Predicting the distribution of minutes for any NBA team is in many ways a doomed venture from the start.
One need look no further than the 2013-14 Nuggets to find ample evidence of a team’s inherent unpredictability. A whopping four torn ACLs, an unexpected player-coach meltdown involving seasoned veteran Andre Miller, the addition of Aaron Brooks and Jan Vesely who averaged 29 and 17 minutes per game respectively – none of these things could reasonably have been foreseen by even the sagest NBA experts. Adding an additional layer of complication (one bound to persist in 2014-15) was the large number of middling players competing for limited minutes on an overstuffed roster.
Yet at least one seemingly irresistible force does tend to propel the allotment of minutes toward a predictable pattern: talent. (more…)
Rumors surfaced in mid-June that the Nuggets might be in the hunt for Kevin Love. Several names were floated as possible inclusions in a trade proposal, including Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, and (even though he was still with the Magic) Aaron Afflalo.
Although not in the context of a Love trade, Chandler’s name has now been dropped once again as a player the Nuggets may be attempting to deal, and this time rather than the Manimal or AAA, he’s joined on the hypothetical trade block by JaVale McGee. As tweeted by Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com:
The Denver Nuggets have considered trading JaVale McGee and/or Wilson Chandler, according to league sources.
It’s been a long time since we’ve covered the NBA Draft extensively here at Roundball Mining Company. Two years, in fact. (Last year we published almost nothing but rumors and breaking news regarding the front-office overhaul that took place leading up to the 2013 Draft.) So I have to say, it feels good writing about one of my favorite hobbies again. Really good. And on top of my already sunny disposition due to simply writing about the draft is the ongoing realization that for the first time in over a decade the Nuggets have a pick in the lottery. For draft-obsessed, wannabe GMs like me, life really doesn’t get any better.
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.
I’ve been doing the Denver Nuggets offseason to-do list for four years now. It’s become a tradition, and it’s a great way to analyze the roster and cap flexibility heading into summer. Every year presents its own unique set of circumstances surrounding the roster, but I do have to say, I can’t remember an offseason being this difficult to forecast. As Joel recently pointed out in his Dearth of financial flexibility post, the Nuggets desperately need to make moves yet have hardly any room to maneuver — like Austin Powers attempting a three-point turn in Dr. Evil’s underground lair. It’s really anyone’s guess as to how Tim Connelly will go about doing his job this summer, and though it seems likely the Nuggets do less as apposed to more, here are some suggestions regarding how the team can position itself to win more games down the road while decreasing its long-term cap strain.
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…)
As if today wasn’t busy enough for the Nuggets, they have just announced that center JaVale McGee has joined Danilo Gallinari and Nate Robinson as being out for the year due to injury after having surgery on his left leg.
The news is another blow to a season that was supposed to be about figuring things out under new head coach Brian Shaw in relation to both style of play and which players were long term keepers for the Nuggets. It also was supposed to finally be the breakout year that people around the organization had been hoping for as he had supposedly become more professional and a harder worker since the end of last season.
Now it pushes back another decision for Denver as they must wait and see how he responds and of the improvement he showed throughout the preseason was real or not.
Stay tuned to RMC for more news and reaction as things get more and more hectic in Denver.
According to a report from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Javale McGee’s leg has not healed properly from the stress fracture he suffered earlier this season and the complications could keep the seven footer out for the remainder of the season.
The news is another bad blow for Denver who have already lost Nate Robinson and Danilo Gallinari for what has become for all intents and purposes a lost season. The news is doubly bad as Denver now must invest another season in deciding if McGee is a player that will fit in Brian Shaw’s systems on both ends of the floor.
Mid-way through the 2011-12 season, Masai Ujiri decided to take a risk. In return for the ever-steady Nene, Ujiri and the Nuggets would get to inherent all the problems and promise of the raw yet gifted JaVale McGee. The initial risk morphed into a long-term investment in the form of a 4 year, $44 million deal that banked on McGee’s enormous pool of untapped talent to make it a worthwhile endeavor by the time the contract reached its back-end. Big men take awhile to develop, after all, and what’s a few years of limited production if the ultimate gain is an elite big man?
And yet, ironies of ironies, as Ujiri is off cavorting in Toronto and McGee is bench-ridden with injury, it is another raw big man who’s reaped the rewards of quiet development. It’s the forgotten cog that – at the time – almost laughably derailed the Melo trade, who has risen up this season to champion hope for the future.
Last night’s loss to Portland marked the exact halfway point in the Nuggets season and finally has started to make clear exactly who this Nuggets team is.
In fact RMC’s own David Walker sent me a tweet that describes the team pretty well.
“Yeah, all things equal they’re aggressively average. But the randomness at least makes a boring season somewhat exciting,” he said providing one of the best descriptions of the 20-21, 2013-2014 Denver Nuggets I have seen all year.
All-in-all this season has taught us a few things, Ty Lawson is really good on offense and JJ Hickson is the master of misleading stat lines, and left us with some questions that seem harder and harder to answer; most notably has Kenneth Faried peaked and what should Denver do with Danilo Gallinari’s injury issues still ongoing?
It is probably time to add another question to that list.
Are the Nuggets headed for disaster?
Last night ESPN’s Marc Stein talked to a bunch of scouts to get their takes on a lot of NBA early season happenings for Stein Line Live.
Stein talked to an Eastern Conference scout on why the Nuggets turnaround has happened. The answer was mostly that Denver was running again, though the part that sticks out most is the scout’s take on JaVale McGee.
Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend
During the preseason, NBA analysts, pundits, and fans were predicting the Nuggets to finish anywhere from a low playoff seed to near the bottom of the league. After nine games, the 4-5 Nuggets have done little to change anyone’s mind.
Ty Lawson’s current averages of 21 points, 4 rebounds, and nearly 9 assists are all career highs. Wilson Chandler has been shooting extremely well from outside, and Timofey Mozgov has been a force on defense and in the pick and roll. The Nuggets have had fourth quarter leads in all but two games. On the down side, long-term injuries to Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee will keep the Nuggets from reaching full strength until January or later. Aside from Ty Lawson, the rest of the Nuggets’ guards have played inconsistently on both ends, with only a couple of good games each. The defense is still a work in progress, particularly in the frontcourt. Coach Shaw continues to run experimental lineups that are sometimes successful but more often terrible. With three tough tests coming this week, the Nuggets will need to improve quickly to keep pace.
Current record and standings: 4-5 (3-2 home, 1-3 road), tied with Memphis for 10th place in the West.
Upcoming games: Monday @ Oklahoma City, Thursday vs Chicago, Saturday vs Dallas
Thanks to a dominating performance from Timofey Mozgov the Nuggets played well late and defeated the Lakers 111-99.
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.
According to the official Nuggets twitter account, JaVale McGee will be sidelined indefinitely due to a stress fracture in his left tibia.
Head coach Brian Shaw has not decided if he will start Timofey Mozgov or J.J. Hickson at center for Monday’s game against Utah but either way expect to see both players start logging more time at the position.