Heading into the 2011-12 season the Denver Nuggets were a mystery waiting to be solved. After coming off the most chaotic seven months in franchise history the team made monumental strides in the offseason to remain competitive even after parting ways with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. In addition, the NBA lockout saw key contributors Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martina and J.R. Smith all vanish to the opposite side of the world until midseason, leaving even more questions marks about who would be with the team moving forward. But as the season progressed, piece by piece Nuggets fans collected clues about the identity and subsequent standards the team would possess, which ended up being very similar to years past.
In Roundball Mining Company’s first postseason reflection piece we’ll be taking a look at the evolution of the Denver Nuggets over the last year and examine what we’ve learned about the team throughout the process. Though the Nuggets have laid the foundation for the future through savvy front-office dealings there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the roster. Therefore, our most recent 3-on-3 aims to analyze certain aspects of the present, past and future. As always, feel free to hand out your answers to these questions in the comments section below.
Closure can be a wonderful thing.
One of the stranger free agent pursuits in recent history has finally come to an end. As first reported by the Denver Post, restricted free agent Wilson Chandler agreed to a five year contract with the Nuggets worth $37 million.
There’s no doubt this is a big win for Wilson, who missed out on true free agency by signing to play in China during last summer’s NBA lockout. Wilson’s only option in terms of rejoining the league this year was to sign with Denver.
Chandler’s deal averages $7.4 million a year and is nearly identical to the base value of Arron Afflalo’s new contract. Afflalo’s deal contains incentives that could bump the value up to $43 million over five years.
My initial view is that this is fair deal, but an incredibly generous offer to make to someone in Wilson Chandler’s position. There’s no doubt shedding Nene’s $13.5 million annual salary and the amount given to Arron Afflalo in restricted free agency were key factors in the long, drawn out negotiations that finally culminated in today’s deal.
More reaction and analysis to the Chandler signing will be coming soon, but I personally believe this a solid move for Denver and something they needed to get done. To put it in perspective, both Chandler and Gallo’s new contracts add up to roughly the max salary figure Carmelo Anthony makes over the life of his extension, which was reportedly being offered to him by the Nuggets brass (although I seriously doubt it after watching Masai and Josh run things the way they have over the past year and a half).
Chandler is one of the more unique threes in the league, who excels on the wing offensively but is probably best suited to defending the post, where he has the strength to match up on taller players and the defensive instincts to provide much needed weak side help. Chandler should be in great shape having played ball virtually all summer long and I wouldn’t be surprised if he immediately picks up starters minutes.
[Note: The first two stories are the previous entrees about Chris Andersen and Wilson Chandler; the next few, however, are stories that have come to light since this post was originally created.]
ESPN.com is reporting (Insider only) that Nuggets center, Chris “Birdman” Andersen is on the trading block with Koufos having been recently re-signed and playing solid basketball. There have reportedly not been any immediate suitors for Andersen, although as the trade deadline approaches this could change quickly. Although Birdman is 33 and still has two years at just below $10 million left on his contract, he might be an enticing option for a title contender who needs defensive help in the front court.
In other news, ESPN.com is reporting Wilson Chandler could return to the U.S. sooner than expected. According to Marc Stein, Chandler’s Chinese Basketball Association team, the Zhejiang Lions, made a deal with the former Nugget that as long as he managed to get the Lions to the Playoffs he could then come back to his home country earlier than expected. However, even though Lions management is willing to part with him, Chandler still must receive his FIBA letter of clearance in order to play in the NBA and it is unknown whether Chinese officials would be willing to bend on their harsh stance in regards to this issue. There is some speculation that if Chandler attends Sunday’s CBA All Star game officials would be more open to lending him his clearance letters at an earlier date.
It’s early in the Denver Nuggets 2011-2012 season, but the story so far has no doubt been the inspiring double overtime win against the departed Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers doesn’t feature the same hype and excitement surrounding the Knicks contest, but it’s no less symbolic for Nuggets fans witnessing Chauncey Billups’ first return to the Pepsi Center since the infamous trade marking the end of the Melo era.
