Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony might disagree, but George Karl isn't antistar. The Nuggets coach is antiselfish, which is why Andre Iguodala will be a perfect fit in Denver.
With their depth and all-for-one culture, the Nuggets were the league's highest-scoring team last season and pushed the Lakers to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. But they needed a talent upgrade to stay relevant in the West. Enter Iguodala, the 28-year-old swingman whose arrival from Philadelphia in the four-team Dwight Howard trade in August was one of the most underrated moves of the off-season. Iguodala, who won a gold medal with the U.S. in London, is a team-first player who will be the lead scorer some nights and the top defender every night. And if high-flying center JaVale McGee, who averaged 10.3 points after being acquired from the Wizards last March, proves worthy of the four-year, $44 million deal he signed in July, Denver may be even more dynamic than it was last year.
COACH: George Karl (9th season with Nuggets)
2011--12 RECORD: 38--28 (2nd in Northwest)
OFFENSE: 104.1 ppg (1st)
DEFENSE: 101.2 ppg (29th)
PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE: 20.9 ppg (21st)
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE NUGGETS
Andre Iguodala is a great fit for how they play. George Karl is going to have him rebounding and pushing the ball along with Ty Lawson. Iguodala can be too unselfish, but George will make sure he shoots. He hadn't wanted to be a scorer with Philadelphia, but now he's going to get a lot of shots up because they're going to be a high-steal, up-tempo team.... Lawson is a leader who has a great energy about him. You want a point guard to rush the ball up the floor every time, and that's what he does. He's a little guy who is very fast and can get to the rim and finish, and he can make a three.... Immaturity is JaVale McGee's biggest weakness. At least now he's with a coach who will try to build a relationship. George doesn't seem to mind players like him. McGee's strengths are blocking shots, rebounding and defending—he could be a different-level star if he just concentrated on those things.... Danilo Gallinari shoots it well, and at the same time he's unselfish. He'll shot-fake, and if somebody is running at him, then he'll hit the open guy for a layup. He knows how to play, and he has figured out how to hide his slow feet by using his length defensively.
With Iguodala leading, the Nuggets get past the first round for just the third time in the last 25 seasons.
Iguodala doesn't fit in, and Denver gets bumped from the playoffs by an up-and-comer like Minnesota or Golden State.
Number of Nuggets field goal attempts blocked per game last season, the most in the NBA in nine years. Denver has a long history of rejection: Of the 31 most-blocked teams of all time, eight are Nuggets.
JOE MAHONEY/AP (IGUODALA)
DOUG PENSINGER/GETTY IMAGES (MCGEE)