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Posted on: April 11, 2009 1:18 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2009 1:21 pm
 

J.R. Smith Coming into His Own

 Most Nuggets fans have always thought of J.R. Smith the same way...that he's a great talent, but not smart with the ball, not a team player. But this year, it seems like he has really come into his own. With A.I. gone, J.R. is no longer the odd man out, but the go-to guy when the Nuggets need points the most. This season, his averages are up from 12.3 PPG to 15 PPG, and he has, in many ways, carried the Nuggets through this recent run that has catapulted them to the 2nd seed in the West.

When Chauncey was asked in interviews who he was the toughest on in practices, his answer was Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. With Mr. Big Shot's guidence, J.R. no longer mopes on his way to the bench, and has worked his way out of George Karl's doghouse. J.R. has gone from the guy that plays only when we are 20 points ahead, to the guy who brings us back from 10 points down, the guy who hits pressure shots. J.R. gets the ball at the end of halves, when all other players shy away from shots.

In the L.A. game on Thursday, there was no question who was getting the ball when the Lakers began to pull away, or at the end of the half. The result? J.R. hits a 25-footer to tie the game going into the half, and the Nuggets hanging with the best team in the league until the 4th quarter.

Against Oklahoma City, J.R. hit 3 out of 4 3-point shots in a game where we needed a spark. When it looked like we just wouldn't be able to pull out the game, J.R. pumped up the team.

In back to back games against Utah and the Clippers, J.R. went off for 7 and 8 3-pointers, and 28 and 34 points.

J.R. hits the shots when we need them the most, but it's not just about the point totals that tells me J.R. has grown up. It's the way he carries himself. He's now a leader on this team.

Anyone else notice how Carmelo and Chauncey did NOT get the ball when we were down? J.R. was the only guy Karl trusted with those risky 3-point shots, with the ball, to do what it took to get back in the game. This is happening more and more, and it's paid off in a big way. Smith has become the 'guy', and not just when Carmelo's on the bench anymore. He's grown into a feared player in this league...hopefully he can keep it up throughout the playoffs, because if he can, the Nuggets will ride him all the way to the Conference Championships...maybe further.

 

 

Posted on: April 6, 2009 6:26 pm
 

Why We Don't Need to Worry About Kyle Orton

 

        The Broncos are going into this year without their 'guy' of the last three years. Jay Cutler. Kyle Orton figures to step in and take the job, and for good reason, many Bronco fans are upset and questioning of this move. Here are some reasons to NOT be worried about Kyle Orton.

        1. The Broncos offense has been built to give the QB a chance to succeed. We have (statistically) the best offensive line in football. With Clady, Harris, Wiegmann, Kuper, and Hamilton all figuring to return, the line should be just as good, if not better this year with the young guys having another year under their belt.
     We also have one of the most dangerous trios at Wide Reciever. The big, athletic Brandon Marshall, the small, quick, sure-handed Eddie Royal, and the ole' vet in Brandon Stokley make the best recieving crew we've had since the Three Amigos. These guys will definitely give Orton a little more room for error.
     We also possess the best Running Back that no one has heard of (yet) in Peyton Hillis. We're all so quick to forget what he did when he came in for us. He took over the reigns for the offense (which is not hard to do when your QB's name is Jay Cutler), and carried them on his back. Had he not gone up for that catch against Kansas City, I believe we would've gone 10-6 last year.
         2. Josh McDaniels did wonders with a guy possessing even less credentials than Orton, and a percieved less talent than Orton. That guy's name is Matt Cassell. Call me crazy, but if you can turn a guy who hasn't started a game since high school into a guy that can step onto a football field without looking completely disoriented,(much less win 11 games) then you should be able to do something with Orton. McD's level of talent on offense is similar to that of New England's (better o-line), and Kyle has more experience and success than Cassell had.
         3.Our defense will undoubtedly be starting rookies this year...quite a few of them. Our D-line figures to be getting a complete makeover through the draft, and Safety and Linebacker should be getting an infusion of youth aswell. BUT, we still figure to be in better shape on this side of the ball than we were last year. Speed and instincts are the game, and that's what makes a good defense. The guys we bring in this year might make some mistakes in reads and what-not, but they will be fast, intense, and motivated. This will also go along way to helping our new Quarterback.


        Now here's for my bold prediction. If the Broncos draft well this year, meaning at least 5 or 6 starters out of our 11 picks, then I believe we are a playoff team. Our secondary seems solid now, our Linebackers seem solid, offense is solid. If McD focuses his resources on the D-line in the draft, Then I believe we will have end up with a very complete, strong team that is only getting better. Playoffs this year, be prepared for some deep playoff runs in the years to come.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com