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Are The Denver Nuggets A Championship Team?

Denver Nuggets Championship HopesIn order to win a championship, an NBA team needs:

  • 2 or more superstar caliber players
  • A solid point guard
  • A quality scoring big man
  • Multiple reliable outside shooters
  • A deep bench
  • Great rebounding
  • Great defense
  • Great team chemistry
  • Great coaching

Here’s how the Nuggets score in each of these areas: “A” means they lead the league, a “C” is average, and an “F” is poor:

1) At least 2 superstars

The Nuggets are in the best shape of anyone in the league in this department — A.I. is easily the best man 6′ or less to ever play the game. Melo has proven he’s the most complete scorer playing in the league — and he’s only 24! Finally, don’t short-change Nene. He’s still a little raw, but he’s strong, big, and powerful with his back to the basket and he can knock down a 15 footer. As he matures (he’s coming up on 25), look for him to become a force in the league. A+

2) A solid point guard.

Chucky Atkins backed up by Anthony Carter. Atkins provides veteran leadership and some muscle, but he is undersized. The Nuggets PG situation is at best average, so they get a C- on this one.

3) A quality scoring big man.

What does that mean exactly? It means that when your cutters and slashers are stuck, this guy still gives your team a legitimate chance to score. Nene plays this role in Denver, and he does so very well. However, Nene’s history of injury exposes the Nugget’s lack of depth here. None of their other big men can be counted on to score in the paint in a half-court set. Camby prefers to drive or shoot jumpers. Reggie Evans has bad hands, can’t pass, and lacks post moves. Najera isn’t big enough to be considered a “big man”. That only leaves K-Mart. Kenyon’s game isn’t really back to the basket prowess, but he hustles and he’s powerful. So, if K-Mart is healthy, they have a serviceable backup. But that’s also assuming Nene is healthy enough to start. Considering the injury history involved, the Nuggets earn a B-.

4) Multiple reliable outside shooters

Every championship team has at least one guy that you can’t leave open, and usually two. Steve Kerr and Toni Kukoc. Michael Finley and Brent Barry. Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, etc. The Nuggets are weak here. Atkins might be the only person on the roster most would consider an outside shooter (37% 3pt shooting). Melo’s skills here are improving, but his career 3pt shooting average is less than 30%. AI’s 3pt shooting is only a little better. That leaves the Nuggets with the immature JR Smith, whose shooting is excellent (44% from behind the line last season), and Linas Kleiza, a SF getting minutes at the SG spot. JR Smith is a great shooter, but he’s a terrible defender and he makes a lot of poor decisions. He also had trouble making 3s in the playoffs. Smith’s biggest problem rests between his ears — maybe his tragic summer will serve as a wake-up call. In any case, Smith was a huge liability on the court last season. Unless he magically transforms, he’s not the answer. In my opinion, Kleiza is about to become one of the league’s leading candidates for the 6th man award. He hustles on D, he has an inside game, he’s athletic, he rebounds, and he’s a spark. He’s even got some 3pt shooting skills (37% last season). But, just like Smith, he struggled to make 3s in the playoffs. The Nuggets need all of their shooters to improve and mature if they want to be complete here, but I think that’s too much to ask for in such a short amount of time. Grade: D

5) A deep bench

Having a “deep bench” means that your back-ups are good enough to start on other teams in the league. Linas Kleiza, JR Smith, and Kenyon Martin (if he’s healthy) are the Nuggets premier bench players, and form a solid bench core. Compared to last year’s champion Spurs, or the Jazz, or even the Warriors, that’s not a very exciting bunch. They earn a “C“.

6) Great rebounding

The Nuggets are a great rebounding team, and that’s mostly because of Marcus Camby. The guy can go off for 20 rebounds a night. Nene’s no slouch here either, and Melo has been known to crash the boards too. The bench offers up great rebounders in K-Mart, Evans (until he’s traded), and Kleiza, and you’ll see the whole team work hard on the offensive boards so they can get their transition game going. In short, Denver’s rebounding is excellent — they ranked 3rd overall last season. A+

7) Great Defense

If there is one area where the Nuggets are sorely lacking, it’s defense. While Nene and Camby protect the paint fairly well, the Nuggets have zero perimeter defense. I love A.I., but he doesn’t do much more than guard the passing lanes. I love Melo, but his idea of defense is simply trying to stay in someone’s way. The Nuggets new acquisition Chucky Atkins is not much of a defender either. While a good portion of the bench guys can step it up defensively, this team gives up a lot of easy baskets. Good defense depends on team communication as much as anything, and if the Nuggets get to spend a whole season playing together (no suspensions or blockbuster trades), their defense would improve. Of course, it would have to — the Nuggets ranked 26th in the league in defense last year. They get a big fat F on this one.

