#NuggetsRank No. 12: Kosta Koufos

Some Denver Nuggets fans may find it surprising that the No. 12 player in Roundball Mining Company’s #NuggetsRank series is Kosta Koufos. After all, he may have started the season coming off the bench, but he performed admirably as a starter after Timofey Mozgov went down with an ankle injury in early February last season. In fact, the Nuggets won 16 of the 24 games Koufos started (a .667 winning percentage, good for nearly 55 wins in an 82 game season) as opposed to breaking even at 12-12 in the 24 games he played as a reserve. By comparison, Denver won 20 of 35 games which Mozgov started (.571, or 47 wins in an 82 game season).

This raises the question: Why is Koufos ranked so low as to indicate he might be best kept out of the regular rotation? ESPN’s David Thorpe would surely take issue with this. He recently wrote an article for Insider predicting that the young center is up for a breakout season. Thorpe believes that Koufos is more likely than Mozgov to earn over 20 minutes per game backing up JaVale McGee, and considers him a future starter who could have a breakthrough in 2012-13 which mirors that of Marcin Gortat.

As our ranking reflects, it’s safe to say that none of us here at RMC appear to be quite as bullish as Thorpe on Koufos. But it should be pointed out that in our voting, the cluster of players above the bottom three had very little separation, and if Koufos makes some tangible progress this season he should easily ascend to a #NuggetsRank several notches higher next year.

In order to reach the next tier, however, he will need to find his way to addressing at least some of his limitations. Thorpe correctly pointed out his highly efficient true shooting percentage (.608, scond on the team only to Kenneth Faried at .618), as well as his offensive and total rebound rates, which are both near the top in the NBA. But although these numbers don’t lie, neither do they tell the whole story.

This may well sound like a vague critique, but to me the best reason for ranking Koufos in the bottom five is that he doesn’t make himself an impactful presense on the court. This manifests itself in a variety of ways. Most obviously, on the physical front he’s clearly outmatched in the size and strengh department by his counterpart Mozgov.

At no time was this clearer than in the playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Koufos probably gets a disproportionately bad rap for these performances, and a Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum frontcourt creates very specific matchup issues. That said, Koufos simply wasn’t able to bring the physicality necessary to make much of any impact whatsoever. Granted, not every team can deploy such a formidable lineup, but even so he will need to bulk up at least a little more to be more effective in getting good position, denying good position to his defensive assignments, boxing out and holding onto the ball when he gets it down low.

Koufos does indeed have an impressive TS%, but it loses its luster a bit when we take a closer look. The numbers at MySynergySports.com reveal that there are five types of plays which comprise the vast majority of Koufos’ shots: cuts (31.6 percent of his plays), offensive rebounds (25 percent), as the pick and roll roll man (13.7 percent), post-up (12.1 percent) and in transition (9 percent). If we divide these into two categories, shots that are the result of opportunity (offensive rebounds and transition plays), and the others which are the product of actual offensive plays, we can see that Koufos excels at scoring opportunistically, but is more pedestrian in the regular flow of the offense.

Shooting in transition and off of offensive boards, Koufos made 51 of 72 attempts for an incredibly efficient .708 field goal percentage. In post-ups, cuts and as the roll man he made 63 of 177 attempts, a .538 FG%, and in essence, these roughly three out of five shots are the ones which require execution on offense. .538 may not look so bad, but it’s well below the league average of a .627 percentage for at-rim field goals. Additionally, his usage rate of 14.0 is second lowest on the team, higher only than Julyan Stone at 11.7. Given this, and the fact that he actually did struggle more offensively as a starter, with his FG% dropping from .636 as a bench player to .574, it seems unlikely that if he were to get more minutes and more touches that his shooting numbers would hold.

Now to be clear, the fact that his TS% gets a boost from a big share of high percentage shots is a good thing for the Nuggets as it increases their overall offensive efficiency. And I certainly do not mean to disparage the high value of offensive rebounds and fast break opportunities. One of Koufos’ greatest assets for this team is his ability to run the floor and move well without the ball, and it’s an aspect of his game which meshes perfectly with Denver’s style.

