Nuggets News: Preparing for Wilson Chandler

On Saturday the Denver Nuggets chose to waive DeMarre Carroll, according to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. With next Tuesday’s deadline that demands all NBA contracts become guaranteed and Wilson Chandler still not re-signed, waiving Carroll was the simplest way to ensure a roster spot remains open for Chandler upon his return to the NBA sometime in the near future.

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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.

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 81, Hornets 94

New Orleans Hornets 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
81 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -16
The one knock on Nene has always been his soft demeanor and his uncanny ability to disappear in big moments. That’s been the one caveat to his well-rounded game and tonight we saw all that all his athletic ability and efficiency comes at a price. Nene was a defensive sieve and after looking decent against Kaman and Okafor last Friday, he was dominated inside and couldn’t be bothered to put up much a fight.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 38 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -18
Gallinari didn’t play the fourth quarter till the game was well out of hand. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only factor that made his stat-sheet contributions an empty effort. Defensively Gallinari was awful against his fellow countryman Marco Bellinelli and any other Hornet lucky enough to find themselves guarded by him.
Timofey Mozgov, C 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Not enough minutes to be a factor either way, but the Nuggets had some success guarding the rim and played better defense with him in the game. Nene and Mozgov continue to look like an odd pairing in the starting lineup. Karl’s quest to go small no matter how poor the matchup ultimately erased whatever small chance Mozgov had at making a difference against the Hornets dominant front line.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 2-8 FG | 8-10 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | 0
Not a good game. He was one of only two Nuggets putting up some kind of resistance on defense and it salvages his passing grade. Afflalo continues to set a poor example with questionable shot selection. Don’t be fooled by the 10 free throw attempts – Afflalo is a poor ballhandler and not a great finisher. The Nuggets need him playing his game and instead he forced offense all night – with poor results.
Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -9
Lawson was awful on Jarrett Jack. He made poor decisions with the ball and just couldn’t sustain what little momentum the Nuggets were able to get. There’s a caveat to Lawson’s grade – he injured his ankle towards the end of the first half and looked hobbled the rest of the way. I would’ve liked to see him rest and he probably should have, but Lawson was a warrior and battled through.
Al Harrington, PF 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -11
Is Al Harrington as good as his torrid start to the season suggests? Absolutely not, and it would have been totally unreasonable to believe so. Harrington won’t be able to defend consistently and that limits the impact of his offensive talents. When he can’t hit shots, it’s just pure disaster as we saw tonight. Really awful defense and if Al Harrington’s 13-year career is any indication, there’s more to come.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | -13
To get an ‘F’ it goes beyond having a bad game. That happens to everyone. You have to be actively hurting the team every minute to be this bad. Miller did just that, making selfish decisions with the ball and doing the same thing he’s been doing all year – shooting too much. Miller’s contributions to this team have been overstated and I don’t like the way he’s played all year. He is an odd fit on this team to be honest.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -1
Incomplete. For whatever reason, he received a few charity minutes from George Karl and didn’t do enough to affect anything. Considering how poorly he’s played as of late, I’m not sure why Koufos didn’t get the call earlier.
Corey Brewer, SF 8 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0
Incomplete. Despite earning minutes, Brewer was another charity case given a few scraps for no apparent reason. Unlike Birdman he probably deserved his shot but just didn’t do enough to make any fair judgement concerning his play.
DeMarre Carroll, F 1 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +6
He saw a minute in garbage time, perhaps confirming suspicions that Faried won’t see a single meaningful minute of court time no matter what. Incomplete.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 27 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -9
Fernandez made shots, but they were awful ones. I really would have liked to see Brewer eat into his minutes. Rudy plays with energy and reckless abandon, but he is not an explosive scorer and I fear that this coaching staff somehow believes he is. Energy and effort were there, but he just took terrible shots and he doesn’t take enough pride on the defensive end. Another empty statline.
Kosta Koufos, C 10 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +4
Incomplete. He was called in during the second half, but unfortunately the Nuggets were already getting blown out and had no shot. Like Mozgov, the coaching staff has zero trust in him and refused to give him a chance in a game dominated by size.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 110, Sacramento Kings 83 [UPDATED]

