Sitting at a comfortable 2-1 record coming out of the gate, the Denver Nuggets is about to face its toughest test of the season with back-to-back bouts against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday and Sunday. To better prepare for this all-too familiar foe, ESPNLA’s Brian Kamenetzky graciously offered up his insight on this year’s Lakers team in exchange for Roundball’s take on the 2011-12 Denver Nuggets. Be sure and check in with ESPNLA’s Land O’ Lakers blog tomorrow for our analysis on the Nuggets upcoming back-to-back series against the Lakers, but before you do, first read world-class journalist, Brian Kamenetzky’s exclusive interview with Roundball Mining Company regarding his thoughts on the current Lakers squad and its chances of contending for a title this season.
Check out this short interview with Nuggets shooting guard, Arron Afflalo, and make sure to view the photos while you’re at it!
First off, my apologies for no recap last night as my internet service is currently being difficult. As many of you guys already saw last night, the Nuggets demolished Toronto in such a way that 90% of the game was extended garbage time (no joke). It was a solid business-like win Denver needed after dropping two straight on the road against good teams. I will say that Toronto looked tired from the get-go and didn’t stand a chance of matching the Nuggets energy from the start. Nevertheless the Nuggets didn’t mess around and put them away minutes after the game started, so in lieu of writing about that snoozer here’s a look at the advanced stats:
We were fortunate enough to exchange questions and answers with Mike from the tremendous New York Knicks blog KnickerBlogger. I asked him some specific questions about the abilities of the four Knicks that came to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony Trade and he provided some great insights.
With the Denver Nuggets preparing to face the Toronto Raptors Sam Holako of the fantastic Raptors blog Raptors Republic invited me to swap some questions and answers. Below you can find out how Raptors fans feel about Linas Kleiza and what to think about Andrea Bargnani. You can see my answers to his questions on the futures of Carmelo and Chauncey and what to expect from the game tonight over at Raptors Republic.
Just think, somewhere in the world there is a young Denver Nuggets fan who has no idea what is like for his favorite basketball team to miss the playoffs, or to even play a meaningless game. The Nuggets have participated in the postseason seven straight seasons, which means the last time there was any talk of mathematic elimination in Denver there was no such thing as blogs.
The Denver Nuggets toiled in relative obscurity this preseason. Unless you attended one of the two home games or had NBATV to check out the lone televised contest with the Los Angeles Lakers you did not see a second of Nuggets basketball.
One man saw it all and he is Jason Kosmicki the radio voice of the Nuggets. Koz was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for us and inform Nuggets fans of what they might have missed leading up to the season.
In 24 hours the Nuggets have a new head honcho, a new GM (although he has not been officially announced), another headache from a problem player and just when the Carmelo Anthony rumors seemed to be slowing down the situation reached a new level of hysteria.
And this is the offseason?
When reports surfaced that Chris Paul was going to demand a trade Ryan Schwan at Hornets 247 solicited offers from the TrueHoop Network of bloggers to see what kind of a haul the Hornets could hope to receive for Paul.
With similar rumors floating around regarding the future of Carmelo Anthony, I thought it would be interesting, educational and kind of fun in a morbid way to see what kind of value Carmelo possessed in the eyes of the network.
Below are trades that were sent to me from my TrueHoop network colleagues. I asked them to consider the potential for Carmelo remaining with their team after the season and consider that when crafting their proposals.
The offers are in and I have broken them down into the categories of “Win Now,” “Win Later,” “The Chosen Ones” and trades I had hoped to see ranked in order from don’t call us, we’ll call you to ummm, that’s nice!
Over the past few days I have been fortunate enough to appear on Brian Doolittle’s NBA show in St. Louis called At the Buzzer on Sports Radio 1380 to talk about Carmelo Anthony’s future in Denver and I was a guest on Rapcast, the Raptors Republic podcast, to discuss Linas Kleiza and what he will bring as he takes his talents north of the border. In a nutshell Bryan Colangelo is selling Kleiza as a gritty player that will bring stout defense to the Raptors. Talk about setting someone up to fail. Kleiza is a skilled player, but a defensive stalwart he is not.
Ryan Schwan at Hornets 247 sought out the best trade offers for Chris Paul from the members of the TrueHoop Network. My four team masterpiece did not claim the top spot, but earned a gold star. Make sure you head over and check out the best Chris Paul trade proposals from a group of savvy hoops writers.
