|Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 6-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | +6
It wasn’t pretty, but Gallo put forth a pretty epic display of all-out effort when it mattered most. He finally got to the line in some huge moments and battled hard under the basket when he needed to. He played his most solid ball when the Nuggets needed it most and was huge on the defensive end against Kevin Love.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 35 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +14
He fouled out and had 4 turnovers in a sloppy offensive showing, but the Manimal was relentless on the glass and forced the Timberwolves to adjust by pulling Nikola Pekovic out of the game. His hustle changes games in a pretty special way no matter what the stat sheet says.
|Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +17
His ability to change and alter shots was a major reason why the Nuggets weren’t down 40 in a pretty awful first-half performance. Koufos got into it with Kevin Love in the second half and has really picked up his defense after a slow start to the season.
|Ty Lawson, PG 33 MIN | 5-12 FG | 6-8 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 18 PTS | 0
A C-minus effort through three quarters and an A through the most important one is what lands Lawson here. Ty hit shots and free throws when the Nuggets needed them, but came out dazed and confused for a good two and a half quarters to start the game. The good news is Lawson’s shooting is starting to come around.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 7-16 FG | 1-1 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +1
It’s really tough to grade Iguodala after two night and day halves like that. He looked like a completely different player following halftime and showcased a creative side to his offense we haven’t yet seen in him as a Nugget. Iguodala has been smooth and steady in every close game the Nuggets have been in, regardless of how well he’s played personally. It’s not necessarily conventional, but that is leadership.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 19 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | 0
Karl actually brought Hamilton off the bench early and stuck with him through a pretty dismal stretch in which the Nuggets couldn’t get anything right. Hamilton stayed with it and responded with a few timely threes and a smooth twelve points in his bench scoring role.
|Corey Brewer, SF 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +3
He did some admirable dirty work on cleanups and putbacks, but Brewer seems to have regressed after a hot shooting start and is unsurprisingly starting to come back down to earth. Brewer probably played a few too many minutes for how erratic his play been as of late.
|JaVale McGee, C 15 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -13
Ugh. This was looking like the good old JaVale as he started things off with a near-airball 20 footer and a quick pull up jumper in transition. He eventually recovered to play some better basketball in the second half but not by much. This was a chance JaVale had to come in early and earn some trust but he wasn’t able to capitalize.
|Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 4-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 11 PTS | +7
He just Lebrons people in the fourth quarter out of nowhere. I have no idea how or why, but he can turn it on in a way no other Nuggets player seems to able to. Miller got some key runs going in the second half and was clutch with a few crafty and-ones over the Timberwolves defense
Anthony Randolph tops the trio of enigmatic seven-footers on Denver’s roster at no. 10 in our #NuggetsRank series. It’s going to surprise a lot of Nuggets fans that he ranks ahead of incumbent centers Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov despite being the least likely to receive playing time among all three.
I caught up with Coby Karl following the Timberwolves win over Cleveland Cavaliers at the Las Vegas Summer League. I’ve always admired Coby as a player and he’s been one of the most professional guys I’ve talked to in Las Vegas. He was kind enough to chat with Roundball Mining Company on playing overseas, the Timberwolves, his relationship with George and more. Many thanks to Coby for interviewing with us.
|Corey Brewer, SF 43 MIN | 4-15 FG | 4-6 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -3
Brew logged huge minutes in this one and kept himself useful by shooting less. He hasn’t found his touch from outside in the past two games but has been much more reliable on the defensive end. Zero turnovers is a positive development and he continues to do a good job using his length to disrupt the passing lanes.
|Kenneth Faried, F 36 MIN | 4-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +6
Faried had the rebounding outburst many have long been expecting. He tallied 14 total boards and extended crucial possessions late in the game. The Manimal finally shined in big time minutes and made several game saving plays, most notably tying up Love for a jump ball in the closing seconds. Faired will put double doubles reliably when he becomes a part of the regular rotation.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -17
Mozgov had a forgettable game. His conditioning was an issue last night against the Thunder and he was laboring up and down the court from the opening tip. He didn’t really fight for position much and despite being on the wrong end of some terrible passes by Miller 4 turnovers in 11 minutes just can’t be afforded.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 44 MIN | 6-18 FG | 8-10 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +3
Afflalo was big, especially after he rolled an ankle and stayed in the game to battle through. The Nuggets are reliant on him to pour in points during this difficult stretch and he seems to be embracing the added responsibility. Arron is carrying the largest load in terms of everything he is asked to provide on a nightly basis. His shot selection is improving as is his willingness to step up in important moments.
