Friday, May 30, 2008

Today's (and Yesterday's) Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 30th, and on this day (and yesterday):
May 29, 1995 Rik Smits of Indiana swished a foul line jumper with no time left on the clock to lead the host Pacers to a 94-93 win over Orlando in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Prior to Smits’ game-winning shot, the lead had changed hands three times over the final 13.3 seconds, with Indiana’s Reggie Miller and Orlando’s Brian Shaw and Anfernee Hardaway all nailing three-point field goals.

May 30, 1976 Phoenix rookie center Alvan Adams scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 105-98 Game 3 victory over Boston in the NBA Finals.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 28th, and on this day:
'38- Jerry West is born in Chelyan, West Virginia.

'78- Dennis Johnson of Seattle blocked seven shots in a 93-92 win over Washington in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The seven blocks are the most ever by a guard in an NBA Finals game.

'86- Boston forward Larry Bird won his third consecutive Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Bird joined Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to win three consecutive NBA MVP awards.
'89- The Los Angeles Lakers beat Phoenix 122-117 to complete a sweep of the Western Conference Finals. It was the Lakers’ 11th consecutive win of the 1989 Playoffs and their third straight series sweep. However, the injury-riddled Lakers were swept by Detroit in the 1989 NBA Finals.

'92- Portland’s Terry Porter, despite only shooting 1-for-6 from three-point range in the Trail Blazers’ series-clinching 105-97 win over Utah in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, set an NBA Playoff record (for a six-game series), by connecting on 18 three-pointers (in 34 attempts) for the series.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Very Strong Case

(Boulder-CO) I found this piece while sleuthing around on the Internet for Nuggets related content. It had fallen towards the back of my memory, but George Karl and his historically woeful performances while coaching tremendously talented basketball teams seems to be more than just mere coincidence. Kudos to the author for the enlightening history on what is otherwise a very solid coaching career.

Player Report Card: Marcus Camby

(Boulder-CO) Oh Captain, my Captain! The 2007-08 campaign for Marcus Camby was chalked full of statistical greatness, career firsts, and a touch of disappointment. MC played in a career-high 79 games while spending a career-high 34.9 minutes per game on the floor, posted a career-high 3.6 blocks per game, and snared a career-high average of 13.3 rebounds. He also recorded the first pair of triple-doubles in his twelve-year career while cashing out with 30 double-doubles this season.

Furthermore, Marcus Camby was the only player on the Denver Nuggets who you can honestly say played solid defense night-in and night-out during the entire regular season. So it should come as no surprise that in losses, Marcus Camby’s rebounding average was a full three boards fewer than in wins and a full block less as well. And of the nine games Marcus grabbed at least 20 rebounds in the Nuggets were 6-3, but what’s more telling about Camby’s impact on the glass is when the Captain finished grabbing 15 or more boards the Nuggets were a stout 21-6.

Camby also led the league in blocks from the season’s opening night straight through the homestretch and gave Dwight Howard a serious run for his money for the rebounding crown before having to settle for runner-up. Yet, somehow, the Defensive Player of the Year Award, an individual award that he was defending from last year, went to the Celtics, errr I mean, Kevin Garnett.


One may think, but I would guess if you were to ask Camby if not defending his DPOY status was as disappointing as his performance in the first round against the Lakers. I’d almost guarantee the latter would be more likely to put The Captain in a “defensive”- pun intended- mood.

Camby’s performance in the playoffs really left a bad taste in my mouth and I’d bet I’m not alone. Not only did his scoring drop from a regular season average of 9.1 points per game all the way down to a shaky-at-best three measly points on a combined 5-21 shooting over four games, but his defense against both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom left a lot to be desired; proven by Gasol averaging 22.3 points and nine rebounds, and Odom posted a near double-double of 11.8 points and 9.3 boards. Now, in his defense, he wasn’t getting much help from the other four on the floor, no one man can single handedly defend an entire front court, and there wasn’t a single Nugget who I would say played well during that series, but I’m not sure anybody had as poor of a four-game showing as the Cambyman.