Sacramento Kings 83 FinalRecap | Box Score 110 Denver Nuggets
Kosta Koufos, C 4-6 FG | 2-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +3 Koufos netted the first double-double of his career and did so in only 24 minutes. Though he’s still turnover and foul prone, Koufos has showed a lot of progression in only two starts thus far. In Wednesday’s game he also completed the first isolation basket of any big man on the Nuggets outside of Nene when he demanded the ball in the post, performed a drop step and followed it up with a left-handed hook shot.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +11 Be honest, is there a possibility Gallinari reads this blog? No? Fair enough. But it does seem weird how the following day after I grill him for this poor 3-point shooting and implore him to drive to the basket more he does just that, not taking a single 3-point shot all game long. Wednesday’s Gallinari is the one we need to see more often: less shooting, more driving and distributing. Though his European upbringing and appearance may suggest a soft, shooter-driven style, in reality Gallinari is more Andre Iguodala than he is Peja Stojacovic.
Timofey Mozgov, C 4-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +6 This was one of Mozgov’s better games of the season. He finally ran the court with purpose and finished a few strong dunks as a result. Additionally, Mozgov’s soft hands were on clear display as he dished out three beautiful assists and converted a nice finger-roll basket which led to his first “and-one” of the season. That said, Mozgov is still out of control half the time. On more than one occasion he clumsily toppled over his opponent, picking up quick, unnecessary fouls that forced George Karl to resort to his bench sooner than he may have liked.
Arron Afflalo, SG 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -5 After six games Afflalo still hasn’t found his groove, however shooting 5-8 from the field and scoring 11 points in only 20 minutes of action is perfectly acceptable until he manages to figure things out.
Ty Lawson, PG 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +13 Lawson didn’t score the way he has been lately, but then again, he didn’t need to. His five rebounds, six assists and three steals were accumulated while playing solid defense and controlling the pace of the game with precision. Lawson currently ranks first among NBA point guards in steals, second in field goal percentage and third in points per game and field goals made despite ranking only 15th in minutes per game!!!
Al Harrington, PF 7-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +31 What’s left to say about Big Al that hasn’t already been said before? Dude continues to be an absolute revelation while committing hardly any ill-advised plays. This is now Al’s third straight “A” of the season — by far the best GPA of any Nugget this year.
Andre Miller, PG 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +22 Miller is as rock solid as they come. He has yet to lay an egg and plays within himself every minute of every game. He’s the perfect counterpart to Lawson and someone the Nuggets will continue to rely on down the stretch. He also ranks second in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio behind only, the always efficient, Jose Calderon.
Chris Andersen, C 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +19 This was Birdman’s best game of the year, bar none! From the get-go he was challenging every shot within his range and altering countless attempts in the process. He also played the passing lane extremely well and had active hands to go along with it, evident by his three steals. Put simply: This is the Birdman we signed to a hefty contact just a few years back and the one we need to see on a more consistent basis.
Corey Brewer, SF 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | +12 Brewer again played great, all things considered. He’s not the best shooter, but his three steals and one block in only 18 minutes are what really shines. Could the Nuggets have finally found a potential Durant “stopper”? Only time will tell.
DeMarre Carroll, F 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -2 Carroll didn’t see that many minutes but was efficient with the time he was given. Although he did commit a few bad turnovers, this is to be expected from a guy who hardly ever sees the floor.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 4-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | +22 Tonight was Fernandez’s coming out party. He played the best ball he’s played all year and finally eased up on the 3-pointers. His mid-range jump shot was silky smooth and something he should absolutely should consider expanding on using in the future. Clearly the key for Rudy is to not designate himself as a one-dimensional, 3-point shooter. Much like Gallinari, if he can focus on driving, taking advantage of his above average handle and utilizing his court vision, he’ll improve vastly and once again be placed among the upper echelon of bench players in the NBA.
Kenneth Faried, F 2-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +3 If you haven’t heard by now, Kenneth Faried was not only trending worldwide on Twitter after his performance Wednesday, but he also landed the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays… for the third time since being drafted by the Nuggets, no less. Faried entered the fourth quarter at the 10 minute mark and logged what was by far the most exciting, promising, energetic 10 minutes any Nugget has produced in a really long time — maybe ever. His now infamous ally-oop dunk sent shock waves across the Pepsi Center and his three blocks were the epitome of athleticism. More importantly, Faried finally tore down rebounds the way he did in college. After this performance it’s hard to see Faried riding pine like he has been.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Sacramento Queens: Let’s just put is this way, in no way did the Kings look regal on Wednesday. Poor shooting, bad decision-making, no ball  movment — it was all there. Give the Nuggets credit for playing solid defense if you want, but it was really the Kings poor play that secured the victory for Denver.
  2. The Arc Enemy: Finally the Nuggets drove the ball inside and the results showed. Denver shot its highest field goal percentage of the year against the Kings, and conversely, its lowest number of 3-pointers. Let’s just hope this becomes a staple of the Nuggets’ offense rather than an ephemeral fad.
  3. Koufos vs. Mozgov: Yes, this was a “Things We Saw” from the last recap, but it’s likely not often these two will start next to one another and receive roughly the same amount of playing time too. Koufos again thoroughly outplayed Mozgov and didn’t commit as many glaring fouls either. In addition, Koufos landed a double-double in only his second start — something Mozgov has yet to accumulate all season even though he’s started every game — and showed flashes of a relatively polished post game, which Mozgov is not even close to achieving. At this point, it’s clear: Mozgov is simply the more flashy, popular “stiff,” while Koufos is the one of substance, flying under the radar, doing all the dirty work.
  4. ¡Que bueno!: It was great seeing Rudy finally attacking the basket instead of sitting behind the arc jacking up contested threes. His passing skills, evident by his eight assists on the night, are way above average for a shooting guard and something that could greatly benefit the team. He also displayed a very fundamentally sound jump shot for the first time all year, which did not fail him all three times he chose to use it. Maybe we should add Rudy to the “Players that Need More Time to Develop” list.
  5. #Manimal: As already touched on above, Faried was killer tonight. His athleticism was on full display and made every other player on the court seem like a pure civilian. Keep in mind, this is the NBA were talking about here. The most athletic human beings on planet Earth play in this league and yet somehow Faried made them look like just that — humans. I know his fundamentals are a little rusty and he can be caught out of position from time to time, but the way he was blocking shots and destroying the rim was pure, raw, in-your-face nastiness that simply cannot be ignored or brushed to the side any longer simply because he’s a “rookie.” After the game Faried stated, “Hopefully tonight proves I can play if coach puts more faith in me,” which is exactly what it will come down to. Seeing how Karl handles this situation going forward is going to be interesting, but one thing’s for sure: After Wednesday’s performance, his time on the bench just seems even more unnecessary.

