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And welcome to the Northwest Division of the Western Conference. [firstpara] 

DENVER NUGGETS
Coach: George Karl
Projected Starting Five:
PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: JR Smith
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Kenyon Martin
C:
Nene Hilario

Key Additions: Ty Lawson (R), Arron Afflalo, Malik Allen
Key Losses:
Dahntay Jones, Steven Hunter, Sonny Weems

The Denver Nuggets won big last season when they acquired veteran point guard Chauncey Billups from the Detriot Pistons in exchange for Allen Iverson and his expiring contract. Billups brought strong leadership to the team, both on the court and in the locker room.

Nene Hilario's success at filling in for departed Marcus Camby was also a pleasant surprise for Coach George Karl. Ty Lawson, a stand out college point guard, was drafted to be able to give 33-year-old Billups some much needed rest during long road-game stretches.

With their playoff contingent remaining largely intact, the Nuggets should be able to ride on the improved growth and maturity of its young guns, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith this season. Smith will be serving a seven-game suspension to start the regular season but should quickly move into a starter's role when he returns to action.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Coach: Kurt Rambis
Projected Starting Five:
PG: Jonny Flynn
SG: Ramon Sessions
SF: Corey Brewer
PF: Ryan Gomes
C:
Al Jefferson

Key Additions: Ramon Sessions, Antonio Daniels, Jonny Flynn (R), Wayne Ellington (R), Damin Wilkins, Darius Songaila, Oleksiy Pecherov, Ryan Hollins, Mark Blount, Sasha Pavlovic
Key Losses:
Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith, Mark Madsen, Kevin Ollie, Jason Collins

When new team general manager David Kahn stepped in the Timberwolves' front office to replace Kevin McHale, he instantly shook things up and decided to reshape the Minnesota franchise and take it to an entirely different direction.


WORDS: ERIK ONG

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