To switch or not to switch?

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.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 102-New Orleans Pelicans 93

Denver bounced back from the tough loss to Utah on Friday to defeat a tough New Orleans Pelicans team 102-93, thanks to solid efforts from a lot of different places including Nate Robinson, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. Please post your thoughts on the game while the grades are prepared (after David finishes up in the locker room.)

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Data Mining: How Wilson Chandler is (and isn’t) regressing to the mean

As the Nuggets got off to a rocky start to begin the season, it was hoped that help would be on the way in the form of Wilson Chandler when he returned to play after missing their first six games due to a hamstring injury. And while he has made helpful contributions to an extent, he has clearly fallen short of making the impact many Nuggets fans were hoping for.

For starters, his impact on the court versus off has been essentially neutral. Consider, for example, the discrepancy between Chandler and Mozgov in this regard: (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 93-Utah Jazz 103

The Nuggets starters were outscored 82-36 by the Jazz starters and despite a valiant attempt from the bench unit Denver lost to Utah 103-93.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 75 Washington Wizards 74

Nate Robinson came up big as the Nuggets clawed their way to victory in DC with three game-saving stops in a row. It was one of the uglier affairs of the season featuring 20 turnovers and a Kenneth Faried benching in the second half, but Denver hung around and did just enough to come away with a win.
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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 98-Boston Celtics 106

Denver went down big early and couldn’t quite ever get back into the game and fell to the Celtics 106-98. Most importantly Ty Lawson left the game with a left hamstring injury. Stay tuned at RMC for more information as it comes out.

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Pickaxe Pulse for November 24, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets climbed back to .500 this week with wins against Dallas and Chicago following a tough loss in Oklahoma City.

JJ Hickson helped the Nuggets to a double digit lead in Oklahoma City with 18 points, 19 rebounds, and all around solid defense. The team struggled on both ends in the fourth quarter, scoring only ten points through eleven minutes and giving up seven offensive rebounds that led to nine second chance points for the Thunder. Denver rebounded from the two point loss by breaking Chicago’s five game win streak. Jordan Hamilton scored 17 points including a pair of three pointers that put the Nuggets ahead by 21 early in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets followed up by breaking Dallas’ four game win streak. Andre Miller’s assist on a lob to Wilson Chandler in the second quarter moved him past Rod Strickland for ninth place all-time in career assists. Kenneth Faried had a double double, Randy Foye hit the go-ahead three with 1:11 left, and Foye’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki in the closing seconds helped the Nuggets hold on for the win.

Current record and standings: 6-6 (5-2 home, 1-4 road), tied for 10th in the Western Conference

Upcoming games: Monday at Dallas, Wednesday at Minnesota, Friday vs New York

Ty Lawson is setting the league aflame, one dribble drive at a time

In the waning moments of an impressive first quarter in Minnesota, Ty Lawson casually brought the ball up the court as a ready Ricky Rubio, one of the best point guard defenders in the league, stood the lone obstacle between Lawson and the rim. After a one dribble crossover that left Rubio’s legs crisscrossed above the free throw line, Lawson had breached the paint before any Wolves defender had time to register the immanent threat to the basket.

The second a rotating Kevin Love had his foot planted in the restricted area, Lawson was in the air, his hand underneath the ball just long enough for Love’s momentum to carry him out of the passing lane, before a casual, mid-air flip to a cutting Mozgov put the ball in the 7-foot Russian’s hands before Lawson’s feet even had time to hit the hardwood.

The play was over as quick as it began, a bang-bang sequence that would’ve been shocking in its blinding display of skill and brevity if not for the fact that some varying form of that Lawson drive had not already victimized the Wolves just two possessions prior. The fact is that drive, the ease in which it was executed, and the results it produced, has become a staple of Lawson’s game, a weapon teams don’t seem to have an answer for.

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Pickaxe Pulse for November 17, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

During the preseason, NBA analysts, pundits, and fans were predicting the Nuggets to finish anywhere from a low playoff seed to near the bottom of the league. After nine games, the 4-5 Nuggets have done little to change anyone’s mind.

Ty Lawson’s current averages of 21 points, 4 rebounds, and nearly 9 assists are all career highs. Wilson Chandler has been shooting extremely well from outside, and Timofey Mozgov has been a force on defense and in the pick and roll. The Nuggets have had fourth quarter leads in all but two games. On the down side, long-term injuries to Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee will keep the Nuggets from reaching full strength until January or later. Aside from Ty Lawson, the rest of the Nuggets’ guards have played inconsistently on both ends, with only a couple of good games each. The defense is still a work in progress, particularly in the frontcourt. Coach Shaw continues to run experimental lineups that are sometimes successful but more often terrible. With three tough tests coming this week, the Nuggets will need to improve quickly to keep pace.

Current record and standings: 4-5 (3-2 home, 1-3 road), tied with Memphis for 10th place in the West.

Upcoming games: Monday @ Oklahoma City, Thursday vs Chicago, Saturday vs Dallas

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111-Houston Rockets 122

The Nuggets trailed by double digits most of the night, including falling behind by 20, and ultimately fell to the Rockets 122-111.

The defense was invisible most of the night as the Rockets paraded to the rim, ultimately shooting 50.6 percent from the field. But don’t worry, I found all the D hiding in the grades.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111-Los Angeles Lakers 99

Thanks to a dominating performance from Timofey Mozgov the Nuggets played well late and defeated the Lakers 111-99.

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Destruction from a Distance: Why Denver Can’t Defend the Three Pointer.

Through the first two games of the season plenty of things have gone wrong for the Nuggets. They can’t seem to consistently score in the half court, their shot chart looks almost the exact opposite of what teams should strive for, and their defense can’t stop any opposing big man.

But possibly the worst problem the Nuggets have had through two games has been their “defense” of the three pointer. The Kings and Blazers went a combined 22 of 43 on three point attempts, good for 51 percent shooting and Denver is lucky that things are only that bad.

I went back and watched video of every three pointer that Denver has allowed this season and charted them in an attempt to see where the biggest problems were.

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Roundball Roundtable: Reflections from June 2014

The Denver Nuggets have played two games. Neither has been pretty. And though there’s still 80 more games to be played, the first two outings have gotten our writers to thinking: Just where exactly will the Nuggets be eight months from now? In our latest Roundball Roundtable five of our writers have attempted to answer that very question. These are the answers they’ve presented…

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 88-Sacramento Kings 90

Thanks to an unstoppable night from DeMarcus Cousins and a late Ty Lawson miss, the Nuggets dropped their 2013-2014 season opener 90-88 to the Sacramento Kings.

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Nuggets Waive Damion James.

With rosters needing to be finalized and down to 15 players by 5:00 ET on Monday evening the Nuggets announced that they have waived Damion James. 

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