After last week’s historic battle with the New York Knicks that saw countless Nuggets and Knicks players face their former team for the first time since what we’re now referring to as “the Danillo Gallinari trade,” we caught up with John Kenney to answer some questions. Kenney is a contributor for the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate blog of the New York Knicks, KnickerBlogger.net and has a Twitter handle for you to follow @JohnbKenney.
|Nene, C 26 MIN | 6-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | +30Nene was aggressive on Wednesday. He was looking to score and often times achieved this goal when he received the ball in the post. His defense against the Kings’ big men was also admirable.|
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 23 PTS | +30The first half of basketball by Gallinari was not only the best half of ball I’ve ever seen him play while in Denver (yes, including the Knicks game) but it might very well have been the best half of basketball any Nuggets player has displayed this year. It was nearly flawless. He never once forced a bad shot and time after time made the correct “basketball play” that was needed by the team in order to score — even if that meant passing (evident by his five assists). Had this game been closer Gallinari would be looking at back-to-back 30-point outings for the first time in his career. If you can score 30 points back-to-back in an NBA game, you’ve arrived.|
|Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +11I’m a Koufos guy and his performance against the Kings proves why. Early in the third quarter he had already passed Mozgov’s full-game averages and continued to play sound basketball (for the most part) until the final whistle. His passion for the game was on clear display as he wrestled for rebounds with the feisty DeMarcus Cousins late in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand. Though Koufos does take the occasional bad shot, this is to be expected from your third-string center; however, should Koufos see more time (which he deserves) he might very well develop into a nice, strong backup center option by next year.|
|Andre Miller, PG 32 MIN | 7-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 15 PTS | +27It’s probably safe to say Miller is over his “mini slump.” He was as solid as solid gets in terms of taking over the game once Ty left. His passes were pinpoint, his court vision, outstanding, but his leadership was what stood out most. Miller never stopped moving his jaw the entire night and his teammates seemed to benefit.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 15 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +7I give Ty a “B” because he was firmly on pace to score over 20 points tonight, even though it wouldn’t have been needed. Bottom line: His aggressiveness early on set the tone for the blowout that shortly followed.|
|Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 10 PTS | +16Though his field goal percentage dipped as the game rolled on, it’s important to note that going into the half Harrington was one of the leading catalysts that blew the lid off this game. He was shooting an extremely efficient clip yet again and at one time had more points than he did minutes. Downgrading him for a blowout he helped create seems wrong.|
|Chris Andersen, C 17 MIN | 4-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +2Andersen played well. His sprightly enthusiasm for blocking shots didn’t necessarily pay off numerically, but he did send a message to the Kings that as long as he was patrolling the paint, no easy buckets would be had. I’ll take a performance like this from “Birdman” any day of the week.|
|Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 7-19 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +16Kind of a mixed bag from Brewer. Taking 19 shots is “Melo-esque” and not in a good way. He couldn’t hit an open three if his life depended on it and made a few knucklehead plays that, fittingly, one could label “J.R.-esque.” His botched dunk on a breakaway in the first quarter was one of the worst I’ve seen in a while and his reckless dribbling got a bit out of hand. However, Brewer’s defense was again fantastic and often led to fast break opportunities which the Nuggets thrive off. If he can limit his mistakes next time around, all will be forgiven.|
|Julyan Stone, G 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +9For his first real outing, Stone played extremely well. His defense was pure genius, especially the block he had on Jimmer Fredette in the fourth quarter that looked like it shot out of a cannon. His hustle on 50-50 balls was like nothing the Nuggets have seen this season and his ability to come in and absorb the “pass-first” concept of the Nuggets offense was beyond refreshing. Stone will never be a scorer, but if he can play the type of defense he did against the Kings while distributing at a high level, there will certainly be a place for him in the NBA.|
|Kenneth Faried, F 11 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0The “Manimal” made his long-awaited third appearance of the regular season and did not disappoint. In the first three minutes he collected four rebounds (three of them being offensive boards) and was infectious with his energy level. Faried looked much, much better in terms of knowing his place on the floor than he did in his previous games and had the type of defensive fire the Nuggets are deprived of at times. If he can continue to improve, he should find his way in a few more games as the season progresses.|
|Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3I actually thought “J-Ham” played excellent in his NBA debut. Though it was only five minutes and though he did miss three of the four shots he put up, Hamilton still played solid defense, collected three boards and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. He looked like a totally different player than what I saw in his brief D-League stint and displayed an ability to score the rock that the Nuggets will undoubtedly need in the future. Hopefully we see more J-Ham soon.|
Thank God Carmelo Anthony finally made a few shots.
