Prospecting: Digging for gold in the 2011 NBA Draft

With the Denver Nuggets already out of the playoffs and the NBA Draft a little over a month away, speculation on how the Nuggets will approach the draft and who it will take with the 22nd pick is firmly underway. Equipped with an enticing asset in Raymond Felton as well as the less attractive Al Harrington — both of whom are overshadowed at their respective positions by other teammates, thus making them somewhat trade-able — the Nuggets have the option to make a variety of moves if prompted. (more…)

Encore to a Basketball Renaissance

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…)

2010-11 Game 70 Recap: Denver Nuggets 98 Miami Heat 103

Box Score | Highlights

There are certain games at certain times of every season that I get a funny feeling about and just dread having to watch. In the past, it was the predictable slumps and offensive hell the Melo-era Nuggets so often fell into during big-time road games. After losing to Orlando in nothing short of heartbreaking fashion, it was an unwelcome case of déjà vu giving me that oh-so familiar feeling that tonight’s back-to-back in Miami would not be a fun one. It’s not that I haven’t been a believer in the remarkable strides this team has made in a short time playing together, I am just naturally skeptical of the Nuggets in big time “show up” games on the road. With that said, attempting to stay grounded about this team’s progress brings a certain understanding that maintaining an identity with grit and determination in a loss to a premiere team is nothing to sneer at. Call it complacency, but in my mind these last two losses are a sign that the NBA is taking notice and adjusting to a surprisingly tough team that is not without flaws – and crashing the new-look Nuggets party like this might be something that needed to happen.

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2010-2011 Game 38: Denver Nuggets 130 Miami Heat 102

Box Score | ESPN Recap

Two days ago, the Miami Heat looked unbeatable as they tore through the schedule with ease, winning 19 of 20 games including 13 in a row on the road. Meanwhile, the Nuggets shaky season was starting to come off the rails. After a 3 game losing streak, Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri seemed all but certain to blow the lifeless roster up, punching fans in the gut by trading their 2 best players away for future assets and savings. Last night the Miami Heat were the vulnerable ones and the Nuggets were the team doing the punching.

I said in the preview yesterday that the Nuggets seemed to be catching the Heat at their weakest, off a west coast back to back in which their best player was injured. Lebron didn’t play last night and the Heat didn’t have the energy or depth to overcome it. For the second straight game, the Nuggets execute a balanced offensive attack and ride a scoring explosion from the bench to an easy blowout win.

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2010-2011 Game 38 Preview: Miami Heat

Despite a tough loss against the emerging LA Clippers last night, the Miami Heat are still rolling. They’ve won 20 of their last 22 games, including 13 out of 14 road contests – clearly still playing like the best in the league. Under normal circumstances, the Denver Nuggets catch their first meeting against them at a pretty favorable time – Miami played a late west coast game last night and travel to Denver with Lebron James questionable due to a sprained ankle.

We all know these are not normal circumstances, but from a purely numbers standpoint the game looks like an intriguing offensive showdown. Miami is 2nd in Offensive Efficiency and Denver is tied for fourth. The Nuggets lead the league in free throw rate with Miami coming in second. Miami is 7th in eFG% with Denver in 9th. The teams are tied for second in True Shooting percentage at 56.8, trailing only the 57.3 TS% of Boston.

Where the teams differ greatly of course is defense and pace. Miami owns the second best defense in the league, but they’re solidly first in effective field goal percentage allowed. They play at a slower pace and are built to stop fast breaking teams trying to beat them at their own game. They don’t allow threes and suffocate you with a methodical half court defense knowing they’re gonna get more foul shots and transition buckets than you by relying on D.

It’ll be interesting to see how Denver defends with Kenyon Martin back and looking as spry as he has all season last game. Him and Arron Afflalo can take some of the defensive workload off of Melo. The Heat are not a deep team, and with Lebron out are going to rely exclusively on Dwyane Wade to create offense. Mike Miller stands to get playing time if Lebron can’t go, but he hasn’t gotten into the rotation since returning from injury and Miami’s not sure how he fits in. If the Nuggets have a chance, they have to do it with smart shot selection and transition defense. If Melo and crew fall into their familiar habits of jogging back on defense while jawing at the officials, this won’t be close. They also need to attack Miami’s bench

Revisiting Efficiency and Carmelo Anthony

The analysis of the quality of shots Carmelo Anthony attempts compared to some of the other elite offensive swingmen in the league garnered quite a bit of attention and also quite a bit of feedback from readers.

First of all, I would like to simply clarify what I was attempting to convey.  The efficiency with which Carmelo Anthony scores is lower than expected for a player of his skill level to the point people are beginning to question his ability.  Based on my observations the gap between Carmelo and other players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant is his propensity to attempt a larger percentage of challenged shots than his fellow star scorers.

I believe I accomplished that through my study, but it was a limited and very basic look at a complex subject.  Because of that I wanted to address some of the questions and comments that were posed to me.

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How Can Carmelo Anthony Possibly be Inefficient?

We are all well aware of the colloquialism “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Beauty is subjective.   We can certainly develop a general consensus of what is beautiful, but we cannot remove the human element of subjectivity.  I attended college in Indiana for two years and being from Colorado I was quite unimpressed with the features of the Indiana landscape, there was a friend of mine who was determined to convince me that a flat horizon was prettier than a jagged one.  Truthfully, there is beauty in both the mountains as well in the distant horizon.  Was one of us right, or more right than the other?  That is a question that has no answer.

Some of the world’s great thinkers have tried to determine a scientific or mathematic formula to define physical beauty.  Even if one day a formula is developed that can prove who is beautiful and who does not make the cut people will continue to debate the physical qualities of those around us.  For every Stanley Hudson, there is a Sir Mix-A-Lot.

When you apply statistics and formulas to something a subjective characteristic, there is always room for dissent.  That is the crux of the stats versus scouting discussion.  While some believe numbers never lie others will never accept a string of data to contradict what their hearts and eyes tell them, even if it is corrupted by alcohol.

Beauty may be fun to talk about and more fun to ogle, but this is a blog about basketball.  Unlike with beauty, statistics and formulas can paint a very comprehensive picture of what a player can or cannot do.  The statistics tell us that Carmelo Anthony is not an efficient scorer.  While his 28.2 points per game seem to suggest he is an elite scorer, numerous other stats decry that assertion as preposterous.  Whether it is his pedestrian 45.8% shooting, his mediocre 54.6% true shooting percentage, or his league average 1.07 points per possession we have ample evidence that Carmelo is inefficient and when we subjectively look at what he does we are misled in thinking he is an immensely talented and versatile scoring machine.

This has troubled me greatly.  I believe in the statistics.  I know that efficiency is not a subjective matter, but a clear cut numeric certainty.  I was one of the first people to decry Melo’s lack of efficiency.

On the other hand, I have seen every professional game Carmelo Anthony has played.  The man was put on earth to make buckets.  He is big, strong, quick, he can shoot off a jab step, he can shoot off the dribble, he can drive with either hand, even though he rarely finishes with his left, he does not reflect the meager abilities of the volume scorer some are making him out to be.  My eyes see all he can do and I cannot believe that Carmelo Anthony is significantly worse offensively than the other more statically efficient superstars in the league.

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