Now, conventional wisdom says that Marcus Camby, a fragile player in the past, is practically due to miss time with an injury after playing in 149 of the last 162 regular season games spanning back to the 2006-07 season. Obviously, I would never want a player to sustain injury, but that’s conventional wisdom for you and there is something to be said for it. Factor in MC’s age (34) and this being his 13th season on the horizon and Camby is looking like a serious candidate for trade. His stock will never be higher, the Nuggets will never be able to get more for him than they will be able to now, and for a team on the cusp of turning the preverbal corner he is certainly a tantalizing piece to take a chance on. However, unfortunately for the Nuggets is they are a long ways from thinking about putting on their turn signal and making said turn. And thus is a recipe for a big time trade in hopes of landing young talented pieces to build upon for the future sans Marcus Camby and his remaining 15.65 million dollars over the next two years.

So, my overall grade for Marcus Camby is a B-. The B is for an above average season, but the minus is for not bringing it come playoff time. Factors keeping Marcus from receiving the highest marks despite having career numbers in a plethora of categories were his inconsistent offense (plagued by that crooked jump shot from the top of the key that makes me cringe every time it gets launched), and his deficiency as a true one-on-one post defender. But, despite those few sour notes it was another great season from Marcus Camby and it should be interesting to see what the Nuggets do with The Captain this summer.

Go Nuggets!

Historical Events From Over the Weekend

(Boulder-CO) Here's what went down this holiday weekend in the history of the NBA. Sorry for abandoning my post, but you guys will forgive me, right? Only two more Player Report Cards to go too, so get ready, get set, read!
May 24, 1999 Orlando Magic head coach and Hall of Famer Chuck Daly resigns from his position. The 68-year-old Daly made his debut as an NBA head coach in the 1981-82 season, coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers for 41 games as an interim replacement. Daly later won two NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons and led the “Dream Team” to gold in the 1992 Olympic Summer Games.

May 24, 2000 Isiah Thomas, one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and the leader of the Detroit Pistons’ championship teams in 1989 and 1990, and Bob McAdoo, one of the greatest scoring forwards ever in the NBA, were among six individuals elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

May 25, 1975 Golden State beat Washington 96-95 to complete a sweep of the NBA Finals, one of only six title sweeps. The others were by Boston (1959), Milwaukee (1971), Philadelphia (1983), Detroit (1989) and the Los Angeles Lakers (2002).

May 25, 1992 Danny Biasone, who was credited with introducing the 24-second shot clock to the NBA for the 1954-55 season, died in Syracuse at the age of 83. Biasone arrived at 24 seconds by dividing 2,880 seconds, the total playing time, by 120, the approximate number of shots he figured two teams took in a game.

May 25, 1993 Charles Barkley, acquired by the Phoenix Suns in June of 1992, won the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player. Barkley, who helped lead the Phoenix Suns to a franchise and NBA-best 62-20 record during the 1992-93 season, averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 76 games.

May 26, 1987 Boston’s Larry Bird stole an inbounds pass from Detroit’s Isiah Thomas and fed over his shoulder to a cutting Dennis Johnson for the winning basket as the Celtics pulled out an improbable 108-107 win over Detroit in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 26, 1999 “The Bill Russell Tribute” is held at the FleetCenter in Boston in a ceremony to salute the Hall of Famer. The ceremony was hosted by entertainer Bill Cosby and featured a star-studded lineup of celebrities and sports legends.

May 26, 1999 Toronto’s Vince Carter, winner of 95.8% of the votes, is named the 1998-99 NBA Rookie of the Year. He averaged 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.54 blocked shots, and 1.10 steals while shooting .450 from the field in 1998-99.

