While much of the attention in the NBA is rightfully given to the Miami Heat and their now 23 game winning streak, casual fans may be failing to notice that Denver Nuggets have quite the streak of their own going. With last nights victory over OKC the Nuggets extended their own winning streak to 13 games.
While talking heads often become critical of the Nuggets due to their lack of a true “star” player, I believe this is their strength. With a rotation consisting mainly of 9 players, all capable scorers and defenders, opposing teams never know who to key in on. At point guard they boast one of, if not the best point guard rotations in the NBA with Ty Lawson, who is quickly becoming a top tier offensive threat at point guard, and Andre Miller (he also plays sg alongside Lawson depending on the matchup) who is about as well rounded and crafty as any player in the league. At Shooting Guard the have former all-star Andre Iguodala who we know is a defensive stalwart and capable scorer, especially on the fast break, combined with Wilson Chandler (who can also play the 3 or even 4 in a pinch) who can really do everything needed offensively in today’s game. Both players are double digit scorers, athletic freaks and are good rebounders. Iguodala is also a terrific passer, something I’ll mention later. At small forward they have the Offensive weapon in Gallinari, who may be shooting the ball at a poor clip, but can really score in bunches for this team. Along with Gallinari, backup Corey Brewer is a top tier rangy defender, who just causes havoc on the court and has turned himself into a capable scorer. Lastly, at the big man rotation they have the pleasure of putting out the “Manimal” and your author’s favorite player Kenneth Faried. Combined with Faried they start steady Kosta Koufos and rotate in off the bench the highflying/shotblocking/shakeyourheadatforaterribleplay/freakofanathlete/canchangeagame/mommasboy JaVale McGee. Yes, JaVale is all those things, but most importantly he provides positive energy whether its in the way of a blocked shot or a loud dunk, he’s always doing something, good or bad, that makes me say “wow”. That big man rotation is not only capable defensively, but they can also finish at the hoop with authority. With the slashers they have at both the guard and wing positions this 3 man combo at big man is the perfect compliment.
|The “Manimal” is just one of the half dozen high flyers on this team”|
As you may garner from the above paragraph, this team can score. They are third in the league in scoring per game at 106.1, only .6 points off the leader OKC. They attempt the second most field goals per game behind Milwaukee and are the 4th best in terms of team field goal percentage at 47.8%. They also have three players averaging at least 5 assists per game in what is a testament to how well they move the ball. Iguodala on the fast break is such a weapon not just because of his speed but because of his court vision. The Nuggets are third overall in the league in assists thanks in part to Iguodala and of course the point guard tandem of Lawson and Miller. The team also happens to have the best home record in the NBA at 30-3 in the mile high air and are not too shabby on the road either, now having won 6 road games in a row. While these are all quite the gaudy numbers, they do also have some stats attached to them that would leave any fan wanting more. They are 25th in the league in three point percentage at just over 34%, which is not going to get it done in the more slowed down pace of the postseason and even more troubling they rank second to last (29/30) in team free throw percentage, only ahead of the Dwight Howard “hack-a-dwight” Lakers. This is an extremely troubling stat as we move into the postseason and this team will find itself in a lot of close matchups where only a couple points will swing the game. None of their bigs shoot above 62% and Andre Iguodala for some unexplained reason is just a horrible free throw shooter at 58%. They do have some quality shooters from the stripe though in Miller, Gallinari, and Chandler, so not all is lost.
|You can make it Iggy…..|
Sure, they still don’t have one player who will score 25 every game so instead they win with balance and usually one of those players scores in the 20s, like Ty Lawson’s 25 last night in their big win at OKC. It’s not about one guy in Denver, it’s about the sum of the parts. If the 13 game winning streak didn’t get your attention, hopefully a win on one of the NBA’s best teams’ home court does. These Nuggets are golden and are ready to make a run in the playoffs.
-Andrew Lipson, Senior Blogger
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