Heading into what has become the first must win game of the season I had the opportunity to get the lowdown on what is going on north of the border with Sam Holako of the sensational blog Raptors Republic.
Roundball Mining Company: The Raptors are 3-7 since Chris Bosh returned from his ankle injury. Is that record indicative of the quality of the team or are they just in a slump right now?
Sam: It’s indicative of the quality of team. The Raptors have assembled a group of quality scorers, but they can’t defend to save their lives. Turkoglu has been a bust, and Bargnani has seen his production actually drop as the season has progressed (and has admitted to being lazy, swear to God). There is no commitment to defense, and it just seems as though people are going through the motions. They weren’t as bad as how they started the season (7-13), or as good as when they went on that tear up until the All-Star game (22-10), or as bad since the All-Star game (6-12); they are somewhere in the middle (give or take a game or two) and are on pace to finish right around where they should be, in the low 40 win range.
RMC: Jose Calderon was supposed to be the Nash to Bosh’s Stoudemire. While some of his statistics compare favorably to Nash he seems to be on the downside of his career at the age of 28. Are his struggles simply due to injury or is he no longer the player he was just a season ago?
Sam: He’s exactly the same player. With the additions of Turkoglu and Jack, he no longer has to produce as much on offense, since the three share the playmaking load. This has translated into less minutes, so his numbers are down. On a per 36min basis though, his numbers are almost the same as last season, so he’s producing at the same rate per minute. Simply put, Jose was overrated last season, and underrated this one. Full stop.
RMC: The Denver Nuggets traded Sonny Weems this offseason and he ended up on the Raptors. Weems was the lone youngster with potential on the Nuggets last season and his progress in the D-League and performance during Summer League was big doings amongst Nuggets fans. I always thought he had the midrange game and athleticism to be a rotation player and he is getting minutes in Toronto. Does he have a future in Toronto?
Sam: He definitely has a future here, and in fact, many folks think he should be our starting shooting guard. I personally think his energy and talent are better suited as that spark coming off the bench, which is his role now. His mid-range game has been a pleasant surprise, but his willingness to attack the rim every chance he gets, and his crashing of the boards are what will give him a career in the league if you ask me. He’s easily one of the best deals in the NBA when you consider he gets paid $736k.
RMC: Zach Harper wrote a fantastic comparison of Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh that was posted on Raptors Republic Thursday. I know Raptors fans want to see Bosh play for a winner in Toronto, but are the fans nearing the point Timberwolves fans reached with KG where they practically wanted him to leave so he could be free from the organization that constantly failed him? If he signs somewhere else this offseason, will fans hold it against him?
Sam: If he signs elsewhere this summer, the fans will hold it against them for the rest of his playing career; much like how they do with Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter (VC played himself out of this team, he didn’t leave – although he would have if he was a UFA). The Raptor fans that want him to leave, are the few who (incorrectly) think that Bosh isn’t worthy of a max deal, and can’t lead this team to post-season success. The rest of us (myself included) are a selfish lot who want him to stay here forever because we can’t stomach watching a team headlined by Bargnani, flanked by an aging Turkoglu and an overrated Calderon.
Make sure you swing by Raptors Republic to see my answers to Sam’s intriguing questions. Both of these teams are struggling right now so we will find a little something out about both of them tonight.
The Denver Nuggets have just tipped off in Oklahoma City without Carmelo Anthony and I have a couple of links to pass along for your enjoyment.
I will be on Sports Talk Soup tonight at 9:30 Mountain. Click here for details.
Congratulations to George Karl on being named the coach for the Western Conference All-Stars.
I was fortunate enough to exchange questions and answers prior to tonight’s conflagration between the undefeated Denver Nuggets and the defeated New Jersey Nets with Mark Ginocchio of the TrueHoop Network Nets blog, Nets are Scorching. You can check out Mark’s responses to my riveting questions below and I implore you to head on over to Nets are Scorching to read my responses to his well though out inquiries.
RMC: With the Nets in rebuilding mode do you like the young talent they are amassing or are all their hopes of turning things around contingent on LeBron signing on to make the move to Brooklyn?