May 27, 1973 The Bucks finished the year with 14 straight victories to end the season, one off the league record of 15 straight wins to end the season established by the Rochester Royals in 1950.

May 27, 1981 Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, making him the only player to win MVP honors in both the NBA and the ABA.

May 27, 1982 The Los Angeles Lakers, despite an 11-day layoff between playoff series, beat Philadelphia 124-117 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals for their ninth consecutive victory, at the time an NBA record for consecutive wins during one postseason.

May 27, 1985 Scott Wedman sank four three-point field goals without a miss and shot 11-for-11 overall from the field, both NBA Finals records, as Boston routed the Los Angeles Lakers 148-114 in Game 1. Boston’s 148 points and 62 field goals remain NBA Finals records.

May 27, 1988 Red McCombs purchased the Spurs for $47 million, becoming the first principal owner of the franchise.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today's (and Yesterday's) Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 23rd, and on this day and the one before it:
May 22, 1963 The NBA approved the franchise shift of the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia. The franchise was purchased by Philadelphia’s Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman earlier that spring.

May 22, 1988 Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird traded bucket for bucket in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals until Boston escaped with a 118-116 victory. Wilkins finished with 47 points and Bird had 34 -- with 20 of his points tallied in the fourth quarter. “The basket was like a well,” remembered Wilkins. “I couldn’t miss. He couldn’t miss. That’s the greatest game I’ve ever played in or seen played. It was two guys who just did not want to lose.” The teams shot a combined .588 percent from the field, the second highest mark in playoff history.

May 22, 1994 Toronto, scheduled to enter the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1995-96, unveiled Raptors as the team’s nickname.

May 23, 1975 Golden State notched an NBA Finals game record 17 steals during their 109-101 victory over Washington in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

May 23, 1976 Boston center Dave Cowens dominated the opener of the NBA Finals against Phoenix with a 25-point, 21-rebound performance as the Celtics defeated the Suns, 98-87. Boston eventually took its 13th NBA title in six games.

May 23, 1978 Portland center Bill Walton was named the NBA’s MVP for the 1977-78 season. Walton led his club to a 50-10 record before succumbing to multiple foot injuries, playing in 58 games and averaging 18.9 ppg and 13.2 rpg.

May 23, 1982 The Philadelphia 76ers, after leading Boston three games to one only to have the Celtics draw even, invaded Boston Garden and came away with a 120-106 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “Beat L.A!” was the chant that resounded through Boston Garden late in the game. Although the Sixers were beating their beloved team, Boston fans wanted anyone to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. It didn’t happen, though, as the Lakers beat the Sixers in six games for the NBA title.

May 23, 2002 The NBDL established new league offices in Greenville, S.C.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The 1st Off Season Surgery

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Post reported yesterday that Head Coach George Karl had his left hip replaced yesterday in a two hour surgery. The article goes on to state, "The Nuggets head coach is expected to be able to walk without a cane in seven to 10 days."
Allow me to add, "However, it is not yet known if the coach will be able to call timeout when opposing teams go on scoring runs that decimate Denver leads or deviate from starting line-ups that need to be adjusted".
Get well, George.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 21st, and on this day:
'86- Ralph Sampson, who teamed with Hakeem Olajuwon in a Twin Towers alignment for the Houston Rockets, caught an inbounds pass with one second left and bounced in a turnaround jumper to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-112 at Los Angeles in Game 5 of the 1986 Western Conference Finals. The loss kept the defending champion Lakers, who had won 62 games during the regular season, out of the NBA Finals for the only time in a span of eight years from 1982 through 1989.

'91- With a 105-97 win over the Detroit Pistons at Chicago Stadium in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Final series, the Chicago Bulls set an NBA playoff record for consecutive wins at home with 15. The Bulls’ postseason home winning streak was broken on June 2, 1991 by the Los Angeles Lakers, with a 93-91 loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

'92- Golden State’s Don Nelson was named IBM NBA Coach of the Year, becoming the first NBA coach to win the award three times. Nelson guided the Warriors to a 55-27 record, the second-best mark in franchise history. Nelson also won the Coach of the Year award in Milwaukee in 1983 and 1985.

