Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thoughts on Game 4 and the Future

(Boulder-CO) By now, and after we are all probably a little bit numb to the situation, I don't think a diatribe about who, what, or how the Nuggets could have played better in their series against the Lakers is needed. However, I do have a few thoughts about last night's game (which I attended) and the immediate future for The Nugg Doctor.
In game four, I thought there was a lot of positive points that shined both in retrospect of the season and for the future of the franchise. Here's a quick list:
- J.R. Smith is going to be a tremendous player in this league. Last night's 26-point performance was a team-high and I feel J.R. may have finally turned the corner. He is playing far superior ball in just the last half of this season in compared to his career up to that point and to lose him this off season after the franchise has been through the dark hours with this young ball player would be foolish.
- Marcus Camby's offensive inconsistency is a problem. On O, he's like playing four on five unless he grabs an offensive board. He takes bad shots, despite making a three last night for his only bucket, and is still trying to bring the ball up on the fast break. Reminds me of someone else I know...
- Carmelo Anthony is too 'Melo. I don't know about you, but when Carmelo plays with a chip on his shoulder I like his game a whole lot more. His performance last night may not be in his all-time favorites list, but I would rather see that kind of double-double (21 points- 11 rebounds) effort anytime over a 30-point - lack luster defensive effort - any day.
- AI just doesn't want to play team ball. He is who he is and that is all he will ever be. Nate Archibald was the same way for a few years early in his career, but "Tiny" made the adjustment to win a championship with the Celtics. Leaves me wondering if AI is willing to make that metamorphosis, or if you will, sacrifice.
- LK is a player that I just am not sure of how Denver is going get their full investment from. With Carmelo as the cornerstone of the franchise, I don't think LK is getting the minutes he would garner on another club and that is not only holding the Nuggets back, but LK too. It will be very interesting what happens with Linas this off season.
- Eduardo Najera plays hard, but he just doesn't fit the Nuggets' system. They need either a bigger player who plays more fours and fives, or a small player who can guard big two guards more effectively. I love all the intangibles Eduardo brings, but for the most part, he puts Denver in a tough spot a lot of the time on both offense and defense. However, his three-point shooting has been a pleasant surprise this season.
Other than that, I just have one other afterthought: the Nuggets were out played by not a superior roster, but rather a superior team. And as a result of that one critical aspect that decides who wins and who loses, the Nuggets are the first 50-win team to ever be swept in the NBA postseason. Not exactly something to be proud of, Denver. Although, there were a lot of good things along the way to such a train wreck of an ending.
As for what is next this off season on The Nugg Doctor... Of course I will still be writing op-ed pieces with my two sense on any and all news this summer. In addition, I will be bringing back the Historical Glimpses on a weekly basis. I miss writing those and the feedback from them is a perfect reason to resurrect that feature column. Now, of course I will be still bringing you, "Today's Date in NBA History" as well, but I feel those Glimpses give us all more of a historical context. I will also be working on a few interviews with some pretty big names from the media and former NBA stars, so be sure to stay current with all that goes on around here.
In the immediate future, I will be posting one or two player report cards (similar to last year's) to help us better evaluate how each player progressed, or in some cases, regressed over the course of the year. They should also be a good way to truly reflect on the 2007-08 season. We've had a good run, Nuggets Nation, but not nearly good enough to rest complacently.
Go Nuggets!


NoYPi said...

I've said it before & I'll say it again, JR should be starting as shooting guard and AI should be forced to play point, thus forced to pass the ball a little more.

I have to disagree a little bit about AI on not wanting to play team ball, well, just a little bit. I believe the stats will show that AI has been playing efficient and is pretty up there in assists as well but, as you may have noticed, thoses assists disappear in the Playoffs. BUT that goes for almost everybody, Melo Too (with his effort less low percentage jump shots), so basically what I'm saying is it isn't only AI who didn't play team ball. Right when I found out that we were in the playoffs I immediately said I hope AI and Melo don't try to do it all themselves, but obviously nobody that reads the Nuggets Blogs have any direct input to the team.

I sincerely believe that if a coach like Phil Jackson was coaching this team it could have easily gotten 60 Wins and past the 1st round of the Playoffs.

Also, I would like to point out that if the Nuggets Analysts (if they have any) and Coaching Staff were able to recognize and teach how to defend the Lakers "FAKE & PASS or DRIVE & PASS until you HIT the OPEN MAN" Offense we would have been fine.

The team was lost without:

* Coaching Intelligence & Direction - maybe GK is just happy to see his son advance with the Lakers. 83 games is too long to recognize a mismatch and do anything about it.

* Team Leadership - there is no real Leader on this team, everybody says Melo is the leader but if he is, then FOLLOWING THE LEADER would mean just get the ball and take the contested shot and don't attack the rim, hit the boards or defend too much.

