Barely two days after an impressive win against the Chicago Bulls, the Denver Nuggets returned to their old habits and loss to the Toronto Raptors on the road.
So how does a team that held the Bulls to only 91 points give up 105 points to the Raptors? The answer is easy, a young squad that lacks leadership and isn’t used to playing together. For all of the Nuggets talent, they lack experience and don’t have great leaders on the squad. This will continue to be their shortcomings this season, at least until a player steps up and makes each player responsible. Denver’s bigs are prone to biting on pump fakes and the Nuggets’ perimeter defenders still struggle with rotations. So who will step into the voided leadership role?
- Al Harrington is one of the team’s veterans and may be the most vocal player for the Nuggets. However, that hasn’t been his forte over his career. He is more known for his offensive spark off the bench.
- Arron Afflalo is supposed to be the team’s captain. But he isn’t a strong leader and for all of his improvements on the offensive side of the ball his play on defense has fallen off to a point where he is no longer considered the team’s defensive stopper. On Wednesday, Afflalo did his best Carmelo Anthony impression missing 11 of 16 shots and drawing a technical foul after forcing a shot in the paint.
- Ty Lawson is the team’s MVP, but he leads more by example and isn’t vocal enough to make his teammates listen.
- The same can be said about Andre Miller, who is another veteran on the team and leads by example. However, you can’t fault a player playing with a separated shoulder.
To their credit, this is the first year that many of them have been thrust into the leadership role. Lawson (24 years old) and Afflalo (26) have been role players before being thrown into bigger roles this season. However, for the Nuggets to be in the playoffs, or even make a playoff run, they need to show the same mentality against lesser opponents that they had against the Bulls.
Andrea Bargnani was just another big man that took advantage of Kenneth Faried’s defensive struggles on the perimeter. Bargnani opened the game with a three-point play and scored the Raptors first seven points. Bargnani didn’t do anything special, outside of hitting open jumpers and getting defenders in the air. Bargnani drew three fouls on each of Faried and JaVale McGee and made 10 of 12 free throws and scored 26 points. As a team the Raptors made 12 of 22 from behind the arc.
With the loss to the Raptors, Denver has once again fallen to ninth in the Western Conference. The Nuggets have six home games and nine road games.