Film Room: The Revelation of Evan Fournier (video scouting report)

At various times throughout the 2012-13 regular season, usually during garbage time in blowout games, rookie guard Evan Fournier offered us some occasional glimpses of his abilities and potential. But it wasn’t until Mar. 29, after Ty Lawson had joined Danilo Gallinari on the injured list, that Fournier was given his first meaningful opportunity to make an impact.

And did he ever..

His career high 19 points in 21 minutes, his feisty defense, and a confident poise that went well beyond his young age were a revelation to Nuggets fans who hadn’t yet been given the chance to see him fully showcase his talent. In the following game against the Utah Jazz he scored 18, and two games later against the Houston Rockets 17 points, all at very efficient percentages. The message over this four game stretch was loud and clear:

Evan Fournier is the real deal, and he’s only going to get better.

In this latest installment of the Roundball Mining Company Film Room, I have set out to make nothing less than the definitive video chronicle of Fournier’s coming out party (more…)

Game 1 Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97- Golden State Warriors 95 (Nuggets lead series 1-0)

Thanks to an incredible offensive game that included the game winning bucket from Professor Miller the Nuggets took game 1, 97-95. Miller took over the game on the offensive side of the floor in the fourth quarter, willing the Nuggets to points. Defensively the Nuggets kept Stephen Curry in check for most of the game despite him hitting a three to tie the game up late.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 118- Portland Trailblazers 109

The Nuggets defeated a bad, tanking Trailblazer team to win their franchise record 55th game this season. The Nuggets were up 18 in the second half and let the game get closer in the fourth quarter but were able to put the game away thanks to a dominant effort from Andre Iguodala and a great game from Evan Fournier. On a down note Denver lost Kenneth Faired with an ankle injury which right now is being reported as a sprain. Faried is listed as day-to-day at this point.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 113 – Utah Jazz 96

After a slow start that left the Nuggets up only 5 at the half, a combination of Andre Iguoduala and Danilo Gallinari helped the Nuggets blowout the Jazz in Utah.  No starter played more than 33 minutes and six of the top eight Nuggets rotation players played under 30 minutes on the first night of a back to back.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99, San Antonio Spurs 100

The Nuggets dropped a heart breaker in San Antonio tonight as they struggled for stretches to contain Tony Parker and Danny Green. Denver had a shot at the buzzer but things broke down and Andre Miller was unable to hit a difficult shot in the lane. (more…)

Rapid Reaction Denver Nuggets 119- Chicago Bulls 118

Despite getting almost no good production from their starters from most of the night the Nuggets pulled out an ugly, hard fought win in Chicago. The team now travels to Oklahoma City to battle the Thunder tomorrow night on NBA TV.

 

Denver Nuggets 119 FinalRecap | Box Score 118 Chicago Bulls
Danilo Gallinari, SF 39 MIN | 2-7 FG | 6-9 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +1

Gallo was on the court for almost 40 minutes but for most of them you would never know. 7 field goals attempted is way to low when the rest of the starting lineup struggled, especially when Gallo was being defended by Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah for stretches in the fourth quarter and overtime. The rebounds were nice and the defense was ok but Gallo has to be more aggressive in a game like that.

Kenneth Faried, SF 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -7

Faried was out of the game early and when he returned he didn’t do much to earn himself more time. Two rebounds in 15 minutes is way to low, especially for someone who’s biggest strength is rebounding and energy. Not a good night for Faried.

Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +1

For as well as Koufos had been playing lately tonight was a clear step back. He struggled to finish inside and didn’t have a defensive rebound in the first half. Like most Nuggets starters he just didn’t play well tonight.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -12

Lawson was one of the players torched for 34 points by Nate Robinson, unable to get a good shot at the end of regulation and really just below average most of the night. He should have taken advantage of Nate Robinson and dominated on both ends of the floor, instead like the rest of the Nuggets starters he came out very flat.

Andre Iguodala, SG 38 MIN | 3-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -6

Let’s not let the big 3 get in the way of the overall picture. Iguodala was again abysmal shooting the ball and unlike most nights he didn’t assist a big number of scores either. And unlike most nights Iguodala wasn’t matched up with a great scorer tonight as he spent most of the night on Marco Belinelli. The rebounding, late three and deflections in overtimes helped the Nuggets get the win but if he played any better in regulation the game doesn’t get to that point.

Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | 0

The offense was good but some of his decision making left things to be desired. Brewer gambled late on some plays he shouldn’t have in the middle of the Bulls run to get back into the game. He also had a late turnover in the same run. It was typical Brewer, but those typical plays that are ok early in the game against opposing team’s bench aren’t as ok late in close games.

