Defensive systems in the NBA are predicated on rules, when and who to help off of, what type of pick and roll to switch on, where on the floor to direct this point guard, where on the floor to direct that wing, ect. Denver’s defense (currently 12th in the league in defensive efficiency and sixth overall in opponents points per possession) is starting to round into a more principled form following the stutters, stops, and fixes that defined the early part of the season. A specific mandate that is becoming more and more clear by the game, is when and how the Nuggets will switch on a pick and roll.
The Denver Nuggets pulled out a big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night that went a long way toward assuaging the anguish of their loss at home the game before to the lowly Washington Wizards (although Washington has proven to be no pushover since losing a close game in L.A. against the Clippers and beating the Trail Blazers the next night at the Rose Garden). However, there is one thing that has been driving me crazy since, even more than the last possession of regulation where Ty Lawson failed to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded (again).
The Nuggets, up three with just over four seconds left in OT allowed the absolute worst case scenario to occur. They rolled out the red carpet for Kevin Durant to get a look at a wide open three. Durant surprisingly failed to capitalize which is why the massive gaffe did not garner much attention.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 26 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -21
Gallo had trouble defending Durant and that was all she wrote. His impact on the game outside of making a few shots was minimal.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 21 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -24
Faried was almost not even present. As is often the case with more physical and larger power forwards, Faried was swallowed up.
|Kosta Koufos, C 25 MIN | 6-6 FG | 4-6 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -8
Koufos was the best player on the team. That’s all you need to know to figure out the direction this game went. He was great all night on the glass and around the basket. He converted misses as well as entry passes with the execution of a veteran. His defense was also solid, yet again.
|Ty Lawson, PG 20 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 2 PTS | -14
It’s hard to achieve this stat line in 20 minutes of action. Lawson was clearly stifled by Westbrook, which isn’t a good sign for the playoffs. Lawson relies on his speed, yet Westbrook is one of the few players in the league who’s probably faster than Lawson. He’s also stronger, more athletic and more talented.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -17
While Iguodala had one of the better stat lines of the starting unit, it was still pretty bad. He was missing shots by a wide margin too. He got most of his points of easy baskets, meanwhile his defense wasn’t particularly great either.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 16 MIN | 1-6 FG | 6-8 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +5
Randolph was one of the bright spots against the Thunder. He drove the basket and got fouls. He didn’t make a lot of shots, but he was aggressive. He also played pretty well on defense, evident by his three blocks and three steals. This is one player I’d like to see get some more action every now and then, considering the Nuggets don’t really have a backup power forward.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 9 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +3
What can you say about Hamilton? He clearly didn’t belong with the group he was playing with tonight. He’s a big small forward who can drive, drain threes and score at will. You have to wonder what he’s done wrong in light of Fournier ostensibly moving ahead of him on the depth chart.
|Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 1-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -8
I hardly remember Brewer at all. There were a few sequences where he played solid defense but he was MIA other than that. It would have been nice to see him on Durant more…
|Timofey Mozgov, C 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +8
Mozgov logged decent minutes. He missed some pretty easy buckets and got hit in the face with the ball, but he was active, which is always good.
|JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 5-6 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -19
JaVale finally overcame his slump — or so it appears. He was under control for most of the night and only made one or two “bonehead” plays. Other than that, he played with composure and verve, especially on offense.
|Julyan Stone, PG 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
I like Stone; always have. I just like the way he quarterbacks the offense. He’s a floor general at heart. He’s always looking to get others involved first and he never forces anything. It would be interesting to see how well he could defend guys like Durant…
|Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -8
Miller’s assists are where he gets his grade. He did do a fine job of sharing the rock, I’ll give him that. But his tunnel vision scares me. I feel like he’s always on the verge of thinking he has to throw his team on his back and score every time down the floor — which should never happen.
|Evan Fournier, SG 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +4
Fournier’s stat line is deceiving. For about 10 minutes of his floor time he was turning the ball over and committing awful fouls. He played better as the game progressed, but I still have no idea how he got inserted before Hamilton.
Karl’s team was totally unprepared from the start. They were never in this game — not even in the first few minutes. It was like watching JV vs. Varsity. Durant and Westbrook are two of the best player in the league, but the Nuggets have several of the best defenders in the league. Why was Iguodala not on Westbrook more? Why was Brewer not on Durant more? Instead Westbrook schooled Andre Miller and overpowered Ty Lawson all night, while Durant took Gallo to the hole repeatedly. And it all starts with defense. The Thunder had almost 70 by half and finished with 117. That’s inexcusable. I don’t care if you’re coming off a week of hiking in the Rocky Mountains with little to no sleep — that kind of defensive effort just won’t cut it. I felt like this was a game Karl had no problems conceding from the start. At least, that’s how it looked.
