The latest edition of our ongoing 3-on-3 series centers around one — one player that intrigues each of our writers in three different areas of the game. With hardly any roster space left for free agents, a serious need for star power and a Summer League team boasting with young talent, the fact remains: The Nuggets could certainly use an adjustment or two. Though we aren’t general managers and don’t control the fluidity of the roster, we can at least point out several players that we feel would benefit the Nuggets in some fashion — which is exactly what we aim to do, 3-on-3 style.
In a move that should surprise nobody, Rudy Fernandez has elected to sign a three-year contract with his former team, Real Madrid. The move is expected to be announced sometime July 4, of all days.
Fernandez never made the mark many thought he would after coming to the Nuggets via trade last summer. His skill set was always incredibly intriguing however his ill-advised shot attempts and injuries prevented him from ever fulfilling the expectations set forth by fans and media members alike.
We wish Fernandez the best both in life and with his future basketball endeavors in Spain where he seems to be happiest.
It was more or less a foregone conclusion that JaVale McGee would become a restricted free agent, but Masai Ujiri’s penchant for secrecy couldn’t help but get a few fans worried when free agency opened without any official confirmation on McGee’s qualifying offer one way or the other. In a series of tweets on Sunday morning, Ken Berger of CBS Sports broke the silence and confirmed that the Nuggets have in fact gone through the obvious formality of extending the qualifying offer to McGee, making him a restricted free agent and allowing the Nuggets to match any offer he could receive from another team.
Berger went on to reveal that Rudy Fernandez did not receive a qualifying offer, essentially ending whatever slim hope there was of Rudy returning to the Nuggets or eventually being signed and traded to another team. Rudy will now be unrestricted and free to sign with any NBA team, but he’s currently rehabbing in Spain with an eye on playing in the London Olympics. From what I’ve been told about Rudy’s contract with Real Madrid during last year’s lockout, a deal is already in place for him to return to the Spanish team for multiple seasons after he has fulfilled his NBA contract. Considering Madrid just lost up-and-comer Kyle Singler to the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, I think it’s a safe bet they go hard after Rudy and even if they don’t, holding onto Rudy’s rights isn’t likely to pay off for the Nuggets anyway. I’m pretty certain this is farewell for Rudy and the Nuggets, and quite possibly the NBA as well.
Woj followed up with the latest bit of interesting free agency news today, revealing that Masai Ujiri will meet with JaVale McGee on Monday to talk extension. I expect there to be a pretty competitive market for JaVale’s services, but the Nuggets do have the leverage of restricted free agency and Berger mentioned that JaVale has yet to receive an offer from another team.
As of now, that’s all to report on where the Nuggets currently stand in free agency. JaVale is obviously the top priority with unrestricted free agent Andre Miller not far behind. Jeremy already did a great job previewing free agency last week, and while I do not mean to rehash his entire post, I’ll bring up a lot of the same points to preview how I think free agency is likely to play out for the Nuggets.
The 2012 NBA Draft is in the books. It was a wild and unpredictable night with twists and turns nobody could have expected. In the end the Nuggets kept all three picks, selecting Evan Fournier at 20, Quincy Miller at 38 and Izzet Turkyilmaz at 50. Detailed analysis of each player will be posted in the coming days, but first, our writers’ initial reaction to the 2012 NBA Draft from the Nuggets’ point of view.
The Denver Nuggets have an opportunity to add a quality player, or three, in the upcoming NBA Draft, soon after that free agency will kick off so it is important to know how the Nuggets stand heading into both events. Kalen has been doing a fantastic job of covering the draft so I will lay out a picture of the Nuggets financial standing and provide a few insights into the upcoming free agency period.
For the second year in a row Roundball Mining Company has organized a list of the Nuggets top offseason priorities. Ranked from most to least urgent, these are the adjustments the Nuggets should strongly consider in order to further improve its record in 2012-13 and beyond.
Heading into the 2011-12 season the Denver Nuggets were a mystery waiting to be solved. After coming off the most chaotic seven months in franchise history the team made monumental strides in the offseason to remain competitive even after parting ways with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. In addition, the NBA lockout saw key contributors Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martina and J.R. Smith all vanish to the opposite side of the world until midseason, leaving even more questions marks about who would be with the team moving forward. But as the season progressed, piece by piece Nuggets fans collected clues about the identity and subsequent standards the team would possess, which ended up being very similar to years past.
