Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.
As I have gotten to know Nuggets fans more in depth one thing keeps coming up when complaints get voiced, the teams recent run of making the playoffs before flaming out in the first round. While there is understandable frustration, especially as the possibility of it occurring again this season is there, though looking less and less likely, I ask Nuggets fans to do one thing.
Kenneth Faried will be doing his first public autograph signing on Saturday, March 2, from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. at the Latitude Sports Showroom in Cherry Creek, located at 2620 E. 3rd Ave. Tickets are $20 and parking will be available at the Whole Foods on 1st University.
The other night in my grades for the Nuggets/Celtics game, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure Danilo Gallinari could carry the Nuggets offense for long stretches if the need arose.
As expected the comment received a lot of hate, so I decided to take a deeper look into the numbers and see if my hunch was correct.
But before I get into those numbers there is a short disclaimer that needs to be mentioned. Gallo is a very important part of the Nuggets offense. He is the player that most consistently knocks down open shots, especially three pointers, and in an offense so reliant on points in the paint that floor spacing is very important. The fact that the Nuggets offense is 8.2 points better offensively when he is on the court than when he is off it proves that.
But that wasn’t what my comment was about. My comment was that Gallo was very reliant on the other players on the court with him to create that offense, and that unlike a lot of Nugget fans I am not so sure an offense built around Gallo taking 20 shots a night right now is what the Nuggets need to do to make the jump to an elite team. The numbers I am about to show prove why.
The first worrisome part for me about Gallo creating his own offense is the breakdown of the types of possessions that he has used in each of the past two seasons. Almost exactly 40 percent of Gallinari’s shots have come in either transition or off of spot-up opportunities in each of those two seasons according to Synergy data. That means the rest of the possession types they track, isolation,pick-and-roll ball handler and roll man, post-ups, cuts, off screens, hand offs, and offensive rebounds make up the other 60 percent of his possessions; with isolation taking up another 22 percent of possession this season.
On the bright side the points per possession numbers for almost every type of possession are good, but would they be able to stay that high with more repetitions? For a player who isn’t particularly fast for his position I wonder,e specially because he tends to finish a lot of drives fading away from the basket or twisting and turning away from contact. While the contorting helps draw fouls in some situations, it also makes life very difficult in others, especially in the playoffs when the games become more physical. The other part of it is Gallo’s passing. He makes the right pass often and the flashy one every once and a while, but Gallo isn’t a great passer. The 2.4 assists he averages a game would need to rise dramatically if he wants to be a number one option. For comparison, of the 30 players that average more points per game than Gallinari at the moment only Brook Lopez, Al Jefferson and Chris Bosh average less than the 2.4 assists.
But the answers become very worrisome when you look at the difference in Gallo’s numbers when he is on the floor with either Andre Iguodala or Ty Lawson and his numbers when one of those two, the Nuggets two best playmakers, are off the floor.
With Lawson on the floor Gallinari averages per 36 minutes are: 19.5 points on 14.7 field goal attempts and 43 percent shooting. Of those 14.7 attempts 6.3 are from behind the arc where Gallo is shooting 38 percent and getting to the line 5.5 times.
With Lawson off the floor all of those numbers drop, and five of them do so by more than 10 percent. The points drop down to 14.6 on 11.8 attempts and 41 percent shooting. The three point attempts drop to 4.3 and the percentage to 31 percent. And the free throw attempts drop down to 4.7, again all per 36 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets though those drops aren’t just attributed to Lawson since the results stay the same without Iguodala on the floor.
Playing with Iggy, Gallo’s averages per 36 are: 19.5 points on 14.6 shots and 44 percent shooting. He attempts 6.2 threes and shoots 38 percent from behind the arc while getting to the line 5.4 times.
And just like when Lawson leaves the floor, when Iguodala leaves Gallo’s numbers take a significant hit, again five of the totals drop by more than 10 percent. He scores 15 points on 12.5 shots on 37 percent shooting. The three point attempts drop to 4.9 attempts and the percentage to 32 percent shooting. On the bright side the free throw attempts stay similar at 5 attempts.
The most troubling part of the numbers is the shot attempts drops. Ten percent drops in just attempts for Gallo shows what I thought I saw while I watched games. A lot of Gallo’s offense comes after Lawson or Iguodala attack the lane and kick out to him. Gallo then does an excellent job of reading the reacting defense and doing what it gives him, either the open three or a drive to the basket. But asking him to just create offense for himself or teammates is difficult and he struggles.
Now some people will claim the drops are due to defense paying more attention to Gallo when one of the other two Nuggets weapons are not on the floor but that claim holds no weight when explaining the drops when it is compared to other combinations in the league. It doesn’t happen with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard who both see increases in many stats. Or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Even lesser top options than the Lakers and Thunder duos don’t see such a stark drop. Not Al Horford and Josh Smith. Or Paul George and David West. The drops don’t even happen with his Nuggets teammates Lawson and Iguodala. Or to either of the two when Gallo leaves the floor.
Again, none of this is meant to say Gallo isn’t an important piece of the puzzle for the Nuggets. I explained above that he is. What it is meant to show is that Gallo isn’t quite ready to be the creator for the Nuggets that some fans think he should be. Leave that to Lawson who is doing it terrifically, especially in the last month or so, and use Iguodala as a secondary creation option. Meanwhile, let Gallo be a terrific safety valve and spot up shooter, who reads the defense and decides if he should drive or not.
