The two needs Denver had entering the 2011 NBA Draft were at power forward and shooting guard. Faried fills a hole at power forward and Hamilton could prove to be the steal of the draft at No. 26. If I am just looking at the picks and ignoring the Miller for Felton swap, which I am not a huge fan of, the Nuggets added a pair of rookies who should factor into their rotation. (Team Grade: LOVE IT!)
Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:
22. Kenneth Faried, F, Morehead State
With Kenyon Martin a free agent and Nene possibly heading to the open market as well, Denver needed a post player. Faried is a beast on the boards even though he is only 6-7. He provides depth at the four and should be a very nice fit with the Nuggets. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)
26. Jordan Hamilton, F, Texas
The Nuggets acquired Hamilton from Portland along with Andre Miller for Raymond Felton. I love Hamilton, and Denver has an unrestricted free agent in J.R. Smith and a restricted free agent in Aaron Afflalo so they need depth on the wing. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)
*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***
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2010-11 Season Summary:
How many teams would be able to trade away their top two players for young talent, none of which are superstars but rather role players, and actually improve? I know one for sure - the Denver Nuggets.
After months of never-ending speculation, the Nuggets finally pulled the trigger on a deal that sent free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the Knicks for Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, future draft picks and cash. Instead of struggling post-blockbuster deal, the Nuggets actually ended the season by winning 18 of their final 25 games and earning the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
With Anthony and Billups in the Big Apple, George Karl utilized a team approach in which 10 players regularly saw at least 14 minutes of floor time per night. In fact, nine players on their final roster ended up averaging between eight and 16 points per game.
Ty Lawson replaced Billups as the team's starting point guard although Felton saw plenty of playing time as well as Karl was not afraid to play his two point guards at the same time. Shooting guard Aaron Afflalo had his best season as a pro while J.R. Smith continued in his role as a scorer off the bench.
New additions Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler split time stepping in for Anthony at small forward, and saw a fair amount of time on the floor together when Karl went with a smaller lineup. That was needed as veterans Kenyon Martin and Al Harrington began to show their age combining for disappointing seasons. Nene brought stability to the center position which was needed since the Chris Andersen was in and out of the lineup throughout the season due to injury.
Nene opts out of contract, becomes unrestricted free agent
Nuggets extend qualifying offers to Wilson Chandler, Aaron Afflalo, and Gary Forbes
Nuggets acquire PG Andre Miller and G/F Jordan Hamilton in a three-team trade for PG Raymond Felton
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $40.4 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Is Nene Worth Locking Up?:
Nene has until June 30 to make a decision on whether or not he will opt out of the final year of his contract that would earn him $11.6 million next season. Denver has been trying to lock Nene up to a long-term extension since February, but the two sides have yet to agree on a deal. While the Brazilian is a solid NBA big man, which is usually hard to find, I do not think he is worth breaking the bank for. If Nene's asking price is too high, do not be surprised if the Nuggets try to deal the big man.
2. Power Forward:
With Kenyon Martin becoming a free agent and Al Harrington coming off an underwhelming season, the Nuggets should be in the market for a starting power forward unless Karl is OK going with a smaller forward combo of Gallinari and Chandler (assuming Chandler is back since he is a restricted free agent.) Whatever the preference is, Denver still needs to add a physical power forward since Harrington and Gallinari are more perimeter-based forwards.
3. Slasher on the Wing:
J.R. Smith is an unrestricted free agent, and I cannot imagine he will end up re-signing with the Nuggets, so they will be losing their best wing slasher. With Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton effective at pushing the tempo, the Nuggets will need an athletic wing who can run the floor like Smith. If that player can also can become their go-to scorer, that would be ideal, though a player of that caliber would likely have to be acquired via trade. Plus, Chandler and Afflalo are both restricted free agents so there could be an even greater need for depth on the wing if some team offers either of them a contract Denver is not willing to match.