'94- In Denver’s 91-81 loss to Utah in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series, Dikembe Mutombo swatted away two shots to give him an NBA record 38 for a seven-game playoff series, obliterating Hakeem Olajuwon’s previous mark of 30, set in 1993 against Seattle.

'96- Chicago’s 93-88 home win over Orlando in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals draws an 8.6 rating and a 13.8 share on TNT. With nearly 8.2 million persons tuning in, it is the most-watched NBA game in cable television history.

'98- The Sacramento Kings traded veterans Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe to the Washington Wizards for Chris Webber.
Enjoy your day!

Player Report Card: Linas Kleiza

(Boulder-CO) “Whooo-Whooo”, that’s the sound of the L-Train coming through! That’s right, Nuggets Nation it was a great year for the third year player from Kaunas, USSR which gave the “Kleiza Crazies” a lot to cheer about when in full force at the Pepsi Center. All of Kleiza’s major numbers are up from last year, and the Nuggets only victory over the division rival Utah Jazz this season can be squarely attributed to LK establishing a career-high 41 points to make the Nuggets the only team in the league to have four players hit the 40-point mark this season.

In the 2007-08 season, LK upped his scoring average nearly 50% from last season’s total to finish with a career-high 11.1 points per game while harvesting the highest two-point field goal percentage on the team at 56%. Kleiza also set new personal bests in rebounding and assists with 4.3 boards and 1.2 assists per game while playing the most minutes of any Nugget not to start more than 15 games this season and playing in a career-high 23.9 minutes per game.

In my eyes, this season, Linas proved to me to be the most reliable and consistent option the Nuggets had off the bench. Now, that’s not to take anything away from J.R. Smith or his potential to just take over a game athletically, but what LK does off the bench is just as impressive in its own way. He rebounds very well for a small forward, is one of the best off the dribble finishers on this team at the rack, and his tenacity, will, and desire to improve could only be more contagious in a perfect world.

However, there are a few problems regarding Linas Kleiza. Problems, that unfortunately, may not be disappearing for quite some time. The main problem for Kleiza, and his situation in Denver, is Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo is going to play upwards of 40 minutes a game and with one of the premier scorers in the league demanding the lion’s share of the minutes it’s hard sometimes for Linas to showcase his talent. Face it, Kleiza is a true small forward. At a solidly built 6’8”, LK is just too big to play shooting guard, but not strong enough (at least at this point in his career) defensively to handle power forwards. Sure, he is capable offensively of exploiting the foot speed of a larger front court player, but that takes space on the wing to accomplish and it seems pretty clear that ‘Melo has the wing occupied until further notice. Need some statistical proof to back up what would seem like an off-the-curb diagnosis? How about if I told you Linas only averaged nine points per game as a starting guard while when given a starters 36.2 minutes per game at small forward his scoring skyrockets to 18.5 points per game!

Unbelievable, Mr. Ripley? Believe it! Cumulatively, in his 13 starts this season, Kleiza averaged 17.1 points per game compared to an even ten when brought off the bench. All of which mean the only thing standing in the way of LK’s progression is the lack of light available for him to shine in.

Another aspect of Kleiza’s game that is troublesome is how much LK’s game seems to be dictated by swagger. In the 41 games Kleiza scored in double-digits, only ten of them were in a game when he had not scored in double-figures the game before; including a red-hot stretch of 13games where he scored in double-figures except for twice falling just one short with nine points.

But, all in all, Linas Kleiza is the kind of young player that every coach dreams of having available on their bench. He plays gritsy minutes every time you turn to him for help. He is finding ways to improve all the time, and provides this team with much needed swagger and toughness when he’s on his game. My only concern is how much LK’s game is being retarded by the inability, at times, to find his way into a more steady rotation because when ‘Melo is on there’s no stopping him. And unfortunately for Linas - ‘Melo is on more often than not.