|Ty Lawson, PG 17 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +2
Lawson was well on his way to turning around a a horrible start when he went down with another left ankle sprain in the second quarter. Ty did finish the half but was held out of the game following halftime. While he’s still struggling to execute the most basic of concepts on offense, Ty had the pace going in the Nuggets favor early. His loss will be costly if he’s out for the upcoming back-to-back and it was unfortunate to see him go down right as he started to get himself going.
|Al Harrington, PF 40 MIN | 14-29 FG | 0-5 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 31 PTS | +17
I’ll give Harrington credit, he took 29 shots en route to a season high 31 points and were it not for his early offense Denver might not have mustered enough energy to erase their big deficit. He was not badly exposed defensively save for an awful mistake against Kevin Love with the Nuggets up four and in position to close with 14 seconds remaining in the game. Not only did Harrington inexplicably foul but he gave Love a great look at the rim and was fortunate to avoid the and-one. Harrington also missed all of his free throws including two that could have prevented overtime, but Denver probably doesn’t even get there without his help.
|Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 0-8 FG | 5-6 FT | 6 REB | 12 AST | 5 PTS | +15
Miller had a perplexing game, carelessly turning the ball over early and getting himself ejected on a routine bad call after Lawson had already been lost with an ankle injury. He just was not there when the Nuggets needed him and didn’t have an excuse to get thrown out when he did (though it was a bad call and I understand why he was upset). Andre Miller is smarter than that and the Nuggets need better leadership out of him along with a bit more consistency.
|Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2
I expected Koufos to log big minutes after Karl denied him well-deserved playing time in OKC. It didn’t happen thanks to breakout performances by Faried and Harrington, but Koufos still received a decent chunk of backup minutes and performed admirably. His production did take a serious hit and it’s hard to judge Koufos performance as I barely remember seeing him do anything in his limited time on the floor.
|Julyan Stone, G 18 MIN | 1-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -3
Stone saw some really unexpected minutes as it initially seemed like Hamilton would be the beneficiary of Ty Lawson going down at halftime. Stone ultimately had to step in after Miller was ejected and his defense changed the game. Julyan still struggled pushing the ball in transition and controlling his dribble, but he made perhaps the most important play of the game by bothering Ridnour’s layup attempt just enough to prevent disaster. Stone’s versatility was also on display as he did a great job chasing Rubio around and switching onto Beasley a couple of times.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 9 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -8
He saw insignificant minutes, but they were not all that encouraging. Hamilton routinely lost his man on defense and was caught ball watching more often that you’d like. It’s too early to judge where Jordan might fit in but his defense on small forwards isn’t yet up to par and his overall awareness needs to improve. One thing I do love about Hamilton through is that he gets his shot off in a hurry unlike Afflalo for instance, who’s shooting motion is just painfully slow and drawn out.
Quite a few storylines unfolded on Tuesday night in Secaucus, N.J., but none were bigger than the Cavaliers winning two of the top four overall picks behind the fortuitous, and confident, 14-year-old Nick Gilbert, son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and team representative for the night. (more…)
As any Nuggets fan can attest this NBA season has been an exhausting journey. As a tumultuous season ends in another close battle for playoff positioning it is important to remember you still get to play the Timberwolves at least once.
On December 18th the shorthanded Nuggets notched a key win in Minnesota after having won only twice in their previous 11 road games. On December 10th 2008 it was against the Timberwolves when Carmelo tied George Gervin’s record by scoring 33 points in one quarter. Whether by pure luck or divine intervention there is something about the Nuggets playing the Timberwolves that just makes great things happen. On April 9th 2011 it was another record-setting night against Minnesota and starting point guard Ty Lawson was at the center of it.
With the current Denver Nuggets squad far surpassing any expectations fans had following the historic Carmelo Anthony trade, it’s now time to start seriously looking at whether or not another 50-win season is approaching. With nine games left to play and our current record sitting at 44-29, you’d think 50 wins would be easily attainable considering how hot the Nuggets have been as of late, but like all teams not named the Miami Heat, the final stretch of games in the NBA season is almost guaranteed to be tough. (more…)
Updated: Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post has broken the story. A trade involving the Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves has finally been completed.
It is a done deal in principle, with minor details to be worked out following a conference call with NBA offices tomorrow. Details are known, but minor parameters such as draft pick protections could be subject to change by then.