According to the Denver Post, Nuggets shooting guard, Rudy Fernandez, will miss the rest of the 2011-12 campaign with a back injury. He has already missed over one-third of the season with various injuries. Fernandez is set to become a restricted free agent after this season although it’s hard to see him remaining with the Nuggets moving considering how crowded the roster already is. This should open up more playing time for Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler, as well as Jordan Hamilton when the team is depleted.
The Denver Nuggets possess one of the more efficient offenses in the NBA (currently fifth in the league in offensive efficiency). It is an equal opportunity offense that requires players who can create scoring opportunities for their teammates. The bad news is they are running low on players who are good passers.
|Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -17
Quite simply it was Faried’s worst defensive performance yet. Faried has been great defending the post but looked lost against a player of Dirk’s caliber. Karl chose not to double Dirk early on and it probably cost the Nuggets the game. As much as I hate to admit it, this shows Faried is still a developing rookie who hasn’t yet proved he’s as consistent as we all want to believe.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 23 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 4 PTS | -10
Gallo started the game very poorly, became frustrated with the officiating and shot jumpers the rest of the way until he broke his left thumb while attempting to block an Ian Mahinmi layup. It had nothing to do with new personnel coming on board or George Karl limiting his role. Gallo ran offense reasonably well but was terrible as a primary scoring option and a defender. If he wants to be great, he’ll need to play harder. Gallo likely won’t be able to use his left hand for a while and could be out a few more weeks at the least. This a really bad break for the Nuggets.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -14
Mozgov played a solid first half and an absolutely hideous second half. I believe the Nuggets were better defensively with him on the floor but when he stopped scoring and Dallas’s pick and roll defense picked up in the second half, Denver’ offense was horrible. Mozgov needs to be better, but the 9 minutes he had were filled with solid production and an earnest effort towards playing solid team basketball.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 7-10 FG | 8-8 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 24 PTS | -9
Offensively, he was the Nuggets’ most consistent option and overall they’re best player on the floor. Afflalo also showed pretty good chemistry with Chandler but in a game in which Denver was so thoroughly embarrassed it’s impossible to say he was as good as his gaudy stats indicate. Is Afflalo just going to be a really good role player or the emotional leader he’s talked about trying to become?
|Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | -13
Lawson continues to struggle against the better pick and roll defenses in the league. When he was able to get penetration, Ty couldn’t finish anything. He’s going to have a tough time without a real post presence when teams take away his initial read and contain him at the rim in transition. As a team the Nuggets just didn’t do a good job moving the ball and finding good shots, which starts with Lawson but can be also be attributed to a lack of familiarity with the new personnel.
|Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | -2
Harrington’s numbers always seem to paint a misleading picture of his actual on-court impact. He missed a lot of bunnies that would have bolstered his already solid stat line even more, but Harrington was a no-show on defense and displayed a frustrating tendency to shoot the Nuggets out of any sort of momentum. Still, give Harrington credit for being one of the more consistent producers of the game and leading the small-ball heavy Nuggets in rebounding.
|Andre Miller, PG 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -1
Miller never really got going, as he unfortunately took a huge hit on the shoulder early on and sat out the rest of the way. In the 5 minutes he did play, Miller matched his points and assist totals in the more than 20 minutes he played in his previous game against the Boston Celtics. Denver has very little depth at the PG position and losing him leaves a void that’s difficult to fill.
|Corey Brewer, SF 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -6
I liked Brewer’s intensity a lot, but getting him heavy minutes alongside Chandler and Gallo meant a super small lineup that really ended up hurting the Nuggets against the larger Mavericks. Brewer logged no rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes. I like Corey, but I fear he may be stuck in a lot of blowouts if the Nuggets don’t find a little more balance and find ways to play bigger.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 28 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -1
As I expected, Chandler looked like the freshest Nugget on the floor. He gave the Nuggets big time minutes despite clearly having no idea how to fit into George Karl’s idea of a half-court offense. Defensively is where Chandler really shined, giving the Nuggets a solid one-two punch on the perimeter alongside Afflalo. He struggled against the length and the size of the Mavericks in the post, but logged a good deal of minutes at power forward and center alongside Harrington or Faried. It’s tough to expect a lot of Chandler in that situation.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 9 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -8
Fernandez didn’t play until the second half and wouldn’t have entered the game if not for Andre Miller’s injury. The game was essentially over by the time he entered and Fernandez wasn’t able to show a lot in the emergency point guard role. It’s very tough to judge Rudy playing out of position in a couple of meaningless minutes in a blowout loss.
