I cannot believe I did not notice this sooner, but it just donned on me that I did not remember seeing Dahntay Jones play at all against the Thunder last night. A quick glance at the box score shows that Jones had the DNP Coach’s Decision.
Could it be that George Karl has decided to give Jones’ minutes to Renaldo Balkman?
With Kenyon Martin out and Anthony Carter returning to the rotation we probably cannot use last night’s game as a template for how minutes will be handed out for the remainder of the season. Also, Jones started the game before against the Rockets because he was a better matchup against the Rockets’ pair of swingmen Ron Artest and Shane Battier.
A quick glance at the Player Efficiency Ratings shows that the Nuggets bench is full of a bunch of below average players. Professor Hollinger sets the average PER rating to 15 and Anthony Carter (10.94), Linas Kleiza (13.10) and J.R. Smith (14.64) are all below average players. Dahntay Jones’ 9.07 PER is the worst out of the Nuggets’ rotation players. (To be fair, PER does not rate defensive ability outside of blocks and steals and as a result it probably sells players like Jones a little short.)
Renaldo Balkman’s PER is 17.55.
The question I have been asking myself lately is how much better would the Nuggets be if Balkman was getting more of Kleiza’s minutes. The question I should have been asking is how much better would the Nuggets be if Balkman was getting Jones’ minutes. I am not saying play Balkman 17 minutes a night at shooting guard, but if we allow Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith and Anthony Carter to play the 96 minutes available between the two guard spots, have Kleiza back up Melo for 12 to 15 minutes a night, have Chris Andersen back up Nene for 18 to 22 minutes a game and then give Balkman another 18 to 22 minutes behind Kenyon that is a pretty stout rotation. On some nights Balkman can also help fill in at shooting guard depending on matchups.
As loyal reader Nuggets4 pointed out in the comments from the game recap Karl is still making references that the reason Balkman does not play more is because of his “spotty defense” and lack of a jump shot. The only time I saw Renaldo get out of position last night was when his man made a relatively slow cut to the rim and it appeared that Renaldo decided to pass him off to the weak side low defender while he stayed at the strong side elbow so that he could run out at a potential three point shooter. The result was Balkman’s man was open under the hoop and scored an easy layup, but at least there seemed to be some semblance of a team defense thought process behind his decision even if it was a bad one.
Balkman does not have a good jumper, but he knows it and rarely takes it. Kenyon Martin does not have a good jumper, but he chucks it up constantly. I love the way Balkman plays offense. He is always around the rim and has a knack for finding cracks in the opposition’s interior defense. I understand why Karl wishes Balkman could shoot a midrange jumper. Good outside shooting can open up the middle. Do not discount what Balkman does do though. His ability to find open areas and score in the paint breaks the defense down from its core, which is much more devastating. Balkman’s true shooting percentage (adjusting shooting percentage to include threes and free throws) is third on the Nuggets at 59.2% behind Nene’s 63.9% (and falling) and Birdman’s 60.6%.
I will give Dahntay Jones credit. He has never been thought of as a defensive stopper at any point in his career, but he realized that was the role he would need to play to earn minutes with the Nuggets and he has worked hard to develop that aspect of his game. While he has had some great games as a one on one defender, he is not a night in and night out defensive stalwart plus he is not a high quality team defender. However, if Balkman can get 20 plus minutes a night and Jones gets more DNP Coach’s Decisions I think the Nuggets would reap some pretty good benefits.
Getting in touch with our inner stat geek
Kevin Pelton over at Basketball Prospectus has been cranking out some great stuff as of late. He came up with a formula to determine what teams are the most inconsistent as far as beating the teams they should be beating by as many points as they should beat them by. Using adjusted expected scoring differentials Denver is considered the third least consistent team in the NBA. Confused? Just read it. I promise it will help having a smart person explain it instead of having me try to do it.
Kevin has also taken a look at how a team’s average age impacts their defensive abilities using the Portland Trailblazers as the inspiration.
5280 article on George Karl
I am pretty sure I am the last Nuggets related blog to post a link to this piece on Karl, but if you have not read it yet, I highly encourage you to check it out. Also head on over to Denver Stiffs as Andrew has an interview with the author Robert Sanchez.
NBA players like Chauncey
A little humor to close the day
I never saw that Tokyo Drift movie, but I probably would have if there were scenes like that in it.