Juggling flaming chainsaws — Denver’s front court dilemma

It’s hard to know how much to extrapolate from the first couple games of the season, as the morning dew from the new year still lays damp upon both arena and player alike. But if there has been any clear takeaway from Denver’s first two games it’s that the front court rotation is a rolling tire fire right now. No front court combination has logged more than 26 minutes together and Brian Shaw is currently juggling the unwieldy number of five big men in and out of the rotation.

The starting pair of McGee and J.J. Hickson is perhaps the most egregious miscalculation and the one who’s change seems the most immanent. Offensively, neither Hickson nor McGee seems to understand how to properly space the floor, despite J.J. being a threat in the pick and pop.

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Recap: Chicago Bulls 94, Denver Nuggets 89

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…

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5-on-5: #NuggetsRank reflections

Around this time of year everyone’s doing some sort of rankings series. Pundits are ranking teams, players, players on teams (as we’ve done), coaches, general managers, mascots, they’re giving out preseason awards, they’re writing books. It’s kinda crazy, to be honest. And as you might expect from a fairly traditional sports blog, Roundball Mining Company got in on the craziness as well, in the form of our #NuggetsRank series which ran alongside ESPN.com’s larger #NBARank. But unlike most other outlets, here at RMC we like to occasionally take a step back and critique ourselves. Sure, we offer you our opinion in unbridled fashion and proclaim certain players to be “definitively” better than others, but we also realize those pompous proclamations are just our opinions. We know they’re the furthest things from facts; and so, in our latest 5-on-5 we collectively acknowledge the absurdity of rankings and immediately revoke all written analysis we may have previously stated as set in stone. As always, please join us in the comments section below to dish out your thoughts and opinions on #NuggetsRank, and be sure to let us know what we could do better next time to improve.

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Five things to watch for this season

As the 2013-14 NBA season approaches, many questions hover around the Denver Nuggets. Almost everything that made the team successful in years past (especially last season) has now departed. There’s no more George Karl, no more Masai Ujiri, no more Andre Iguodala — no more certainty. There’s still a deep and talented roster, however the players that comprise it are less known commodities and more bags of speculation and temptation. The 2013-14 Denver Nuggets are, more than anything, a team mired with uncertainty. Though five topics of concern are presented below, this list could very well expand to seven or even 10. But in honor of brevity and odd numbers, here are the five most compelling storylines to watch for this season.

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Can Brian Shaw help JaVale McGee transform into a more conventional center?

“The anchor of the defense.” “Conventional.” “A presence in the middle.” “A true center.”

If you dropped these phrases on most NBA fans and asked them who came to mind, it’s a near certainty that none of them would answer, “JaVale McGee.”

And if in turn you surveyed them on how they’d describe McGee, you’d invariably end up with “bonehead,” “goofball” and “Shaqtin’-a-fool” on your short list of most common responses.

New Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw appears to be on a mission to change all that, however. (more…)

#NuggetsRank No. 13: Timofey Mozgov

Moz
When we ranked Timofey Mozgov number 11 in our inaugural #NuggetsRank series last year, it also served as a preview of what should have been a pivotal season in his career. After migrating to the NBA from Europe relatively late at age 24, the 7-foot Russian spent his first two seasons toiling in obscurity as a fringe rotation player. He was headed towards the final year of his contract after a decent playoff performance, and it was supposed to be time for him to finally make his mark in the NBA or join a laundry list of failed project bigs.
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Film Room: Darrell Arthur scouting report – video and in-depth analysis

In this latest installment of the Roundball Mining Company Film Room, we will take a look at Darrell Arthur, the player the Nuggets received in their surprise trade of Kosta Koufos.

But before getting to the analysis, it’s important to open with a major caveat: (more…)

5-on-5: New front office appraisal

It’s been several months since the NBA’s reigning GM of the Year, Masai Ujiri, was inexplicably let go by the Nuggets and replaced with Tim Connelly. Since that time the Nuggets have made a variety of eyebrow-raising moves that have accented the most turbulent offseason in recent memory. Now, in light of the Nuggets’ recent completion of putting together a full 15-man roster under the new regime, our team at RMC will divulge our first impressions of Connelly and Co.’s transactions in our latest 5-on-5. As always, we encourage you voice your answers to the following questions in the comments section below.

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Where Nuggets players rank in two advanced statistical categories

Earlier today Joel posted this on his Twitter page and I thought it was quite interesting. Below is a graphic of where all current Nuggets players rank in player efficiency rating (PER) and win shares per 48 minutes played (WS/48). These are two of the more popular advanced statistical categories that aim to quantify just how valuable and productive a player is individually and with respect to his team. The following rankings might surprise you.

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BREAKING NEWS: Timofey Mozgov Agrees to Contract Extension With Nuggets

As first reported by Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski the Nuggets and center Timofey Mozgov have finally reached an agreement on a three year, $14 million contract extension. 

According to Wojnarowski sign-and-trades were talked about but the Nuggets and Mozgov finally came together on the terms of the deal and were able to get it done.

The deal will include a team option in the third year, a source said.

 An opportunity for Mozgov to play a significantly increased role with Denver opened because of a draft night deal that sent center Kosta Koufos to the Memphis Grizzlies. Mozgov will play behind starting center JaVale McGee under new coach Brian Shaw.

 Several sign-and-trade scenarios were discussed over recent weeks, but Mozgov and the Nuggets were committed to re-partnering after getting closer on the terms of the deal in the past week, sources said.

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Reaction to the Hickson Signing

As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, J.J. Hickson has agreed to sign a three-year, $15 million contract with the Nuggets.

An Overview -

Hickson is a 24 year old, 6-foot-9 center-forward who started for the Blazers last year. On a pure numbers level he looks solid, averaging 15.8 points and 12.8 rebounds on 56 percent shooting (per-36 minutes). His offensive game is made mostly out of his post-game, where he is middling, his pick-and-roll game, where he excels, and off put-backs through his offensive rebounding (sound familiar?).

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What We Can Learn From The Kosta Koufos Trade

When the Nuggets traded Kosta Koufos on draft night it clearly signaled that they felt it was time to turn over the starting job to JaVale McGee.

But it also signaled something else, a belief that they have and one that in the end may come back to hurt them.

It signaled that they, like plenty of other teams see potential more in physical gifts than in mental ones.

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What was lost and gained in the Koufos trade

In the midst of draft day fever, the Denver Nuggets almost inconspicuously swung a trade to ship out the starting center of their 57 win team. They acquired Memphis Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur and the rights to the 55th pick, which turned out to be the rather unfortunately named Joffery Lauvergne.

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5-on-5: Draft night effects and beyond

On June 27, Nuggets fans got their first up-close glimpse of how the Nuggets’ front office would operate with Tim Connelly at the helm. Like past drafts, the Nuggets were active. They traded down from the 27th pick to ultimately select Erick Green and sent last year’s starting center to Memphis for a package that included stretch-four, Darrell Arthur. In the end it was a busy night with implications that could be felt for years, which is exactly what we hope break down in our latest 5-0n-5. As always, we encourage you to play along by answering the questions we posed to our writers in the comments section below.

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The Way Forward

Yesterday I wrote about the previous year in Nuggets basketball, and ended by noting the challenge facing Tim Connelly and Brian Shaw following such a wild season.  Here are some issues from the previous year that they will have to deal with going forward:

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