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NY Times: Why the Nuggets Are Winning

Posted by Justin Kubatko on March 18, 2011

The Denver Nuggets are doing just fine without Carmelo Anthony:

Keeping Score: Why the Nuggets Are Winning

Small sample caveats apply, of course.

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11 Responses to “NY Times: Why the Nuggets Are Winning”

  1. Jason J Says:

    How come nobody is pointing out that the Nuggets also lost Billups, who was supposedly their team leader and, according to most (though not necessarily statistically true) their second best player? It seems like the huge bump in assisted field goals may have something to do with a change in ball-handler as well. The defensive efficiency too. Not to be down on Chauncey. I just find it odd that no one seems to mention him when analyzing the change in the Nuggets.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Don't you know Billups was a mere "throw-in" in the Carmelo trade? :)

    It's a shame those two were traded together. If Melo was dealt by himself, it would be much easier to expose his overratedness... Although people are catching on as it is.

  3. Jason J Says:

    I think the backlash against D'Antoni is funny. His team's defensive deficiencies in Phoenix were hugely overblown because people don't understand the impact of pace on scoring. It's tough to coach defense with no centers on the team and only three players (two of them subs) with anything resembling defensive instincts.

  4. Sean Says:

    Sometimes in TEAM basketball, the sum is LESS than the parts. This occurs when one of the TEAM's parts has demands for himself that retard the full effect of what the REST of the TEAM'S parts are capable of contributing.

    Everybody thinks somebody is a star-----but he's really not doing much of anything for the team that they can't get done without him.

  5. Sean Says:

    The greatest of players don't stifle or hamper teammate's productivity. The facilitate it, while at the same time, contributing their own considerable product---with it all meshing. TEAM.

  6. Greyberger Says:

    Winning!

  7. Ed Says:

    Oddly, they've done this even though Gallinari has been hurt and barely played and Felton and Chandler have both played worse than they did for the Knicks.

  8. marparker Says:

    Billups replacement has been playing as well as him all season. Denver could afford to lose him. However, the Knicks received a huge upgrade with Billups. On the other hand Anthony was taking the most shots while being the least efficient shooter in Denver.

  9. Matt Says:

    Good article. The only thing that I would add is that the Nuggets' defensive rebounding since the trade has been unsustainably high (like 81% DRR or something). So that and with their good fortune on 3-point defense, I would expect their defense to regress a fair amount (although not to pre-trade numbers).

  10. Bob M. Says:

    In terms of win shares, you could argue Carmelo is the most overrated player in the NBA. Certainly that number is not 100% accurate, i.e. Nene is not one of the 12 best players in the league, but with the loss of Carmelo not hampering the Nuggets, it does say something for efficiencies and advanced stats. They at least tell 50% of the story.

  11. khandor Says:

    Prior to the Melo/Billups trade, Denver was a very talented team that was under-performing in the regular season - compared to the team from 2 years ago - due to a number of different factors, including:

    i. Injuries to Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin;

    ii. Turmoil surrounding the impending trade of C-Anthony;

    iii. George Karl's on-going recovery from last season's bout with cancer; and,

    iv. The loss of important role/back-up/bit players like Linas Kleiza and Johan Petro.

    If this year's team had been 100% healthy from the start of the season [including George Karl], however ... and not immersed in the Melo/Billups trade controversy ... then, the Nuggets would have most likely been one of the top 3 teams in the West all year long, based strictly on the strength of their personnel.

    THEN ...

    When Masai Ujiri was able to extract a "motherload of still-young legitimate NBA level talent" from the Knicks, in exchange for what Denver only had to give up:

    To New York: C-Anthony + C-Billups + A-Carter + R-Balkman

    To Denver: D-Gallinari + W-Chandler + R-Felton + T-Mozgov + 2 Future 1st Round Draft Picks

    it should actually NOT come as a surprise at all that THIS new version of the Nuggets is a pretty darn good outfit ... when you put the newcomers together with the return to good health of Kenyon Martin [close to 90%] and Chris Andersen [close to 80%].

    In early February, well before the trade deadline, I forecast on my blog that the Denver Nuggets would likely be THE MOST IMPROVED TEAM in the NBA after the All-Star Break, if they CHOSE NOT to trade C-Anthony this year.

    Given what Denver got back from New York in the Melo/Billups trade, my forecast remains the same today.

    Those who think the Nuggets are a prime example of the sum of the parts being greater than the value of the whole are simply ignorant of just how good the following individual players and coaches actually are:

    STARTERS: 1/Lawson/PG + 2/Afflalo/OG-SF [or Chandler] + 3/Gallinari/SF + 4/Martin/PF + 5/Nene/C
    KEY SUBS: 6/Felton/PG, 8/Chandler/OG-SF [or Afflalo], 7/Smith/SF-OG, 9/Andersen/PF-C and 10/Harrington/PF-C
    ----------------------------
    RESERVES: 11/Forbes/SF [i.e. as good an 11th man as there is in the NBA] and 12/Mozgov/C [i.e. as good a 12th man as there is in the NBA]
    ----------------------------
    EXTRAS/OUTS: Ely/PF-C [i.e. as good a 13th man as there is in the NBA] and Koufos/C [i.e. as good a 14th man as there is in the NBA]
    ----------------------------
    COACH: Karl [i.e. as good a Head Coach as there is in the NBA, today, other than Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich]

    because of an over-reliance on simplistic "statistical-based pseudo basketball analysis".