The Nuggets have traded Melo, Chauncey, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, and Anthony Carter to New York. They will receive Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, and Timofey Mozgoz in exchange plus draft picks. Of the included picks are New Yorks 2014 first rounder, which pending lottery protections could go to Houston in multiple scenarios, which means this pick could turn into the “first available” number one pick that New York can send out if not conveyed to Houston by 2014. Via New York, Denver also receives second round picks in 2012 and 2013 from the Golden State Warriors. The Nuggets also receive $3 million in cash considerations from the Knicks.
As part of the trade, the Knicks and Timberwolves exchange Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph for Corey Brewer. Denver facilitates the transfer of Eddy Curry to Minnesota, allowing the Nuggets to shed some $17.7 million in salary. This is more than enough to bring them below the luxury tax threshold immediately.
The deal is done. Of note is the murky status of the 2014 first rounder Denver receives from New York, the details and protections of which will not be known until the trade is approved by league officials. Anthony Carter is also slated to be traded to the Knicks despite them having two point guards ahead of him – Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas. Anthony Carter surrenders his bird rights due to being on a minimum one year salary and he can exercise veto power on any trade, similiar to Matt Geiger and Devean George in the past. If Carter indeed invokes his power to block a trade out of Denver, the deal will still be completed with minor changes. It’s likely Melvin Ely would be exchanged instead. For now, expect AC to go to New York.
It’s an incredibly sad ending to the second Chauncey Billups era in Denver. Thank you so much for your hard work, dedication, and loyalty Chauncey.
Reaction, analysis and more to come from your RMC staff as the dust settles. Share your thoughts and memories here.
After months of rumors, sporadic play on the court, booing fans, speculation out the yin yang, millions of words written in newspapers, magazines, on the internet, in emails, in tweets, spoken around the water cooler and thousands of potentially productive man hours lost to fiddling with the ESPN.com Trade Machine the Carmelo Anthony saga appears to have hit rock bottom. There are multiple reports that the Nuggets are in negotiations in a three team trade that would send Carmelo to New York in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer a future first round pick from the Timberwolves, and if I understand things correctly, an eight digit trade exception. That is it. No Danilo Gallinari, no multiple first round picks and no dynamic young player with promise.
Before you completely discount the rumor as being something the Nuggets would never agree to, which my first inclination, keep one thing in mind. While it is certainly the worst deal for Denver that has been leaked from a talent standpoint it would save the Nuggets roughly $15 million dollars this season. Denver would be sending out Carmelo’s $17.1 million salary and only taking back $5.8 million providing roughly $4 million in salary savings over the final few months as well as over $11 million in luxury tax payments. No other trade I have heard or read about would save Denver so much short term money.
Just as the Jazz’s methodical attack showed us the bad habits and weaknesses in this team’s style, you can always count on the discombobulated T-Wolves to bring out the better side of these Nuggets. After losing a gritty battle of wills with Utah, the Nuggets bounce back by getting out of their one-on-one ways long enough to survive their customary defensive lapses.
No offense to the Wolves, but this should have been a routine win Denver needed to have. Yes, Denver played late last night against an angry Utah team they met at just the wrong time – but Minnesota also played last night in Toronto where Michael Beasley left with a minor injury. You had to think this could get ugly between two tired teams who both play questionable defense. Still all Denver needed to do was show up with the effort they showed last night as they just have the more capable team top to bottom.
The Northwest Division was recently featured in the annual CelticsBlog season preview smörgåsbord and you can peruse the various posts from the list of links below:
How will Big Al fit in out in Utah? Will the Blazers stay healthy? Will Melo still be a Nugget on opening night? Can the Thunder avoid a sophomore slump? Just what is the plan in ‘Sota? All this and more in the Northwest previews.
Recaps: All Previews
Daily Dime Live also spent a day on the Northwest where the consensus was that it will be probably the toughest division in the league, as least as long as Melo dons the garb of the Nuggets, and the Thunder are getting a little too much hype, a statement I do not agree with. You can follow all the heavy hitting analysis right here.
Sorry for my lack of posts recently, but I am working on a research intensive post which requires me to watch a lot of film. I think it will be well worth the wait. I also have the long promised defensive scouting report of Al Harrington waiting in the queue so look for that soon as well.
J.R. Smith started the game missing his first two three point attempts and closed the game out missing his final five. In between those seven misses he converted three in a row during a one minute and 22 second stretch in the middle of the third quarter that sparked the Nuggets to a 110-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Up until J.R. converted his barrage of bombs the Nuggets had the body language of a first grader who did not get to eat the last cookie. They were walking up the floor on offense and going through the motions on defense. The Timberwolves collected seven offensive rebounds in the first quarter. Of course, they missed 19 of the 27 shots they attempted, but it allowed them to stay in the game.
