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Friday, February 8, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 13. Denver Nuggets

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  17-15,  second place Northwest Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):

  • Points Scored: 101.0 (8th)
  • Points Allowed: 100.0 (24th)
  • Team FG%: .466 (5th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .433 (6th)
  • Rebounds per game: 46.2 (1st)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.1 (15th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.6 (26th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.1(22nd)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

Worst Player of the Month: Andre Iguodala

It was good to be true to think thank Andre Iguodala would live up to the hype and his ridiculous paycheck after a rather impressive start of the season where he led the Nuggets in scoring.  Instead his production, which was his best in three or four years, has sank like a stone back to earth proving once again that he is nothing more than one of the most over-hyped, overrated, and certainly most overpaid players in the NBA.  It seems as if Andre has shriveled up once again as he seems to have settled back into the background, refusing to utilize his talents and just settle to continue his playing days as a bloated and overpaid role player.  For those who held onto the belief that Andre would return to being the player that he once was in Philadelphia when he led the team in scoring averaging 19 points per game, that faith has been all but shattered.  Nuggets fans have now realized what fans in Philly had known for the past three years--that Andre Igoudala is nothing but a second rate poser who has lived off of the inflated hype of the media.
First Player of the Month: Corey Brewer

If there has been anyone who deserves the misplaced credit on acclaim from fans and media, it has to be Nuggets' swing man Corey Brewer.  For the past couple of months, Brewer has come off the bench and has essentially out-performed the over-inflated, grossly overpaid, and overrated man that plays ahead of him.  In under 25 minutes per game, he average more than 13.1 points  , 3.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting a career high .486 from the field.  Brewer has also been a major factor defensively in the second unit as he is third on the team in steals averaging 1.2 per game.  It is such a shame that a player whom no doubt deserves to get starters minutes cannot because  he is overshadowed by undeserving fraud who currently lives off of false hype.

After a rather unimpressive and rather lackluster start, the Denver Nuggets continued the trend by finishing December with a 9-6 record and entering 2013 with a winning record two games over .500.  As with the previous month, December was another roller coaster ride with the Nuggets bouncing up and down with no real consistency.  They performed their bouncing act splitting their first six games as they would win one, then lose another only to win the next one again.  After that six game pinball period, the Nuggets managed to produce a solid stretch winning three games straight that included beating two of the Western Conference's top teams in the Memphis Grizzlies (12/14/2012) and San Antonio Spurs (12/18/2012).  Unfortunately, that streak would not last as Denver finished December the same way they started it bouncing up an down splitting their last six games.

Despite the team's inability to maintain a consistent streak, the Nuggets did show quite a bit of promise as they lost by an average margin of just 6.3 points with only the Los Angeles Clippers able to beat them by double figures (12/25/2012).  Two of the games the Nuggets lost, in all fairness, could have gone either way as Denver lost to the Atlanta Hawks (12/5/2012) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (12/12/2012) by a total of seven points.  If the ball would have bounced their way and they made a few crucial plays on defensive end, Denver could have finished 2012 with an even more respectable record of 19-13.   Unfortunately, as it has been the case with Denver, despite being able to go toe to toe with their opposition in terms of scoring, it was their defense or lack there of, that cost them the victories.  In their six losses, the Nuggets allowed their opponents to score 103.7 points on them despite allowing them to shoot .426 from the field which makes one ask how could the Nuggets allow themselves to be outscored like that.

Perhaps the answers lie in not so much the scoring and the shooting, but more in other areas that the Denver Nuggets have had problems--that of ball protection and committing turnovers.  As of the end of December the Nuggets ranked near the bottom of the league in committing and forcing turnovers being the fourth worst team in committing turnovers and were equally as bad at forcing their opponents to cough up the ball.  Along with preventing the opponents from scoring and gathering rebounds, protecting the ball is also crucial in winning games, especially late in the game where one slip of the ball can cost a team to win.  It was a last second steal and score from Josh Smith that cost the Nuggets the win at Atlanta as Nuggets coughed up the ball a total of 20 times compared to Atlanta's 14.  The same can be said for the six point loss against the New York Knicks (12/9/2012) where Atlanta tallied 16 turnovers compared to New York's nine and their 19 slip ups also allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves to slip past them despite out-shooting them .506 to .437 from the field.

Turnovers could have also cost the Nuggets to finish 2012 on a winning note as three of those games were rather close to call as they could have lost against the Toronto Raptors (12/3/2012),  Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs if they had a late game slip up or two.  Fortunately for Denver that did not happen or that would have given the team's management to reevaluate its relationship with head coach George Karl finally giving the team justification to finally rid themselves of him once and for all. Thus, the winning record to finish the year was both a blessing and curse for this young up and coming team because it allowed them to maintain some sort of respectability before heading into the new year while at the same time, maintained their status as a team stuck in the middle going nowhere.  As it stand right now in the West, the Nuggets are barely hanging on to a playoff berth and are closely locked into a battle for second place in the division.  Just one win or loss can determine whether the Nuggets reach the the postseason to just be knocked out of the first round or forced to just stand and watch as they arrive at bottom of the draft lottery.

Until something drastic happens, the Nuggets will remain a team that is going nowhere for even if they manage to snag their tenth straight playoff appearance, history will show that it has been all for naught as Denver has only past the first round just once in that span of time.  Being a team that constantly gets sent packing early in post season every year is just as bad, possibly even worse, that being a perennial loser.  At least the teams with the worst record have a greater chance to acquire a top five game changing NBA draft pick unlike a team like the Nuggets who have to settle with being at the bottom of the first round with little to show for their efforts.  Thus despite their supposed successful finishes, Denver still remains in limbo being not bad enough to earn a lottery pick and simply not good enough to take the next step in becoming a true contender.  Sooner or later Nuggets fans will catch on and decide to no longer follow a team that starts off strong to only to pack it in come playoff time which may also result of the demise of another small market team.