The Denver Nuggets are now 11 games into the season, and with just five wins under their belt they will be trying to get back up to .500 tomorrow against Dallas.
This is a small sample of games – certainly not significant enough to project what will happen in the latter half of the season, especially considering the fact that the team is adjusting to a new system and missing two of its best players in Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee. It is enough, however, to see a picture emerging of how things have gone for Denver so far, and what they might be able to do to improve.
Here we will take a statistical snapshot of where the Nuggets are at now, as well as what they’re doing differently (and – spoiler alert – mostly worse) than last season. This post will focus on Denver’s team offense, so look for more analysis on team defense and individual player performance in future Data Mining installments. (more…)
For the second time this season the Nuggets held their opponent to under 90 points and secured a big win against a talented opponent in the process. Jordan Hamilton shined while Ty Lawson struggled, and to nobody’s surprise Nate Robinson took a lot of shots and missed a lot of shots.
A few nights ago I was watching college basketball. This year’s impressive crop of college freshman were on display, all turning in big performances. One of those players was Jabari Parker. My goodness, Jabari Parker. I’ve been watching college basketball with an eye focused on scouting for three to four years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player dominate the way he has right from the start. And the crazy thing? Jabari Parker isn’t even ranked as the top prospect on the few scouting websites I trust most — which kinda got me thinking about the Nuggets, as I often do in life when I start thinking deeply about anything. I pondered the Nuggets draft situation this upcoming year, the fact the Nuggets have only one pick instead of two — which they originally had but changed when they sent one of those picks to Orlando in the Arron Afflalo trade — and how the Nuggets lost a lot more than just Andre Iguodala when he left this past summer. But what I thought about most, what I kept coming back to, was that…
In the waning moments of an impressive first quarter in Minnesota, Ty Lawson casually brought the ball up the court as a ready Ricky Rubio, one of the best point guard defenders in the league, stood the lone obstacle between Lawson and the rim. After a one dribble crossover that left Rubio’s legs crisscrossed above the free throw line, Lawson had breached the paint before any Wolves defender had time to register the immanent threat to the basket.
The second a rotating Kevin Love had his foot planted in the restricted area, Lawson was in the air, his hand underneath the ball just long enough for Love’s momentum to carry him out of the passing lane, before a casual, mid-air flip to a cutting Mozgov put the ball in the 7-foot Russian’s hands before Lawson’s feet even had time to hit the hardwood.
The play was over as quick as it began, a bang-bang sequence that would’ve been shocking in its blinding display of skill and brevity if not for the fact that some varying form of that Lawson drive had not already victimized the Wolves just two possessions prior. The fact is that drive, the ease in which it was executed, and the results it produced, has become a staple of Lawson’s game, a weapon teams don’t seem to have an answer for.
Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend
During the preseason, NBA analysts, pundits, and fans were predicting the Nuggets to finish anywhere from a low playoff seed to near the bottom of the league. After nine games, the 4-5 Nuggets have done little to change anyone’s mind.
Ty Lawson’s current averages of 21 points, 4 rebounds, and nearly 9 assists are all career highs. Wilson Chandler has been shooting extremely well from outside, and Timofey Mozgov has been a force on defense and in the pick and roll. The Nuggets have had fourth quarter leads in all but two games. On the down side, long-term injuries to Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee will keep the Nuggets from reaching full strength until January or later. Aside from Ty Lawson, the rest of the Nuggets’ guards have played inconsistently on both ends, with only a couple of good games each. The defense is still a work in progress, particularly in the frontcourt. Coach Shaw continues to run experimental lineups that are sometimes successful but more often terrible. With three tough tests coming this week, the Nuggets will need to improve quickly to keep pace.
Current record and standings: 4-5 (3-2 home, 1-3 road), tied with Memphis for 10th place in the West.
Upcoming games: Monday @ Oklahoma City, Thursday vs Chicago, Saturday vs Dallas
Prior to the Nuggets-Timberwolves matchup tonight at 6 p.m. MST on ESPN, Roundball Mining Company was lucky enough to catch up with current ESPN analyst and three-time NBA champion Bruce Bowen. In our brief interview Bowen discusses the value of JaVale McGee, being patient with Brian Shaw and which starting point guard has the edge between Ty Lawson and Ricky Rubio.
