans — a bulldozer-sized menace who will test the strength of every team’s defense at its entry point. He immediately creates matchup problems against teams with traditional point guards and will look to have a similar impact as fellow Memphis alum, Derrick Rose.”

22

Timothy Varner | 48 Minutes of Hell

During the Celtics heyday, Red Auerbach boasted a winning percentage of .719. In the modern era, Pat Riley’s Showtime Lakers played to the tune of .733. Phil Jackson’s Jordan Bulls dominated the 90s with an otherworldly percentage of .771. Jackson’s three-peat Lakers? .735. In his 12 seasons with San Antonio, Gregg Popovich, whose cynical disdain for the regular season runs more than skin deep, has, nevertheless, posted a winning percentage of .707. That’s the company the Spurs keep. What should we expect this season? 58 wins and a run at the title. Same as every other year.”

55

RaptorsRepublic

“How is a rookie(ish) head coach going to integrate nine new players into a new system with two new assistant coaches?”

41

Spencer Ryan Hall | Salt City Hoops

“With young Wesley Matthews providing the good luck charm, Boozer in a contract year, Deron Williams with a chip on his shoulder, and a new longer-haired version of Andrei Kirilenko the Jazz have no reason to be anything other than beastly this season. And I mean that in a good way. Every prediction from the Jazz camp, however, comes with the ominous caveat ‘If we can stay healthy.’”

46

Kyle Weidie | Truth About It

“Flip Saunders has never gotten a team ‘there.’ That worn out cliché always runs rampant, plaguing almost every coach who hasn’t won … until they win. Red Auerbach (647), Larry Brown (1,900), and Dick Motta (738) all took their lumps before winning a championship (games coached before title season). Don’t be surprised when what you think is impossible becomes a reality. … 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Factor in Gilbert Arenas’ stomach tattoo and the fact that the Wizards play their home games in D.C.’s Chinatown, and all the cards are in place.”

42

* As predicted by a consensus of all TrueHoop Network bloggers.

2009-10 Denver Nuggets Preview – TrueHoop Network Style

Every TrueHoop Network member site will be posting their season preview today so make sure you check out as many as humanly possible either via the the drop down menu up above or the blogroll along the right sidebar.

Last Year’s Record: 54-28

Crystal Ball
The consensus prediction of the TrueHoop Network bloggers … and the best hopes of Roundball Mining Company.

Crowd Says: 53-29
RMC Says: 58-24

Yes We Can!
The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us!

It is easy to be down on the Denver Nuggets’ chances heading into the 2009-10 season. Their response to this summer’s Western Conference arms race was to continue to slash their payroll.

Some of you may think the Nuggets were disappointed that Linas Kleiza will play in Greece next season, but I suspect the front office was sending Linas bro­chures from the Greek department of tourism. Then again maybe it was the fact they never offered him more than the $2.7 million qualifying offer. Whatever they did, the ploy worked, as Kleiza signed with Olympiacos and will not be on the Nuggets’ payroll this season.

The Nuggets also were thrilled for Dahntay Jones when he signed his four year, $11 million contract with the Pacers. I think Mark Warkentien showed up the next day and personally carried Dahntay’s piano into the moving truck.

It might be difficult to be impressed with a team whose primary goal is to save money, but the Denver Nuggets are becoming quite adept at bolstering the roster while cutting costs. Last season they rummaged through the bargain bin and came up with Chris “Birdzilla” Andersen and Dahntay Jones. This year they brought in more cheap talent in Aaron Afflalo and Joey Graham. They are both cheaper options and better fits than Jones and Kleiza were. Plus the addition of Ty Lawson to backup Chaunc­ey Billups will pay dividends as soon as George Karl chooses to give him the job over Anthony Carter.  Above and beyond the players currently on the roster and even though it appears the Nuggets have passed him over, until he signs with another team I continue to think that Wally Szczerbiak might find his way to Denver.

If the upgrade to the bench is not enough to sway you, here is an interesting little fact to keep in mind. The only players still on the roster who exceeded expecta­tions in 2008-09 were Nene and Birdman. It is reasonable to expect every mem­ber of the Nuggets, other than thirtysomething Chauncey Billups, to improve on their performance next season. Carmelo struggled with injuries, Nene was still feeling the effects of his chemo treatments in the fall of 2008, Birdman had not played regular minutes in over two years before last season and J.R. Smith is still learning how to exploit opposing defenses with his array of diverse talents.

For those who still doubt me, hear this. The number one reason why Denver will be better next season is they have learned how to win. The team made a commitment to play better defense heading into last season, but they were still a work in progress. They now have a year of playing a more balanced style of basketball under their belts and they experienced how far it can take them.

