Nuggets .500 Review

Here the Nuggets are.  Four wins.  Four losses.  After a discouraging three loss streak to start the season, the Nuggs rebounded with a four win streak, only to drop another loss to the Phoenix Suns.  While it’s still early in the season to draw too many conclusions, there is a lot to talk about.  This team is in decent position, considering they’ve played a total of two home games, yes, thank you NBA.  Here’s a recap of the Nuggets, and how they seem to be living up to their expectations.

Ty Lawson – Sweet mother of Mary, Ty Lawson has seemed all out of sorts as of late.  The lack of assertion throughout the offense and the troubles at the free throw line make Nuggets fans shake their heads, as they know Lawson is capable of so much more.   A .500 free throw percentage matches the Nuggs record and his ppg is at an acceptable, but not bright 13.7.  For a “Little General” (Yeah, that’s an Avery Johnson reference), those numbers are not enough to lift Denver.  Karl’s dribble-drive offense feeds off of ball handlers, Lawson in particular.  His aggression will be paramount to the Nuggets’s success, as it has been in the past.

Kenneth Faried – Faried has been a monster.  End of story.  His play has been the best as of late, averaging a double double and setting the pace for the rest of the team.  This Nuggets team leads the league in rebounding (what?), with Faried accounting for almost a fifth of those.  He has rebounded from a tough performance in his first two games to pace the Nuggets.  It’s hard for even opponents to dislike his tenacity on the boards and his effort on all ends of the court.  Great performance to date by the Manimal.  Keep it up.

Andre Iguodala – Iggy has been phenomenal, and exactly what the Nuggets traded for.  While not a pure scoring all-star, Iguodala has been a stat stuffer all around.  His 15.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.29 steals per game might not be what Denver fans clamor for in the shape of a superstar, but Iguodala has performed admirably, on defense (James Harden didn’t stand a chance) and on offense as an efficient scorer and distributor.  Look for Iguodala to improve throughout the season and to become more involved in the offense as he grows into Karl’s offense.

Danilo Gallinari – Gallo has been underwhelming, save for a clutch performance against Golden State.  While the Nuggets need him in the lineup and are considerably worse without him, they need him to be healthy.  Hopping along on a gimpy ankle is a sure fire way to shoot .300 from the field.  Nuggets fans, if you have a Bible, pray for this man’s health; the Nuggets need it.

Kosta Koufos – Kous Kous, as Sir Charles knows him has been solid.  That hard work he put in during the summer seems to be paying off, although Javale McGee seems to be gaining as the season progresses.  Koufos is an adept garbage man, and knows his role in the offense, sitting in the low block to take passes from the penetration and make easy buckets.  He is familiar with the offense and was especially impressive against the Jazz.  He’s performed admirably, but it’s fair to say that each one of the Nuggets’ seven-footers will have to step up for their team, and for their own minutes.

Corey Brewer – Now who here expected Corey Brewer to fill a solid sixth man role for the Nuggets?  Ill Wilson Chandler’s is not quite well yet, and Brewer has been a great fill in.  As a spark off the bench, Brewer has been hit or miss.  His three point percentage leads the team at .318, and his steals per game are on par with Iguodala.  Brewer’s contributions to this team are admirable, and while he’ll throw up a few stinkers here and there, his frenetic game is perfect for the Nuggets, and I fully enjoy seeing him enter the game.

Andre Miller – ‘Dre has been solid, even if Karl plays him for more than many Denver fans would like.  The 36 year old has been a stabilizing presence, even rising up to block a Derrick Favors dunk at the rim.  His assists have been key when Lawson seems to struggle and Karl seems to trust him more than he trusts himself.  Miller has had a few head scratching turnovers here and there as he tries to spin into the lane, but nonetheless has been solid in his role.

Javale Mcgee – Oh Javale.  We still have such high expectations.  After a summer of training with Hakeem Olajuwon, the Nuggets $40 million enigma has been just that, an enigma.  There are some plays when McGee dominates, getting out on the break or plowing towards the rim for a backboard shattering dunk, then there are those times when he’s taken the ball from the free throw line, only to have it stripped away or lofted up as an errant hook shot.  McGee is getting better, and smarter, although he thrives off the bench with Andre Miller in the lineup.  To those who cried for a starting spot, they are not aware of just how good Miller is at throwing up lob passes.

Wilson Chander – Oh Ill Will.  I call you that because you are still ill.  Not in a cool way either.  That hip is still recovering, as is your game.  Chandler has been playing limited minutes, and it’s good to see him on the court.  He’s performed admirably on D and on the boards (5.3 rpg), but he’s not at his peak.  His shot is still off and too many times he’s settled for fadeaway jumpers.  If and these shots do fall, be careful, because Chandler is a capable player and a big defensive presence that can only help as he comes back from his injury.

Timofey Mozgov – Mozgov has come back from another injury (knee sprain) to battle for minutes among the other seven footers in Denver’s lineup.  He’s been average at best, but Karl has experimented with him in a twin towers type of lineup.  As much as he might struggle on both ends of the floor after an injury, the Nuggets benefit from his physical presence in the paint.  Koufos and McGee can’t bang in the key like the Russian, and if anything, his six fouls can contribute to the team’s physicality when he gets back.

Jordan Hamilton – Hamilton has been questionably relegated to the bench.  All the newfangled progress that the Denver Post gushed over this summer has been largely stuck on the bench, topping almost six minutes per game.  His offense is there if and when it gets off the bench, although it has been hard to find minutes behind a bevy of wing players, including the next player on the list…

Evan Fournier – Evan “La Force” Fournier has been a pleasant surprise this season.  After almost shooting the Nuggets back into the Sixers game, the Frenchman has made a case for more playing time.  Karl has made it no secret that he cherishes the 19 year old’s basketball savvy play and can’t find ways to criticize him.  Fournier is a gifted player, with a sweet stroke and an air of confidence that can’t be underestimated.  Not trying to read too much into the first eight games, but this guy is gonna be good, scary good.

Anthony Randolph – Randolph is like the lesser known McGee, an enigma.  I was excited to see his signing and his play on the court, although his time has been uninspiring.  He’s not quite comfortable with the system yet, and seems comfortable to drive from outside when he could be patrolling the paint and waiting for easy dump offs.  He’s got talent, size and athleticism, all he needs is to put these things together, something that three other teams have given up on.  The buzz from the Nuggets beat is that he’s working hard in practice, and one can only hope that he begins showing that consistently and making a case for minutes off the bench.

Quincy Miller – Miller has done an awesome job on the bench and it’s only a matter of time before Karl will look the rookie’s way and complement him on his seat-heating percentage.  Truly an accomplishment.  It’s great to be a rookie under George Karl.

 

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