But in terms of these rankings, that’s part of the point. In discussing how to evaluate the Nuggets players, it was suggested (I believe by Charlie) that we should consider not only how well each player has played for the Nuggets, but how well he would fare if he played for any team in the league. Koufos is improving, but it’s pretty clear that he’s also reaping the benefits of playing in a system that amplifies his strengths.

In order to truly elevate his game to the next level, Koufos must cultivate a more reliable and diverse offensive cache which is based not only on hustle, but on executing in the half court. He does seem to be the more highly skilled player between he and Mozgov, but (and again, this may seem somewhat subjective) he needs to find a way to impact the game more. He almost seems to be somewhat of an Bizarro Corey Brewer. Rather than playing beyond his abilities, he seems not to push them quite to their limits. Which is not to suggest that he doesn’t play hard; he does. But if he can’t find a way to make his presence felt and respected more on the court, it’s doubtful he’ll become a starter in the NBA, and more likely that he’ll settle into a Chris Andersen-esque career 20 minute guy niche. Developing a more reliable offensive skill set could be one tangible step in the right direction.

In the meantime, the success the Nuggets had with Koufos as a starter last season will surely have earned him the chance to get some significant playing time this season. If he’s truly capable of a breakout year, he’ll get his chance to prove it.

  • blackhill

    W

  • blackhill

    Way too low. He’ll get more minutes than AR, J-Ham, Brewer and, probably, Mozzy. KK is a solid rotation center and, as such, is clearly a top 10 player for the Nugs.

    • https://twitter.com/denbutsu denbutsu

      I actually agree. In our voting I was the only one who had him 9th and the others had him 11th or 12th, but I tried to write this representing the consensus view. If I didn’t succeed I hope the other contributors will add their $0.02. But do keep in mind, as I mentioned in the post, that the vote separation in the cluster of the four or five players in the 12/11/10/… spots was very minimal, so even if he looks very low by rank here, by degrees he was right in there with that tier of players.

  • Aaron

    Koufus Started Over a Guy That Just Got $44 Million Dollars Last Year.

    But Now Hes Our Worst Big Man All Of a Sudden? Even Worse Then Randolph???

    I Don’t Really Understand Having Koufus At #12..

    • Logan

      What can we say… he sucks! KK isn’t good at anything. He is soft in the paint, slow, not a very good rebounder, has no upside and gets garbage points. Randolph, Mozzy, and McGee are better at all those categories then KK, and have potential.

      • jake

        No way. He has good footwork and solid fundamentals. He is our third best big, but he would have played Kurt Thomas’ minutes in Poryland last year. And guess what? He wouldn’t have been knocked the eff out on a trip to Denver. He passes well, plays the trailer on fast break like a monster, and produces really evenly. I like having known quantities. That way you can actually test the mettle of other unknown quantites. Say for instance the lower three on the list here, and probably even Anthony Randolph who is a shoe in for 11th. I called it, and it may actually be out of order, but AR is next, and as unkown as he is, what if we can turn him into an Al Harrington? Big Al would certainly still be among us if his contract were as favorable as AR’s.

        Can we play ball already?

  • dynamo.joe

    Booooo! K2 is the best basketball player of my lifetime and probably the 3rd or 4th on this Nuggets team.

  • Ban Johnson

    Ranking KK behind Hamilton, a guy who hasn’t played any meaningful NBA minutes yet, is an insult.

    Face it: you’re penalizing KK because he looks a little goofy out there.

    • dynamo.joe

      If K2 gets hurt and has to come to the game in a suit and decides to come dressed like Abraham Lincoln:Vampire hunter, I would vote to immediately retire his jersey and raise it to the rafters.

  • Kalen

    Denbutsu mentioned 2 cents so here’s mine:

    This was the only player in our #NuggetsRank series which I didn’t like his placement. Again, to echo what Denbutsu already said, the votes were close. The next player ahead of Koufos beat him by a point if I remember correctly.