8 ) Great Team Chemistry

Team chemistry can’t be measured, and unless you’re on the team, it really can’t be discussed intelligently. In any case, it’s pretty safe to assume the Nuggets chemistry last season could have been better. Melo’s big suspension, AI joining the team half-way thru the season, and JR Smith’s public humiliation by George Karl all indicate that the team’s mood needed improvement. Assuming everyone can play together most of the season, chemistry will undoubtedly improve. I’m going to give them an incomplete grade here.

9) Great Coaching

There are a lot of people who think George Karl is a choke artist. He has a history of failing to lead good teams past the second round of the playoffs. Watching him coach for the last couple of years, I think Karl is an excellent coach. But like all humans, he’s deeply flawed. He’s constantly battling with one or more of his players — usually in the press. It sends an awful message to a group of employees when the boss talks about them behind their backs — imagine how much worse that feeling is when the people he talks to are the national media. I like George Karl, I think he’s an above average coach, but his personality gets in the way sometimes. Unless he can find a happy place with this team, he’s going to cause problems in the locker room. While these types of coaches CAN lead a team to a championship (think Larry Brown), it’s usually a lot harder than it needs to be. They get a B here.

Bottom line:

The Nuggets need a lot of things. They need George Karl to stop coaching thru the press. They need K-Mart to be healthy enough to be a decent backup. They need to play defense (I call them the Enver Nuggets — cause they ain’t go no “D”). But above all else, they need some 3pt shooting. If the team comes back this summer ready to play, and if JR Smith and Linas Kleiza continue to develop, they’ve got a decent chance of winning the division. Assuming they finish the season as the 3rd, 4th, or 5th seed, they’ve even got a chance to make it to the conference finals. But unless they dramatically improve on defense and outside shooting, the conference finals is as far as they can hope to go.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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  1. 14 Comment(s)

  2. By The Nugg Doctor on Sep 11, 2007 | Reply

    Hey Guys,

    I love this post and will be linking to it in my next article. Do you guys want to do a link exchange? Get back to me and we’ll get it done!

  3. By Nugzfan on Sep 11, 2007 | Reply

    Good article, very well written and shows that you have great insight into Denver’s current situation. A few things I would add, is that even I agree 100% about Denver’s two major flaws - Defense and 3point Shooting, I think the 3 point shooting has improved dramatically. Chucky Atkins brings a consistent threat that we did not have at that position last year, and JR Smith/Linas Kleiza will be improved. However, I think the one person not to be overlooked is Carmelo Anthony. He shot an astounding 58% (or something like that) at the FIBA games on threes, and even though the line is shorter, it shows he is greatly improving from the outside. In fact late last year and into the playoffs I believe I read a stat that showed he was hitting 3’s at about a 40% clip. So I think you will see Denver’s 3point shooting dramatically improved this year. Still an area of weakness and concern, but definitely much improved over last year.

  4. By corona (nuggetstalk) on Sep 11, 2007 | Reply

    this article is pretty horrid. anybody can write an article perpetuating the crap that spreads like wildfire through nba forums across the internet.
    be original, write something good with legitimate, real information.

    i’ll address all points independantly.

    1. Carmelo turned 23 four months ago. He’s not 24, and certainly isn’t closing in on 25 quickly.

    2. Agreed.

    3. Nene’s had an ACL tear and some foot problem in his entire career. ACL’s don’t make you injury prone. Constant nagging tissue/muscle tears make you injury prone (see: marcus camby).
    Nene’ a legit back to the basket post threat who’s capable with both hands, has good footwork & uses his body well. His problem is weight (up to like 255 this summer again, Hess will have to get him back into shape) and not getting enough plays drawn up for him (george karl).

