With the curtains having closed on the Olympics we have officially entered the basketball doldrums, a time when we can review the past and speculate on the future, but must wait patiently for the return of live games. The silver lining this summer is that the NBA has returned to normal. The 2011 lockout is sealed in the history books, and we have a full 82-game season to look forward to, including a regular media day, training camp and preseason schedule.
But though the comfort of traditional routine has been restored in the bigger NBA picture, the Denver Nuggets find themselves in a uniquely interesting position. As a result of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups being traded during the 2010-11 season prior to the lockout, combined with the subsequent trades of Nene and Arron Afflalo as well as the departures of Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith in free agency, only two current Nuggets players, Andre Miller from 2003-06 and Ty Lawson from 2009-10, have gone through training camp at the Pepsi Center. And no two Denver players have done so together.
Remarkably, Ty Lawson is the only (more…)
Ready for something a little different? We’ll continue our extensive coverage of the Iguodala acquisition soon, but the long-awaited conclusion to the Dwight Howard saga presents a great opportunity to change gears a bit and recap the recently concluded 2012 adidas Nations.
As I mentioned in my earlier reports, this year’s Nations had plenty of Denver Nuggets connections despite not being an official NBA event. I caught up with high-school senior Isaac Hamilton, Jordan’s little brother and one of top recruits in the Los Angeles area. On a more somber note, I also witnessed Arron Afflalo attend one of his last official functions as representative of the Denver Nuggets. Here’s the full rundown of these stories and my impression of the talent showcased at the 2012 adidas Nations. (more…)
Many readers have asked, specifically, what the Nuggets gave up and received in Friday’s trade. Though I still can’t find a single article that confirms all aspects of the trade, I have been able to gather bits and pieces from various sources across the Internet. Here are my findings:
Received: Andre Iguodala
Sent: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a 2013 second-round draft pick (via Golden State) and a 2014 first-round draft pick (either Denver’s own or via New York)
Both of the picks sent to Orlando may end up being ones the Nuggets obtained from New York in the Carmelo Anthony trade. The 2013 second-round pick is from Golden State while the 2014 first-round pick will either be Denver’s own, or New York’s. According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, the 2014 first-round pick conveyed to Orlando will be the least desirable of the Nuggets two picks that year.
Looking towards the future, the Nuggets now have two picks in the 2013 NBA Draft: their own first rounder and a second-round, top-40 protected selection from the Portland Trailblazers. Denver’s own second-round pick is conveyed to the Phoenix Suns and is also top-40 protected. Assuming the Nuggets re-sign Ty Lawson, they will then have three roster openings from the expiring contracts of Julyan Stone, Timofey Mozgov and Corey Brewer. If the Nuggets retain both picks they will then be left with one open roster spot to sign a free agent, however given Masai Ujiri’s penchant for perpetual activity, there’s a good chance the team’s current roster and draft-pick situation will change yet again.
One cold hard truth the Nuggets were going to have to reckon with sooner or later was the fact that last season their perimeter defense was among the worst – if not the worst – in the league. Although their 103.4 team defensive efficiency rating was a lower-middling 19th in the league, a deeper dig into the numbers confirms what any Nuggets fan who has been paying attention already knows: All season long, opponents drained 3-pointers at will.
The opponent shot location statistics at HoopData.com reveal that Denver put together a respectable interior defense. The Nuggets were 8th best in the league in defending at-rim shots, as their opponents made 61.6 percent of their attempts. Holding steady in 8th place at short range, Denver held its opponents to a percentage of 36.2. Mid-range defense found them faring even better, 5th best with opponents shooting 35.6 percent. But 15 feet out from the basket is where the good news abruptly ends.
In both long range 2-point and in 3-point shooting, the Nuggets were dead last in the league, allowing a long-two field goal percentage of 41.4 and an effective field goal percentage of 57.5 from beyond the arc. None of this should come as a surprise (more…)
First of all, what was Orlando thinking? The centerpiece of the long anticipated Dwight Howard trade ends up being Arron Afflalo? Yikes. Thanks to Orlando’s generosity the three other teams involved in the reported four team deal that will be finalized later today all received much more than they gave. Obviously the Lakers are thrilled with Bynum for Howard. Philly has to be ecstatic to get Bynum for Igoudala, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless. Denver may not have made out quite as well as those two teams have, but this trade is a slam dunk for the Nuggets.