One day Gallinari may get to the point of being a great creator, a first option that can make teammates better, but right now he is just to reliant on Lawson and Iguodala to ask him to be that.
ESPN Stats and info wrote up a small preview post for the Nuggets vs. Celtics clash tonight and in it was some interesting, and honestly for the Nuggets and their fans, frightening information.
“Since 2000-01, the Nuggets have won nearly 68 percent of their home games but only 38 percent of their road games. No team has seen a higher increase in winning percentage from road to home games than the Nuggets.”
We all know that the Nuggets are better at home than on the road but that drop off in winning percentage is staggering, and is the reason that it is hard to see the Nuggets advancing much farther than into the second round this year. Without a top 2 seed the Nuggets won’t have home court advantage in the second round of the playoffs, and realistically looking at the schedule it seems impossible that they catch the Thunder or Spurs for that second seed. That means a team that only wins 38 percent of the time they play on the road would have to win a game, or more likely multiple games on the road to move on to the Western Conference finals. Now take into account that the 38 percent number includes games against the worst team in the league that the playoffs won’t, and things become even bleaker.
On the bright side the problems with this year’s team seems fixable. As the post says the Nuggets offensive and defensive efficiency are both much better at home than on the road, about 7 points better offensively and 6 points better defensively. The offensive drop makes sense. The Nuggets don’t shoot the ball well from the outside, and at an unfamiliar arena with travel the night before a team’s shooting can take a hit; that just happens. Defensively things can partially be explained by teams coming into Denver and struggling with the altitude and shooting but a 6 point difference is an awful lot, and has to at least partially come down to some effort. With the way the Nuggets have defended at times this year the fix seems there, but it is easier said than done. Bring more defensive intensity.
In the end how far the Nuggets will go is all dependent on how they play on the road and judging by recent history that doesn’t bode well for them. But unlike some years in the past where the team relied more on offensive firepower to carry them through struggles, this Nuggets team has a chance to change some of those problems around with a greater defensive intensity. What they choose to do will determine their success.
Punch Bowl Social, located at 65 Broadway, has brought a lot of new faces to the South Broadway area of Denver — and now it’s looking to bring some more, in the form of the Denver Nuggets. On Feb. 20 fans will get the opportunity to meet their favorite Nuggets players (at a cost of $100), with funds benefiting Kroenke Sports Charities. The event is 21 and up and will last from 7 to 9 p.m.
It’s that time of year. Everywhere you look in the comments section here at RMC there is at least one link to a fictional trade someone has created using the ESPN Trade Machine. While these are fun and do draw responses from fellow readers, they’re often seen as a distraction from the main post. But not this time. In this thread, I urge you to go crazy with whatever realistic (or totally unlikely) trade scenarios you can think of. Have fun and please try to limit your scenarios to five trades per person. The ESPN Trade Machine can only take so much.
I might be extremely late to the party on this one; nevertheless, for those who aren’t yet aware, it looks as though Corey Brewer has landed a minor role in the upcoming comedy Movie 43. It is produced by Peter Farrelly (one half of the infamous Farrelly brothers duo) and is set to be released January 25, 2013. For those who would like a preview of the movie, here is link to a trailer in which Brewer appears right off the bat. It looks pretty raunchy overall, so sensitive types be warned!
We hope you all are enjoying the holidays! As the new year begins and the Denver Nuggets put the most brutal stretch of their 2012-13 schedule behind them, it is a good time to take the team’s temperature and assess where they currently stand. Below the jump is a statistical profile of what the Nuggets have accomplished (or in some cases failed to accomplish) thus far this season.
As an aside before getting to that, it appears that none of the Roundball Mining Company contributors are likely to be available to write up the Rapid Reaction for Denver’s New Year’s Day game, as they attempt to end the 17-game winning streak of the league’s hottest team, the L.A. Clippers. So please feel free to use this thread to comment on the game if a recap does not get posted.
And with that, let us take a look at the current state of the Nuggets. (more…)
Our friends at the TrueHoop Sacramento Kings blog, Cowbell Kingdom, have had a rough time as of late. Earlier this year rumors began to mount regarding the Kings moving from Sacramento to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Though over a quarter of the 2012-13 season it’s clear the team is yet again destined for the lottery. And to top it all off, promising rookie and No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Thomas Robinson, is struggling to see court time in a year where the franchise has absolutely nothing to lose. If there was ever a bright side to this story it’s that Kings coach Keith Smart recently reveled that he’s had Robinson watch film of Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried to shine light on how to be a successful undersized power forward in the NBA. Today, Cowbell Kingdom published a great article on this subject with first-hand quotes and a video interview of Faried.
We’ve given you two season preview articles thus far and although the Nuggets’ 2012-13 campaign has officially begun, here’s one more. It’s a less traditional preview piece with five of the biggest story lines to keep an eye on this year. For those unfamiliar, Westword is an alternative weekly newspaper in Denver owned by Voice Media Group — the same company that owns such papers as The Village Voice in New York City and L.A. Weekly in Los Angeles.