Mark: I think, overall, the Nets have some interesting young players in their stead, but they still seem to lack a true star, which may, or may not come next year via free agency depending on the odds of guys like LeBron or Chris Bosh leaving town. Devin Harris had a breakout year last season, but he gets injured a lot, and I wonder if that will ultimately affect him from taking it to the next level. Brook Lopez shows a lot of promise, but with more defenders targeting him now, I’m starting to see what guys like John Hollinger were trying to temper the enthusiasm of Nets fans. I think Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams will be very nice complimentary pieces down the road. I still don’t know what to make of Chris Douglas-Roberts. He seems to need the ball a lot to be effective.
Mark: Well Brook Lopez may be one of the most likeable players in the NBA. This is a guy who has no shame about dressing up for Halloween or showing up at Comic Con, though I still don’t understand why he won’t join Twitter (he said he rather do “real” writing). Terrence Williams may be unselfish to a fault, which is something you like to see in a young player. Chris Douglas-Roberts has a chip on his shoulder, but also has a certain toughness and meaness thata lot of players lack. And believe it or not, I’ve really enjoyed seeing what a healthier Eduardo Najera brings to the table. You guys would probably know better than I, but he really does do a lot of the “little things,” that I think make up for his talent-level.
Mark: Well, never say never in the NBA, but with no Devin Harris, and it appears, no Yi Jianlian for Wednesday night, I don’t know if the Nets will be able to score 44 points in a half, no less have a margin of victory by that level. Nets fans should have known from the onset that with no Vince Carter, putting the ball in the hoop was going to be a problem. Now, with all of these injuries, a big problem may have become an insurmountable one.
Mark: Well, the Nets got killed on the boards against Charlotte Wednesday night, so I wouldn’t worry too much on that end. They’re two best rebounders are Brook Lopez and Yi – and that’s not saying much when you include Yi in the conversation. (Editor’s Note: It has since been announced Yi will be out indefinitely with a knee sprain.) As for transition D, the Nets do have some quick wings that can run the floor, so maybe they can steal a few points there, but I would hate to see the Nets get into a shootout with the Nuggets because that’s just not going to end pretty.
Carmelo Anthony has been getting ready for the season by being interviewed on television.
The first clip is from ESPN First Take where Melo addresses the commonly held belief that the Nuggets have fallen behind the other teams in the west due to inactivity.
Melo also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! In part one they discuss the role Michael Jordan has played in Carmelo’s life, and no Jimmy Melo is an adult and he can do whatever he wants with his hair.
In part two find out what basketball accomplishment David Duchovny can claim that Carmelo cannot and what could Carmelo possibly have done to coerce Syracuse into naming a building after him?
By the way, Judge Smails called and he wants his jacket back.
Last, and probably least, Kenyon was on FM 104.3 The Fan with Sandy Clough and Mike Evans. Of course, Kenyon thinks Denver is the best team in the world which is not surprising, but he did yell something interesting at George Karl after seeing Ty Lawson play.
Editor’s note: Summer league may be over, but that does not mean we have to let it go. Bret Bearup, Mark Warkentien and George Karl were all interviewed during Denver Nuggets games. I was able to get very low quality recordings of the interviews so crank the volume on your computer and enjoy.
George Karl runs the anchor leg in the third and final segment in our series of summer league interviews. He discusses whether or not he thinks Ty Lawson is a good fit for the Nuggets (I think you can guess where he comes down on that), if he thinks Stan Kroenke is willing to spend extra cash and what he thinks of J.R. Smith all while watching his son dominate the San Antonio Spurs.
I thought it was telling that Karl reported that he told Sonny Weems that he “does not need another scorer” yet Weems clearly focused almost entirely on his offense in Vegas and is now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Coincidence? I found it intriguing to hear Bret Bearup talk about Weems progress from the point of view of a talent evaluator while Karl held a different view of Sonny’s development because he has to evaluate him as a coach. We all know that what a coach wants and what front office personnel think is best for the team can frequently be mutually exclusive, and with Weems in Las Vegas we have a perfect example of that dichotomy.
Looking back at the three interviews we have posted I thought it was enjoyable to listen to how they all talked about how great Dahntay Jones was for them last season, but if you listen between the lines I think each and every one of them were astonished at the money the Indiana Pacers threw at him. They all basically said they never would have given Jones $11 million without actually saying they never would have given him $11 million.