A look at the rollercoaster year of Nuggets basketball
Hopes were high for the Nuggets at the end of the 2012 offseason, with some analysts predicting up to 59 wins and a top two playoff seed. Masai Ujiri had acquired Olympic gold medalist and star defender Andre Iguodala in a trade, and extended Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee with long-term contracts. He surrounded the team’s young core with veteran Andre Miller and cheap talent like Anthony Randolph and Evan Fournier.
But a difficult early schedule loomed. The Nuggets would play 22 of their first 32 games on the road, including 8 sets of back-to-back games. By the end of November, the team had a pair of four game winning streaks sandwiched in between three losing streaks of three games each, including worrying losses to the lowly Suns and Magic.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +13
More important than the numbers was the fact Gallo looked completely rehabilitated from his nagging injuries. Six assists is a good sign Gallo is figuring out how to make the most of his dynamic perimeter game. He scored from all over and once again looked spry doing it, busting out some of his most athletic plays of the season.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 33 MIN | 4-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +20
The story hasn’t changed with Faried. He can get better defensively but it doesn’t really matter when he pumps out a nonchalant double-double with four blocks to boot. The Clippers were physical with Kenneth and it didn’t faze him. Faried’s energy was on another level and he looked like he could have kept going all night.
|Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +11
Not a great game out of Koufos. His first-half defense left a lot to be desired but he managed to finish strong with a great second half. Koufos continues to be a dependable guy but his production was lacking relative to his minutes.
|Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 11 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +23
What else is there to say? That was a masterful performance and a prime example of what makes Lawson’s signature game so good. Ty showed he can be an efficient distributor and manage his scoring with the flow of the game. He’s been a lot better at recognizing when he needs to stretch his game out and hit a tough shot. He directed with Chris Paul-like precision and it’s safe to say outplayed his All-Star counterpart.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 39 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +15
He did a great job moving the ball and not forcing shots. Iguodala is guaranteed to provide outstanding defense and playmaking every minute he’s on the floor, but his scoring has probably been the most inconsistent it’s ever been. His flaws as a scorer are evident as his natural tendency is to shoot too many jumpers, but he’s managed it so well in Denver and focused on playmaking instead. It’s just one example of the way he consistently leads the Nuggets on both ends of the floor.
|Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -2
A pretty standard Brewer game with a lot of leakouts, gambling for steals and an airball or two thrown in for good measure. Brew scored and ran hard off the bench as usual but he didn’t have a particularly good night.
|JaVale McGee, C 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +4
There were the highlight blocks and then there were the four fouls and alarming number of missed block-outs for a 14 minute performance. I love Pierre but he got pretty well owned on the boards and two rebounds is just hard to comprehend.
|Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -1
He had his shot going early but really couldn’t get a hold of the pace all night. Miller scored and did what he could off the bench but I have to wonder how much of a role he might have in a playoff matchup against the Clippers, who will use a zone and and challenge Denver to put size and shooting on the floor. Miller was solid but didn’t have much of a role in this one.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -8
He started rough and played some really poor interior defense throughout the first half. As the game wore on the physical play seem to fire up Wil and he exploded with one of his better all-around games of the season. He was key in helping the Nuggets close the first half strong when the game was still well within reach for the Clippers.
The Nuggets didn’t seem to have the best energy tonight and credit Karl for motivating them to turn it up in the second half. This was not one of the Nuggets’ finer performances but a solid, efficient game and a business-like win they needed to have. Lawson shined directing the flow on his own so you also have to credit Karl for recognizing it and pulling back on using the Lawson-Miller tandem in the second half.
News broke yesterday out of the NBA referee camp that a new measure to fine players for flopping based on post-game review is expected to be initiated in the upcoming season. In his recent post on the matter, Ken Berger raises some important concerns, among hem: (more…)
It the latest edition of Roundball Mining Company’s 5-on-5 series we explore which potential playoff scenarios could benefit or hinder the Nuggets success in the postseason. Fellow readers T.J. McBride and Mitchell Carroll have been selected to participate this time around. If you’d like to contribute next time, be sure and follow Charlie, Jeremey and Kalen on Twitter. As always, please feel free to leave your answers to these questions in the comments section below.