    Why I like Koufos is highlighted by Denbutsu in this article. Yes, most of his points come off opportunistic baskets in the execution of the offense, but how many times can we say that about anybody on this team which implements a run-and-gun offense?!? I love that Koufos is scrupulous in how he plays. I love that, although overpowered physically at times, he doesn’t make boneheaded plays or gets caught out of position often. He also plays with an edge that’s not many guys do on this team. I agree that he should be backing up McGee. He’s earned it. Plus, I don’t see other guys on the Nuggets roster being compared to Gortat by one of the best player-analysis writers in the world.

    That’s just my opinion. These rankings are a team thing. All our writers contributed, and positions in the #NuggetsRank were determined fair and square. But obviously from the comments above it seems people feel we ranked him too low, which I won’t disagree withe either.

  • slugdugg

    If I had to guess, I would say that KK will be with the team by the end of the year, and Mozzy will be traded. (hopefully in a package with Chandler for somebody). I think his level head and what i hear to be a great work ethic is going to put Mozgov on the bench more than KK this year.

    Either that or exactly the opposite… who knows

  • Logan

    Finally someone agrees with me. I don’t know why everybody loves him, he was flat-out awful last year and must be the slowest player on the team! Perfect rank! Keep it up!

  • Evan Woodruff

    Is that McGee in the background?

    • Logan

      Nope. Brian Cook.

  • Legalize Denver Nuggets

    I saw KK at 1Up the other night… I think he was on a date. I went and shook his hand, but didn’t want to bug him too much. On his way out, he gave me the 75 cents he had left over. Being that he is the only Nugget to have given me money, I say his ranking is way too low.

  • Nugswin

    He absolutely should be ranked ahead of Jordan Hamilton. Other than that, great post. There is a reason Mozgov was the starter at the beginning of the season and then ended up taking his minutes in the Lakers series. I love that we’ve got him though. Think how many teams don’t have even one 7′ player worth anything and we’ve got three guys who not only have proven they can be solid rotation players on winning teams but are all young and getting better. Awesome.

    I think people tend to over rate him based on him being the starter when, after injuries had just killed the promise from the beginning of the season, we finally went on a nice win streak. But it wasn’t so much him (though it was great that he showed that he can ball in the L) as just inevitability based on the overall quality of the team — we were bound to start getting some Ws. He’s clearly third in the C pecking order based on talent — and I’m sure Mozgov will make that apparent by the time opening day comes around.

  • Gordon

    I thought Koufos had knee tendinitis and a foot issue down the stretch.

    Until somebody can tell me just what injury situation(s) Koufos was playing through at the end of the year, I don’t like dogging him for his LA performance and forgetting some of his stellar effort and D in earlier games.

    I expect a healthy Koufos to be more of a (good) surprise than Mozzy this year. Mozgov has him beat in athleticism, but Koufos has him in technique, hustle, attention to detail… all the things I want from my backup C. Since JaVale has Mozzy beat in most of the athleticism categories as well, the only thing we need Mozgov for is to be a bull in a china shop, and I dunno if we’ll need that as much this year with Bynum out East and Howard recovering from back surgery.

    I think this rating will be shown to be a few spots low come the end of the year – but hopefully that’s a good thing for our team.

    ~G

  • Nugznazty

    I think we gotta trade Mozgov to Prokhorov…he’s overvaluing Russian players right now. With his recent olympic play we could swing chandler, mozzy, and maybe a trade exception into a star player (Batman tricks). K2 is better anyway.

  • http://yahoo mile high

    Don’t agree with the low ranking but it’s just an imaginary number so I’m not gonna fuss over it. In fact, I hope that KK will notice, take offense, and use this as motivation to get more aggressive both physically and mentally.

  • EWilson

    I think there’s a reason the Nuggets signed Koufos to a multi-year contract, but haven’t yet offered an extension to Mozgov. Koufos a better fit for the style they like to play.

