Kroenke, Connelly and Shaw’s Nuggets defying expectations

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
– Stephen Stills

What is going on here?

In the 2013 offseason, Josh Kroenke and Tim Connelly made a series of roster moves which did not seem to some observers (including many here at Roundball Mining Company) to be internally consistent or part of any apparent cohesive long-term plan for building a roster which could ultimately contend for a championship. Masai Ujiri and Andre Iguodala had bailed, George Karl had been fired, and the new player acquisitions were looking a lot like band-aid solutions to major arterial bleeding. (more…)

Pickaxe Pulse for December 1, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets picked up four more wins this week and have won 9 of the last 11, leaving the team’s 1 and 4 start to the season as a distant memory. Nate Robinson has settled into his role as a scorer off the bench, averaging 18 points while shooting over 50% on threes in the last four games. Robinson has combined with Ty Lawson, Jordan Hamilton, and the surprisingly hot-shooting Andre Miller to give the Nuggets 8 or more made threes in 8 straight games, which is a franchise record. The Nuggets’ bigs continue to be inconsistent individually but effective as a group, with JJ Hickson, Kenneth Faried, and Timofey Mozgov each having at least one great game and one bad game this week. Darrell Arthur’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki helped in the win at Dallas. Randy Foye played well against Kevin Martin in the win at Minnesota and came up with a key late-game stop of Carmelo Anthony to seal the win against New York. The Nuggets’ bench, led by Robinson and Mozgov, put up 72 points in a comeback road win against Toronto to kick off a six-game road trip.

Current record and standings: 10-6 (6-2 home, 4-4 road), sixth place in the Western conference

Upcoming games: Tuesday at Brooklyn, Wednesday at Cleveland, Friday at Boston, Saturday at Philadelphia

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112, Toronto Raptors 98

After a slow start, the Denver Nuggets eventually built a comfortable lead late in the fourth quarter and beat the Toronto Raptors on the road.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97, New York Knicks 95

At the buzzer, Randy Foye blocked Carmelo Anthony’s fadeaway jumper and denied Denver’s former star his first win as a Knick in his old stomping grounds. The Nuggets won their fifth straight game, and are officially on a roll, having won eight of their last ten. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 117, Minnesota Timberwolves 110

Following another really solid road win, Denver finds itself 8-6 on the season and now 8-3 since the doom-and-gloom of the 0-3 start to the season.

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Roundball Roundup: Part I – Brian Shaw bringing Indiana to Denver, the Triangle Weave, and Denver’s new look defense

  • Ty Lawson, still good:

I went in depth about how Lawson’s game has evolved last week but it’s worth reiterating how good he’s been. It’s difficult finding five point guards playing better then him right now, and his three-point shooting is only just now starting to come back around. In fact, Lawson is one of only two players this season to combine prolific shooting with his amount of passing in the league. I’d say he’s in pretty good company when it comes to point guard play. Combine that with his seeming invisibility once he beats his man off the dribble, and you have a good idea why he has the 11th best PER in the league.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 110, Dallas Mavericks 96

If the Denver ends up having a relatively successful 2013-14 season, it’s likely that on reflection these two big wins against Dallas will be seen as the turning point. The Nuggets never relinquished their halftime lead, thanks mostly to 13-point quarters (third and fourth, respectively) from both Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, whose heroics kept the Mavs at bay every time they tried to claw their way back into the game. (more…)

The Hidden Impact of Darrell Arthur

Through the first 11 games of the Nuggets season the impact that each newcomer has brought has started to become very clear.

JJ Hickson stinks at defense but has done a good job on the glass and thrown down a few poster dunks. Nate Robinson shoots a lot, at times shooting Denver back into games and at time shooting them right out. Randy Foye shoots and makes threes and doesn’t do a ton else, either good or bad.

And Darrell Arthur plays good pick-and-roll defense, and compared to the rest of the power forwards on the Nuggets roster, really good defense in general.

