So you’re telling me there’s a chance

Messing around on my computer after I got home from work on Tuesday, I did the usual “Start randomly clicking on things and an hour later you’re pensively browsing the Greater Roadrunner entree on Wikipedia” routine, when in the process I ended up at ESPN’s 2014 Lottery Mock Draft generator — which is not a very productive place to find yourself if your favorite NBA team is in the lottery. At first I hit the “Play Lottery” button as a way to see all the different scenarios in which teams like the Lakers, Pistons and Bucks could maneuver in the top half of the lottery. And then I realized something. I realized the Nuggets actually have a chance of moving up into one of the top three spots on draft night. And although it’s a long shot –  a very long shot — the possibility alone intrigued me enough to write 800 words about the subject, which is 800 more words than I was planning on writing this evening.

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Dearth of financial flexibility and open roster spots may result in a quiet Nuggets offseason

Although chaos ruled last summer’s Nuggets offseason, this year it may be defined by calm.

Going into the 2014 offseason, the Nuggets have a roster likely to remain loaded up at or near the 15-player maximum. Of their current 15 contracted players, only two are expiring – Jan Vesely and Aaron Brooks. Another two, Darrell Arthur and Nate Robinson, have player options but have both expressed interest in staying with the Nuggets. And Denver will surely hang onto the only remaining player whose 2014-15 salary is not guaranteed. The coaching staff and front office have highly praised Quincy Miller’s progress this season, and will be looking to continue his development.

So if the Nuggets let Vesely and Brooks walk, they will be entering the offseason with only two open roster spots. (more…)

Roundball Roundtable: Predicting the Nuggets’ storybook ending

For the first time in over a decade the Denver Nuggets will not play in the NBA postseason. It’s an odd feeling and many fans are rightfully anxious about the team’s long-term future. For most casual sports followers, peering into the Crystal Ball of Tomorrow is simple. You know — for the most part — the security of your coach and team executives, as well as which players will return and which will hit the open market. But what about two, three, even five years down the road? After a season like the one the Nuggets had, isn’t that where all our heads really are? It was this very question that birthed the concept of our latest Roundball Roundtable where we attempt — although admittedly, somewhat blindly — to project where the Nuggets are heading in the very distant future based on developments from only this past season. As always, we encourage you to play along and submit your answer to the following question in the comments section below.

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Rapid Reaction: Golden State Warriors 116, Denver Nuggets 112

Welp, that just happened. The 2013-14 Denver Nuggets season has officially come to a (somewhat brutal) end. The Nuggets fought hard the whole game but just didn’t bring the right type of mindset from the start to win. Throw in Jordan Crawford scoring a career high 40-something points (no box scores are working for this game) and that’s pretty much the recipe for a terrible way to end the season!

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105 Los Angeles Clippers 117

The Nuggets fell behind early and never led in their penultimate game of the 2013-2014 season, a 12-point loss to the Clippers in LA.

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Potential found in a lost season

Much has been made this season about what the 2013-14 Denver Nuggets are not. They’re not a good team, first and foremost. They’re not healthy. They’re inconsistent. They lack defensive fundamentals that are often a hallmark of championship-contending teams. But for everything the Denver Nuggets are not, there are many things they are — which deserve recognition as dusk approaches on the season.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101 Utah Jazz 94

In a less-than-meaningful game between two lottery-bound teams, bad offense ruled the day. Then, the second half came along and Denver exploded for 67 points, defeating the Jazz for their third straight win.

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By the Numbers: Do double-doubles matter?

Among many NBA fans, announcers, headline writers and – most especially – fantasy team managers, double-doubles seem to possess an almost mystical quality. They’re esteemed as a sort of litmus test of production, a reliable quick-glance measure of whether a player can fill up the stat sheet.

Analytics geeks and gurus, on the other hand, tend to dismiss the double-double as a rather arbitrary, and unelucidative stat. Sure, the set of players who average double digits in two columns is a fairly select bunch, but nobody’s going to argue that DeAndre Jordan (who’s in the dub-dub club this season) is even remotely close to the caliber of LeBron James and Kevin Durant (who are not).

Despite the fact that I lean heavily toward the latter camp (fantasy team aside), when both Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried put up double-doubles in Denver’s rout of New Orleans, it piqued my curiosity as to the team’s success rate when that happens.

As it turns out, it’s fairly impressive. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 137, New Orleans Hornets 107

Nearly everybody on the roster came to play in what turned out to be one of the Nuggets’ best team performances of the year. Kenneth Faried scored a new career high, while Ty Lawson got back into the double-double category and Aaron Brooks put on yet another show off the bench. Now if the Nuggets could only do this for 82 games…

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Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 94, Denver Nuggets 92

In what turned out to be one of the more exciting (and odd) games of the season, the Nuggets ended up falling to the Grizzlies in quite, well, interesting fashion. Timofey Mozgov had a career night in more than one way, and Brian Shaw certainly assisted in helping Mozgov achieve this feat. If nothing else, this was a fun game worth staying up for… until the end. That was just awful.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 102, San Antonio Spurs 133

After a competitive start to the first quarter, the Spurs proceeded to thoroughly dismantle the Nuggets, extending a 19 point halftime lead to a 31 point blowout.

The grades are after the jump. (more…)

Roundball Roundup: Part III – Faried’s blossoming, Arthur’s bombing, and Denver’s pre-preseason

Faried’s blossoming post game:

Matt had a great write-up on Faried’s improvements but I thought it was worth reiterating it a bit here. Faried began the year a player adrift. The GM who coveted him when so many others had passed and the coach whose up and down offensive style seemed designed to maximize his athletic ability while minimizing his half court deficiencies were both gone. Trade rumors swirled around him and Brian Shaw seemed dead set on forcing him to go to work on offense with his back to the basket. Faried’s subsequent failures started costing him minutes.

And yet, something weird happened. Despite what seemed like irrevocable differences between play style and offensive capability between player and coach, Faried did the thing that Brian Shaw was always purported to be able to do to players, one of the core reasons he was hired. Faried got better.

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Winning vs. tanking? Pretty much a moot point now

The Denver Nuggets have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NBA, and arguably the most injury-devastated roster to boot. Taken together, these two tough realities suggest that it will be very difficult for the Nuggets to win many of their remaining games.

But while proponents of tanking might take heart in this likelihood of losing, at the end of the day it almost certainly will hardly matter either way. As has been the case for months, Denver’s best chance for a high draft pick remains with the (increasiningly unlikely) hope that the Knicks will crash and burn down the stretch. And even if the Nuggets lose out, they probably won’t move up more than a single spot in the draft. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Denver Nuggets 106

The Nuggets were outscored in the first quarter and never could recover. Durant was hot, Butler (see: Caron) was hot, and that’s about all it took for the Thunder to ride this one home. Grades inside.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 92, Atlanta Hawks 97

After overcoming their fatigue and coming back from a 21-point deficit and putting themselves in position to win, the Nuggets failed to execute down the stretch and lost a close one to the Hawks. Denver ends up going 2-3 on their five game road trip, which was highlighted by last night’s big win in Miami.

The grades are below the fold. (more…)

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