    4. Jr Smith didn’t shoot 44% from behind the line last season, he shot 39%. Kleiza shot 38%, and 41% after the all-star break. I wouldn’t call either reliable yet, but they’re both 21 years old. They’ll get more consistent/reliable with time. Heck, Kleiza went from a guy who barely attempted 3’s his rookie year (2/13 in all of 05/06) to being the second best shooter on the team in one summer. No reason he can’t become much more reliable over this coming season.
    You also fail to mention Carmelo extending his range. He shot 50% from 3 vs. the Spurs. In March & April last season he shot 35% from 3. In the World Championships he shot 58% from 3 (albeit the line’s 3 feet shorter).
    No reason he can’t come into next year, shoot 35% and give Denver another threat to spread the court.

    5. Atkins/Diawara/Kleiza/Martin/Hunter is a pretty decent second unit. No question they’re better than the Jazz (Hart/Price/Harpring/Millsap/Collins) & arguably better than the warriors (nellie only played like 3 bench guys in last years playoffs)

    6. You overrate denver’s rebounding. not A+ worthy. their statistics are heightened by the pace they play. adding Martin & Hunter to the frontcourt rotation (even when subtracting reggie) should help, but it’s still not A+ material. (i’d give that label to the Jazz & Cavaliers)

    7. Denver’s an incredibly underrated defensive team simply because they play at one of the fastest paces in the league. So their points against ranking are jacked (because the other team is getting 5-10 more possessions to score per game than an average or slower paced team)
    They gave up just 107 points per 100 possessions last season. That was good for 9th in the league:
    and judging by how well they D’d up the Spurs (low fg%, low ppg, outrebounded them), i’d say that ranking is pretty close.
    Saying they’re 26th in the league in defense because they give up the 4th most points in the league is an incredibly stupid argument. points against per game is a totally useless statistic if you don’t account for pace.

    keep in mind that kenyon martin was one heck of a defender back in the day. and even as recently as the clippers series he was still holding his own against Elton Brand. no question a healthy Kmart will improve denver’s d significantly. Perhaps bumping them up to an elite level (5th or 6th in the league?)

    8. incomplete is correct.

    9. Karl’s an awful coached. Fails to adjust in games or in series (even had the balls to say that adjustments are ‘overrated’). Makes players scapegoats even though he’s at fault most of the time. Destroys the confidence of young players by random benchings (see: jr & lk). Calls out players in the media randomly (see: Melo, Jr, Kmart, Redd, Allen, Kemp, Payton…and on and on)

    If anything, he’s the weakest link on the team and should be given the lowest grade of all the categories.

    Assuming Atkins doesn’t play big minutes and Kmart is 90% of his previous self, denver’s defense is NBA championship caliber and should continue to get better throughout this next season.
    Smith & Kleiza are both one successful playoff series, or even playoff game from being seen as reliable/great three point threats. (look what a couple good games did for Daniel Gibson’s confidence) - That’s what held them back against the Spurs.
    So I’d say the biggest key for the upcoming season is getting a top 3 seed. Because playing a verge-playoff team in the first round and winning a series would be great for developing the confidence of the young shooters & the team unity.

    Would that make them favorites to win a title?
    Not really. I’ll always doubt Denver’s ability to win a title because of George Karl. At somepoint in a playoff run he’ll meet a coach that’s better than him (basically everyone in the West). And I’m sure sure if the team can overcome that for 4 straight rounds.

    My main point with this response is that you’re perpetuating complete bullshit that has no validity. From Melo’s age to Jr’s shooting to Denver’s defense…nearly everything you brought up is wrong/extremely arguable.

  5. By darell on Sep 11, 2007 | Reply

    the nuggets are gonna win it all this year son

  6. By corona (nuggetstalk) on Sep 11, 2007 | Reply

    more…because i’m bored.

    Carmelo’s considered a post player by anyone who’s watched him for an extended stretch. He can overpower any SF in the league (except perhaps ron artest, but he won’t be in the playoffs), and good moves on either block, and is incredibly efficient in the paint (61% last year, i believe).

    also…regarding this:
    ” In any case, Smith was a huge liability on the court last season. Unless he magically transforms, he’s not the answer.”

    Jr Smith had the 3rd highest +/- ranking on the team last year behind nene & camby, and he had the 2nd highest per minute +/- on the team….just 0.001 behind nene.

    That’s not a player who’s a liability. That’s a player who was an addition to the team throughout the regular season, despite the fight & his issues with george karl. If he comes to training camp with any sort of vengance to play defense & be a smarter player…he could be the solution at SG for the next 10 years for denver, including the upcoming season.