* That one GO-TO defender that will take on the hardest assignments (usually taller & athletic guards) who can consistently contribute some offense like Raja Bell. I thought this would be Diawara but we'll never know now will we?

These are my non-expert opinions but I think I understand the game enough to realize these, even after just 10 games into the season.

If the Coach knew how to win, these guys could have done it, otherwise the Coach would be calling them out wouldn't he?

Embarrassed Nuggets Fan.

Luke said...

Hey Nugg Doctor,

I have been reading your blog for some time. I enjoy it and usually agree with everything you say, but I can't agree with you saying that Iverson doesn't like to play team ball yet you don't have anything to say about Carmelo, who everytime he got the ball in this series he jacked up a shot. He probably passed the ball a collective 5 times all series. I have really never seen anything like it. I don't know, I just can't support Carmelos performance this series or his antics off the court and being a distraction to his team going into the playoffs or the fact he decided to throw his teammates and Coach under the bus for supposidly "quiting" when he is the main suspect in that area. I just dont' think we should celebrate Melo for actually showing up 1 game in the entire series, yet leaving out the fact that he probably had the worse series out of everyone..and then throwing Iverson under the bus for supposidly not playing team ball and not pointing out any positives. As a Nuggets fan I used to stick up for Melo all the time, but I can't deny that he has been dissappointing.

I think this organization has a lot to look at in the offseason. Iverson to me has more pros then cons, he still does have some things to work out and I beleive could be worked out to better fit into the team then what he already has, but if he left the Nuggets I wouldn't blame him. The team and organization just doesn't seem commited to winning right now. And as a Nuggets fan I am kind of dissappointed that they brought that guy here and didn't have a proper system along with a proper backcourt mate to help him and this team succeed. Iverson is a very complex player, he isn't the type of player you can just add onto a team without a plan. After watching this season it seems to me that the FO made a trade for Iverson with no plan and just thought they could just throw him on the team with any backcourt mate and expect him to make magic. It doesn't work like that. The organization should be embarressed for making a trade for a player like Iverson if they were just going to take baby steps to contend. Hopefully they can figure some things out this Summer, but if they can't get a proper offensive and defensive system working and the right players to compliment him and Melo together, then maybe Iverson should leave because as a basket ball fan I feel like he deserves better for all he's done in his career and for the NBA.

Sean T said...

And here it comes...
The flood of Nugs fans and sportswriters alike calling for heads to roll... "Get rid of Karl!!" "Get rid of AI!!" "What about Melo!!" etc, etc...
Fair weather fans of Denver, QUIT YOUR BITCHING!
This team has only played together for something like 18 months or so!!
Do you really think a shiny new coach can get this team where it needs to be? Will trading AI, Camby, or K-Mart miraculously solve all the defensive problems? Absolutely not.
The Nuggets need to keep the core of this team together, straight up. This team needs time to learn to play as a unit. I don't know if it’s possible, but firing Karl or trading AI (or any other core player) surely will not get it done. I can't stand all the nearsighted fans of the Nuggets.

For anyone who disagrees, just take a look at my team, the Sonics, and what happened to them shortly after they got rid of their coach (Mr.Karl) for "not getting it done".
GP (one of the best PG's to ever play the game) packed up and left, older players retired or moved on, and Shawn Kemp started snorting all the cocaine in the greater Northwest area and fathering 107 illegitimate children. Most importantly, go ahead and take a look at the Sonics record leading up to, and then following the 97-98 season, that’s all the proof you should need.

While the NBA is definitely a "what have you done for me lately" league, I pray the Nugs front office has the balls to go against the flow and keep this team together.

Commish CH said...

Great comments guys.
Doc- great work this year, your hard work is appreciated.
One thing I will say and noticed while at Game 4 and post game: This town is hungry for a big run. The level of the talk radio and people b*tching about the team shows that! Only the Broncos trump that in the region. People care and want to see a winner!

NoYPi said...

Well said Luke, AI always wants to win and does everything he can night in and night out which is why we are behind him.

Nobody can put sole blame on AI for what happened.

It starts at the top. (Coach)

Richard said...

Someone may have suggested this already, but I think the Nuggets should cash in both Camby and Iverson, AND let Najera go.
Rebuild around Melo, JR, Nene and LK, with KMart in the "voice of experience" role.

Why? Camby is worth something now, and he fits less and less in Denver. Trade him to Atlanta for Pachulia and picks:he can mentor Horford (Joe Johnson wants veterans)and we can go mega-big at need.
Get a serious point guard and a high-character locker room guy for AI. He just takes up too much space and is ultimately a bad example for Melo and JR. LK will also have room to develop, backing up both of them.
Tell Karl he can return only if he imposes discipline on D and passing. Otherwise bye-bye at the All-Star break.
There are too many good teams in the West to waste time tweaking this squad: their lousy chemistry led to at least a half-dozen wins thrown away, and I think AI is the thorn, great as he is.

Richard in Milan