With the 2012-13 Nuggets season right around the corner it’s time for Roundball Mining Company to introduce the first of several season previews. This one comes in the form of our ongoing 5-on-5 series. Joining Charlie, Joel, Jeremy and I to make predictions and dish out opinions on the upcoming season is loyal reader, Joe Beebe. If you’d like to participate in a future 5-on-5 article remember to follow us on Twitter.
Kicking off Roundball Mining Company’s 15-part #NuggetsRank series is Quincy Miller. At No. 15, he was a unanimous selection by our writers for this spot. Though young and still wildly in need of improvement, Miller is also teeming with the type of raw potential that very few Nuggets possess.
|Kenneth Faried, F 28 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-7 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | 0
Outside of some really poor free throw shooting, Faried was the player of the game. He made game-saving play after game-saving play down the stretch, whether it was a crucial block on Russell Westbrook or a monstrous putback jam off an Arron Afflalo miss. Faried really showed why he’s a special player by managing to outplay bigger, stronger, and taller competition through sheer will and an unwavering desire to win.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 3-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +1
Gallo had a disastrous shooting night and couldn’t find his rhythm against an Oklahoma City team that defended him well. Since his return from injury, the Nuggets have looked for him regularly and created plenty of opportunities Gallo just hasn’t been able to convert. He’s doing other things reasonably well, but sooner or later Gallo has to assert himself and step up to his role. I thought Gallo grew passive as the game wore on and was little more than a spectator in the Nuggets’ offense at the end of the game
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -4
Koufos made Denver’s first two shots of the game and was quiet the rest of the way. He played very solid defense on Kendrick Perkins, who picked up four fouls in the third quarter and was a non-factor for the Thunder throughout the night.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 6-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +6
Like all of the Nuggets’ perimeter players, Afflalo struggled at times against the length and athleticism of OKC. He played very under control as he once again shouldered a huge part of the load on both ends of the floor. Afflalo’s solid perimeter defense helped spark the crucial fourth quarter run and his all-around contributions on offense produced the second-most points and assists on the team.
|Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 8-15 FG | 6-8 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 25 PTS | +3
Lawson has now scored at least 20 points in seven of the last nine games. He’s been on an absolute tear and continues to keep the Nuggets afloat through thick and thin. Every time the Thunder found a surge of momentum, Lawson seemed to answer with a mini-run of his own. He’s playing at an unbelievable level right now and proven he can go toe-to-toe with the best scorers in the league.
|Al Harrington, PF 23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -1
Harrington’s lack of mobility only further hampered his ability to match up against OKC. While Harrington did his best and sank his threes early, he was a defensive liability with the Nuggets switching all pick and rolls in the second half. Harrington was visibly struggling to keep up and was eventually pulled mid-fourth quarter out of necessity.
|Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 5 PTS | +1
Miller took too many shots (including two three-pointers), but generally played solid off the bench and had success igniting the sputtering Nuggets’ offense, finishing with a team-high six assists. I’ve come to expect the worst when it comes to Miller’s defense, but he was surprisingly decent against the Thunder, which was no doubt helped by the fact OKC relied heavily on Derek Fisher in the absence of James Harden.
|Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +12
Brewer is another player coming on strong at the right part part of the season. His energetic hustle was a key ingredient in Denver closing the game on a 7-2 run. Brewer played excellent defense on Russell Westbrook late and made the biggest shot of the game with a banked free-throw line jumper to put Denver up five with less than a minute remaining.
|JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +7
McGee flat-out changes the matchup with the Thunder, who rely heavily on Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison off the bench. Neither of them could match the athleticism of McGee and both ended up contributing next to nothing. McGee on the other hand scored all ten of his points at the rim, where the Thunder had been able to keep the Nuggets’ relatively quiet. If he can keep up these types of performances in an extended role, McGee could be a series-changing talent for the Nuggets.
