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Leading man: Anthony continues to be Nuggets' centerpiece


As the 2010-11 season approaches, Nuggets.com is taking a closer look at each Nuggets player and their prospects for the upcoming season. Assistant coach Chad Iske was kind enough to provide a scouting report, which reflects the views of the Nuggets coaching staff as a whole.

Today’s featured player is Carmelo Anthony, who continued to establish himself as one of the planet’s most dominant players in 2009-10. He averaged 28.2 points (third in the NBA) and 6.6 rebounds, and was voted by the fans as a starter for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

Anthony had an eventful summer, to say the least.

He and his longtime fiancée La La Vazquez got married in New York on July 10, with their nuptials captured as part of her reality TV show – La La’s Full Court Wedding. Shortly after the wedding, speculation about Anthony’s future in Denver took on a life of its own. He remains under contract with the Nuggets through this season and repeatedly has said he is keeping his options open.

As the trade rumors swirled, Anthony reported to training camp in great shape and quickly impressed coach George Karl with his leadership and professionalism. In Denver's third preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers, he nearly posted a triple-double, finishing with 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. The performance validated Anthony's status as a legitimate MVP candidate who is the centerpiece of a talented Nuggets roster.

Here are a few things to note about Carmelo Kyam Anthony as opening night approaches:

PERFORMANCE TO REMEMBER IN 2009-10
After flirting with 50 points a handful of times in his career, Anthony finally reached the half-century mark on Nov. 27 against the New York Knicks. Anthony had at least 11 points in every quarter and scored his 49th and 50th points on two crucial free throws with 1:09 remaining in a 128-125 victory. He also had six rebounds and five assists while playing 46 minutes.

COACHING STAFF’S ASSESSMENT OF LAST SEASON
“There was more consistency at all levels. He continues to grow. It’s small steps. It might not be as fast everyone wants. They want him to be the best at everything overnight.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2010-11
“We want him to continue to improve as a leader and continue to improve in his all-around play on the defensive end and rebounding. He tried to take on more of that in the playoffs. We saw him take a little bit more initiative on the defensive end and hold himself accountable. He’s still one of the great scorers in the league and will keep us at a high level offensively.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: WHAT WENT RIGHT LAST SEASON
“I don’t think I was happiest just with what I did offensively. It was getting better defensively. My teammates trusted me a lot more on the defensive end to know that I’ve got their back.”

IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2010-11
“Defense. I’m not tooting my horn, but so far, all of the coaches have come to me and said, 'I like what you’re doing on the defensive end. You’re more vocal now. Guys are listening to you and guys are wanting to hear what you’ve got to say.' That’s a good thing.”

INDIVIDUAL GOALS
“If we win, a lot of things fall into place. But I don’t really set individual goals. I play ball, man. If they want to give me the MVP, then they’ll give it to me.”

STAT THAT BEARS RE-TWEETING
13 Career game-winning shots for Anthony in the final 10 seconds. He reached a baker’s dozen with a jumper to beat Toronto on March 26.


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