    Yes, he needs to get stronger and add some diversity to his offense, but that’s true of a lot of young players. If he can even come close to Marcin Gortat, the Nuggets will be fine in the middle for years to come (barring injury, of course).

    Given that Mozgov’s contract expires this year, I can definitely see him being shipped out for either a shooter or a veteran big man who focusses on defense and rebounding. If not, it certainly doesn’t hurt the Nuggets to have a lot of big bodies that bang, and expend 18 fouls. There are a multitude of teams that can barely but one credible 7-footer on the floor.

  • Charlie

    He’s a good player and there is still hope for a good deal of growth and improvement.

    What gives me pause is the fact he struggled as his role increased. He’s not a bruiser who gives the Nuggets a physical presence at the 5, but he’s also not a finesse guy who can command special attention with his offense.

    I don’t get the sense Koufos knows how he wants to play when he gets in the game. He does what he’s told and gives good effort, but has to develop something that sets him apart in order to progress.

    • Denver4ever

      I kinda agree with Charlie here. Kosta seems to be at his best if he is given short minutes. If he gets more minutes his effectiveness lessens, or should I say he himself softens. That’s the reason why Denbutsu said K2 doesn’t make plays that changes the game dramatically.

    • jake

      Charlie, your objective and skillfully composed answers are one of the reasons I read here. I really dig your work.

    • Greco21

      His role increased during February when Mozzy had his ankle sprained every now and then. He assumed a starter position. Look at the stats and the efficiency. They increased accordingly.

      I agree with you on the point that he is not clear. The only thing he did was to obay the coach and play ONLY the weak side. After a catastrophic seazon in Minnesota and being the 3rd in the string (not mentioning small ball options) the only thing he wanted (i assume) was to earn minutes. So he stuck with the plan. Weak side, positive performance and hustle, no extras.

      But the extra value to me hides in his aweraness. Offensive and Defensive.

      I guess that is the the trade off from becoming a post player after spending so much time in the high post.

      P.S. And yes… during the Lakers games he was clearly injured. He is athletic…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn-1ZWoTf8o&feature=plcp

      Remember?

  • http://Denverstiffs.comSlader Richard Greenslade

    K2 shot well from outside in college, and that seems to have faded as he has tried to develop an identity as a post-up banger.

    He might be better off on the high post, but he’ll have to earn (from GK!) the right to attempt anything beyond 6 feet.

    Kosta is young, so let’s hope that means a fair amount of upside. We’ll need the fouls, in any case, for our Smite-a-Dwight defense now that he’s out west.

  • Mike

    Kosta got the shaft. He is worse than a chucker (Hamilton) and the non-russian AnRand. Not a big deal but picking the other guys is pure speculation as they are both more talented than Kosta but have shown attitude/growth issues(Question being are they a team type guy who wants to maximize talent and role/effort for team. They don’t seem to be a negative influence). And Kosta should get extra points for having that semi-beard that makes him look like an Amish gangsta. He needs to work with Weird al yankovich on an album. He could be the delonte west of amish gangsta rap.

  • NateTimmons is a culero/Nugnugz

    since I’ve been unjustly blocked from Denverstiffs.com I thought I’d share with my fellow snug nugz on here the Nuggets’ new alternate unis for 2012-13. A nice blend of old and modern, though I wish they would’ve gone blue instead of yellow.

    http://network.yardbarker.com/nba/article_external/new_denver_nuggets_alternate_jersey_in_nba_2k13/11773543

    • Evan Woodruff

      if this is legit, this is frekken awesome!!!!!! should wear them all the time!

    • DH

      Don’t leave us hanging…. What do you mean you were blocked by DenverStiffs?

      • NateTimmons is a culero/Nugnugz

        I asked SDCat if she wanted to get a “chicken sandwich and grape drink sometime” and told her to private message me if she did and I got warned for sexual harrassment. When I made it public on the board to fellow stiffs that I got warned for sexual harrassment for asking someone to get a chicken sandwich and grape drink (which I find absurd) I was then banned for going public. The people over on that site get way too wrapped up in their power. They think they write for USA Today or something.

