From the moment the Denver Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony with the third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, there was a new buzz around the city of Denver. Before the season even began, there was a great deal of hype that this could finally be the turnaround season for the franchise.
Right from the get-go, Anthony was proving that he was worthy of all the preseason hype. In his sixth game as a rookie, Melo scored 30 points and became the youngest of the Denver Nuggets rookie to reach 30 points since the ABA/NBA merger. Anthony continued his outstanding rookie season, being named the got milk? Western Conference Rookie of the Month five consecutive months (November, December, January, February, and March) and the NBA Player of the Week twice (3/14, 4/11). Carmelo finished his stellar rookie season averaging 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Despite his tremendous statistics, Anthony took second in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting.
In addition to a terrific season, Carmelo Anthony accomplished something even more amazing...he led the Denver Nuggets back to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 1994-95 season. The Denver Nuggets as team pulled-off the biggest win/loss turnaround in NBA history for a team that had won less than 20 games the previous season. The Denver Nuggets went from a record of 17-65 in 2002-03 to a record of 43-39 in 2003-04 - an improvement of 26 wins. Their 43-39 record, the franchise's best since 1989-90, was good enough to put them sixth in the Mindwest division and the eigth-seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets met the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the opening round of the 2003-04 NBA Playoffs. After dropping the first two games of the seven-game series at Minnesota, the Nuggets responded by crushing the Timberwolves by 21 points in Game Three, the first of two games in Denver. Unfortunately, the Denver Nuggets could not hold on to win Game Four, losing by a mere two points to Minnesota. Down 3-1 instead of being tied 2-2, the Denver Nuggets returned to Minnesota where they were defeated in their fifth and final game of the playoffs. Despite the first-round exit, the Denver Nuggets closed out the 2003-04 season with a promising foundation for years to come.
Anthony led the Denver Nuggets in scoring, averaging 21.0 ppg. Marcus Camby, who appeared in a career-high 72 games, led the team in rebounding with 10.1 rpg. Andre Miller had a solid first year as the Denver Nuggets point guard, averaging 14.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 6.1 apg. Reserve point guard Earl Boykins averaged career-highs in points (10.2), assists (3.6), and rebounds (1.7) during his first season with the Denver Nuggets.