It was the finest defensive performance in a series that has been defined by Oklahoma City’s domination on that end of the floor. For a few brief moments it was also a glimpse at the depth and balance that made Denver the NBA’s top scoring team in the regular season. Nevertheless as we’ve seen five times in a row it simply was not enough.
The Oklahoma City Thunder is better than the Denver Nuggets. After four games against the Thunder, and four straight losses, this is the overwhelming sentiment I have gathered. (more…)
In the Denver Nuggets’ attempt to turn conventional wisdom on its head, score one for conventional wisdom. After posting exceptional offensive efficiency numbers early in the game, weathering a furious charge in the second and third quarters, and batting tooth and nail in the fourth Denver found themselves leading the Thunder 101-100 with three minutes left. They would not make another basket the rest of the night.
The Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder are both teams who benefited significantly from midseason trades. Each squad tore through the league over the final few weeks of the season and as a result we have had plenty of evidence for what these teams can do. To make things even more interesting we have two games worth of film to study, with both teams hosting the other late in the season.
The question is how germane were the results of those two games to the playoff series we are about to experience? Denver played both games against the Thunder without their third big, Chris “Birdman” Andersen and starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo. Obviously Denver is a better team with those two than without them. Health is certainly going to be a very important theme in this series and we will address those concerns a bit further down the page.
Despite the Nuggets missing some significant pieces I believe both games gave us some fairly significant insights into what to expect from the upcoming best of seven conflagration.
Since the trade of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, one of the more interesting storylines of the season has been the Nuggets’ success abandoning a conventional star-centric roster for more of a team-oriented approach. While there’s no doubt Denver’s transformation has re-invigorated the team by allowing more of the role players to shine at once, it’s the Oklahoma City Thunder and their two-man show that’s consistently outclassed their Northwest Division rivals and most of the western conference as well.
If basketball were a semester of college drinking, this game would be classified as The Hangover. After coming off one of the best wins of the season against the Lakers on Sunday — just like a wild night of partying — the concerns of the after-effects were the last thing on our minds. But tonight, we were sobered up and pushed back into the realm of reality as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant reminded us that, as Prince would say, “Parties weren’t meant to last.” (more…)
It’s hard to understand (or even grasp the concept for that matter) what heaven must be like. Undoubtedly arriving in such a palatial and euphoric location would be blissful on the highest level. And though we can’t exactly embrace that feeling until we get there, we can certainly estimate as to how it might be. Watching the Denver Nuggets since the landmark Carmelo Anthony trade, one can only assume, is just like heaven. (more…)
After losing a preferred trading partner for their disgruntled star, the Nuggets won a game against the division leading Oklahoma City Thunder. Under the circumstances, it might have been one of the gutsier team wins of the season against a top notch opponent in what was largely a sloppy game. Judging by the listless and sullen crown at the Pepsi Center, the win seemed overshadowed by yet another twist in the ongoing Melo saga that most fans know is going to end unhappily… sometime.
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.
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.
There is quite a bit of writing I need to do before the regular season starts, but for now, just a few links.
Big Time Nuggets Chat
The big announcement is that I will be participating in a Denver Nuggets chat tomorrow along with John Hollinger on ESPN.com. Things kick off at 12:00 noon on Friday, but you can check in a few minutes early to start pumping in questions. Out of all the ESPN analysts we are very lucky to have Professor Hollinger involved. As I have said before, he is the most knowledgeable member of the national media when it comes to the Nuggets.
Melo and Kevin Durant
There has been some interesting discussion on TrueHoop regarding how incredible Kevin Durant is, yet how terrible his plus/minus numbers are. The post points out how he was number 20 in the league in PER in 2008-09 and has scored the fifth most points of any player at his age. He is clearly an incredible talent, so how come he has such a terrible plus/minus and his teammates post better plus/minus ratings when they play without him?
Apparently there is a player who started very similarly to Durant, but has improved drastically over the years. None other than Carmelo Anthony. Timothy Varner has the low down over at the exceptional San Antonio Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell.
Melo on E:60
Carmelo will be interviewed on ESPN’s award winning primetime newsmagazine E:60. Here is a little snippet to wet your appetite.
The episode will air at 5:00 PM Mountain on Tuesday, October 20.
A Couple of Nuggets Previews
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Finally the blog Protect the Paint sees some similarities between Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Gary Busey.