  7. By JL on Sep 12, 2007 | Reply

    WOW. A lot of great comments. First, to the Nugg Doctor, thank you.

    Second, Nugzfan, great points about Melo’s late season 3pt improvement. Not to doubt your point, but I’ll believe it when I see it. If Melo can add range to his repertoire he will be truly unstoppable.

    Corona — thank you for your comments. I’ll try to answer your points in order.

    1. Melo’s age is wrong. My mistake. He’s only 23. However, I believe you mis-read my point about Nene - HE’s the one coming up on 25 (two days in fact).

    2. Thank you.

    3. You’re splitting hairs here. Nene’s injuries, whatever their root cause, have kept him out of 126 games in the last 3 years. You can explain that away however you want, but the fact is the guy hasn’t been available a whole lot lately. Back in the 02-03 and 03-04 seasons he was a rock, but that’s ancient history as far as the NBA is concerned. Besides, my real point here is that the Nuggs don’t have a true back-to-the-basket backup for Nene. Maybe now that Hunter is in town that will change…

    4. My stats are wrong again…not sure where I came up with 44%. My mistake.

    5. The Nuggets bench is simply a question of dollars — when you’re paying three superstar players, you don’t have a lot of cash left over for quality role players (see Boston Celtics). The Nuggets bench is average, hence the C.

    6. So the Nuggets incredible rebounding numbers should be discounted because of the number of possessions they have in a game. Fine. That doesn’t take anything away from my point. Camby is an awesome rebounder. For a SF, Melo is a solid rebounder (especially on offense). Nene, while not tremendous, is also solid. Team rebounding is excellent. The Nuggets out-rebounded the Spurs in the playoffs +16. The jazz out-rebounded the Spurs +3. Granted there were more possessions in the Nuggets series, but I hardly think you can argue the Nuggets didn’t rebound as well as the Jazz (a team you consider to be top in the league). Fact is the Nuggets are one of the best rebounding teams in the league.

    7. Have you ever watched a Nuggets game? Their defense is a joke — good for one or two quarters, and terrible for the rest of the game. They get lazy and let people score all the time. Perimeter defense is awful. Melo gets his head turned all the time. AI doesn’t play defense, he just watches for easy steals. Kleiza plays D, but he doesn’t get much run. JR Smith - stop it. Atkins has never been known as a defender. Nene and Camby are solid, but two and half defenders don’t make for CHAMPIONSHIP defense. They get an “F” here because they’re incredibly lopsided defensively. No perimeter D + average inside D equals F in my book, but if you want we can call it a “D” instead. Doesn’t matter what we call it because it’s not good enough.

    8. Thank you.

    9. Karl is definitely not a great coach, but I still say he’s better than most. At least slightly above average. I stand by my B, but that is by no means a disagreement with your assessment of him.

    I agree that a top 3 seed (I’d say top 4) helps the Nuggets escape the first round and gain confidence. I’ll even agree that Kleiza is one good series away from turning it all around. But I’ve got to argue with your opinion of Denver’s D - they’re weak. Tony Parker and Manu had their way with the Nuggs in the playoffs, just as Nash, Deron Williams, Josh Howard or any other 1, 2, or 3 in the league would have had the Nuggets played one of those teams. THEY HAVE NO PERIMETER D.

    As to your second set of comments, I agree with your assessment of Melo’s post skills, but I don’t see what it has to do with me. As to JR Smith being a liability:


    Seriously! Anyone defending a player who’s immature for his age, a piss-poor defender, and a bad decision maker has got to be wrong. You can show me a whole page of stats, but until that kid learns to keep his head in the play (instead of throwing up his famous “3″ hand gesture when he should be getting back on D, or maybe just making a smart inbounds, or maybe even staying in front of his man) he’ll always be a liability. However, like I said, his tragic summer might have given him the one thing he’s missing, MATURITY, and he could become the player we all want him to be.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. By corona (nuggetstalk) on Sep 12, 2007 | Reply

    -pointing out Carmelo’s post abilities goes directly at #3. that Nene’s not the only low post scorer on the team.
    then you bring up how they don’t have a back to the basket backup for Nene. how many teams do? Boozer and….nobody. Duncan and…nobody. Amare and…nobody (maybe diaw if he has a midget on him). Dallas….has nobody to begin with.
    so what’s the problem with Denver having /just/ Melo & Nene? it’s not like other teams are filled with post threats from top to bottom.