JaVale McGee, C 22 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +9

The rebounding could have been better but overall JaVale was pretty darn good tonight. He finished in the paint and changed some shots for the Bulls with proper rotations. I thought he should have closed the game but George Karl thought otherwise. Clearly he was the best of the Faried/Koufos/McGee true big trio tonight.

Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 13 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +11

For most of the game Miller was great, the second best Nugget great in fact. He was posting up and making the right passes, or attacking when no help came and even rebounding a bit. In fact I advocated for him to close the game. Then the late game came and everything fell apart. He went under on the screens that allowed Nate Robinson to get off the game tying three in regulation then had some out of control drives late in overtime, including the drunk drive that somehow led to Iguodala’s game winning three. It was a great example of the two sides of Andre.

Wilson Chandler, SG 39 MIN | 13-21 FG | 8-9 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 35 PTS | +8

Chandler was the best player on the floor for the Nuggets tonight and it wasn’t even that close. The most encouraging part about it was the way he scored. Almost everything was at the rim, where Chandler got any time he wanted. The easiest way to describe his play tonight compared to his teammates is this: at halftime Chandler was outscoring all of the starters combined 20 to 16 and he also added 5 rebounds and 2 assists to those 20 points. A terrific night from Ill Will.

George Karl

I was fully ready to give Karl a good grade as the Nuggets entered the 4th quarter with a comfortable lead despite getting nothing from their starters. Then things completely fell apart. Karl went to bizarre lineups such as one with Gallo at center, refused to play any center despite JaVale having a great game, left Miller in for a key defensive possession after a timeout then put him on the player the ball was clearly going too, and not getting Wilson Chandler touches late in the game. It was just about everything Karl could have done to let the Bulls get back in the game and that was exactly what happened. Also why did Karl choose to make his team go the length of the court to end regulation? Let them have more time in the half court and run some type of set to get a look for Lawson or Chandler. Just a bizarre way for Karl to finish a game he seemed to have complete control over through three quarters.

The Least Significant Retirement Announcement You Will Ever Read

I love the Denver Nuggets.  I have blogged about them for almost six years.  I took to the internet in the spring of 2007 to complain about Allen Iverson’s shot selection in the 2007 playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs.  Born a Nuggets Fan was, well, born.  When I started blogging I never imagined anyone would ever find my work, let alone take the time to read it.  Regardless, I spent hours watching and re-watching the games every night.  Charting the number of passes the team made before every shot like Norman Dale or recounting a step by step defensive breakdown.  I agonized over mistakes as if by documenting them, I could prevent them from happening again.

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Staking A Claim: George Karl

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.

In the Nuggets fan community there are a few questions that have groups of fans divided on the answer.

Who deserves more minutes, JaVale Mcgee or Kosta Koufos? Is Andre Miller worth it? And who has the highest ceiling Gallo or Ty seem to be some of the most common.

But no debate brings out more opinions, or more intense debate, than if George Karl is the right coach for the Nuggets.

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New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets Game Thread

Unfortunately some things have come up and it looks like they will prevent any members of the RMC staff from being able to catch the game in full tonight and provide a recap. Please leave any thoughts you have before, during and after the game. Also I will be Tweeting for the first quarter or so, so please follow me on Twitter for that. Thank you and enjoy the game.

Remaining schedule breakdown: The Nuggets will define themselves on the road

Starting with tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Nuggets have 25 games left in their regular season schedule. Here we’ll take a look at how the final stretch breaks down, what we might expect to see if Denver continues on its current trajectory, and the critical importance of improving their performance in road games.

The overall schedule picture looks (more…)

Digging Deeper: Danilo Gallinari and his role in the Nuggets offense.

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.

Excerpts from Masai Ujiri’s post-deadline interview with ESPN Denver’s Les and Nalen

Les Shapiro and Tom Nalen of ESPN Denver 102.3 & 105.5 FM (check their audio archive here and find them on Twitter here) had a great interview with Nuggets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri after Denver chose to stand pat at the NBA trade deadline. Below are some key takeaways from the interview, but you should definitely also listen to it in its entirety here.

 

Masai Ujiri, on why the Nuggets didn’t make any moves: (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97 – Boston Celtics 90

Boston Celtics 90 Final

Recap | Box Score

97 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 39 MIN | 7-17 FG | 8-11 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 26 PTS | +20

Gallo did what Gallo does, and it helped the Nuggets get the win tonight. He knocked down some open threes and was able to make his free throws, and many of his points came at spots the Nuggets really needed them. The only problem I have with Gallo is how much his offense is tied into what his teammates are doing. Almost everything he does comes after he gets a pass from Lawson or Iguodala with no one around him. Gallo does a great job of finding spaces to spot up and a good job of reading closing out defenders and deciding if he should drive or shoot, but I worry if he can create offense if the Nuggets ever need him to for long stretches.