|Nene, C 22 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +19
Nene fought through early foul trouble and thankfully he got a comfortable amount of rest with another back-to-back coming up. Although you’d like to see a better shooting percentage and fewer turnovers, Nene getting the ball opens up the rest of the offense and he got plenty of touches tonight.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 7-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 21 PTS | +24
Gallo was on fire. I had no problem with his benching in Memphis and was confident he’d respond with a solid game just as he did after his first bad performance in Philadelphia. Without Gallo providing a spark the game was headed towards becoming a blowout in the wrong direction.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 22 MIN | 5-5 FG | 1-3 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +12
He’s improving. Made Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan work much harder than they wanted to on defense. The key stat is only one turnover. His weak side defense could be much better but he continues to do a solid job contesting perimeter shots and putting pressure on the opposing guards.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 3-6 FG | 8-8 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +12
How bad did Afflalo need a game like this? I missed some of the first quarter where he apparently got off to a rough start, but Arron found a way to fight through it. 8 free throws are outstanding and most impressive was the ball-pressure he applied on Chris Paul, often picking him up at full court and crowding his space all night.
|Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | +23
Much better game. Not spectacular, but a normal Lawson performance Nuggets fans love to see night in and night out. Turnovers have been a problem and although many of them haven’t been Lawson’s fault, he had much better control tonight. Made some spectacular hustle plays to stretch the lead at critical moments.
|Al Harrington, PF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +8
Al started slow but eventually found his stroke in time to put the game away. His minutes finally returned to a reasonable amount and he wasn’t stuck trying to do to much. Harrington could be better guarding the rim but he was somewhat effective against Blake Griffin managing to pull the chair out a number of times.
|Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 8 PTS | +17
Five shot attempts is a much healthier game out of Andre Miller. Didn’t take a three or force shots and bad passes. Not being switched onto Rudy Gay definitely helped him stay fresh and effective throughout the night.
|DeMarre Carroll, F 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -2
Carroll is still on the team. He’s also back and finally healthy after a hamstring kept him out much of the season. Don’t read too much into the grade, C means incomplete in this case
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 19 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +5
Rudy can be a very effective weapon off the bench. The Nuggets need to play him and get him shots more consistently. I’ve been hoping for him to look for his shot more aggressively and resist trying to make the spectacular play. Fernandez did both tonight.
|Kosta Koufos, C 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -3
Koufos could do a little more with his minutes, but I’m glad he came in ahead of Birdman. I liked his energy on defense in Memphis and he was okay tonight. Perhaps with more of a role Koufos’ game will come around and we can get a better idea of what he brings to the table.
|Kenneth Faried, F 7 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -5
Raw is the only way to describe him. The team needs to teach him the fundamentals of playing on offense rather than just throwing up long range lobs when he enters the game. Needs to set better screens and post up some, but I’m probably expecting too much of the Manimal. He was still a beast in the paint and finished everything around the rim. I also think Faried has potential to draw a lot of fouls should he end up seeing more minutes.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -5
Hamilton showed off his quick release and smooth jumper. He also showed flashes of passing ability off drives to the rim. I am excited to see what this guy can do in the future.
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 three straight solid home wins, the Nuggets are carrying nice momentum into their second road trip of the season. It’s a quick back-to-back in New Orleans and San Antonio against two teams which provide unique challenges for this new Nuggets team. While the Hornets and Spurs appear to be reeling from injuries, let’s not forget these are still road games against well-rested opponents.
With the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs already underway and the Nuggets opening series against the Thunder not far behind, it’s time to look back, forward and all around at the season that has been and the playoff season that might be. (more…)
Already with an entirely new cast of characters on hand, starting their four game road trip without Arron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari was not the ideal way for the Nuggets to kick off the most crucial and difficult stretch of season yet. Yet the way we’ve seen this team respond to the twists and turns of a truly bizarre season keep reminding us that unconventional is hardly uncomfortable anymore. Despite a horrible start and a substandard defensive effort the Nuggets still manage one of their most impressive road wins with the fifth seed on the line against the Hornets.
(I know, I know, the title is cheesy and overused but why go creative and really long when you can go short and simple?) The Nuggets dreams of an undefeated season were ended in the Bayou last night as they fell 101-95 to the New Orleans Hornets. Despite a double-double performance from Carmelo Anthony (24 points and 10 boards) and solid outings from Chauncey (20 pts and 5 dimes) and the surprisingly effective Sheldon Williams (8 pts and 13 rebounds, leading the team in the latter category in back-to-back games), Denver couldn’t complete their second-half comeback. After being down by as much as 14 late in the second quarter, Denver took the lead at one point in the third and then jumped out to a six-point lead with 8 minutes to go in the ballgame. Then Chris Paul took over, dropping 10 points and 3 dimes in the last 10 minutes, and David West hit a couple tough fade-away jumpers over Al Harrington to seal the win.