Even after coming out of halftime down five against a team that had lost 12 of their last 13 games the Nuggets were playing as if they had nothing to gain from winning. Rarely can a game swing as quickly as this one did. The Wolves did not fold as they were able to get back to within six points in the fourth quarter, but starting with J.R.’s first made three pointer the Nuggets went on a 28-9 run and the Nuggets were never in serious danger of losing.
Apart from Denver finally getting it together in the second half and winning a game they absolutely should have won we had our first chance to really see Adrian Dantley tested as a coach. I had never developed a feel for how he would react to adversity or what kind of coach he could be. Tonight’s game presented an opportunity to see exactly what Dantley could do.
There are little things coaches do during games such as encourage players, provide insight and direction, but we all know for the most part it is a players’ league. Much of the strategy comes before the games in the shootaround. At that point the game plan is set and the players know well before the game starts how they are supposed to defend a certain set or what to do in the pick and roll. Once the game begins those pregame strategies rarely go away. Come tipoff coaches need to keep the right mix of players on the floor, call for slight alterations to the game plan and not botch the end of close games.
I thought Dantley did an excellent job of rotating his players and he forced Kurt Rambis’ hand and I thought the way the rotations played out were a big key for the Nuggets. George Karl has a very tightly set rotation when he is coaching with a full complement of players. J.R. checks in for Afflalo midway through the first quarter. Nene comes out with about four minutes or so left in the first. Melo will usually depart late in the first although it is not abnormal to see him play into the second. Chauncey comes out after the first quarter is over and Kenyon typically plays a couple of minutes into the second quarter before Nene checks back in to give him a break. Melo, Chauncey and Kenyon rest for a few minutes and then return. The second half can go differently depending on what is going on in the fourth quarter situation wise and foul trouble can mix things up, but you can usually tell who is coming or going based on what the clock says.
Tonight Dantley did not have the good fortune of running Karl’s regimented rotations because of the absence of Kenyon and Lawson. On one hand Anthony Carter can fill Lawson’s minutes, but dealing with Kenyon’s absence is a much bigger problem.
Johan Petro was in the starting lineup for the second straight game and I agreed wholeheartedly with that decision as Denver needed his size to combat the offensive rebounding abilities the Wolves possess. Of course you may remember from earlier in this post that the Wolves killed the Nuggets on the offensive glass in the first quarter so I do not think you can say Petro did his job as well as he should have, but starting him was the right decision.
I was wondering how they would handle the big man rotations without Kenyon. Dantley’s answer, certainly with input from Coach Karl and the rest of the staff, was to have Nene fill Kenyon’s role as he played the first 14 plus minutes of the game. I am not sure if Nene played a stretch that long all season, but he handled it well. Chris Andersen entered the game at his regular time in the first quarter for Petro and Malik Allen came in for Nene and then Nene spelled Birdman with five minutes left in the second quarter which gave Andersen a slightly longer stint that usual and Nene slightly less rest than he typically receives.
The truly interesting moves came in the third quarter. With the Nuggets struggling to score Dantley called on J.R. to replace Petro, going small and forcing Melo to play power forward, which he has not done much of the past couple of seasons. Birdman checked in for Nene a short time later preventing Nene from having to play the full third quarter and Anthony Carter entered the game for Afflalo at the point where J.R. would usually enter the game. The result was a small lineup of Billups, Carter, Smith, Melo and Birdman.
Not coincidentally these substitutions coincided with the turning point of the game. The Nuggets outscored the Timberwolves by seven points and Kurt Rambis responded by pulling both Al Jefferson and Kevin Love out of the game at the same time with 3:35 left in the third quarter. At that point the Wolves were up 69-68. Three minutes and 35 seconds later at the end of the quarter the Nuggets were up 79-72.
Dantley took a risk with the lineup he threw out there, but it was Rambis who blinked and responded to a little run by pulling his two best players out of the game. Love was clearly overmatched trying to guard Melo on the perimeter, but Melo was dealing with a similar mismatch in the lane at the other end, although he did manage to steal a couple of entry passes when Love failed to hold his position.
Not only did the small ball lineup get the Wolves to change tactics, but it helped get the Nuggets running and they were able to get some easy buckets. I was incredibly impressed with the way Dantley handled his rotations, see the game flow here, and I think he did a great job in the second half of forcing Denver to change how they were playing and in turn he forced Rambis to make a bad decision. I do not think there is a coincidence between the fact Love only played 3:38 in the third quarter and the fact Denver outscored Minnesota 31-19 in that quarter.
