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News » NUGGETS Afflalo off to strong start with new team

NUGGETS Afflalo off to strong start with new team

NUGGETS Afflalo off to strong start with new team The Nuggets will be without one of their best players, J.R. Smith, for their first seven games. But the more they see of Arron Afflalo, the better they feel about making it through the opening stretch without Smith.

Afflalo was one of the team's brightest stars in September workouts and has kept the momentum going through the first three days of training camp. The Nuggets traded with the Detroit Pistons to acquire the 6-foot-5, 215-pound swingman in July.

"He's been tremendous," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "As soon as summer league was over, he was maybe the first guy back in town. He's been in the gym many, many hours already. The coaching staff loves him. Hopefully, the fans will love him too."

The Nuggets went after Afflalo after last year's starting shooting guard, Dahntay Jones, signed with the Indiana Pacers.

Afflalo is likely to take over the same starting role Jones had, at least until Smith returns.

While his arrival was a direct reaction to Jones' departure, Afflalo will fill two roles - that of defensive stopper and as a perimeter scorer to replace Linas Kleiza, who signed with Olympiacos in Greece.

Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups played with Afflalo in 2007-08 for Detroit. Then, Afflalo was a rookie out of UCLA.

"A lot of people don't know how good he is," Billups said. "He's a really, really good defender. But more than that, he can score. ? And he studies the game. It's going to be a great, great move for us. I don't know that all of the coaches knew all of this about him other than me telling them. But just having him here for the last month, I think he's really gained their respect with just how serious he is about the game."

Karl calls Afflalo the most organized, regimented young player he's ever coached. Afflalo is taking the praise in stride. He said his unknown status among coaches, players and fans isn't a surprise.

"That's not unlikely in the NBA," Afflalo said. "You have veteran teams with veteran guys, and that so happened to be the situation I fell into draft day (in Detroit). It's just part of the process. But you can't make excuses, you have to continue to work on your game and when you get your opportunity, be at your best."

Chris Dempsey: 303-954-1279 or

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 30, 2009


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