I can’t lie. I’ve thought about writing this article for years. Years. After each futile, heartless, disappointing exit in the first round of the playoffs, I was so ready to write this article that I couldn’t sleep. This year was no different. This year I wanted it just as bad as I have for the last several years. And yet, here it is, less than a week since Karl was let go, and I’m not sure I even want to write it anymore.
This past week was a very active one from the Nuggets’ standpoint. In addition to competing in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Nuggets amnestied Chris “Birdman” Andersen, signed Anthony Randolph and re-signed JaVale McGee. To gain a better understanding of what these moves entail, we’ve called upon our writers to dish out analysis in true Roundball Mining Company fashion — also known as 3-on-3. With three different big man scenarios, this edition will aim to attach three different words from three different writers to each of the players discussed.
According to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, the Nuggets have decided to use their lone amnesty provision on Chris “Birdman” Andersen and will sign free agent forward, Anthony Randolph, in his place. According to Yahoo!Sports’ Marc J. Spears, Randolph’s contract is a three-year deal worth $6 million total. If true, this is a steal. More information and analysis will be posted as news trickles in. As it stands this appears to be an excellent move by the Nuggets and one that will make our colleague Jeremy very, very pleased.
Chris Andersen, Al Harrington, Timofey Mozgov, Ty Lawson.
That is the list of players on which the Denver Nuggets can use the amnesty provision from the current CBA. In order to be eligible to be amnestied, a player’s current contract must have been agreed to and signed prior to the ratification of the CBA.
Looking at the names above I think we can safely remove Ty Lawson from consideration and Timofey Mozgov is in the last year of a very reasonable contract that will pay him $3,140,429. His contract was only partially guaranteed through June 30 so if the Nuggets were looking to part ways with him, that would have been the time to do it as it would have actually save them money.
That brings us to our final two contestants.
The latest edition of our ongoing 3-on-3 series centers around one — one player that intrigues each of our writers in three different areas of the game. With hardly any roster space left for free agents, a serious need for star power and a Summer League team boasting with young talent, the fact remains: The Nuggets could certainly use an adjustment or two. Though we aren’t general managers and don’t control the fluidity of the roster, we can at least point out several players that we feel would benefit the Nuggets in some fashion — which is exactly what we aim to do, 3-on-3 style.
For the second year in a row Roundball Mining Company has organized a list of the Nuggets top offseason priorities. Ranked from most to least urgent, these are the adjustments the Nuggets should strongly consider in order to further improve its record in 2012-13 and beyond.
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 a new turn of events, Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s attorney has released a statement revealing information about a brief relationship between Birdman and a young women and that could have led to recent raid on his Larkspur home. Birdman’s team seems confident that he’s the victim and not the culprit of the recent events that have led to his dismissal from the Denver Nuggets. Stay tuned for more updates.
Nuggets center, Chris Andersen, was excused indefinitely from the team today in light of a raid performed on his house Thursday morning by Douglas County sheriffs seeking information on an Internet crimes against children investigation.
Not much is known at this point in time. Details are sure to emerge as times passes. What we do know is that this is just about the worst time for these issues to surface, yet Birdman is still innocent until proven guilty. Obviously things don’t look good, at all, but it’s important to refrain from jumping straight to conclusions until more information is gathered.
|Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 12-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 17 REB | 1 AST | 27 PTS | +33
Complete and utter domination. Faried set new career highs in points, rebounds, field goals made, and field goals attempted in just 24 minutes. He was outstanding in transition and a beast in the paint on both ends. Defensively, it was by far his finest performance to date. I get the sense Faried is seen as purely an energy guy by the coaching staff, but games like this are a reminder he’s a much more complete player than he’s given credit for.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 15 PTS | +25
Gallo’s welcome return was well-received by the Nuggets new starting five. For the first time in weeks, the Nuggets started a lineup with chemistry and cohesion on both ends of the court. A lot of the credit must go to Gallo, who clearly isn’t in game shape yet managed to get the Nuggets playing the best team basketball we’ve seen in weeks.
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +28
Koufos is capable of putting up better numbers, but still played a fantastically solid game that helped the Nuggets open up with perhaps their best start all season. Nothing was wrong with Koufos’ game, but he was somewhat overshadowed by the stellar play of McGee and Faried.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +33
I supposed this is now what a poor game out of Afflalo looks like. It’s a shame this season feels so short because if this is what we can expect when Afflalo doesn’t have it, he’s well on his way to becoming a special player. His leadership and team-oriented play were a welcome sight on a night he could not carry the offense like he has in the past couple of games.
|Ty Lawson, PG 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | +31
I hate to be harsh, but once again I did not like the timid, passive style of play we saw out of Lawson against the Warriors. Lawson did not do anything wrong, but he should play better against a sad Warriors back court full of no-names. Ty has it in him to take over these games if he wants to and it’s personally disappointing that he doesn’t show more of a killer instinct or a drive to assert himself against lesser competition.