Overall, the Nuggets won a game that was not a must win game, but a must not lose game, I finally have an opinion of Adrian Dantley as a coach and it is a positive one, but I do have concerns about how this team will handle the absence of Kenyon Martin and with the thought in the back of their head that their coach is struggling with something much more serious than basketball. If the first two and a half quarters of the game in Minnesota is an indication, we might be in for a long month as it certainly did not look like they were pulling any motivation from their circumstances.
Additional Game 64 Nuggets
Advanced Game Stats
Pace Factor: 94.4 – Thanks to the second half they ended up slightly above average
Defensive Efficiency: 105.7
Offensive Efficiency: 116.5
Sometimes it was frustrating, it was frequently ugly, but the Denver Nuggets held onto a double digit lead for all but 2:32 of the second half against a scrappy Minnesota Timberwolves squad on the way to a 105-94 victory.
Denver had sequences where they played very well on offense and others where they played very well on defense, but they rarely played well on both ends of the floor at the same time. In the first quarter the Nuggets seemed a little flat, but they still played very good defense keyed by their ability to rotate and cover for each other. They held the Timberwolves to only 15 first quarter points.
The best example of the Nuggets strong first quarter defense came just over two minutes into the game. Al Jefferson had scored two buckets over Nene on the left block. Damien Wilkins entered the ball into Jefferson as Jonny Flynn and Corey Brewer made parallel cuts from the baseline out to the three point line in an effort to dislodge the defense and make it more difficult for the Nuggets to double Jefferson.
Wilkins cut through the lane after dumping the ball into Jefferson. Chauncey sagged down to dig at Jefferson leaving Flynn and leaving Afflalo in the eye as the Nuggets call it at the top of the circle responsible for the pass out from the double.
Jefferson passed out to Flynn and Afflalo was immediately on Flynn leaving the pass to Brewer open. Kenyon left Kevin Love on the right block to stop any chance of Brewer penetrating. Billups briefly started running towards Brewer, but angled towards the corner when he saw Kenyon closing out Brewer. Brewer then swung the ball to Wilkins in the corner. Carmelo, who had sagged in on Love jumped out to cover Wilkins in the corner as Chauncey seamlessly stepped in front of Love to ensure the ball could not be entered into the post. Melo forced Wilkins baseline and Chauncey quickly jumped the drive stopping Wilkins 16 feet from the basket and triggering a double with Carmelo.
Kenyon slid over to cover Love who floated away from the block to give Wilkins an option to pass the ball out while Afflalo was ready to jump the lob pass back out to either of the two Wolves players outside the three point line at the top of the circle and the opposite side of the floor.
Wilkins only option was to fling the ball into the middle of the floor and Afflalo was in position to pick it off. Unfortunately, Billups was called for a reach on the pass and Minnesota retained possession, however, it was a tremendous defensive possession by the Nuggets and an example of the way they played in the first quarter.
The Wolves also played solid defense in the first quarter. They doubled Melo while pre-rotating a third player in position to help if Melo was somehow able to drive towards the middle of the floor. With both teams struggling to score someone had to create some offense. Enter J.R. Smith who I think dominated the second quarter although it was not with his shooting, but his passing. Denver started going with their most unstoppable play, the pick and roll between J.R. and Nene. As we have noted before, J.R. is very adept at threading bounce passes to the roll man and he ran the high pick and roll with Nene to perfection to spark a 38 point second quarter.
They key sequence began after a timeout at the 8:33 mark of the second quarter. J.R. fed Nene for a layup off the high screen. The next time down J.R. dropped another nice pass to Nene in the lane. Minnesota sunk three players in the lane to stop Nene giving him an easy kick out pass to Afflalo who splashed the three. A minute and a half later J.R., Nene and Afflalo combined to complete the very same play.
After Afflalo showed he was hot the Nuggets ran a play for him where they posted J.R. up on the left block, Nene entered the ball to J.R. and AC, Nene and Birdman all converged setting a three man wide screen for Afflalo who ran off the wall his teammates built to the right wing. J.R. threw a perfect pass from the left block across the court hitting Afflalo, who was on the move mind you, directly in the shooting pocket and Arron drained the jumper. It was a beautifully designed and executed play. Denver ran it a second time shortly after and Afflalo floated to the middle of the floor and sadly missed the three.