It the latest edition of Roundball Mining Company’s 5-on-5 series we explore which potential playoff scenarios could benefit or hinder the Nuggets success in the postseason. Fellow readers T.J. McBride and Mitchell Carroll have been selected to participate this time around. If you’d like to contribute next time, be sure and follow Charlie, Jeremey and Kalen on Twitter. As always, please feel free to leave your answers to these questions in the comments section below.
|Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -7
There wasn’t much to write home about in a game like this, but Faried was clearly a bright spot. Great energy, great hustle, and nonstop aggression on both ends of the court. The fact he saw the fewest minutes of all starters is a travesty. With Nene out of the picture, George Karl has to come around to him eventually for the Nuggets to have a chance at success.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -5
32 minutes is a great sign. Physically, Gallo looked much better than he did in his first few games back from injury. It’s tough to complain about this performance, but I do think 7 three pointers and no free throw attempts is a bit too unbalanced. Gallo is ready to be more aggressive with his offense and the Nuggets need him to take on a larger role.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -11
Tough to watch. Seriously brutal. Way too many minutes. Needs to pick it up soon. Running out of short sentences here. At some point he has to learn how to not body check his man every time he’s defending the ball.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -1
A really poor shooting performance, but I saw him giving significantly better effort than most of his teammates on both ends. Afflalo is at his best when he’s moving with out the ball, cutting to the basket and shooting off screens. There was no off-ball movement for Denver tonight and just looking at the box score doesn’t tell you how hard he was playing.
|Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -8
Lawson started slow and was never able to get himself going. He’s always been bothered by the Thunder’s interior defense which is part of the reason OKC is such a a terrible matchup for the Nuggets. Let’s hope JaVale McGee can run a pick and roll because Ty could use an occasional screen and some kind of effort by a big man to help him create.
|Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | -15
Harrington’s worst shooting game of the year, and another instance in which the Thunder just badly exposed the Nuggets for playing him so much. He was either stuck on Kevin Durant, Nick Collison or Serge Ibaka, none of whom he has any chance of guarding. Al also got hurt in the fourth quarter and I feel bad for him, but he played a brutally bad game.
|Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 7-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -14
Probably Andre Miller’s second best game of the season, and it comes with 4 turnovers and a -14 in 24 minutes. This kind of outcome when Andre Miller has a good game isn’t all that unusual, and that kind of tells you the whole story when it comes 2012 season and Andre Miller.
|Chris Andersen, C 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +1
Birdman did his job. He provided energy off the bench and outside of Faried, was the best Nuggets big on the floor.He took several shots you did not want him taking, but Denver just had way bigger problems than Bird in this one.
|Corey Brewer, SF 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -5
10 minutes, 3 fouls, and not a whole lot else. Brewer can be so wildly up and down each possession which makes it very difficult to evaluate him. With Rudy returning to the lineup, it seems like Brew is getting lost in the shuffle a little bit.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -9
Took some really questionable shots, made some really questionable passes, played some really questionable defense. On the other hand, Rudy did provide a nice spark off the bench in the first half. Can his presence have a consistently positive impact over an entire game though? That’s questionable.
|Kosta Koufos, C 16 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -1
It’s good to see Koufos healthy and back in the lineup. He made some nice hustle plays and also appeared to have a bit of rust on his game thanks to his extended absence from the rotation.
|Julyan Stone, G 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +5
Got some good news that he won’t be waived to make room for Chandler. It looks like Rony Turiaf will be bought out of his deal to free up a roster spot for Wilson Chandler.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5
Garbage time hero.
The sentiment that George Karl is a defensive-minded coach is nothing more than a pure fallacy. During his seven-year tenure in Denver not once have the Nuggets ranked better than 18th in the league in defense. Right now, Denver ranks near the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive statistical category imaginable. From points per game, to field goals made, to field goal percentage, to 3-pointers made, to three-point shooting percentage — in each of these areas Denver is no better than 25th in the league.
|Corey Brewer, SF 30 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -10
Being so reliant on Brewer’s offense is not a good look for the Nuggets, I commend Brewer for doing his best, but he remains a limited player with negligible dribbling and passing skills. Brew didn’t have his shot going and while he played commendable defense, he was an offensive liability and couldn’t stay on the floor down the stretch. This is the wrong role for Brewer and he’ll be much more valuable when asked to do less. I do wish he’d pass up the occasional shot and focus more on working off the ball.
|Kenneth Faried, F 11 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -11
It’s baffling. After a career game, Faried can’t get the slightest bit of leeway with Karl. Nevertheless he again failed to make an impression out of the gate. His issues with defensive positioning and executing on offense are fixable. I honestly believe Faried would be better off were he not battling the incumbent Al Harrington for minutes. The only way he can get into games is to come out relentless on an absolute tear. It’s important not to overlook the fact Faried did have a very poor game and was overshadowed by Koufos and Birdman.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -18
I don’t like how Karl managed his minutes, leaving him in almost the whole first quarter after it was clear he was too gassed to keep Ibaka under control. Mozgov makes a huge difference in the Nuggets being able to run an effective pick and roll offense. Unfortunately, he needs to be more consistent and at least prove himself capable of playing a more substantial amount of minutes. This is such an unenviable position for Karl to be in because there will be nights like tonight where Koufos is the much better option. How do you decide who to play?