|Al Harrington, PF 12 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +5
Harrington didn’t play much, but he did his job admirably when he did. Al was once again flame throwing triples from long range and wasn’t needed for more than a few minutes after the bench essentially put the game away in the second quarter. Bad news just came out that Al has a torn meniscus and has been trying to play through it the past few games.
|Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 12 AST | 6 PTS | +16
Once again, I just really like the maturity and professionalism Andre is now showing on a nightly basis. Why this was missing for first 80% of the season I have no idea, but in the past month or so Andre has been one of the steadiest guys on the team outside of Afflalo.
|Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +5
Brewer still has a place in the Nuggets’ rotation and he found that niche tonight. Corey was solid in transition and at the very least, less of a black hole on offense. I think his leash with George Karl had gotten a little too long and Brewer became too content to step outside of what he’s supposed to do best. He did a lot of good things in garbage time, but questions remain about his decision making on offense.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 2-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +4
Mozgov got an extended garbage time stint after playing himself out of the rotation entirely on the Nuggets’ recent east coast trip. He was part of a twin towers lineup with McGee and hopefully, the dose of playing time will light a fire under him to make himself a more useful option should the Nuggets need him down the line.
|JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-8 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +2
Patience is the key with McGee. Admittedly I was not a fan and frankly, never believed the Nene trade had anything to do with the merits of acquiring him. Honestly, after getting an extended glimpse at JaVale and everything that comes with him, I’m impressed. Sure, he can be frustrating on a team that can’t afford any more inconsistency. Even so, the physical tools and multi-faceted skills he shows warrant a more patient attitude. This is a work in progress that likely won’t be complete by the end of this season, and there’s still plenty of good to be found in that.
|Julyan Stone, G 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | +7
He’s an exciting player, but all of his minutes came against the Warriors reserves with the Nuggets up by 30. Still, Julyan played with a lot of intensity and displayed a keen sense for utilizing his length and athleticism on defense.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 8 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | +6
Jordan was another guy who saw garbage minutes and ran up the score on a team that had already given up. It was nice seeing him sky high for a dunk and have success after a a sub-par game as a starter in his previous outing.
|Chris Andersen, C DNP COACH’S DECISION
Gone, but not forgotten. Obviously this grade is N/A because he didn’t sniff the court yet again. I don’t think this is it for Birdman in a Nuggets uniform, but it’s probably a sign he will not play for the rest of the year. It has to be frustrating for Bird to be cast aside and given the Renaldo Balkman treatment, but it’s also a strong indication this team is moving in a new direction and making tough sacrifices for the sake of developing talent.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 33 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -8
When is Chandler going to step up? The Nuggets re-signed him to be a impact player, not a role player. He seems to perpetually be in cruise control and rarely goes on a period of extended aggressiveness. If 13 points per game is all he’s going to provide, look for Chandler to be moved this summer. His defense was about the only “highlight” and even that was nothing to write home about.
|Kenneth Faried, F 23 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +2
Faried’s minutes are erratic. It’s hard to tell when he’s going to play and when he’s going to get benched for extended stretches. He seems to play much better when he sees a heavy dose of time. Like Mick Jagger, if you start him up he’ll never stop. But Faried’s defense is pretty bad at the moment. He goes for every pump-fake thrown his direction and makes silly, unnecessary fouls on the regular. He must improve his perimeter defense and be more aggressive on the glass to help this team win.
|JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -6
McGee continues to be a pleasant surprise. His defensive presence in the paint is something the Nuggets have lacked since Marcus Camby departed. He had one of the best dunks of the season over Jose Calderon and showed some refinement in the post as well. He was in foul trouble, but even so, 23 minutes is just not enough time for a player as talented as McGee.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 37 MIN | 5-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | -5
Afflalo was aggressive and drove to the hole on a night when the most Nuggets refused to do so. He lost his temper once again, and received a technical foul for it, but his passion is honorable. It wasn’t his best shooting night but because he displayed emotion and at least tried to play the right way, Afflalo gets a better-than-average grade.
|Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 9-19 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 26 PTS | -13
After a slow start Lawson turned up the heat in a big way. This is his second straight game of scoring at least 25 points and in both he took a high number of shots. Ty must continue to be aggressive. When he is, the Nuggets are totally different team. Without him the Nuggets might have lost by 20.
|Al Harrington, PF 31 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | -4
Harrington blended in for the most part. He had some good drives to the basket and made a few key buckets, but was otherwise quiet.
|Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -5
Andre “Tunnel Vision” Miller did what Andre “Tunnel Vision” Miller usually does: get tunnel vision. This is his routine: dribble up the court at .0026 miles per hour, stall, dribble into the lane and shoot. That’s what Andre Miller basketball. He’ll make some nice passes and occasionally pass the ball off before he shoots, but it’s hard to tell what he does to help the team win on a nightly basis.