There are several different aspects of this trade to look at so let’s dive in.
As it stands, I’m at my computer early Friday morning. Yesterday the Nuggets were involved in trade talks that included four teams, with Dwight Howard — most notably — going to the Lakers and Andre Iguodala being shipped to Denver. I hesitated to make anything of it, because let’s face it, we’ve been down this road before. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a Dwight Howard trade rumor this summer I’d have a lot of nickels. However, this time it appears to be for real. According to ESPN.com the Nuggets will receive Andre Iguodala in return for Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and a future first-round selection in the NBA Draft. If this is true — which it looks to be — here are five initial observations from the Nuggets point of view…
When the news of a potential four team trade that would send Dwight Howard to Los Angeles involving the Denver Nuggets first surfaced this afternoon, I was skeptical. Generally when a rumor involving the Nuggets gets out, it is a sure sign that the Nuggets have moved on and the trade is not happening. Of course, my interest was piqued due to the fact the Nuggets were reportedly pursuing Andre Igoudala, the one player I have gone on record coveting. Even so, I was not going to allow myself to get too excited.
Sometimes, the grass really is greener.
When JaVale McGee was traded to the Denver Nuggets mid-season, the opportunity to escape from the highly dysfunctional atmosphere of the Washington Wizards organization and make a new start must truly have been a breath of fresh air.
One hardly need look further than former Wizards beat writer Jay Glassie’s scathing takedown of Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld to understand just how toxic the organizational environment was in Washington. Glassie, who actually quit covering the Wizards because he had gotten so fed up, goes into great detail explaining what he call the “incredible losing culture” of that organization. Many NBA fans are familiar with the headline-making incidents from that time period, most infamously when Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton reportedly pulled guns on each other in the locker room in December 2009, but behavioral and PR issues weren’t the only problems going on there. Those seeped deeply into basketball territory as well.
And for a young, raw, immature player in need of structure, discipline and veteran leadership, this clearly was infertile soil to be rooted in. McGee at one point asked Grunfeld “for a big man coach, and Grunfeld said he could have one if he paid for it himself”. It’s stunning that Washington would spurn cultivating one their most prized young assets, turning their backs on the opportunity to develop his game and facilitate his ambition to improve.
In vivid contrast, the Nuggets have (more…)
One of my favorite moments of the 2012 adidas Nations took place just as the camp was wrapping up, as the college counselors completed their final scrimmages and prepared to move on towards their NBA goals. Arron Afflalo showed up and actually played in the final game, pitting himself against collegiate stars like Andre Roberson, Steven Adams, Ray McCallum and Isaiah Austin. Afflalo played with a cool, distinguished demeanor most of the game before taking over in the fourth quarter and overtime of what became an intensely competitive, high-level game. Andre Roberson showed tremendous growth throughout the camp and went out with a bang, scoring 14 points on 6-7 shooting along with 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. He had a chance at a last second tip-in on the final play of regulation, but wasn’t able to put it down and Arron Afflalo’s heroics sealed the 86-81 overtime win.
Dwight Howard showed up to the gym unannounced and right after the game concluded, he gathered Roberson and the rest of the college counselors to share his wisdom before they parted ways with each other and the adidas Nations team. It was amazing to see how hungry and appreciative Roberson became throughout the course of the camp, and especially how eager he was to soak up every little bit of knowledge he could even as the on-court work was over with. Roberson played with much more confidence in his final game and sustained a high level of effort throughout. Although I already interviewed Roberson on the first day of the event, I caught up with him one last time to see just what he was taking away from the experience.
It was great getting to know Andre throughout the adidas Nations, who you can follow on Twitter @FlyDre21. The 2012 adidas Nations wraps up tomorrow night for the championship round of games in Long Beach, CA. It will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports network, so check the local TV listings and be sure to tune in and watch if you can. As always, stick with RMC for more coverage when the event concludes on Monday night.