Denver Nuggets 2008-09 Fantasy Preview

All previews follow the same format, I’ll be going in depth only on the players worth owning in a standard 12-team league, followed by players who you might consider as injury handcuffs/deep sleepers. As always, it starts with the most valuable player on the team:

The NBA's version of the Energizer Bunny, Iverson just keeps going. Or like a Timex, he takes a licking a keeps on ticking. Assigning people meaningless advertising slogans is fun!

The NBA's Energizer Bunny, Iverson just keeps going. Or like a Timex, he takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Assigning people advertising slogans is fun!

Allen Iverson (PG)

Helps: Points, Assists, Steals, FT%, 3-pointers

Hurts: FG%, TOs

At no point in this analysis will I mention that Iverson 33 years old and is due to slow down. Why? Because that argument has been made against him for the last four years. He just keeps going, an obvious athletic freak of nature that has played major minutes and a physically demanding style for a decade and yet is still a quick and gifted scorer.

Iverson no longer averages 30 points per game like his Philly days, but he is still one of the ten best scorers in the league and hands out seven assists per game on a high-powered Nuggets team. Exactly two players averaged more than 22 points and seven assists per game last season: Iverson and Lebron James.

Iverson is still a machine at generating steals and hits enough 3’s to help you in that category as well, averaging 1.2 3’s per game last season. He has shot better than 80 percent from the line in six of the last eight seasons.

The biggest improvement his Iverson’s game since joining Denver has been his FG% as he no longer has to carry an offense by himself. After nine straight seasons of shooting less than 45% with the 76ers, Iverson has a .456 FG% in 1 1/2 seasons with Denver. It’s still a low mark overall but one that it easy to live with considering his all-around greatness. His turnovers also remain high, but less than the four per game he was sporting with Philly.

When to take him: In the back half of the first round.

Carmelo Anthony (SF)

Helps: Points, FT%, FG%, Rebounds, Steals

Hurts: TOs

Once not much more than a scorer, Anthony is emerging into a strong all-around player and may develop even more so with Marcus Camby no longer controlling the paint. Clearly, Anthony’s biggest asset to your team is in points, but he posted career highs of 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and a .492 FG% last season.

Anthony has developed into a very consistent shooter – with field goal percentages of .481, .476 and the aforementioned career high in the last three seasons – and is an 80% career free-throw shooter. His rebounding will increase as he helps fill the void left by Camby.

The biggest weakness to Anthony’s game is that he commits a lot of turnovers. But, as with most players who score as much as he does, that’s a function of constantly having the ball and is easy live with considering everything he brings to your team.

When to take him: Towards the back half of the second round or early third.

Kenyon Martin (PF)

Helps: Blocks, FG%, Rebounds, Steals

I never thought I would again see the day when Kenyon Martin was the third-most fantasy relevant player on any team, but here we are. Keep an eye out for locusts.

K-Mart – as he was affectionately known back when he was terribly overrated with the Nets – played in 71 games last season. It was a remarkably healthy campaign by his standards, and he was effective, averaging 6.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.2 steals and a career high .538 FG%.

The best you can hope for Martin is this: he stays healthy enough to play at least 70 games, picks up enough of the void left by Camby to get between seven and eight rebounds per game, maintains his career averages of about 1.5 steals and blocks per game and shoots a high percentage as he relies mostly on dunks to score.

If that happens, Martin can be a strong fantasy forward. As long as you keep in mind that either of his knees can turn to jelly at any minute.

When to take him: In the ninth or 10th rounds, unless you know something about surgically-repaired knees the rest of the world does not.

Nene Hilario (PF/C)

Helps: Rebounds, Blocks, Steals, FG%

Hurts: FT%

Basically, it’s the same song as K-Mart. In the absence of Camby, the perennially injured Nene can help fill the void. If he stays healthy – and he has not played more than 64 games in any of the last four seasons – he is a strong rebounder who collects blocks and steals and shoots a high percentage.

Nene is a better rebounder than Martin but does not have the offensive upside, never averaging more than 12.2 points per game. But he would be a great forward/utility player if his much-maligned body can hold up.

When to take him: Just like Martin, in the ninth or 10th rounds.

J.R. Smith (SG)

Helps: 3-pointers, 3-pointers, 3-pointers

Hurts: FG%, Possibly FT%

Smith could be an offensive force on a team that needed him to carry the load, but Denver just needs him to stand around and fire 3-pointers and it could pay late-round dividends for your fantasy team. He does little else, but that once-every-10-games when he nails eight 3-pointers and scores 40, you will smile.

Smith does contribute a fair amount of steals for a guy who has never played more than 25 minutes per game in a season. His percentages have been wildly inconsistent, with FG%s ranging from .393 to last season’s career high of .461 and FT%s from .689 to .822.

His FG% will hurt you, especially on nights when he is off, but the extent of how much is in question. After two straight seasons of 80 percent free-throw shooting, he made just 72 percent from line last season, so who knows what you will get there?

There have been reports that Smith may start alongside Iverson, but with two manage-the-game-type point guards on the roster in Anthony Carter and Chucky Atkins, that seems unlikely.

When to take him: Between the 10th and 12 rounds, as one of the top one-category specialists.


If ANY injuries hit the team, Linus Kleiza is a must-have and he might be worth drafting late anyway considering the injury histories of Nene and Martin. Kleiza averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers per 36 minutes last season and 17.1 points in 13 games as a starter. Carter and Atkins may be worth late-round fliers if you think you need some assists and steals, though Atkins is already out six weeks following knee surgery.

Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.


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Filed under Draft Strategy, Season Preview, Team Preview

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