Kenneth Faried, SF 35 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +6

The Nuggets probably do not win this game without the Manimal’s energy. Not only did it get them multiple offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter but it drained Kevin Garnett to the point that he was very unproductive late in the game. Faried’s recovery to Garnett late in the fourth was probably the dagger as it caused KG to rush things and miss badly. But like a couple other times this year Faried has to at least split late free throws when the Nuggets are locked in a tight game. Again it lowered his grade a half of a grade when he missed both.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -1

I’m not sure that there is a player Nuggets fans underrate the importance of more than Koufos. Tonight he made life incredibly difficult for KG by never leaving his feet and forcing Garnett to play over the top of him in the post. He also continues to help keep the paint spread for Lawson and Iguodala and made 5 of his 6 shots on the night. The rebounding has to improve, but with the way Faried rebounded tonight it makes sense the number was low for Koufos in 22 minutes.

Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 8-13 FG | 8-10 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 26 PTS | +4

As has been the case recently, Lawson was incredible tonight. He started the game 6-6 from the field and created for his teammates more than his assist numbers show. Add in the huge late offensive rebound and the fact that he had no turnovers and I am not sure what more the Nuggets could have asked for. If Lawson can continue to play this way the Nuggets ceiling definitely rises a bit.

Andre Iguodala, SG 29 MIN | 0-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -2

The offense was dreadful tonight for Iguodala, an air-balled foul shot and an air-balled three were the low-lights, but offense wasn’t the reason the Nuggets brought in Iggy. They brought him in for the other end of the court and tonight he delivered, helping forcing Paul Pierce into a dreadful 2-14 night. Iggy also contested a Bradley layup late and forced the Celtic’s youngster into a miss that probably will get overlooked. The seven assists were a nice addition too.

Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +3

Like Iguodala Brewer’s offensive numbers don’t look great but Brewer had a couple of important buckets late and his energy helped the Nuggets stay in the game in the first half, when for the most part they weren’t good.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +4

There was the good for JaVale tonight, the two dunks, one of which was a three point play, and the bad for JaVale tonight, getting sealed by Jason Collins and the two goaltends. The two rebounds also aren’t good for JaVale as he mostly plays with lineups not featuring Faried so the Koufos reasons don’t apply to him. Against a bad rebounding team he needs more than two rebounds.

Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +2

Much like Iguodala and Brewer’s grades reflect the defensive end so does Miller’s. I am not sure I have seen a player who refuses to fight through screens as consistently as Miller. And in a game like tonight when Boston killed the Nuggets by creating switches and forcing help, Miller’s slow feet were a large part of that. The 11 points were nice, but on the other end of the floor Miller helped give them all back plus some.

Wilson Chandler, SG 18 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1

0-7 from the field is never good for someone who is expected to come off the bench and bring with them some shooting and scoring punch. Chandler did well on the glass with 7 rebounds but he also was one of the guys who spent time on Jeff Green and allowed him to pour in 20 points, way to much for such an average player.

George Karl

I know the Nuggets won, but if you follow me on Twitter you know that I was not a fan at all of Karl’s decision making tonight. Boston really had no player on their roster that should have been able to beat the Nuggets off the dribble to the basket or any option in the post. But the Nuggets continued their switch on everything ways and got caught trying to run out to wide open shooters all night. If any game was built for staying home and on your matchups this was it, the personnel matched perfectly. Instead the Nuggets ended up in a battle that they shouldn’t have.

Home Sweet Home

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.

Film Room: Two botched Andre Miller plays cost the Nuggets a win in Boston

A little over two months ago I posted a video piece on Andre Miller’s clutch play that helped seal Denver’s victory against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 7. With eight points and an assist in just 104 seconds, Miller poured it on in crunch time to lead the Nuggets to a big road win at a time when they were struggling.

Unfortunately, we are back in the Film Room today to visit what essentially was the opposite scenario. In their heartbreaking road loss to the Celtics on Feb. 10, the Nuggets were down just two points with 48 seconds remaining in the game’s third overtime when Miller retrieved the rebound off a missed Kevin Garnett jumper. And as every Nuggets fan not living under a rock is well aware, from there the train rapidly derailed from the tracks.

The Film Room video, followed by analysis of Miller’s play and George Karl’s coaching, is after the jump.

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