    -they were 11th in the league last year in rebounding differential. they were 11th in the league in percentage of rebounds they got. and 21st in the league in percentage of defensive rebounds they got.
    that is not A+ worthy. maybe B+.
    You’re right about the San Antonio stat, and maybe they should get a boost for that…but with Melo’s lackadaisical approach to rebounding, Nene not even jumping and Camby only showing up half the time…I refuse to give them an A+

    -please…explain to me how when you adjust the points against per 100 possessions denver ranks 9th in the league in defense? i’d love to hear it. why did san antonio score just 94ppg on 44.8% field goals against them….they didn’t feel like scoring 107 on 48% field goals like they could have?

    you give their interior defense a D score? lol.
    camby’s the DPOY, Nene’s one of the best 1v1 post defenders in the entire league. Martin’s a spectacular defender when he’s healthy. They easily should be A material here, and A+ if Martin is at all able to play next season.

    as for perimeter defense, it can be bad…but it’s not an F. melo’s halfway decent when he feels like it (in the playoffs). iverson does gamble but he also hustles and was coached by LB long enough to know how to play fundamental defense. and atleast we saw jr play more energetic/tough defense as the season went along.

    you mention how parker & ginobili “had their way” with denver…
    parker shot just 44% from the field against denver….that’s 8% below his season average. he was also below his season average in points. only improvement he showed in that series was getting 1.3 more apg than on the season. but if you adjust for minutes (he played 5 more per game in the series) that added assist is virtually nothing…and he failed to score at nearly the same rate.
    compare those stats to the ones he got against Cleveland…a team that’s mainstay is its defense and clearly showed its ability against detroit. Parker averaged 25 points on 57% from the field.
    I suppose the below-average series he had against Denver was a fluke?

    Manu ginobili had perhaps the worst series in his playoff career against denver. shot 34% from the field (12% below season average), 26% from 3 (13% below his season average), and he scored just 13ppg (3ppg below his season average). Yea…he really had his way on the court.

    and i haven’t even talked about Nene, who held duncan to like 20ppg on 44% shooting (off the top of my head). He hasn’t had that much individual trouble in a series for a long, long time.

    what hurt denver in that series, and what decided virtually every game in that series was two things…
    1. horry & finley being veteran, clutch performers. and jr/lk having no playoff experience and too many nerves to hit their open shots.
    2. the cohesion on the team that’s developed over the last 5+ years. where they’ve played together so long that when there’s 2 minutes on the clock in the 4th quarter they know exactly how to execute and get baskets. after ~3 months together, denver was still lost on that.

    -jr smith is young an immature. but he showed throughout all of the regular season last year that what he brings to the floor offensively outweighs his shortcomings defensively.
    you don’t get to be one of the best +/- players on the team without having a positive impact on the court one way or another. besides, his lack of defense is overrated…no worse than steve blake was, and he was much better than melo.
    you can scream about jr being a liability until your lips turn blue. but stats are stats and facts are facts. and both show that jr had a positive impact on the game for denver when he was on the court.
    and it may have been more than him just shooting 3’s or his wild drives to the basket. sometimes simply having a ~40% three point threat on the court at the 2 guard position spreads the floor for your stars. which means more driving lanes, less interior defensive pressure, and a legitimate kick-out option. and then the stars do the work while an improvement is seen in jr’s +/- stats. but that doesn’t take away from him helping denver to win games just by being out there.

  9. By JL on Sep 13, 2007 | Reply

    First of all, I see the point you’re making about post scorers. Melo’s presence gives them another option…kinda. He’s not really big enough, but he’s strong and he’s uber-talented. I get what you’re saying though. Not a lot of teams have a backup post player - but it seems like a lot more teams have a guy that can impersonate one. Now with Hunter I think the Nuggets do too.

    The Spurs DID have their way with the Nuggets perimeter D in that series — Manu and Tony could get anywhere they wanted anytime they wanted. Just because they both shot terribly (maybe not Parker, but Ginobli was definitely “off” those first few games) doesn’t mean the nuggets have good perimeter D. In my mind, if inside D is good and your outside D is piss-poor, you get an F. That’s what we call a failure. However, if you want to argue that the perimeter defenders are supposed to funnel the guys inside, then maybe you come up with a C (A on half, F on half). I haven’t looked at your points per possession stats, but I’m willing to bet the difference between 9th in the league and 16th in the league isn’t that much…in either case, until the Nuggets figure out a way to limit penetration they will not win a championship.