        • DH

          Wow! That is absurd. I’ve seen some of the comments made to some of the female members of PurpleRow and yours was tame in comparison. After all you’ve done for Stiffs, I’m stunned. But their loss could be our gain. Hope you stick around RBMC.

          • Nugnugz

            RBMC’s content already enters in on a higher intellectual level which should deter tomfoolery (including my own!). I like this site very much and hope to contribute.

            With that said, I’m so excited for this season to begin. For the first time in several years I’ll be getting League Pass so I can watch every Nuggets game (I unfortunately live in Minnesota). I fully expect the Nuggets to be legit this year.

            • http://DenverStiffs Nate Timmons – Denver Stiffs

              Nugnugz – what you failed to mention is the numerous times you actually did cross the line with a female member of Denver Stiffs. I couldn’t allow you to start down that same path once again. I also asked you twice to email me and we could talk it out – I’d even talk over the phone if need be. I’m not sure why you didn’t take me up on my offer and email me (I gave you my email address), my email is on the site, but we could have a simple and easy conversation.

              My friends/colleagues here do great work and I don’t want to step on their websites toes anymore than this.

              Have a good one man, still your move.
              -Nate Timmons

    • Kalen

      Those are sick!!! Yellow with mountains?!? Let’s just hope those actually come to fruition.

      And please, guys, as Denbutsu has already stated, lets keep the comments to this site and this article only. Thanks.

  • jake

    Blogwars!!!!!

  • https://twitter.com/denbutsu denbutsu

    Guys, as you know I’m relatively new here. As such, I have no idea what the RMC comments policies are, or if there even are any (it’s something I just haven’t discussed yet with the others). What I do know is that we have a friendly personal and Nuggets-based relationship with the Denver Stiffs writers and site (and I think in principle this would extend to pretty much any other NBA news or blogs out there). Of course different fans will gravitate to different sites and have their own opinions and preferences, and that’s all fine and natural. Personally speaking, I don’t really feel comfortable with seeing RMC used as a platform for bashing other sites, and I hope I’m not being too presumptuous in guessing that Jeremy, Charlie and Kalen would agree with this sentiment. So I guess I’d just say that if you guys can respect that, out of professional and personal courtesy, we’d rather not have this space be used in that way, it would be greatly appreciated. We are right on the cusp of what should be one of the most enjoyable and exciting Nuggets seasons in recent or even distant memory. Let’s make the most of it.

  • jim

    anybody read cpalmer’s ESPNinsider article from today about the nuggets having the pieces to be a contender —and care to share?

    • Kalen

      I read it. I haven’t read a lot of Palmer’s stuff before. It was good. He just kind of highlighted who’s on the team, strengths of each player, etc. But I agree with him in that the Nuggets should be able to put up a fight in the West this year. Outside of the Lakers and Thunder, there’s not one team I can look at and say is definitively better than the Nuggets. Then again, I’ve kind of been saying that for the last five years…

    • Mike

      Meh. Said the battle for starting SG was wide open with Evan fournier having a shot at taking it. This is in a paragraph immediately preceded by describing Iguodala who will OBVIOUSLY be the starting SG…. Suggested Gallo was a matchup nightmare, but he had reached a “plateau in skill development.”
      Did correctly identify their biggest defensive weakness, opp 3 pt shooting… lawson, Iguodala and Mcgee are intriguing set to potentially make a run, but team needs to increase defensive efficiency to become legit…

  • jim

    cool, thanks. i’m with you all – i’m pretty excited about this year, but fournier is not my main concern with a real chance for being in the mix. lawson, gallo, faried, mcgee, probably chandler and at least one more big all need to take some big steps.

    • Daniel Y

      Overview
      A familiar refrain about the Denver Nuggets: “They’re going to be scary in the playoffs.”

