Elton Brand is going to take this young team far. They have Andre Miller (ex-Nugget), Samuel Dalembert (great rebounder, shot blocker), Reggie Evans (ex-Nugget who hustles), Andre Iguodala (great player who has been compared to Scottie Pippen if he highly elevates his game), Louis Williams (young all-star, in my opinion, coming up), Thaddeus Young (a young hustler who can score + rebound), and Willie Green (good role player).
Philly just has to get more experience and chemistry before going further in the playoffs. Philly will be in the playoffs. I'd say they will finish 4th or 5th seed next season.
As for Denver, Anthony Carter (the backup point guard) re-signs a one-year deal with the Nuggets. The man really disappeared in the playoffs and it's obvious he can't keep up with the faster generation of guards these days (Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Nate Robinson, etc...). He's always hustling, that's one thing I'd have to give the man.
But as far as him saying, "I expect to start"? Look AC, you've had your chance and we didn't succeed with you at the one. Chucky Atkins vowed to become the starting PG for the Denver Nuggets. So do we have some more chemistry issues? Two mediocre point guards fighting over who starts? It's up to Karl anyway, but I'm just addressing the problems between the two. I was hoping that we could get New Orleans' Jannerro Pargo or Miami Heat's Jason Williams. These guys would have made a great impact to the team. I was really hoping on Jason Williams. He's already a good friend of Allen Iverson, and I'm sure he would blend well with him and Carmelo. He'll even set Camby up, giving him double doubles every night along with his great weak-side blocking ability.
Now that I see AC signed and not Pargo/Williams, I really don't see Denver getting further than what they have been doing the past 2 seasons. Even though they were knocked out by the soon to be champs (Spurs) and the Western Conference champs (Lakers), that's still no excuse for two first round exits in a row (with Allen Iverson). 5 first round exits for Karl, 4 first round exits for Carmelo Anthony. The problem with the Nuggets is:
A) No big man presence (Camby has no back-to-basket ability and blows many of open layups. Nene is injured 95% of the time. K-Mart pulls up lame jumpers rather than setting a pick and roll for a dunk. Najera is a shooter. We have no big men to shift the defense off of AI and Carmelo. That's why you see AI and Carmelo forcing up dumb shots. They get all of the attention! DENVER NEEDS TO GET EVERYONE IN THE GAME, NOT JUST THE STAR PLAYERS EVERY NIGHT!)
B) No chemistry/strategy. (I'm getting sick and tired of nothing but isolation plays!)
C) Karl's poor rotationals. (He has no faith in his younger players. How can you bench Steven Hunter, a young 7 footer? Why isn't he coming on the floor for Marcus Camby?)
D) Lack of leadership. (There is no such thing as a tri-captain team. Allen Iverson should be the leader of this team. Carmelo will always be the franchise player, but there has to be one leader for this team along with a co-captain (for win the captain isn't there)
E) Inconsistency (Players don't bring it every night. There's no excuse for losing to the Knicks, Pacers, Clippers (w/o Elton Brand), Kings, and the Sonics! But then the Nuggets go and beat the Suns twice this season, beat the Warriors in the most important game of the season, beat the Celtics, and beat the Spurs. Makes no sense. I-N-C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-T)
F) Not giving a damn on defense. (Selft explanitory)
This will be Allen Iverson's last year of the contract and I'm sure if the Nuggets don't show any form of improvement (getting passed the 1st or 2nd round), he's going to pack up his clothes and realize that he's out of his prime moving somewhere else. I doubt that he would re-sign with the Nuggets if they perform another first round exit. This team is capable of being the Western Conference champions, but they don't have "it" in them. They don't bring that hustle to the floor.
Only players like Eduardo Najera, Camby (when he's not exhausted due to Karl's poor rotation), AC, J.R. Smith, and Linas Kleiza bring hustle to the floor but it seems like it's all on an inconsistent basis. The reason why I didn't include Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony is because they are only focused on one-side of the floor.
Allen Iverson continues to swipe at players 4x bigger than him when they drive. Why doesn't this man take charges? It's not playing like a "panzy" or whatever, it's a part of the game. He does need to keep trying to cut off the passing lanes, but he doesn't need to do it everytime. He tried that with Derek Fisher and Fishman dropped an insane amount of threes on him that one game against the Lakers this season. AI needs to take charges, stop going for the steal every time, and he needs to put a HAND on people's faces! Block their vision so they can't see the goal! I understand he's only loosely 6 feet tall, but you have to put a hand in their face!
As far as Carmelo goes, I'm hoping he takes his Olympic play to this Denver Nugget team. Hopefully, Coach K. makes his **** want to play defense. Carmelo stepped his rebounding game up, but defense is what's killing this Nugget team. Not only defense, but chemistry issues, lack of leadership, lack of caring ("We Quit?"), and lack of bringing it every night (losses to the Knicks, Pacers, Sonics, Kings, and Clippers? What the hell?)
I just watched the Orlando Magic Summer games... The Indiana Pacers vs. the Miami Heat... Beasley didn't look so great tonight, and Mario Chalmers did decently (although he blew a highlight dunk after a highlight crossover!)
I'm hoping someone streams the Nuggets summer games because I want to blog and give my own evaluation about the players that we could/should use in the regular season.