It’s time to take stock of the state of Denver’s salary structure, as the NBA free agency period has officially begun, and with it the annual ritual of Nuggets fans speculating which players – if any – the team will target this summer.
With just one roster spot currently open, it seems unlikely that Denver will be overly active in free agency unless they make a trade or two to trim down the payroll and free up roster space. And while GM Tim Connelly will have the full $5.3 million mid-level exception at his disposal, using it would likely propel Denver over the luxury tax threshold, territory where the Kroenkes have generally been loathe to tread.
Every now and then Roundball Mining Company receives a fan e-mail worthy of more than just a quick read and response. Last week such a letter was sent our way from avid RMC reader and loyal Nuggets fan, Joe Karlik. In his message (presented below in italics) Joe outlined three main moves he felt the Nuggets needed to make this summer to put themselves in a position of success this upcoming season. Joe kindly asked for our thoughts on these issues, to which we’ve obliged his request in the form of our latest Roundball Roundtable. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on the following subjects in the comments section below.
On June 17 last year, the Nuggets announced that Tim Connelly had been tapped to take the helm of Denver’s front office. In the month preceding his hiring, owner Josh Kroenke had overseen a turbulent start to Denver’s offseason, and Connelly joined a Nuggets organization reckoning with the startling departure of Masai Ujiri for Toronto and the firing of Coach of the Year George Karl. Exacerbating the chaotic atmosphere, Andre Iguodala – who the Nuggets clearly had expected to return – opted out to become an unrestricted free agent just eleven days after Connelly’s arrival, and it quickly became clear that he did not intend to re-sign with Denver.
From day one, Connelly’s rookie year as general manager has been a trial by fire, albeit a fire he enthusiastically jumped into.
To many, including a fair share of the writers here at Roundball Mining Company, it seemed unrealistic that the Nuggets would be able to replicate (let alone surpass) the previous season’s success (more…)
The 2013-14 Denver Nuggets season was not exactly what we all hoped for. It was oftentimes ugly, occasionally depressing and teeming with injuries. But there was also an assortment of quality performances turned in from nearly everyone on the roster — mainstays and midseason transplants alike. Although the gaudy numbers produced in these outings didn’t often add up to wins, they still made for some exciting basketball and alleviating moments of salvation in a season filled with what seemed like never-ending tension. Now if we can just get all these guys to replicate each one of these performances every night in unison, then we might have something…
Although chaos ruled last summer’s Nuggets offseason, this year it may be defined by calm.
Going into the 2014 offseason, the Nuggets have a roster likely to remain loaded up at or near the 15-player maximum. Of their current 15 contracted players, only two are expiring – Jan Vesely and Aaron Brooks. Another two, Darrell Arthur and Nate Robinson, have player options but have both expressed interest in staying with the Nuggets. And Denver will surely hang onto the only remaining player whose 2014-15 salary is not guaranteed. The coaching staff and front office have highly praised Quincy Miller’s progress this season, and will be looking to continue his development.
So if the Nuggets let Vesely and Brooks walk, they will be entering the offseason with only two open roster spots. (more…)
Among many NBA fans, announcers, headline writers and – most especially – fantasy team managers, double-doubles seem to possess an almost mystical quality. They’re esteemed as a sort of litmus test of production, a reliable quick-glance measure of whether a player can fill up the stat sheet.
Analytics geeks and gurus, on the other hand, tend to dismiss the double-double as a rather arbitrary, and unelucidative stat. Sure, the set of players who average double digits in two columns is a fairly select bunch, but nobody’s going to argue that DeAndre Jordan (who’s in the dub-dub club this season) is even remotely close to the caliber of LeBron James and Kevin Durant (who are not).
Despite the fact that I lean heavily toward the latter camp (fantasy team aside), when both Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried put up double-doubles in Denver’s rout of New Orleans, it piqued my curiosity as to the team’s success rate when that happens.
As it turns out, it’s fairly impressive. (more…)
Faried’s blossoming post game:
Matt had a great write-up on Faried’s improvements but I thought it was worth reiterating it a bit here. Faried began the year a player adrift. The GM who coveted him when so many others had passed and the coach whose up and down offensive style seemed designed to maximize his athletic ability while minimizing his half court deficiencies were both gone. Trade rumors swirled around him and Brian Shaw seemed dead set on forcing him to go to work on offense with his back to the basket. Faried’s subsequent failures started costing him minutes.
