Wednesday , Mar , 18 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Mile High Renaissance: Chauncey Billups and grit makes Denver Nuggets tough playoff team

After all, the 2007-08 Nuggets were a guilty pleasure. There was more defense and structure during lunch hour runs at the ‘Y’. Last November, everything changed when Iverson was traded for Chauncey Billups. Acquiring the pass-first table-setter enhanced chemistry and crystallized roles. ‘Melo and ‘The Answer’ were no longer fighting for shots. With Anthony as the only first option, others have gotten involved in the scoring …


Mile High Renaissance: Chauncey Billups and grit makes Denver Nuggets tough playoff teamA point guard and blue-collar grit make all the difference.

Last year, Denver was all style, no substance. While casual fans were entertained by their high scoring exploits, it was no shock when the fundamentally sound San Antonio Spurs swept Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson in the first round of the playoffs.

After all, the 2007-08 Nuggets were a guilty pleasure. There was more defense and structure during lunch hour runs at the ’Y’.

Last November everything changed when Iverson was traded for Chauncey Billups. Acquiring the pass-first table-setter enhanced chemistry and crystallized roles. ‘Melo and ‘The Answer’ were no longer fighting for shots. With Anthony as the only first option, others have gotten involved in the scoring.

Billups is also a natural leader. Right after arriving in Denver, he challenged his new team to start winning. Billups, the 2004 Finals MVP and a three-time All-Star, has the credibility to call out others when necessary.

Several posts have replaced Marcus Camby, who was traded last summer to the Los Angeles Clippers in a salary dump. Finally healthy, Kenyon Martin and Nene are enjoying a Mile High renaissance as the starting power forward and center. Chris Anderson and Renaldo Balkman have provided enthusiasm off the bench.  

There is size in the backcourt. Billups is one of the game’s biggest point guards. And former Duke Blue Devil Dahntay Jones is extremely physical at the two-spot.

Collectively, Martin, Nene, Anderson, Balkman, Billups, and Jones have made Denver a tougher squad. They’ve bought-in to Coach George Karl’s defensive philosophy and, as a result, opponents are scoring seven less points per game.

Again, the unknown is Anthony. The three-man had been solid until allegedly refusing to come out of a game. This led to a one game suspension. If ‘Melo ever fulfills his enormous potential, the Nuggets become a contender.

Denver is much improved. More substance and less style should make for a competitive and exciting playoff.

Will Billups and improved toughness help the Nuggets in the playoffs? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of name not available.