Offday Offerings – Replacing Dahntay?

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

Sports Illustrated has conducted a poll with NBA players on what point guard they would pay to see.  Look who shows up tied for third.

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.

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  • CCH

    I’ve been to 4 nuggets games this season. Every game we go early and watch shoot around. All 4 games naldo is out there shooting and he can shoot, he hits almost everything in the 15-18 ft range, I think it has to be a confidence issue in games that comes with his sporatic playing time. I’ve also seen birdman hit 12 straight corner threes from the out of bounds mark.

  • BeefySwats

    Jeremy, all I can say re: Balkman is I hope that these facts are pointed out to GK for the remainder of the season. As well as Dahntay has played he is an absolute black hole on offense and picks up fouls extremely quickly.

    Balkman is clearly the player with the best performances on our bench and he needs more time to fill in for Dahntay.

    You’re absolutely right.

    Chauncey-Smith-Anthony-Nene-Balkman is my ideal starting 5.

  • sleepydog

    i agree balkman should get more pt, but a starter? i dont think that he could start consistently for this team. we need more size up front, not less, and replacing kmart in the starting lineup is not the way to get that.

    speaking of kmart, ive been trying to remember, how many years are left on his contract? one more? i really cant wait for that day to come.

  • jeremy

    Kenyon’s contract is up after the 2010-11 season.

    Here is a good site for contract info. It is more accurate than Hoops Hype’s salary pages.

  • sleepydog

    ok, good to know. ive been wondering about a good place to look that up for a while. damn, we still have to pay that guy two more years, and each is more expensive than the last? talk about the contract from hell. that one contract has fucked us up for a long time.

  • jeremy

    Don’t forget the three first round draft picks Kiki Vandeweghe gave up for the right to pay him max money.

  • Josh Hopp

    Wow. I’m hearing lots of K-Mart bashing. I think the guy has been variously good and very good for us this season. I would say his ability to defend franchise bigs man-to-man is exception. Yao Ming, Amare Stoudamire and Tim Duncan are names that come to mind when I think about people who have been given major headaches by having K-Mart as a defensive matchup. His midrange game makes us angry, and it should, and in fact there are times when he should be yanked right off the set for taking some of the shots he does. It’s worth keeping his man-to-man defense and steals in mind though, and remember his 3 pointer saved us from what would have been a devastating loss @LAC very early in the season. I think our team suffers in his absense.

  • Josh Hopp

    I said “exception” but I meant “exceptional”.

  • sleepydog

    dont get me wrong, i do think kmart does good things for this team (ive said before i think hes the single most important part of our defense). but, obviously, his offense is not great. he can drive pretty well (which he should do more often), but his jumpshot is terrible and is not improving. i resent him and his contract because we pay him max money for several years so he can play 3/4 of a year of good defense? i mean, two years in a row with season ending injuries to the highest paid player on the team? if we had someone actually worth max money at the 4, imagine what this team could do. or 3 first round draft picks instead. ouch.