Notes from Friday’s scrimmage

On Friday the Denver Nuggets kicked of the 2011-12 season with a free-to-the-public team exhibition. The crowd was lively, the players were energetic and at the sound of the final buzzer only one point separated the two squads. Here are some first impressions from a fun-filled night. (more…)

How Good Can the Denver Nuggets Be?

How good are the 2011-12 Denver Nuggets?  Now that the opening night roster is largely in place, Arron Afflalo is not officially signed, but I anticipate he will be in the next few days, we know what Denver has to work with.

Earlier today we Kalen, Charlie and myself made some high level projections in our second 3-on-3 installment as to how good Denver will be this season.  As I am wont to do, I would like to delve into the roster with a little more depth as we attempt to determine what should be expected of this team.

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Nene and Market Forces

The free agency big man logjam is starting to clear out a bit, but four days into the signing period, we still do not know where Nene will be playing this year.  However, fellow centers Tyson Chandler (four years, $56 million), Marc Gasol (four years, $58 million) and DeAndre Jordan (four years, $42.7 million) have completed deals and the market value for Nene is becoming apparent.

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Nene on brink of making decision? [UPDATED]

According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, the Nuggets are awaiting word from Nene on whether he’ll accept New Jersey’s contract offer or re-sign with Denver. Additionally, Berger is reporting that Marreese Speights continues to be of interest to the Nuggets regardless of where Nene ends up. Philadelphia 76ers beat writer, Kate Fagan, insists that the Nuggets are “definitely in the mix” for Speights.

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