3-on-3: The summer of one

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.

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Interesting developments on Wilson Chandler front

In a recent New York Post article Peter Vecsey points out that if Chandler were to sign in Italy for the remainder of the season, he would then “forfeit the ability to do a sign-and-trade come summer — one of the CBA’s multitude of new rules.” Essentially, this makes re-signing Chandler even more critical than before for a couple reasons.

First, once summer arrives many teams will have freed up enough cap space to make the type of offer that would cripple the Nuggets salary flexibility if they decided to match. In theory the Nuggets could deal Chandler that following winter before the trade deadline to avoid paying his salary but the fact remains, having Chandler as a tradable asset this summer allows much more room for the team to improve heading into next year.

If he were to sign in Italy, then come back to the States and agree to an offer the Nuggets would cringe at matching, (assuming they would in fact match) this would basically erase most of the team’s cap room and in the process prevent it from making much-needed additions to the roster through free agency. Additionally, the thought of the Nuggets letting Chandler walk for nothing becomes an actual possibility rather than a nightmare, which is something Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke have attempted to avoid for quite some time. What if, for example, the Nuggets manage to get themselves into heavy contract negotiations with a player like Kevin Garnett, Chris Kaman or Gerald Wallace? Letting Chandler walk in order to sign someone like them then becomes an all too realistic scenario with all the work the Nuggets front office did in order to retain him as an asset, then flying out the window in the process.

In a way, these new details that have come to light might actually expedite contract negotiations and ensure Chandler returns to the Nuggets for at least the rest of the 2011-12 campaign. Now that he has leverage Chandler can tell the Nuggets to either pony up and give him the money he wants, or suffer the consequences by relinquishing the right to sign-and-trade him this summer. Either way, Chandler is getting paid and in all likelihood the Nuggets will be the ones dishing out the dollars. At this point, sacrificing a few more million bucks this year could go a long way in ensuring more talent arrives in Denver in the foreseeable future.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 96 Hornets 88

Denver Nuggets 96 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 New Orleans Hornets
Nene, C 24 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Nene played a few possessions where he looked dominant, but once again was passive during any key stretch where it looked like Denver could seize momentum. He played Birdman-like defense meaning one out of 3 or so possessions was fantastic and the rest was cringe-worthy.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 39 MIN | 9-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 23 PTS | +12
Gallo did more off-ball work than we’ve seen all season. Despite still missing a ton of shots from distance, he was aggressive and confident throughout the game. Gallo also recorded six assists on a night where the guards had a tough time creating shots for the team. Gallo played a very well rounded game tonight.
Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3
Look, Mozgov just wasn’t in the game much. I was baffled as to why he or Koufos weren’t allowed to play in the first half despite New Orleans’ size causing so many problems. Timo missed a dunk and he misses a ton of tip-ins which is likely keeping him off the court. Although he wasn’t the worst defender on the floor, he was part of a dysfunctional unit that didn’t communicate on defense and couldn’t get out in transition.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +8
He still isn’t taking the greatest shots and for whatever reason, missing open threes causes him to keep shooting contested ones. There’s nothing to do but wait out Afflalo’s long range slump, and at least on defense its business as usual. His third quarter defense was fantastic and played a major part in the Nuggets’ second half surge.
Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 3-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | -7
For once, Lawson had to rely on his teammates to push the pace in Denver’s favor. He should have gotten a few more calls at the rim, but Lawson didn’t show a lot of patience running the offense instead opting to wildly drive the ball into traffic where the size and length of New Orleans bothered him.
Al Harrington, PF 23 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +9
Al Harrington has somehow made himself a solid defensive player. He played perhaps the most efficient minutes out of any Nugget and once again stepped up big when no one else was willing. He is the only one shooting with any confidence and he’s been a major factor in gutting out every tough win of the season.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 4-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +13
Miller gets his first ‘A’ of the season as he seemed to really settle the Nuggets down at the moment they were able to seize the game. I still don’t like his shot selection and some of the passes he’ll attempt in a half-court set, but Miller’s steady floor presence was great on a night Lawson struggled a lot.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Birdman’s act is tired. I’m shocked the numbers make him look like a competent player. He looks great one game and then is consistently the worst guy on the court in the next. He’s completely awful on the road and the Nuggets won this game because Koufos finally cut into his playing time in the second half. Birdman’s energy just isn’t something to rely on – it’s a gimmick more than anything else.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | 0
Fernandez did exactly what he needed to do when called on. With Afflalo having one of his better games of the year, the minutes weren’t there but he gave maximum effort on both ends during his time. Fernandez isn’t taking unnecessary threes anymore and his play is steadily improving after an up and down start in Denver.
Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +19
Koufos wasn’t really allowed in the game till the second half when the Nuggets looked morbidly bad on both ends. He proceeded to play like the best big on the floor and almost singlehandedly sparked Denver to the pivotal run that sealed it. His pick and roll defense was awesome and the Nuggets rotated much better with him anchoring the middle. I’m not sure why the coaches are so hesitant to trust him but he clearly deserves more time on the floor. Give Koufos credit for MVP in this difficult road win.

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Breaking down ESPN’s #NBArank of the Denver Nuggets: Part 2

In Part 1 of this short series we examined the Denver Nuggets who landed outside the Top 100 of ESPN’s #NBArank list, which attempted to tabulate the best 500 players in the entire league. To conclude our analytical process of determining just how accurate these rankings are, we’re going to inspect the remaining Denver Nuggets — those who are perceived by our fellow TrueHoop family members, as some of the best 100 players in the entire NBA.  (more…)