In Utah, both Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried registered double-doubles, and the Nuggets blew out the Jazz 30-13 in the fourth quarter to secure their second win of the season, and first on the road. (more…)
Going into the season, we were all mentally prepared for how bad the defense was going to be, especially when factoring in the absence of Denver’s two best wing defenders. But what has occurred over the span of these four games has been an organization-wide breakdown on a fundamental level when it comes to defense, from system to effort to the makeup of the roster. We’ve already covered the big man dilemma as well as the inability to defend the three, now it’s time to dig into the high pick and roll defense.
The basics of Denver’s pick and roll defensive principles is essentially for the traditional centers, McGee and Mozgov, to drop back to around the free throw line when defending a screener and for everyone else (essentially anyone guarding the screener) to hedge high. The theory behind hedging is basically for the defending big is to impede the ball handlers path around the screen enough so to give the ball handlers’ defender enough time to navigate the screen. Considering the kinds of athletes Denver employes at the forward positions, and the diminutive nature of the backcourt, this kind of help and recover system should, in theory, work out well. In theory.
Although Ty Lawson turned in one of his best performances as a young Denver Nugget, his team couldn’t find any form of consistency on the defensive side of the ball and once again allowed the opponent’s front line to have career days all around. The Nuggets are now 1-4 on the season and looking more and more like a lottery team.
Through the first two games of the season plenty of things have gone wrong for the Nuggets. They can’t seem to consistently score in the half court, their shot chart looks almost the exact opposite of what teams should strive for, and their defense can’t stop any opposing big man.
But possibly the worst problem the Nuggets have had through two games has been their “defense” of the three pointer. The Kings and Blazers went a combined 22 of 43 on three point attempts, good for 51 percent shooting and Denver is lucky that things are only that bad.
I went back and watched video of every three pointer that Denver has allowed this season and charted them in an attempt to see where the biggest problems were.
The Denver Nuggets have played two games. Neither has been pretty. And though there’s still 80 more games to be played, the first two outings have gotten our writers to thinking: Just where exactly will the Nuggets be eight months from now? In our latest Roundball Roundtable five of our writers have attempted to answer that very question. These are the answers they’ve presented…
It’s hard to know how much to extrapolate from the first couple games of the season, as the morning dew from the new year still lays damp upon both arena and player alike. But if there has been any clear takeaway from Denver’s first two games it’s that the front court rotation is a rolling tire fire right now. No front court combination has logged more than 26 minutes together and Brian Shaw is currently juggling the unwieldy number of five big men in and out of the rotation.
The starting pair of McGee and J.J. Hickson is perhaps the most egregious miscalculation and the one who’s change seems the most immanent. Offensively, neither Hickson nor McGee seems to understand how to properly space the floor, despite J.J. being a threat in the pick and pop.
In what surely had to be one of the more disappointing season openers in recent memory, the Nuggets put forth a confused and defensively-bereft effort Friday night as they succumbed to the Blazers in ugly fashion. Point guards Nate Robinson and Ty Lawson each scored over 20, while Brian Shaw once again juggled with an 11-man rotation that failed to produce any form of cohesion. Additional grades and notes below.
The regular season is upon us, ladies and gentlemen. On Tuesday six teams began their 2013-14 campaigns and the altered roster of the Denver Nuggets will go through their initiation Wednesday evening. The first confrontation of the year will come in the form of the Sacramento Kings.
There’s been much fan controversy in the preseason surrounding the battle at power forward between incumbent starter Kenneth Faried and summer transplant J.J. Hickson. This debate was taken to a new heights Monday night when the Denver Nuggets’ Twitter account published a tweet stating, “With Kenneth Faried just returning from hamstring strain, Although many Nuggets fans (including yours truly) are admittedly partial towards the Manimal, Brian Shaw certainly is not. Brian Shaw’s primary objective is to win basketball games by implementing a system he believes in. If this means Hickson wins the starting job, that’s Shaw’s prerogative to decide. And though many fans may remain baffled by this development, the following series of numbers and charts should offer a reasonable explanation as to why Shaw’s leaning towards the decision he is. coach Brian Shaw leaning toward starting J.J. Hickson Wednesday.”