      That’s what people always say. Every year around playoff time, the Denver Nuggets seem to fall into the category of the Team Nobody Wants To Play. The reasoning behind the label being, of course, that the upset-minded Nuggets are talented, athletic and overlooked enough to knock off a contender looking ahead to the second round.

      It’s a nice compliment for an upstart squad, a role Denver has played admirably. But as the team sets its sights on bigger things, it’s time to grow out of the role of pretender.

      As currently constructed, Denver’s talent will keep the Nuggets in games. But this is the NBA, and a tantalizingly talented roster will only get you so far — as displayed by the team’s first-round playoff exit last season. However, last season that talent was good enough to make them a tough draw each night even if they had the occasional bout with inconsistency.

      The Nuggets were one of just two playoff teams with a losing record in their own division yet finished with the third best road record in the West. Their 38-28 overall record was good enough to earn the sixth seed in the playoffs, which matched them with the Lakers, whom they ran ragged before ultimately losing in seven games.

      In the end, their inability to stop teams was their own undoing. Getting back on defense and poor handling of the pick-and-roll proved to be chronic problems. But if you’re looking for an intriguing squad that could potentially shake up the balance of power in the West — or at least offer up a serious monkey wrench — well, you’ve found it.

      This season, thanks to the arrival of small forward Andre Iguodala and the expected development of key young stars, the Nuggets are poised to take a step (maybe even two) forward in their chase for a title. How big those steps are will likely be determined by their progression on the defensive side of the ball, an area it won’t be too hard to improve upon considering they gave up 101.2 points per game last season, which ranked 29th in the league.

      We know they can be scary. But can they actually contend?

      Additions
      One of the major ripples of the Dwight Howard saga unexpectedly included the Nuggets, who sent shooting guard Arron Afflalo and small forward Al Harrington to Orlando and in turn received Andre Iguodala. The versatile small forward represents an interesting change in direction for Denver; as the only Olympian to change teams this summer, Iguodala gives Denver a new franchise face around whom it can build a legitimate contender. I’ve often referred to Iguodala as a poor man’s LeBron James, as the ninth-year small forward was the only player last season other than James to average at least 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Throw in his ability to handle the ball at speed on the break and finish with the best of them at the rim, and his well-deserved LeBron-lite status seems to fit perfectly with Denver’s run-and-fun style.

      But the true measure of Iguodala’s impact will be on defense. His last coach, Doug Collins, once referred to him as the best perimeter defender at his position. Last season the Nuggets’ general lack of interest in defense kept them from being taken seriously as a legit contender. The hope is that Iguodala begins to change that with regard to mentality and results. His ability to lock down elite scorers and grab long rebounds should impact the Nuggets right out of the gate.

      Denver’s other key addition was French swingman Evan Fournier, whom the Nuggets selected with the 20th pick in the June draft. His skill set and body type are strikingly similar to countryman Nicolas Batum. The very long Fournier plays with an admirable toughness and has the form to develop into an excellent shooter at the NBA level. With Afflalo out of the picture, the battle for the starting shooting guard spot is wide open; in scanning Denver’s roster, it’s reasonable to assume the 19-year-old rookie has as good a shot as anyone to claim it.

      Key personnel
      Ty Lawson could be Denver’s most important player. Though it seems that every year he is pegged to have a breakout season, every year Lawson inches forward but doesn’t quite explode in a manner that would brand him as an A-list star. With a capable cast around him and more than enough seasoning, this needs to be the season Lawson joins the ranks of the NBA’s elite point guards.

      Lawson was simply marvelous last season in the first round of the playoffs against the Lakers, averaging 19.0 points, 6.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game while shooting a scorching 51.4 percent from the field. For sustained stretches he was the best player on the floor and looked as though he was finally busting out. Nuggets head coach George Karl has been after him to develop better leadership tendencies for a while, and Lawson must accept the added responsibility.

