It has been a trying season for the Denver Nuggets, full of injuries, lineup changes and brutally long road trips. The season has had its highlights and lowlights, but with only 15 games left Denver holds a 27-24 record and is currently on the outside looking in on the playoff race.
While it is easy to fault injuries, in-season lineup changes and the coach for the Nuggets lack of success, but the bigger question is this team even talented enough to be a playoff team? It doesn’t have a superstar like Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James to depend on and their all-around talent level may not be at the playoff level – at least not yet.
Denver does have the size, speed and depth to cause havoc with most teams. However, youth, defensive struggles, the lack of a low-post threat, as well as shooters will continue to be their shortcomings.
Not many playoff teams have a rookie in their starting lineups and it would be tough to find a team in the postseason featuring a starting lineup with the oldest player barely 26 years old. But that is where the Nuggets are, and like most young players they will wow you one day and have you scratching your head the next.
It’s a little baffling on why Denver struggles on the perimeter defensively. There are some that think it is George Karl’s flawed defense, but somewhere along the line the players have to be held responsible. In Wednesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, Andre Miller and Ty Lawson each fell asleep on Jose Manuel Calderon when the ball went in to the paint and both times Calderon was able to get open for a 3-pointer.
Arron Afflalo, who used to be the Nuggets’ defensive stopper, struggled to stay with DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan would work off picks, drive to the basket and attack the offensive glass and by the fourth quarter Afflalo’s frustration was very vivid.
Kenneth Faried continues to go through his rookie struggles and chalk Andrea Bargnani as another veteran big man that had his way with Faried. But it wasn’t just Faried though, Bargnani took advantage of JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler too. None of Denver’s defenders were aggressive with Bargnani. They let the Raptors’ big man pick and choose his spot and than they would fall for Bargnani’s patent pump fakes.
Lack of a low-post scorer
Quick question, when was the last time a Nuggets’ player drew a double-team? It has been a while, partly because none of Denver’s big men aren’t skilled enough offensively to draw a pair of defenders and the rest of the team is too perimeter oriented. Needless to say, even if the Nuggets make the playoffs they won’t be able to make it far if a team forces Denver into a half-court offense. If this team can’t get out and run it will not be successful.
Lack of shooters
With Rudy Fernandez and Danilo Gallinari both injured, the Nuggets don’t really have any skilled shooters. Afflalo and Lawson are more of set shooters, who work off of their teammates. Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer are too inconsistent to depend on as 3-point threats. Al Harrington may be only player in the rotation who can stretch the floor, but once again his shot is inconsistent. If Denver’s shooters can’t keep defenders honest, they will see a lot of zones.
Tags: Al Harrington Andre Miller Andrea Bargnani Arron Afflalo Corey Brewer Danilo Gallinari DeMar DeRozan Denver Nuggets George Karl JaVale McGee Jose Manuel Calderon Kenneth Faried Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant LeBron James Rudy Fernandez Toronto Raptors Ty Lawson Wilson Chandler