    Rebounding stats are great, but I think it really comes down to what they do with what they’ve got. Considering that Melo, AI, JR and/or Blake (usually 2 or 3 of them together) were usually leaking out on a change of possession, the Nuggets rebounding stats are excellent. If they coached like Cleveland, and everyone stayed home and fought for rebounds, they’d have better stats but no transition game. Camby is a monster rebounder, and Nene is no slouch. Melo plays the boards well for a SF, and a healthy K-Mart is a rebounding machine as well. I don’t put much stock in total numbers here (which would indicate Cleveland is a great rebounding team) and I stand by my rating.

    I agree with your points about the series, but I’d add the “terrible perimeter defense” to the list.

    JR Smith. I like him. He’s got talent. He’s got potential. He’s got the mind of a 17 year old. Hopefully that’s changed. Perhaps the fact that he’s coming up on a contract year will give him the motivation to do what he’s told. He DID show moments of greatness last year — he knows how to play some D, he knows how to pass, penetrate, work an offense to a small degree, etc. But then he has a game (or a quarter) where he decides he’s not going go do one (or all) of those things, and then the Nuggets lead disappears, the opposing team’s players gain confidence, and your job just got that much tougher.

    JR’s stats might show he’s the next Larry Bird, but watching him play it’s obvious he hasn’t figured out how to focus on the game. Until he does that he’s as much a liability as he is an asset. If Melo wasn’t such a dominant scorer, you could make the same argument about him. Neither of those players gives every aspect their full attention.

    Why is it the most talented players have the least respect for the game?? Well, except for Tim Duncan — but I guess the Nuggets know that first hand.

  10. By corona (nuggetstalk) on Sep 15, 2007 | Reply

    so it was just a fluke that manu & parker shot horribly against denver?

    can i also say it was a fluke that iverson shot horribly. and if he had made 2 more shots a game (and shot 45% instead of 37%) denver would have won the series? (the games were that close afterall) doesn’t that mean they’re contenders? (if they’re a fluke away from beating the spurs)


    your rebounding argument is complete bogus. it’s basically like saying “if denver wanted to play defense as well as cleveland, and they were in mike brown’s system…they could do it.” do you agree with that? (obviously not, or they’d be getting an A+ grade for defense as well)

    rebounding is what it is. if you’re leaking out on every shot attempt to get easy points, then you don’t deserve an A+ for rebounding….because you’re not doing it. great, so you might be able to if you hung back. too bad it never happens and they’re actually the 8th worst defensive boarding team in the league.

    that’s one of my biggest hatreds of karl. screw the transition game…get the rebound first. (another reason why he doesn’t deserve a B)

    another way to put your argument is naming jr smith the best sg in the league because he has the athletecism, shot, quickness…etc to do it, and he puts up fantastic individual per40 numbers. he could be one of the best if he put his mind to it and was in the right stiuation.
    but he doesn’t, so he’s not there yet.

    does he deserve an A+?


    i agree with your last assessment of smith to an extent. notice how it’s changed from your original typing in #4 though. he wasn’t a terrible defender or a ‘huge liability’ last year…he was a liability for occasional stretches (there’s a difference). he also won games for denver and overall was far more of an addition to the team than a negative.

    i’ll also add that a good portion of those stretches where he was a liability came immediately after his suspension & after his knee surgery, where he was struggling to find a new role with the team (coming off the bench, totally random minutes) and to adjust to iverson/blake/nene. should we expect another suspension, knee surgery & blockbuster midseason trade? i don’t. i gotta believe his role from game 1 to game 82 will be the same, and relatively well defined.

    it doesn’t take a ‘magical transformation’ for him to be an answer. it takes a couple tweaks and a steady season.

  11. By Nuggets 1 on Dec 4, 2007 | Reply

    I was just looking through the google results for “Denver Nuggets” and found this down the way. As someone who spends a lot of time trying to determine what the Nuggets lack to be able to fully compete with teams like the Spurs and the Suns, I can say without a doubt that Corona is just about 100% correct in his responses to the original post. Corona is on point with regard to J.R. Smith, Melo, Nene, and George Karl. Blow off the +/- and the points per possession stats at your own peril, JL. Very nice job, Corona, especially on Karl.

