Friday , Oct , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Denver Nuggets 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – Star forward Carmel Anthony is ready to become an All-
Star and try to get Denver past the first round of the playoffs. The Nuggets
have been eliminated three straight years in the opening round of the
postseason.

Denver finished 44-38 and captured the Northwest Division crown in the 2005-06
campaign. Even though the Nuggets were the third seed in the Western
Conference playoffs, they did not have the home-court advantage and were
eliminated in five games by the Los Angeles Clippers, who won 47 games during
the regular season, in the opening round of the playoffs.

The twenty-two-year-old Anthony had his best season as a pro. The Syracuse
product averaged a team-best 26.5 points and collected 4.9 rebounds and 2.7
assists in 80 contests. He had an excellent summer playing ball for the United
States in the World Basketball Championships at Saitama, Japan.

Center Marcus Camby averaged 12.8 points and team-best 11.9 rebounds in 56
games, while point guard Andre Miller played all 82 regular-season contests
and dished out a club-high 8.2 assists per game. Power forward Kenyon Martin
was suspended by the team during the playoffs for conduct detrimental to the
team. Martin, who registered 12.9 points and 6.3 boards in 56 games during the
regular season, had issues with head coach George Karl.

During the offseason, Denver re-signed forward/center Nene to a multi-year
contract. Terms of the deal were not released, but reports from the Denver
Post had the deal worth $60 million over six years.

The 6-11 Nene has played in 213 games for the Nuggets during his four-year
career. He has averaged 10.7 ppg and 6.2 rpg and had his best season in
2003-04, averaging 11.8 ppg and 6.5 rpg in 77 games. Nene appeared in just one
game last season, as he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee at San Antonio
on November 1, 2005.

Denver also acquired athletic guard J.R. Smith, who will be entering his third
year in the league, in a trade from Chicago and veteran forward Joe Smith in a
deal with Milwaukee. Power forward Reggie Evans, who averaged 5.2 points per
game and 8.7 rebounds in 26 games with the Nuggets last season after being
acquired from Seattle in a four-team deal in February, also re-signed with the
club.

The team also exercised their option on the contract of Karl on October 10th.
Karl originally signed a six-year contract with a team option after the third
season. He is under contract through the 2009-10 season.

Anthony is the cornerstone of this franchise and is ready to be mentioned with
the elite in the NBA. However, he has to rise to the occasion in the playoffs
and help Denver earn its first series victory since 1994 when the Nuggets
shocked Seattle in round one.

BACKCOURT

Denver’s backcourt is led by the 30-year-old Miller. He is a solid lead guard
who does everything well. He is not spectacular and flashy like some of the
other point guards in the league, but he gets the job done and gives a Karl a
floor leader who usually makes good decisions.

J.R. Smith will get a chance for a fresh start in Denver. Originally selected
out of St. Benedict’s Prep by the Hornets in first round (18th pick overall)
of 2004 NBA draft, 21-year-old J.R. Smith has posted career-averages of 9.2
points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 131 contests. The Nuggets are hopeful
that he can reach his potential with them.

Earl Boykins averaged 12.6 points and 3.0 assists in 60 outings last season.
The 5-5 Boykins gives the Nuggets a nice backup at the point and he will also
play alongside Miller at times. Denver is looking for 6-7 Julius Hodge to step
up and contribute in his second year in the league.

FRONTCOURT

Anthony is the leader and the teams best player. He is coming off a great
season and is primed for an even better 2006-07 campaign. His all-around game
is becoming complete and he has continued to improve as his career has
progressed. This talented forward is ready for the challenge of trying to lead
the Nuggets to the next level.

Camby, Evans, Martin, Nene and Joe Smith give Denver depth up front. The
Nuggets are athletic up front and should be solid on the boards. Camby and
Martin provide defensive intensity and can get out in transition which makes
the Nuggets very effective in the open court, while Evans, Nene and Joe Smith
will do their damage in the low post.

The Nuggets strength is their frontcourt. With the emergence of Anthony and if
injuries don’t creep up, Karl has to feel good about the prospects of his
front line.

OUTLOOK

This is Anthony’s year to become an All-Star and get the recognition that he
deserves. If they stay healthy, the Nuggets should win 45-48 game and that
will be good enough to earn them their second straight Northwest Division
title. However, the real test will be in the postseason.

DEN