Slow Rise to Stardom, featuring DeAndre Jordan (and maybe JaVale McGee)

While watching the playoffs I can’t help but think of the Nuggets. I long for certain players to somehow end up on the Nuggets’ roster in the coming year, even if I know it’s not logistically possible. I try and analyze the way playoff teams are constructed, from different personalities and skill sets, to team identities, strengths and weaknesses. Watching other teams in the playoffs is always enjoyable — especially this year — as I can push aside my myopic fandom and try my best to truly think like an NBA GM. And while there are always different nuances you pick up on from year to year, one common thread I’ve noticed with playoff teams that make the jump from simply appearing in the postseason to actually advancing is inner development from long-term investments. Case in point: DeAndre Jordan and the L.A. Clippers.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112 Los Angeles Clippers 91

Denver Nuggets 112 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Los Angeles Clippers
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.

Clippers game a bittersweet homecoming for Chauncey Billups

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.

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