  12. By JL on Dec 8, 2007 | Reply

    Nuggets1 — it’s funny you’ve found that Corona’s points are all correct, when the regular season has so far proven him completely wrong in his assertion that the Nugget’s defense is good.

    It’s AWFUL. Look at the miserable defense in a variety of games (home and on the road), and you’ll see a team that I like to call the “Wizards of the West” — great offense, poor defense.

    They are not a championship team as of right now — maybe with an upgrade at point guard they’ll have a chance, but the way they’ve been playing it’s a stretch to imagine them getting past the 1st round.

  13. By Nuggets 1 on Dec 12, 2007 | Reply

    I have to respond because, because the idea that the Nuggets can’t beat the top teams because of their defense is now more wrong than ever. The up to the minute defense efficiency statistic, which is points allowed per 100 possessions, has the Nuggets 2nd in the NBA behind only the Boston Celtics. This is truly amazing and almost no one knows about this development. Even Nuggets fans are largely in the dark about it.


    1. Celtics 95.7
    2. Nuggets 101.4
    3. Magic 103.3
    4. Hornets 103.7
    5. Bulls 104.2
    6. Hawks 104.6
    7. 76′ers 104.6
    8. Rockets 104.8
    9. Spurs 104.9
    10. Pistons 104.9

    30. Knicks 113.2

    I never thought I would see the day when George Karl is getting a bum rap, but he now is to some extent from those who think the Nuggets don’t try to defend, or don’t defend well, or both.

    When the Nuggets lose to a good team, they break down offensively, but they still defend relatively well, and the total points scored is fewer than when the Nuggets win. The number 1 problem for the Nuggets right now is lack of consistency in general and set plays in particular on offense. This is most likely the reason for the extreme differences in scoring performances from players such as Marcus Camby, Linas Kleiza, and Eduardo Najera from game to game.

  14. By JL on Dec 13, 2007 | Reply

    I think that we’re too dependent on statistics as fans. We like to look at raw stats, projected stats, +/-, P.E.R., points per possession, points scored per possession, etc. in order to see some sort of truth about the game.

    They’re all wonderful tools, and they all have their place.

    However, I don’t need to look at one statistic to know that AI takes a lot of chances when he plays defense. I don’t know have to see Melo’s +/- to know that he’s a lazy defender. I don’t need to look at the Nuggets defense per possession rating to know that they don’t rotate very well, that they have a hard time keeping good guards out of the paint, or that they’ve struggled defending some of the weakest teams in the league (Seattle, Minnesota, the Knicks, the Clips, etc.).

    I just watch the games.

    The Nuggets are an interesting team — they seem to play right at or just about the level of their opponents. It’s almost like they’re toying with the weak teams “just to keep it interesting”. When they’re consistently destroying the bad teams they play, I think they’ll will have officially graduated from “bad” defense to “average”. Then, they’ll need to develop better team defense, stop being lazy for quarters at a time, and focus on rotating and helping each other. Then they’ll be “good”.

    But to say that the Nuggets have the 2nd best defense in the league is nothing short of ridiculous.

  15. By Nuggets 1 on Dec 13, 2007 | Reply

    The Nuggets playing down to their competition is another feature much more from last year, along with lazy and inept defending. But this year, the Nuggets already have 7 wins of 16 points or more:

    Fri Nov 9 Nuggets 118 WIZARDS 92
    Mon Nov 12 NUGGETS 122 Cavaliers 100
    Wed Nov 14 NUGGETS 110 Trailblazers 93
    Sat Nov 17 NUGGETS 115 Knicks 83
    Tue Nov 20 NUGGETS 112 Bulls 91
    Fri Nov 30 NUGGETS 123 Clippers 107
    Sun Dec 2 NUGGETS 115 Heat 89

    And I didn’t say the Nuggets are the 2nd best defense, I just said they are alot better than most people think, and much better than last year. (Will the Lord strike me down for defending George Karl?)

    The points per 100 possession stat is the best single stat I know of to judge how good a defense is. But the Nuggets are not really 2nd, because they have played one of the weakest schedules in the NBA so far. So their points per 100 possessions number will be going up in the weeks ahead as the schedule becomes much tougher.

    The important thing will be what their number and rank is in April, heading into the playoffs.

    Oh, and neither Melo nor A.I. are on the team for their defense. The Nugget’s players who lead the much improved Denver defense are Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, Yakhouba Diawara, and Eduardo Najera.

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