And yet, something weird happened. Despite what seemed like irrevocable differences between play style and offensive capability between player and coach, Faried did the thing that Brian Shaw was always purported to be able to do to players, one of the core reasons he was hired. Faried got better.
After a turbulent 2013 offseason which raised more questions than answers about the future of the Denver Nuggets, last Thursday’s trade deadline represented a sort of mid-term examination for their young front office. The test was not only to improve the roster, but also to clarify the team’s goals and plans moving forward, and provide at least a glimmer of hope for a future more promising than this increasingly frustrating season would seem to suggest.
And now that the deadline has passed, with the Nuggets making two trades – Jordan Hamilton for Aaron Brooks and Andre Miller for Jan Vesely – it’s time for us here at Roundball Mining Company to take measure of the front office, evaluate their deadline moves, assess how the new regime has done up to this point, and discuss what they need to do from here on out.
Five of your RMC writers give their take after the jump. (more…)
Like many Americans, the Denver Nuggets have a lot of crap wrong with them. And like many Americans, the Denver Nuggets will make a conscious effort to resolve their nagging issues in the coming week. On Friday the Nuggets will play the New Orleans
Hornets (insert owner’s wife’s favorite animal) Pelicans to put them just over one third of the way through the 2013-14 NBA season. After dropping five of their last six games, and coming off three full days of rest, the Nuggets should be more than ready to turn over a new leaf — even if January 1 is still a few days away. And though the Nuggets have a plethora of problems to be addressed, here are five of most imperative heading into Friday’s game…
If the Denver ends up having a relatively successful 2013-14 season, it’s likely that on reflection these two big wins against Dallas will be seen as the turning point. The Nuggets never relinquished their halftime lead, thanks mostly to 13-point quarters (third and fourth, respectively) from both Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, whose heroics kept the Mavs at bay every time they tried to claw their way back into the game. (more…)
Going into the season, we were all mentally prepared for how bad the defense was going to be, especially when factoring in the absence of Denver’s two best wing defenders. But what has occurred over the span of these four games has been an organization-wide breakdown on a fundamental level when it comes to defense, from system to effort to the makeup of the roster. We’ve already covered the big man dilemma as well as the inability to defend the three, now it’s time to dig into the high pick and roll defense.
The basics of Denver’s pick and roll defensive principles is essentially for the traditional centers, McGee and Mozgov, to drop back to around the free throw line when defending a screener and for everyone else (essentially anyone guarding the screener) to hedge high. The theory behind hedging is basically for the defending big is to impede the ball handlers path around the screen enough so to give the ball handlers’ defender enough time to navigate the screen. Considering the kinds of athletes Denver employes at the forward positions, and the diminutive nature of the backcourt, this kind of help and recover system should, in theory, work out well. In theory.
Although Ty Lawson turned in one of his best performances as a young Denver Nugget, his team couldn’t find any form of consistency on the defensive side of the ball and once again allowed the opponent’s front line to have career days all around. The Nuggets are now 1-4 on the season and looking more and more like a lottery team.
In what surely had to be one of the more disappointing season openers in recent memory, the Nuggets put forth a confused and defensively-bereft effort Friday night as they succumbed to the Blazers in ugly fashion. Point guards Nate Robinson and Ty Lawson each scored over 20, while Brian Shaw once again juggled with an 11-man rotation that failed to produce any form of cohesion. Additional grades and notes below.
There’s been much fan controversy in the preseason surrounding the battle at power forward between incumbent starter Kenneth Faried and summer transplant J.J. Hickson. This debate was taken to a new heights Monday night when the Denver Nuggets’ Twitter account published a tweet stating, “With Kenneth Faried just returning from hamstring strain, Although many Nuggets fans (including yours truly) are admittedly partial towards the Manimal, Brian Shaw certainly is not. Brian Shaw’s primary objective is to win basketball games by implementing a system he believes in. If this means Hickson wins the starting job, that’s Shaw’s prerogative to decide. And though many fans may remain baffled by this development, the following series of numbers and charts should offer a reasonable explanation as to why Shaw’s leaning towards the decision he is. coach Brian Shaw leaning toward starting J.J. Hickson Wednesday.”
In what turned out to be an exciting game, the Nuggets ended up losing to the Chicago Bulls in the final few possessions after a back-and-fourth affair all night. JaVale McGee turned in an impressive performance with 15 points and eight boards in 25 minutes, while Ty Lawson looked dominant in the early periods of the game before succumbing to injury. The Nuggets finish the preseason with a 2-5 record and lots of room for improvement heading into the season. Here are a few more notes from Friday’s action…