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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 16. Denver Nuggets

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  8-8,  third place Northwest Division

This Month:
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 99.1 (14th)
Points Allowed: 97.8 (14th)
Team FG%: .450 (11th)
Opponent’s FG%: .431 (6th)
Rebounds per game: 47.9 (2nd)
Opponents rebounds per game: 41.0 (9th)
Turnovers per game: 16.4 (24th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 13.9 (26th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

Scoring (ppg): Andre Iguodala (15.6)
Rebounds per gameKenneth Faried (11.5)
Minutes per game: Ty Lawson (36.1)
Assists per game: Ty Lawson (7.4)
Steals per game: Ty Lawson (2.0)
Blocked Shots per game: Kosta Koufos (1.8)

Worst Player of the MonthJaVale McGee

The man has yet to even start a game for the Nuggets and the team already signed him to a four year contract extension worth an estimated 44$ million.  One would think that the Nuggets front office would have learnt their lesson after their experience with JR Smith.  Similar to McGee, Smith showed that he was quite skilled and had star potential making the front office at the time sign him to a ridiculous five year contract worth 50$ million.  Unfortunately Smith never developed as the Nuggets had hoped remaining a bench player during his time there and the Nuggets were pretty much stuck with him.  With what JaVale McGee has shown thus far, it does not look as if he will develop into a franchise player as he has yet to start or play more than 25 minutes in a game. 

First Player of the Month: Andre Igoudala

What was once one of the worst defensive teams in the league has become one of the league’s top defenders and it all thanks to one man.  Before Andre Igoudala arrived, the Denver Nuggets were dead least in points allowed and opponent’s field goal percentage.  Now that has completely flipped a full 180 degree turn as Denver now ranks in the NBA top ten for points and field goals allowed leading to Denver’s solid 8-7 start for the month of November.  In addition of his defensive prowess, Igoudala has seem to rediscovered his offensive game as his 15.3 points per game, which currently leads the team, is his best performance in three years.  Hopefully, his spike in offense is a sign of him finally utilizing his full potential on both ends of the floor and at last living up to all of his hype of being a so-called All Star


For the Denver Nuggets, it will be another hum-drum season with limited expectations where their fans will continue to watch their team go no farther than maintaining its status of teetering between average and mediocre.  For close to a decade, the Nuggets have just simply played well enough to reach the playoffs only to simply cave in come the first round.  In all the time the team has been coached under George Karl, the Nuggets have only advanced past the first round of the playoffs just once and it does not look as if that will change anytime soon.  In fact, it looks as if the complete opposite will occur as Denver has stumbled out of the gates as the Nuggets finished the month of November with a .500 record.  Perhaps this might be the push that the front office needs to finally rid itself of George Karl who has been sitting comfortably on his coach’s seat as he has just produced at the bare minimum allowing him to remain on the team’s payroll for another year or two.

It is pretty obvious for any observer to see how ambivalent George Karl has gotten during his tenure as the Nuggets’ coach.  While most coaches of the elite NBA teams strive to improve and push for an NBA title, Karl has been content of having his team do well enough in order for him to maintain his coaching record and to justify him staying with the team.  Sure, under his nine year tenure as Denver’s coach, the Nuggets have had winning records with a rather impressive average winning percentage of .618; however, what is the use of winning all those games of the team is headed nowhere.  Karl currently has one of the longest tenures than any coach in the NBA in a league where a long term coaching career last about three years and he has little or nothing to show for it.  Most NBA playoff contending teams would have fired him years ago because of his team’s consistently poor post season performances, but not the Nuggets—they have been as content as their having no higher aspirations than just being “good enough” and not aspiring to reach anywhere higher.

Perhaps that is the reason why Carmelo Anthony wanted to have a first class ticket out of the Mile High City once his contract expired.  He probably saw, as many do now, that Denver was a team going nowhere fast and he did not want to spend the rest of his career stuck at the same place where the rest of his contemporaries have accomplished far more in their careers as he had.  Even if he does not meet his championship aspirations playing for the Knicks, at least he will be playing on a world class team which happens to be in the largest sports market in the world.  Even with the Knicks struggling to find the right chemistry over the last couple years since he has arrived, it is certainly better to be there than on a small market team also headed nowhere.  And with the performances that the Nuggets have given posting winning seasons only to get quickly shut down come playoff time only proves that Carmelo’s decision to split while the getting was good. 

Thus far, it has been an up and down season for the Nuggets as even the most casual fan would get motion sickness from watching Denver play in November.  The Nuggets started the season by losing three games in a row, followed by winning four, then drop down losing three in a row again, bounced right back up winning four more, then finally finished November losing their last three.  From what can be seen from Denver’s yo-yo performance, it only goes to show how inconsistent the team has been of late—certainly not what should be expected for a team that has champion aspirations.  That’s why the Nuggets have to part ways with Karl—his presence only holds the team back and as long as he remains as coach of the team, Denver will continue to be going nowhere fast.  So far, he has just milking the rather low ambition of his employers and has stood pat cashing his checks while the team he coaches remains stuck in neutral burning the rubber off its spinning tires as it goes nowhere.

It is doubtful that the Nuggets will crash and burn anytime soon as they are nestled in a division where two of the five teams are currently in the same boat—stuck in a virtual rut with little with little or no hope of coming out of it.  The Utah Jazz have been hovering above .500 as they continue to try carving a new identity in the post Jerry Sloan era and the Portland Trailblazers have hovered under the .500 mark and does not seem to be going anywhere fast as well.  The only two teams that have a chance of really making any noise in the Western Conference are the Oklahoma City Thunder who had reached the NBA Finals last season and an up and coming Minnesota Timberwolves squad.  As of now, they rest at sixth place in their Conference with of all teams, the Golden State Warriors, who have been a perennial bottom feeder in the West for ages, ahead of them by three and a half games—which is rather sad to say the least considering that even they have more ambition that the Nuggets.  And that can soon change as four teams—the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers, and the Los Angeles Lakers—are currently nipping at their heels and if Denver is not careful, it will find itself on the outside looking in which will probably be for the best as they are headed nowhere to begin with.