The Wild West

Kurt —  November 3, 2008

Apparently, the Denver Nuggets hate losing to the Lakers so much they thought it was time to make big changes. Iverson out, Billups in. McDyess is in Denver, although rumors are he may be bought out (for luxury tax reasons).

I kid about the Lakers end of that, sort of. It’s not just the Lakers, but the Nuggets were spending a lot of money on a team that was going to be in the second or third tier of the Western Conference, they had no choice but to make a big, bold move.

What are Nuggets fans thinking? Here are the thoughts from Pick Axe and Roll:

My number two off-season priority for Denver was finding a point guard. I guess three games into the season is close enough to the off-season where we can say they got the job done. When I laid out the specifications after last year that I would like to see in a point guard Chauncey Billups is almost a prefect match. He is unselfish, knows how to set up his teammates and can run an offense, he has the size and willingness to play defense and he can shoot it from downtown. He is nearly a perfect fit.

Keeping that in mind the question is does Billups accomplish what AI could not and make the Nuggets a contender? I think this trade clearly makes the Nuggets a better team right now, and probably next year too, but I have to say at this point they are still not a contender at the level of the Lakers, Hornets and Jazz. I do think this trade will put them firmly in the playoffs ahead of teams like the Spurs, Suns and Mavericks though and they will be a much tougher out than they have been the previous five seasons. With the new defensive focus and intensity we have seen and with the addition of a player in Billups, who will fit better than AI in a half court setting and will add another player capable of hitting 40% of his threes to pair with J.R., the Nuggets are going to be a team to be reckoned with…..

The Nuggets now will be starting Billups, J.R, Melo, Kenyon and Nene. That is a very good starting five capable of both scoring and playing stout defense. For all the hatred spouted at the Nuggets over the Camby trade, there is no doubt that today the team is better than they were at the end of last season and to top things off they are far cheaper as well.

I think that’s a good assessment. The Nuggets are now a better team (at least once everyone meshes) but are they really on par with the Lakers or Hornets (or maybe even Rockets)? My first reaction is no, you never know how things will shake out but are they deep enough? They did get better, however, no doubt.

As for Detroit. Welcome to the youth movement. They may or may not keep AI after this year (can they get him at a greatly reduced price?), but they clearly have decided to go with the Rip/Prince/Amir movement for the long term. If they let AI walk at the end of the year they can sign a near-max player this summer and still have room for a max deal in the highly-valued summer of 2010. That’s quality and fast rebuilding.

Just a couple of other random thoughts to throw in there:

• After watching a lot of games last week, and a lot of team introductions, I have to say that Chicago’s digital “running of the Bulls” through the streets of Chicago may be one of my favorites.

• As for least favorite things this season, Bryan hit the nail on the head in the comments:

One thing that stood out so far: the Timberwolves play on an abomination of a basketball court. Between the three point lines it’s varnish orange/brown, and inside the three point line it’s a light wood (with the key being painted team colors). Seriously, every time I see a game played there right now, I think I’m watching the Wizard of Oz in Technicolor. Something must be done before every Minnesotan goes blind. I can’t even find an image of it online – even the internet knows not to show the world this eyesore.

• If you do just one thing tomorrow — get out and vote. No discussion here of who and what to vote for, just that it is important to vote, to make your voice heard.

Now, if you had to vote for a Laker for president, who would it be?