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
17 minutes is a lot for a guy who contributed absolutely nothing except 2 rebounds. There’s a lot of hilarious delusion out of Nuggets fans surrounding Koufos, who is an adequate fourth-year backup big man. Koufos produced very little for the generous amount of minutes he was given and made no impact defensively.
Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington, JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Chris Andersen. Those players average a combined 268 minutes per game. In case you were wondering there are only 240 minutes in a regulation NBA game and that 268 figure is using the current rate of zero minutes a game from the two recent additions of McGee and Chandler. Add in Chandler’s 30.6 minutes a game as a Nugget last season and McGee’s 27.4 as a Wizard this year and that number jumps up to 326 minutes a game.
|Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 5-5 FG | 8-8 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +9
By halftime, Faried had 11 rebounds while the entire dead-legged Celtics team had 12. He turned in a career night in only 24 minutes, which would have been about 17 had Miller and Harrington not engineered an epic fourth quarter collapse. He was the most dominant player on the floor and he’s doing it all without the support and trust of his head coach. This guy just doesn’t know to quit. Nothing stops him.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 5-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +10
Why he got only one shot in the fourth quarter is a mystery, but all things considered this was another solid effort by Gallo on both ends of the floor. He was looking to wear down the Celtics early and none of the men in green were able to stay in front of him. Gallo’s aggression set the tone early and his shot selection was simply outstanding. Gallo’s a much smarter player than people give him credit for.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +4
Since returning from injury, Mozgov’s been playing his ugliest ball of the season. It was great to see him bounce back with a focused effort against a team like the Celtics, who are not the championship contenders they once were but still have one of the league’s top defenses. He appears to be getting some of his elevation back and looked much more confident on the offensive end.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +10
Afflalo was somehow very erratic and steady at the same time. He took 14 shots and missed some easy interior passes by not realizing when his 7-foot teammates were posting up guards. Yet he still led the team with a +10 in 30 minutes and ended up with the second most assists behind Lawson. He played well, but from a leadership standpoint I think he can still improve quite a bit.
|Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 7 PTS | +7
It was a very rough game for Lawson, who often had to guard Allen and Rondo while Andre Miller took the night off. He took five shots in 32 minutes, which is just way too passive even though he realized the Nuggets needed to be going through their bigs, who were wearing the Celtics down. Lawson’s heads up play and staunch defense rescued Denver’s guard play from the terror of Andre Miller.
|Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -1
For every good play Al Harrington made there was a boneheaded mistake. That kind of inconsistency can’t be afforded with Al anymore. With Nene out of the picture, he seems to know he’s got tons of freedom and total immunity from the coaching staff. That’s all fine and well so long as Harrington plays unselfishly and makes smart decisions. Al’s blooper reel included an uncontested three-point airball that missed the rim by about five feet. I’m serious
|Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -2
He clearly doesn’t care anymore, and neither do I. Miller gets no more words out of me. Scroll down to the comments if you really wanna know how bad it was. Our informed readers can get this one for me. I’m done with Andre Miller.
|Corey Brewer, SF 17 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -4
Brew’s hands were all over the court. He hounded Rajon Rondo, whose eye popping production didn’t come without some serious pressure during Corey’s limited time on the floor. He is so adept at stealing the ball and really makes that over-aggressive style work for him.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 3 PTS | -7
Rudy is making steady progress since his return to the bench rotation, but I’d place him in the Al Harrington category as a little too spastic in this particular game. I don’t want to judge Rudy too harshly because he was forced to play nearly all of his minutes alongside Andre Miller.
|Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +9
Koufos had perhaps the perfect performance for a defensive backup Center. When you look at his numbers and the appropriate 15 minutes of playing time, you see a guy who knows exactly where he fits into the puzzle. On a night the bench just wasn’t getting it done, Kosta stepped up big.