All of that happened in just 3:03 and the Nuggets’ lead ballooned from two points to ten points and it was all fueled by J.R.’s passing. Smith went on to show how he is still a frustrating player by reverting to his three point chuckingest best later in the game. J.R. has been struggling with his shot and I can see how a home game against the Wolves is as good a time as any to try to shoot himself out of it. Even so, he is such an all around talent you still wonder when he will realize he can change a game without taking a shot.
The big story of the night though was the return of Carmelo. I thought it was good that the Nuggets did not just start force feeding him the ball right from the start. Still the Nuggets only had six points seven minutes into the game and Melo had only taken two shots, missing both. On a night when Nene was and Kenyon were struggling offensively they needed Melo to put up some points. Melo managed to get to the basket a couple of times over the final four minutes of the first quarter and along with Chauncey was able to get the Nuggets up to 20 points for the quarter.
Melo did appear a little rusty though getting called for a couple of offensive fouls and was never really able to get his post up game going due to the Wolves’ double teaming. He did score eight straight points in the fourth quarter on two threes and a layup and ended up scoring 24 points on 9-17 shooting. It was not a dominant performance, but a solid one.
The Nuggets offense lacked some of the flow they had while Melo was out, but they were able to avoid the sequences where Melo was holding the ball and the other four Nuggets were standing around and watching, which is something I feared might happen upon his return to the lineup.
There was one area where the Nuggets were very disappointing as they were completely unable to keep the Wolves off the offensive boards. Even with Kenyon pulling down 12 defensive rebounds on his own Minnesota collected 21 of their missed shots. Kevin Love corralled an impressive five offensive rebounds, but was easily outdone by teammate Al Jefferson who earned eight. When you consider Minnesota missed 58 shots from the floor it slightly reduces the sting of sacrificing 21 offensive rebounds. Even so, you are not going to win many games only collecting 62.5% of all defensive rebounds.
Additional Game 38 Nuggets
Head on over to the ESPN.com Daily Dime and send in your questions during the Nuggets/T-Wolves game.
There has been a great deal made about how weak the 2009 draft class is. I actually do not think it is that bad of a group. The real issue is the top of the class is lacking in star power.
There is no top three or four players in this draft. In fact a lot of analysts believe that you can get just as good of a player at 18 or 20 as you can at four or five. That does not reflect well on the top of the class, but I think there is some depth here. Players such as Earl Clark, Eric Maynor, Ty Lawson, DeJuan Blair, Jeff Teague, Chase Budinger and Nick Calathes are all good prospects. There may not be a superstar in the group, but there are a lot of potential starters out there.
The other observation I will make about this draft is I actually think Blake Griffin is overhyped because he is head and shoulders above the rest of the group. Working off that analogy if the average height of the top players in this class is 6’0″ tall, then Griffin is 6’5″. Griffin looks great righ now, but the typical draft class has an average height of say 6’4″ and when Griffin gets out among those players he may not be such a sure thing after all.
Kind of reminds me of a guy out of Cincinnati named Kenyon Martin.
One thing I think Nuggets fans should be concerned about is despite having to worry about the Jazz and Trail Blazers, the Timberwolves and Thunder are both in a position to really help themselves tonight. The Thunder are drafting third and I expect them to add another nice piece to their collection of young talent. If they land Ricky Rubio, look out. There are reports that Russell Westbrook is telling the team, or at least his agent is, that he does not want to be shifted to shooting guard and not to draft Rubio. General Manager Sam Presti cut his teeth in San Antonio. I do not think he is going to let the desires of a second year player prevent him from doing what he thinks is best for his team. In addition to the third pick they have selection number 25 too. That is right in the range where some undervalued players will be waiting to be snatched up.
Minnesota has four first round picks. I know it is difficult to think of Minnesota drafting well, but if they manage to pull out two starters and two rotation players, that will put them well on their way back to respectability.
I will leave you with three lists.
Players I like: Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Earl Clark, Eric Maynor, Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, DeJuan Blair, Jeff Teague, Chase Budinger, Nick Calathes and Toney Douglas.
Players I do not like: Hasheem Thabeet, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Henderson (Dahntay Jones part two), Terrence Williams, Austin Daye and Sam Young.
Players I do not know what to think about: Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, James Johnson, B.J. Mullens, Omri Casspi, Taj GIbson and Darren Collison.
Second round value: Patrick Mills, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, A.J. Price, Paul Harris, Lester Hudson and Jon Brockman.
Coming up next, the ESPN/TrueHoop Network draft live blog/chat.