      JaVale McGee adds to a roster with three talented centers.
      Anchoring the middle is JaVale McGee, the ultra-rangy, fourth-year center who is an enigma of sorts. One moment he’s using his spectacular athleticism to put the ball in the basket in eye-popping and unusual ways. The next he’s suffering through spells of invisibility and missed defensive assignments.

      After flashing so much potential it seems McGee has finally realized it’s time to get the most out of his massive talent. This past summer he spent time under the watchful eye of big man footwork-guru and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Picking up the phone to set up time with Olajuwon usually signifies that a player is ready to get serious about his game. A couple of back-to-the-basket moves sprinkled in with an occasional up-and-under move would look good alongside McGee’s jump hook, which is improving but still shaky. While already a quality shot-blocker, McGee also has the potential to be a world-class defender but must master the finer points of rotation and position defense to go along with his crowd-pleasing, volleyball-style swats.

      Danilo Gallinari put up some solid numbers last season and showed nice offensive aggressiveness — he’s a matchup nightmare for even the staunchest defenders — but may have plateaued in terms of his skill development. Undersized second-year power forward Kenneth Faried was one of the league’s pleasant surprises last season. His infectious enthusiasm and energy — he was the only rookie to average a double-double in the playoffs (10.4 points, 10.0 rebounds) — could emerge as the Nuggets’ defining quality.

      Telling stat: 38.3
      That’s what opponents shot against the Nuggets from 3-point range, ranking them last in the league in defending beyond the arc. In other words, nearly every team the Nuggets faced morphed into a quality 3-point shooting team for the night.

      Lackadaisical perimeter defense is a clear-cut sign that a team is not a championship contender. With so much length on the perimeter, that percentage summed up Denver’s lack of defensive urgency last season. It’s a key adjustment they’ll need to make if they want to be taken seriously as a contender. The addition of Iguodala just became a heck of a lot more important.

      What needs to go right?
      If you forget about experience for a moment and focus on matchups, Denver surprisingly matches up with the Heat better than most contenders. They’ve got one thing most teams are clearly without — a wing defender (Iguodala) who can at the very least slow down LeBron James. They’ve also got enough firepower to run step for step with Miami. Now back to that experience thing. On the real road to a championship, you can’t simply discard the all-important ingredient that is experience. As a team, the Nuggets don’t even come close to matching the experience and gamesmanship of the defending champs. That goes double for their porous defense, which is nowhere near championship caliber.

      But in terms of pure athleticism, it’s tough to find another roster as stacked as the one in Denver. There’s speed and athletic skill at every position. And aside from the stocky Lawson at point, Denver is one of the longest teams in the league. The core of Lawson, Iguodala and McGee is an intriguing trio that could leave defenses scratching their heads. It’s certainly a group with the makings of a contender. The much-needed advancements on defense and Lawson maturing into a legitimate, trustworthy leader will be major factors in guiding the Nuggets’ transformation.

      If those things fail to come to pass, just remember that scary teams usually aren’t very scary after they’ve been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

      It’s an ok article but he does seem to contradict himself quite a bit. When he said Evan Fournier has a chance to claim the starting SG spot, I laughed out loud and shot my venti non-fat mocha through my nose. He obviously doesn’t know George Karl and his mandatory rookie bench warming year. IMO, AI at the SG is the only feasible option considering the tremendous depth at the 3. Plus there is J Ham and Corey Brewer all ahead of Frenchy on the depth chart. I’m guessing we’ll see him and Quincy in the D-league unless there are some serious injury issues.

      Anyway thats my opinion. When is number 11 coming?? My guess: Anthony Randolph.

      • Aaron

        You Should Start Your Own Blog Or RMC Should Give You a Job Here Cuz Your Stuff if Pretty Great Man.

        • Daniel Y

          ha. That wasn’t my article. Jim was asking to see the Insider article written by Chris Palmer on the ESPN Insider page so I copied and pasted it so he could read it. The last paragraph is my opinion.

  • George S.

    Interesting that Karl says Koufas has been the #1 big man in camp.

    Could McGee play PF behind Faried?