Regardless of how you felt about Carmelo’s forced departure from the Mile High City the first contest between the Denver Nuggets and their former franchise player it would not have been as enjoyable had Melo ended the game without having made it a challenge.
I am on record as saying I wish Carmelo well in New York. There was no benefit for Denver to have him stay any longer. We can argue all day if the Denver Nuggets need another player like him to reach their ultimate goal. What there is no doubt about is this team is easy to cheer for and they play in a way that is endearing.
Many times fans get the feeling that the players they cheer for do not care about what happens on the court as much as they do. Last night there was little doubt that the Nuggets players and coaches cared as much as the fans, and probably even more.
|Nene, C 45 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-6 FT | 13 REB | 5 AST | 12 PTS | +3
Made the two biggest free throws of the year after going 0-4 from the line to start the game. Nene routinely found himself on smaller players and was not as aggressive as he was against Philadelphia. You can’t deny his improved rebounding and despite some trouble guarding the rim, he played very respectable late in the game when it mattered most.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 52 MIN | 9-19 FG | 18-20 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 37 PTS | +5
Incredible. 37 points on 19 shots. Did not even play his best game and clearly didn’t have his legs under him as he settled for too many long two pointers. Outplayed everyone else on the floor and is making me rethink my assessment of Gallo having true star potential. His game was so good I don’t have any room left to gush about his phenomenal defensive performance against Melo.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 30 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +5
Deserves minutes, and thankfully he’s finally getting them. Tyson Chandler turned in dominant rebounding performances his past two games and was a non-factor against the shorthanded Nuggets. Mozgov scored 16 points, but his true impact came on the defensive end where he stayed on his feet and routinely rescued his teammates from getting beat and giving up layups.
|Andre Miller, PG 49 MIN | 6-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 14 PTS | +6
I know, everyone deserves a great grade for this one, right? I really didn’t like much about Andre’s play through more than half of the contest. Then, he goes all Philadelphia 76ers and throws in the most amazing basket of the season to seal the win. He inbounded the ball perfectly three separate times on crucial possessions late. Miller honestly didn’t play great but had an easy double double. Miller’s poise is what makes him shine.
|Ty Lawson, PG 49 MIN | 3-12 FG | 4-7 FT | 8 REB | 7 AST | 10 PTS | +8
He was a spectator in the win. I hate being so hard on a Nuggets player in such a great win, but I have never been more disappointed in Ty. He made only three shots, all of them assisted by others who fed him wide open looks. Ty needs to be better. He did not hit free throws down the stretch, failed to stay in front of the Knicks guards and allowed rookie Iman Shumpert to get the best of him. Ty’s numbers were fine but the boxscore belies the fact he had no impact on the win. I don’t grade the boxscores.
|Al Harrington, PF 41 MIN | 10-24 FG | 0-1 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 24 PTS | +2
Al Buckets did it again. After a dreadful start he might have been benched by a lot of other coaches in this league. Harrington delivered in the clutch yet again hitting most every big basket down the stretch. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and exuded nothing but confidence when it looked like Denver was going to lose.
|Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -4
You can’t ask for much more from Brewer in the limited minutes he received. He came in for defensive purposes late and forced Melo into a difficult shot he had no business attempting. Melo made it and Brewer learned the valuable lesson that sometimes it does not matter how well you play defense. Brewer ultimately didn’t have more of an impact because he was extremely clumsy on the offensive end, where he still needs to prove his worth.