The Nuggets jumped out to a great start early, going up 8-0 and looking good on D, forcing contested jumpers from the Hornets. Then Sheldon and Nene let Okafor have his way in the middle on both sides of the ball, and Emeka had some easy layups and forced contested shots in the paint. Nene knocked down a couple of 18-footers (showing some extended range that this Nuggets fan didn’t know he had) to help the bigs’ cause, but then the pick-and roll defense on Paul (and later Jerryd Bayless and Willie Green) started to fall apart. NOLA’s guards were getting into the paint WAY too easy, leading to some easy buckets (Green’s baseline slam and J-Bay’s and-1 layup on JR) and kick-outs for threes (Marcus Thornton hit back-to-back threes to stretch the Hornets’ lead to 14).
On the positive side Ty Lawson made Chris Paul look like Anthony Carter (which isn’t easy to do), burning him to the basket a few times and doing a respectable job distributing the rock. And despite his struggles on the defensive end, Al Harrington looks good off the bench, giving the 2nd unit some semblance of offense when JR struggles to find his shot.
In the second half Melo took over, hitting his patented mid-range jumpers and getting to the basket a few times as well. And as one RMC writer predicted in his season preview ( I won’t be doing too much self-promotion, I promise) Aaron Afflalo continues to break out of his shell, hitting some shots when his teammates can’t find the range; if he can prove to/remain a viable threat on offense, it will make this team much more dangerous late in games and allow George Karl to keep him in for defense while not losing anything on the offensive end. And while all you JR Swish fans may grimace when I say this, it’s a good thing for this team when Afflalo is in the game late and getting starters minutes over JR, because I’m 99% sure he will not be a Nugget next year.
Next up for the Nuggets is the Houston Rockets, who will welcome Denver to the Toyota Center for their home opener tonight at 6:30 MST. Houston is coming off back-to-back road losses to open the season in two very winnable games against the Lakers and Warriors. Denver needs to play better D against Luis Scola then they did against D-West, because as good as West’s mid-range game is, Scola is a much better back-to-the-basket player, can hit the hook shot with either hand, and is a better passer (which means watch out for the kickout to Kevin Martin or Aaron Brooks). Houston has some absolute snipers on the perimeter (the aforementioned K-Mart and Brooks), and even if one is cold the other could easily drop 30+.
They signed Erick Dampier yesterday to join Yao and Brad Miller at center, so Nene and Sheldon will have to step it up even more with Rick Adelman being able to rotate those guys at will to keep his bigs fresh. If Denver can control the penetrate and kick better than they did last night, keep their bigs out of foul trouble (so Melvin Ely isn’t matched up with Scola) and get some offensive production from their bench (I’m talking to you JR…and Al needs 15+ too) they have a great chance of coming back home 1-1 on their mini-roadtrip before they welcome Dallas to “The Can” on Wednesday night.
Over the past few days I have been fortunate enough to appear on Brian Doolittle’s NBA show in St. Louis called At the Buzzer on Sports Radio 1380 to talk about Carmelo Anthony’s future in Denver and I was a guest on Rapcast, the Raptors Republic podcast, to discuss Linas Kleiza and what he will bring as he takes his talents north of the border. In a nutshell Bryan Colangelo is selling Kleiza as a gritty player that will bring stout defense to the Raptors. Talk about setting someone up to fail. Kleiza is a skilled player, but a defensive stalwart he is not.
Ryan Schwan at Hornets 247 sought out the best trade offers for Chris Paul from the members of the TrueHoop Network. My four team masterpiece did not claim the top spot, but earned a gold star. Make sure you head over and check out the best Chris Paul trade proposals from a group of savvy hoops writers.
Welcome to my first ever comment bag (and from what I can tell almost the first ever comment bag period as someone might have beat me to it by a matter of hours). You have read mailbags before, but there has been so much good discussion about recent events that I wanted to make sure everyone saw some of them, and of course I would like to add my highly insightful thoughts as well. All grammatical errors are the responsibility of the author although I did clean a couple of them up. Lucky for you all I hated English class too.
drewjay: Jeremy, I would love to read how your opinion on the LeBron decision, although you might be sick of hearing about it.
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop recently publised a five part series on traveling in the NBA. Building on that I had to post this play from the Denver Nuggets’ win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. Keep in mind a player gets two steps from the time he gathers the ball thus ending his ability to dribble. In the comments let me know how many steps you think Chris Paul took after he gathered the ball.
Scott Hastings is typically all over the referees for any blown call and he did not say anything about this play so maybe it was not traveling. You tell me.