|Arron Afflalo, SG 43 MIN | 10-21 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 27 PTS | -16
At times, like everyone else on the team, Afflalo struggled with defense quite a bit. OKC is such a poor matchup because Durant is too tall for Denver to use their best defender on him consistently. What was most apparent about Arron’s effort was his tenacity and commitment to staying aggressive. The shorthanded Nuggets actually played like the more aggressive team despite losing and I believe the bulk of the credit can go to Afflalo’s leadership, a quality he hasn’t displayed nearly enough this season
|Ty Lawson, PG 46 MIN | 8-17 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 17 PTS | -4
These are great numbers for any starting point guard, but without a win it just feels very forgettable. Lawson has no feel for where his teammates need the ball and he’s often reduced to getting everything off dribble penetration. Ty had the ball two crucial possessions down the stretch and failed to get off a quality look on either of them. We know Ty can create a quality shot whenever he wants and what’s so disappointing is that a signature game winning moment is still missing from his Nuggets career.
|Al Harrington, PF 32 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +3
Harrington had a double double, and managed to make two three pointers after he’s been unable to deliver offense for the better part of the month. That’s where the praise ends for me. I just don’t like where the Nuggets are going with Harrington in this huge role where he plays nearly the whole second half and defends the oppositions best player night in and night out. Harrington needs a much smaller role for the Nuggets to have any success going forward.
|Andre Miller, PG 36 MIN | 9-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 21 PTS | +3
It was refreshing to see Andre come alive off the bench and play with purpose. This was one of the fineest performances I’ve seen all season as long as we don’t include the overtime. Miller had 3 turnovers in the extra period and his frustration boiled over in the loss. I can’t praise Miller enough for giving the Nuggets an edge that should have won them the game in the second half. Andre seemed to know how poorly he played in the overtime period and was seen leaving the court in total disgust. We haven’t seen that kind of emotion out of Miller all season and hopefully it becomes a turning point for him. While he was abysmal in OT, Denver never gets there without him.
|Chris Andersen, C 29 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +17
Another energetic performance from Birdman. He made countless hustle plays and defended the rim with the type of tenacity that made him the best backup Center in the league 2 seasons ago. Consistency is underlying issue surrounding everything Birdman does.
|Kosta Koufos, C 13 MIN | 6-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -3
Koufos was nothing short of a monster in his first half stint. He managed nearly a double double in less than a quarter. He was everywhere, from knocking balls loose and defending Durant at half court to throwing down jams in transition. It was a sight to behold considering Koufus might not have seen the floor had Al Harrington not racked up three quick fouls. Jeremy made a great point about how trusting the inexperienced Faried over Harrington may have cost Karl in Memphis and he seemed resolved not to reward Koufos tonight.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +9
Hamilton saw his first real minutes of the season and made a few nice plays as the Nuggets enjoyed a successful run. Then he was abruptly pulled from the game. There’s just not enough to judge here and I don’t know what to say other than Hamilton has decent size and solid offensive skills.
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.
In Part 1 of this short series we examined the Denver Nuggets who landed outside the Top 100 of ESPN’s #NBArank list, which attempted to tabulate the best 500 players in the entire league. To conclude our analytical process of determining just how accurate these rankings are, we’re going to inspect the remaining Denver Nuggets — those who are perceived by our fellow TrueHoop family members, as some of the best 100 players in the entire NBA. (more…)
It’s been a while since the last — or first, depending on how you look at it — version of Nuggets News graced the front page of Roundball Mining Co. For this we apologize. We know how important it is to keep the Nuggets community as up-to-date as possible on everything concerning its favorite sports franchise, but this lockout has taken a serious toll on our passion… and that’s hard to do. (more…)
Tonight Vic Lombardi released this tweet in regards to Nene’s future as a Nugget: “Karl told me Nene WILL be here” (more…)
After five straight losses in April alone the Denver Nuggets finally managed to win a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a nutshell it was desperation and pride pushing Denver to overcome their struggles long enough to avoid an embarrassing first round sweep. Down three games to one it was certainly not a series-changing win but nevertheless it was a statement that this team has worked too hard to end their season at home on such a sour note.