|Corey Brewer, SF 15 MIN | 0-1 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -1
Brewer played defense, or at least he attempted to. He over-committed on a few steals — as usual — but otherwise appeared to be hustling. His offense however, is a different story.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -5
Had to do it. Just had to do it. I’ve given out one F all season, but Mozgov’s performance against the Raptors increases it to two. Where to begin… lets see… In a five-minute span he got a defensive three seconds call, goal-tending call, committed two turnovers and one personal foul. In the four closing minutes of the third quarter he was inserted into the game, upon which the Raptors out-rebounded the Nuggets 9-2 and scored 11 points in the process. During this time he got boxed out, then dunked on by DeMar DeRozan. Overall, it was a complete disaster — and I’m not over exaggerating here. We’ve seen Mozgov play bad before, but nothing like this. Needless to say, Koufos will be a welcome sight when he returns.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 33 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 12 PTS | +4
Chandler cut down on the “difficult shots” he tends to fall in love with and got to the rack hastily. He also dished out five assists and made a few hustle plays. But Chandler needs to score more than 12 points per game for the Nuggets to have a shot at at winning.
|Kenneth Faried, F 30 MIN | 8-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +6
In the first half Faried was underwhelming. He wasn’t doing anything well except drawing fouls, but as the game progressed he really turned up the heat. His energy in the second half was excellent and more importantly, honorable. In a game in which nobody seemed to care, Faried did, and that’s certainly one positive to take away from a negative day.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 6 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -2
It’s becoming more apparent that Mozgov simply isn’t up to par with the type of competition he sees on a nightly basis in the NBA. He’s perpetually slow to react, out of position and for the most part, maladroit. As someone on Twitter stated, if he played with the second unit perhaps his confidence would elevate. It’s clear at this point, he has no business being a starter especially with McGee now on the roster.
|Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 2-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -20
For the amount of minutes he received, there was no reason for Brewer to score only seven points and snag two rebounds. These types of performances have become a trend, unfortunately. Brewer is often effective in short bursts but can’t sustain a high level of play for an extended period of time. As a role player he’s excellent, but if he’s your starting shooting guard, you’re in trouble, as the Nuggets found out on Sunday.
|Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS | -7
Did Lawson finish with a bad stat line? Not at all. If this was a win he probably would have received a B. But that’s the problem: it wasn’t. Lawson is without question one of the better players on the Nuggets roster, if not the best. Yet for whatever reason he’s been invisible over the last several games. It’s clear that when Lawson goes, so do the Nuggets, and because he hasn’t been effective lately, neither has his team.
|Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -18
This was one of Big Al’s worst games of the season. Nothing was going in and half the time he was busy committing terrible fouls rather than focusing on defense. It’s hard to look too far into his performance however, given that none of his teammates played that well either.
|Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -19
Andre Miller did Andre Miller. And that’s all I have to say about that.
|Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
It’s beyond perplexing why Mozgov still plays more minutes than Birdman. Andersen knows the NBA game, has carved out a role and usually plays it well. His energy is something the Nuggets are in desperate need of right now yet Karl seems sold on a young, inexperienced center for reasons unknown.
|JaVale McGee, C 25 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -12
McGee was hands down the pleasant surprise of the day. His mistakes were nothing compared to his teammates, meanwhile he played twice as good as any of them. His interior defense was superb and his effort was top notch. If McGee continues to play this good, we’ll have to tip our hat to Masai Ujiri for a fantastic trade, yet again.
|Julyan Stone, G 4 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +1
You know you’re in trouble when… your third-string point guard is the best defender on your entire team. Let that one slowly simmer for a moment. Julyan Stone cares about defense and actually wants to play it. So why can’t he get some run when what he does best is the Nuggets biggest need? He only played four minutes but for the type of defensive effort he displayed, he gets an A.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -15
Hamilton was a mixed deck of cards. He did some things well but also committed a few “rookie” mistakes. It’s hard to evaluate him in detail when he doesn’t get consistent playing time.
The Denver Nuggets possess one of the more efficient offenses in the NBA (currently fifth in the league in offensive efficiency). It is an equal opportunity offense that requires players who can create scoring opportunities for their teammates. The bad news is they are running low on players who are good passers.
Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington, JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Chris Andersen. Those players average a combined 268 minutes per game. In case you were wondering there are only 240 minutes in a regulation NBA game and that 268 figure is using the current rate of zero minutes a game from the two recent additions of McGee and Chandler. Add in Chandler’s 30.6 minutes a game as a Nugget last season and McGee’s 27.4 as a Wizard this year and that number jumps up to 326 minutes a game.
In order to wrap my head around the trade that sent longtime Denver Nugget Maybyner “Nene” Hilario to the Washington Wizards I had to compartmentalize my thoughts and feelings into several different categories. I will go through them one at a time in order to attempt to break down a trade that took everyone by surprise.