A look at some Denver Nuggets perimeter defense breakdowns [VIDEO]

In a previous post on how Andre Iguodala may bolster the Denver Nuggets perimeter defense, a troubling fact was brought to light: In terms of field goal percentages allowed, in both long range 2-point and 3-point shots the Nuggets were dead last in the league last season. Allowing a long-two field goal percentage of 41.4 and an effective field goal percentage of 57.5 from beyond the arc, there’s really no two ways about it. When it came to defending outside shots, Denver was the bottom of the barrel.

The goal in making this video is to zoom in on the variety of ways in which Denver’s perimeter defense broke down in 2011-12. We should have more analysis on this later, but in the meantime, please feel free to pick these clips apart in the comments. For the time being, the only thing I’d offer as a general, overarching observation is that as I put this video together it became increasingly apparent to me that simply improving communication and decreasing confusion — ie. teaching the young players to develop a better understanding of rotating, recovering, switching, and knowing what to do when they get back in transition — could improve this defense by leaps and bounds. Given this, it may be the case that even more imp;ortant than his individual defensive skills, Andre Iguodala’s ability to quarterback a defense could facilitate a marked improvement in this team.

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • blackhill

    another great post

  • dynamo.joe

    I saw 2 things: 1) a lack of confidence in teammates leading to everyone collapsing on the ball, leaving guys wide open. 2) I really like Julyan Stone on D.

    • dynamo.joe

      Oh 3 things; Denbutsu I like your videos, but 1 of the transitions was so long that I started checking my computer to see if my interwebs had gone down.

      Its a nit, but I’m picking it.

      • https://twitter.com/denbutsu denbutsu

        Some of the plays were actually a little difficult to classify. I was careful to say that the transition plays were either “in” or “created by” transition. Even if some of them are long, I do think they share the common element of the Nuggets players not getting back to the right spots quickly enough.

        There’s also some crossover between the slow rotations/losing their man and contested sots. I think it might even be the first play in the video where Lawson does fly out at the 3-shooter, so technically the shot might be considered contested, but not very well because he actually did lose his assignment and was too slow to get there. In reality, most of these plays have more than one problem going on (more often than not as a result of switching). So my classification is somewhat arbitrary, but intended to highlight specific areas of failure.

        • http://nuggets.proboards.com LotharBot

          I think he meant “transitions” as in “gaps between video segments”. A couple of them were long enough that it made it look like the video had frozen.

          • dynamo.joe

            Ya, that’s what I meant.

            As far as classifying the reasons for defensive breakdowns, I think we all know its always going to be a judgement call to one degree or another.

            I should have used a different word, but I wasn’t thinking of the multiple meanings of the word when I was writing. My bad.

            • https://twitter.com/denbutsu denbutsu

              Ha, no need to say “my bad”. Now that I understand (duh), it’s pretty obvious. The length of those titles is just the software default. In the future I’ll try to clip them shorter. I do see what you mean now, and I agree, they go too long.

  • GK4Prez

    I notice on several of these defensive sets that the breakdown starts with the opposing pg/primary ball handler. The Nuggets bigs rarely hedge on a screen to stop the ball, instead they like to switch and then switch back and several times when this happens the defensive player that is on the ball winds up trailing the play on defense giving the opposing team a 5 on 4 advantage where the open man is usually in the corner or on the elbow behind the arc.

  • parkhill

    Teams shot well against us last year, its almost as if they know they have to. In general, teams get up for the Nuggs as if we’ve won something.

    One thing Ujiri, nor anyone in the Karl era, has not done is bring in a coach to establish defensive and rebounding culture.

    As a result, Miller can not sag a play like the old man at the Y. C Brew (and Rudy too) needed to be more judicious with the steal attempts.

    Karl is not an x and o guy and it shows on inbound plays.

    Funny, sad and enlightening video.

    • GK4Prez

      Good observation Parkhill, you can definitely catch Miller sagging in a few of those clips.

  • slugdugg

    I think if GK would coach them to stop switching as the first option a bunch of the problems would be mitigated at least. When the player with possession dribbles through 2 or 3 screens, and they all get switched… the defense ends up as a disorganized zone where all the players first impulse is to collapse towards the paint. I just don’t get the feeling GK cares enough about this to analyze whether he is part of the problem.

    Slightly off-but-still-related-topic: Actually pick and roll/screens is my number one ongoing beef with the way the Nuggets play, not only on defense but on offense. I HATE that our bigs are constantly slipping screens that they set… it effectively lets the screened opponent just run right back on the dribbler. I find myself fantasizing about the Michael Doleac days… because I think that’s the last time we had a big who committed to the pick. Because we don’t have any postup game the bigs never try to pick the defender and carry the defender with them down into the paint. Think how rarely Ty had a defensive big stuck covering him on the perimeter… I bet we were worst in the league there too.

    • dynamo.joe

      You THINK Karl may bear some responsibility for the constant switching? I’m pretty sure he is the one saying “I want you to keep switching”.

      • GK4Prez

        GK is definitely the reason why the bigs slip screens on offense, he has said as much in some of the practice video/interviews he has had. He says that a screen forces a play to take too long to develop.