This Nugget team is hungry and ready to prove their Western Conference Finals appearance was not a fluke like Utah’s was in 2008. Common NBA knowledge dismissed the Nuggets prior to last season. Do so at your own peril this season.

No You Can’t
A rousing dissent from a rival blogger.

Fun fact: No team has ever won a championship while featuring a power forward with a woman’s lips tattooed on his neck. Yes, I’m looking at you, Kenyon Martin.

– Matt McHale, By the Horns

All-A-Twitter
A 140-character insight into the soul of the team.

Here are two tweets from @BirdmanAndersen:

Spent some of my signing bonus. Got a boat. If I was on drugs? A flamethrower. A purple one…with an Ipod dock.

Porn gets a bad rap. It’s essentially Discovery Channel for humans. I know I’VE learned stuff from it.

On the Record
Single best quote concerning the team during the last 12 months.

For me averaging 28 points or something like that against the Lakers in this series, that’s tough to do. I do not know if you wanted me to average 30 or 35, I really don’t know. I am thinking there is nothing else that I can do.

– Carmelo Anthony following the Nuggets’ Game 6 defeat to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals

The 2008-09 Almanac
Some key stats from last season.

Offense: 7th
Defense: 8th
Pace: 6th

Team Factor Strength(s): Free Throws (1st), Shooting Allowed (5th)
Team Factor Weakness(es): Turnovers (25th), Free Throws Allowed (25th), De­fensive Rebounding (23rd)

The Play
Down a single point with 9.2 seconds to play in a must-win game. What’s the play?

Even with players like Mr. Big Shot Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith, who can make any shot at any time, you give the ball to Carmelo Anthony and clear out. I might even run seven more seconds off the clock and call a timeout just to increase the level of difficulty. Carmelo has developed a well-earned reputation in the NBA as a Defiler of Dreams. He broke hearts in Oklahoma City twice last season and I am sure you all remember the 3-pointer in the playoffs to beat Dal­las in Game 3 of the conference semifinals. Having Melo means you never have to run a play, just get the ball inbounds.

The People’s Choice
The fan favorite the crowd will be chanting for to see some action.

Karl has said he does not trust Renaldo Balkman because he cannot hit a jumper — although Karl does not seem to mind playing Kenyon Martin. The truth is Balkman brings energy and makes plays that do not show up in the box score. He helps Denver win games and fans cannot get enough of him.

If You’re Watching the Bottom Line, You’re Watching This
The single biggest spreadsheet issue hanging over the team.

The Denver Nuggets have done a great job of cutting payroll while still improv­ing the team the past two seasons. The real trouble is going to come in 2010-11 when the Nuggets’ current starting five will make about $65 million. As John Hollinger has pointed out, those five players may put Denver over the luxury tax line by themselves with at least eight more players to pay. There could be a fire sale in Denver next summer.

Upcoming Chat and Other Denver Nuggets Links

There is quite a bit of writing I need to do before the regular season starts, but for now, just a few links.

Big Time Nuggets Chat

The big announcement is that I will be participating in a Denver Nuggets chat tomorrow along with John Hollinger on ESPN.com. Things kick off at 12:00 noon on Friday, but you can check in a few minutes early to start pumping in questions. Out of all the ESPN analysts we are very lucky to have Professor Hollinger involved. As I have said before, he is the most knowledgeable member of the national media when it comes to the Nuggets.

Melo and Kevin Durant

There has been some interesting discussion on TrueHoop regarding how incredible Kevin Durant is, yet how terrible his plus/minus numbers are. The post points out how he was number 20 in the league in PER in 2008-09 and has scored the fifth most points of any player at his age. He is clearly an incredible talent, so how come he has such a terrible plus/minus and his teammates post better plus/minus ratings when they play without him?

Apparently there is a player who started very similarly to Durant, but has improved drastically over the years. None other than Carmelo Anthony. Timothy Varner has the low down over at the exceptional San Antonio Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell.

Melo on E:60

Carmelo will be interviewed on ESPN’s award winning primetime newsmagazine E:60. Here is a little snippet to wet your appetite.

The episode will air at 5:00 PM Mountain on Tuesday, October 20.

A Couple of Nuggets Previews

Nate from Denver Stiffs and I answered some questions about the Nuggets from Mark Rawden from the Boston Celtics Examiner. If that is not enough you can click here for a Nuggets preview on Hoopsvine.

Win Nuggets Season Tickets

Sign up here to take part in the Gold Rush to win season tickets.

Bird Busey

Finally the blog Protect the Paint sees some similarities between Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Gary Busey.