So far this season the Nuggets defense is 6.8 points per 100 possessions better with Arthur on the floor, as they give up just 102.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor compared to 109.3 with him on the bench according to 82games.com

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Pickaxe Pulse for November 24, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets climbed back to .500 this week with wins against Dallas and Chicago following a tough loss in Oklahoma City.

JJ Hickson helped the Nuggets to a double digit lead in Oklahoma City with 18 points, 19 rebounds, and all around solid defense. The team struggled on both ends in the fourth quarter, scoring only ten points through eleven minutes and giving up seven offensive rebounds that led to nine second chance points for the Thunder. Denver rebounded from the two point loss by breaking Chicago’s five game win streak. Jordan Hamilton scored 17 points including a pair of three pointers that put the Nuggets ahead by 21 early in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets followed up by breaking Dallas’ four game win streak. Andre Miller’s assist on a lob to Wilson Chandler in the second quarter moved him past Rod Strickland for ninth place all-time in career assists. Kenneth Faried had a double double, Randy Foye hit the go-ahead three with 1:11 left, and Foye’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki in the closing seconds helped the Nuggets hold on for the win.

Current record and standings: 6-6 (5-2 home, 1-4 road), tied for 10th in the Western Conference

Upcoming games: Monday at Dallas, Wednesday at Minnesota, Friday vs New York

Twitter Contest: Win an adidas Crazy Ghost signed by Kenneth Faried

Kenneth Faried turns 24 today, and in celebration of the Manimal’s birthday Roundball Mining Company is proud to announce our first giveaway contest on Twitter. Thanks to adidas Basketball and Dick’s Sporting Goods, we are giving two lucky readers a chance to win an adidas Crazy Ghost signed by Kenneth Faried.

While Faried finds himself the subject of trade rumors after a rocky start to the season, he remains one of the most energetic and exciting power forwards in the NBA. As Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post noted early this season, Faried has also turned himself into one of the most marketable young talents in the league. The Manimal will star in Disney’s “Pranksgiving” television show this month and he is a featured athlete for adidas, which just launched the new Crazy Ghost shoe in a special Faried Nuggets colorway.

Crazy Ghost Faried 6

Courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods and adidas Basketball, we are giving away TWO Crazy Ghosts signed by Kenneth Faried. There are three simple steps to entering:

1) Have a valid USA mailing address (apologies to our international readers)

2) Retweet the following tweet and follow @RoundballMining, @adidasHoops and @DICKS

3) Leave a comment below about Kenneth Faried, followed by your Twitter handle. Anything goes – your best memory of Faried as a Nugget or your worst.

Voting will run until 9:00PM MST Sunday, November 24th. Two winners will be chosen at random from the Twitter handles left in the comments here. We will contact the winners on Twitter after the voting closes Sunday night.

Example entry:

Happy birthday to the Manimal! Here’s to many more in the blue and yellow! – @Nuggetsfan35

Crazy Ghost features the Crazyquick outsole traction system – adidas’ latest performance innovation – to provide maximum control and flexibility for quick moves on the court. The redesigned three-layer SPRINTWEB reduces weight and enhances breathability while an internal fit system provides optimal foot lock-down during cuts and breakaways. The herringbone print on the collar and the anodized synthetic on the toe contrast for a stylized look.

The Crazy Ghost takes the court this season with Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)

The Crazy Ghost is available now for $100 at Dick’s Sporting Goods.com  and adidas.com.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 102 Dallas Mavericks 100

The Nuggets withstand a furious second-half comeback from Dallas and grind out a two-point win to move back to .500 on the season. It wasn’t pretty but the Nuggets put six scorers in double figures and make just enough plays to escape with a win, their fifth in a row at the Pepsi Center.
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Data Mining: A statistical breakdown of why the Nuggets have gotten worse

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…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 96, Chicago Bulls 85

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.

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Repercussions of moving in different directions

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…

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Ty Lawson is setting the league aflame, one dribble drive at a time

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.

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