With the 2011-12 season right around the corner, Charlie and I decided to delve into some of the topics that most interested us regarding this year’s Denver Nuggets team. However, when all was said and done, we ended up with more of a season preview than anything. So, whether you’re a seasoned Nuggets aficionado or simply just a casual fan, we hope you enjoy our take on the most pressing storylines heading into the upcoming Denver Nuggets campaign. (more…)
Yesterday my wonderful colleague Jeremy detailed the Nuggets 2011-12 season outlook in a post titled, How Good Can the Denver Nuggets Be? In it he expressed his concern over how this year’s team would play without a “chip” on its shoulder, without enough good defensive players in addition to how the Nuggets would be affected by losing Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler to the Chinese Basketball Association. In the end Jeremy stated, “For Nuggets fans who could not stomach the thought of rebuilding, you got your wish. They will be a playoff team for the foreseeable future, but I fear that is all they will be.” Though this may be true, I’m here to tell you why that may not be such a bad thing after all. (more…)
Every now and then we receive mail from our loyal readers that’s a passionate account of a favorite player, game or experience involving the Denver Nuggets. In this case, it was all three. Tom Ley is a writer for several different websites and was planning on posting this article about his favorite player, J.R. Smith, in one of those publications before he reached out to us, figuring Roundball Mining Company might be a better medium for this type of story. We’re certainly glad did, as his perspective on the now China-dwelling Smith is nothing short of a thrilling and yet, poignant examination of J.R. Smith’s tenure as a Nugget.
This post is a compilation of analysis and breakdown of 2012 schedule in the hours after it was released. To view the official schedule visit the Nuggets website at NBA.com. If you prefer a printable version of the schedule to reference click here for a link to the PDF. Scroll down to read updates and new developments on all things schedule related.
By now, most of you are well aware of ESPN’s 5-on-5 segments where, for some reason or another, illustrious sportswriters from across the country team up alongside basement-dwelling bloggers, like yours truly, in order to discuss the NBA’s hottest topics. Because this series was so successful, ESPN has been gracious enough to create an icon (seen above) to go along with an entirely new sub-series titled, “3-on-3″ (also seen above) specifically tailored for its fellow TrueHoop family network of basketball blogs. Instead of five sportswriters, there’s only three and instead of five questions… wait for it… there are only three, as well. Most of the time it’s gonna be Jeremy, Charlie and I conveying our most humble opinions to our loyal readers in all parts of the world (we see you Australia!), however occasionally we’ll be bringing in other TrueHoop bloggers, ESPN writers and even you to the conversation. That’s right, every now and then we’ll invite a member of the Roundball Community to have their voice heard in the 3-on-3 segments, but the only way you’ll know is by following us on Twitter or Google+ (see bottom of page). In the meantime though, we encourage everyone to go ahead and give their own take on the following questions in the comments section anyways, because after all, we do love to hear from you guys. So without further ado, I give you the very first 3-on-3 in Roundball Mining Company history! Be sure and keep an eye out for more in the future as these should become a staple of our blog as times goes by. (more…)
Free agency is right around the corner, and with it comes somewhat of a watershed moment for the Denver Nuggets franchise. Two of their best starters are among the most desired free agents and the Nuggets want to keep both while being extremely careful with their salary cap. Masai Ujiri can try all he wants to accomplish all three of these goals, but the most likely solution means compromising on one or two of them. Most importantly, each and every one of these choices must fall in line with a plan that makes progress towards the ultimate goal of a championship. Do we know what that plan is yet?