|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.
|Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -10
His numbers were solid and the foul trouble was kept at a minimum. However, you got a dstinct sense Faried was trying to avoid whistles as he was occasionally exposed against Josh Smith and the Hawks’ many perimeter scoring threats. Faried did do a great job running the floor and going after rebounds like he always does. You’d like to see him work on a shot that isn’t a dunk, but his pure hustle makes it easy to overlook a lot of the rookie-type flaws in his game.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 37 MIN | 6-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | +4
Hands down, that was one of the craziest game winners I’ve seen. Gallo is getting to the rim like he used to but the elevation and finishing ability just don’t look right. Karl finally realized Brewer does not need to be starting even with a half-functional Gallinari available, and Gallo responded with his usual “starter” numbers. Defensively Gallo was better than the rest of the Nuggets so it’s easy to crown him as the undisputed hero of tonight’s game.
|Nene, C 39 MIN | 8-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 22 PTS | -3
This is a really tough grade to give, because Nene made the game winning free throws and after Josh Smith fouled out, he was far and away the best big on the floor. Unfortunately I cant overlook the fact Nene played soft against Smith, who flat out embarrassed him. The only thing worse than his late game defense was watching Nene settle for jumpers nine times out of ten against Zaza Pachulia. It was one of Nene’s best games of the year, but I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth trying to evaluate his overall night. That just… wasn’t good.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -3
The leadership isn’t there. If the Denver Nuggets are going to fix their perimeter defense, it starts with Arron Afflalo. He is the only one capable of setting a good example. There are games where he’s clearly more concerned with getting his offense going rather than holding himself and his teammates accountable on defense. I could care less how many shots he takes — the Nuggets need more out of him from a leadership standpoint, because right now nobody cares about guarding the perimeter.
|Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 8-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 21 PTS | 0
Lawson’s early offense carried the Nuggets to a big lead, but his aggression seemed to be missing for a good part of the game. There’s no way you can complain about Lawson’s production, but he’s capable of a lot more. Lawson deferred to Andre Miller and Al Harrington way too much in the fourth quarter, and whether that’s a coaching decision or Ty’s refusal to demand the ball remains unknown.
|Al Harrington, PF 30 MIN | 8-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | +15
Al Buckets was once again the steadiest player on the court for the Denver Nuggets. You know exactly what you’re getting out of Harrington and his production rarely wavers enough to call him out. The story of the game was the fact he was perhaps the most important Nuggets player in terms of containing Josh Smith, for nothing more than the simple fact Harrington forced Smith to play defense. Smith would later foul out of the game in OT.
|Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 5 PTS | -3
My feelings on Miller are well-known, and it needs to be said right away Dre played his best individual game in weeks. He played probably about as well as he can play and was not in the game during the worst stretches, during which Denver really fell apart. The simple assessment I reach time and time again is only further affirmed by every game I see. When he comes into the game, Denver goes from a middling defensive team with potential to a terrible defensive team with no hope.
|Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +3
Brewer thrived in a much more appropriate bench role. His production remained constant while his efficiency improved. It pretty much validates the fact Brewer is better suited to coming off the bench. The major problem I had with Brewer was his reach-in foul on Kirk Hinrich late in regulation. He just can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact you don’t need to go for a steal or deflection every single time you attempt to defend the ball.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 5 PTS | +2
Not much was expected out of Rudy after missing the last 11 games, but he was a surprisingly effective spark off the bench in the first half. His minutes were carefully monitored and he was only used for short stretches, but Rudy had a net positive impact during his time on the floor.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Awful. Really tough to watch, and judging by Mozgov’s reaction to coming out of the game, he seemed to know it. The good news is he barely played and the Hawks fortunately weren’t capitalizing on Denver turnovers in the first half.
In the second article of our three-part series evaluating how the Denver Nuggets have performed through roughly half the season, we take a look at the bench. The same format from the previous installment applies here. Keep in mind however that rookies are not evaluated in this episode of the series as they did not play a role on the bench until recently. Rookies will be analyzed separately in the final section of our midterm report card series. So without further ado, here is the Denver Nuggets midterm report card for the bench.