Mr. Smith goes to Denver, both Mr. Smith's
The contract extensions for Carmelo Anthony and Nene were the big, splashy moves but the acquistions of Smith & Smith may prove to be equally important to the Nuggets' success in 2006-2007.
J.R. Smith, headed to North Carolina before deciding to throw his hat into the NBA draft two years ago, has the necessary athleticism to excel. He's 6-foot-6, with a strong body and can play the role of high riser around the rim. What he currently lacks is an understanding of the pro game and a consistent shooting stroke. Salting some mid-range shots into his game and peppering it more with some post-up action would allow him more room on his streaky jumper. Getting out and running the floor, well, not a problem for this young buck. You're going to love that part of his game, especially when he's runnin' with Anthony and Kenyon Martin.
He easily possesses the most potential at the off-guard spot that the Nuggets have had in years. The key is the maturation of his head. If that comes around, if he proves capable of responding to coaching and working on his craft, he could, remember this, become a scoring machine.
That's the clause in small print at the end of the contract that you can't or don't usually read.
As for Mr. Smith, the Big, that would be Joe, the former Maryland Terrapin who took the college game by storm, became the top pick in the draft, then proceeded to have a servicable but hardly all-star career.
Of course, he is a major improvement on Francisco Elson, as he can shoot, score, and rebound a little, and is known for being good in the locker room, which, in case you haven't noticed or have just been asleep in the back of the classroom, is sorely needed in Denver.
The Nuggets rap on this is that the addition of the Smith's, while not as sexy as the Anthony and Nene contracts, will make Denver a much improved team, health permitting. Chemistry will be easy to develop, and the depth and versatility of the front line, along with an improved backcourt, will equal 50 wins. Add another shooter and more might be possible.
Coach George Karl has the horses to get to and win a playoff series. The question is can he control the heads? And can he get along, professionally, with the emotional but highly competitive and talented toughman, Martin?
Bring it all together, in the sake of harmony and purpose and look out, as it will be Rocky Mountain party time, and the Nuggets will be a load.