Furthermore, and especially with the kind of mini-breakout season that Linas produced, don’t be surprised if you here Kleiza’s name involved with trade speculations this summer. At 1.8 million dollars in salary for next season, teams all over the league with openings at the three spot are probably salivating at the chance to put this guy into a major role because his services are cheap and his upside is huge. Plus, he’s young and has proven to be a hard worker. Both of which are two intangible aspects that make LK a juicy piece of trade bait for the Nuggets to dangle in front of any franchise that may have a piece that Denver needs.

Overall, I give Linas Kleiza a B- for the 2007-08 season. He siezed almost any and every opportunity he could and made some big strides along the way.


Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 20th, and on this day:
'79- Washington reserve Larry Wright hit two free throws with no time on the clock to give his club a 99-97 victory in the opening game of the NBA Finals against Seattle. Wright’s clutch shots gave him 26 points in just 23 minutes and led the Bullets to their only victory of the five-game championship series.

'95- Houston’s Mario Elie sank a three-pointer from the corner with 7.1 seconds left in the game, lifting the visiting Rockets to a 115-114 win over Phoenix in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series at America West Arena. With the win, the Rockets became the first NBA team in 13 years (since the ‘82 Sixers against Boston) to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 playoff series. Houston’s victory also broke a string of 20 consecutive wins by the home team in the deciding Game 7 of a playoff series. Just 24 hours later, Indiana repeated that feat by the road team after downing host New York 97-95 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Round series.

'96- Chicago’s Michael Jordan earns a record 96.5 percent of first-place votes (109 of 113) from the media to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 1995-96 NBA Most Valuable Player, his fourth overall NBA MVP Award. Jordan’s MVP stats include 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.20 steals per game

'00- Malik Sealy of the Minnesota Timberwolves dies in an auto accident at the age of 30. Sealy starred at Tolentine High School in the Bronx, leading the school to the mythical high school national championship in 1988. Later that year, he took his game to St. John’s, where he carved out a stellar career, putting together numbers bettered only by Chris Mullin. Sealy was drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 14th pick in the first round of the 1992 NBA Draft, and he played with Indiana, the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit and Minnesota in an eight-year NBA career.
Enjoy your day!

Thanks for Clearing that Up, Calvin

(Boulder-CO) In the last few days we've all been hearing about a deal that would send 'Melo and Camby to the Nets for little more than Richard Jefferson, the Nets' 2008 lottery pick, and a few crumbs, but thankfully Carmelo Anthony's agent has put our minds at ease.
That is, at least, for now.

When asked if there is anything to the Anthony trade rumors as described 'Melo's agent Calvin Andrews was clear when he said, “Yes I have been reading about it…and I would say it’s BS right now.”
Am I the only one who sees the Nuggets getting the short end of the stick covered in fire ants in this hypothetical deal?
And if 'Melo is movable at this point in his career who is out there and available that would be of equal value for a soon to be 24-year old star with problematic off-court tendencies?
The comment section is open!

Player Report Card: Eduardo Najera

(Boulder-CO) Is there another player in the league who gives his team as much as Eduardo Najera gives the Nuggets while giving so little statistically? I don't think so, and that's what makes evaluating a player like Eduardo Najera a thankless task. In one light he looks like a bad financial deal at just under five million last season when considering he gives the team only one point and one rebound per million. But, move the bulb a bit and Eduardo's contributions are of the stuff that wins games for these Nuggets who are often times reluctant to do the dirty work that winning necessitates.
As far as numbers are concerned, Eduardo comes out pretty lean. 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in an average of 21 minutes of burn per game leaves a lot to be desired after 78 games. There are a lot of guys in this league that can give you those kind of numbers for less than a mid-level deal, and what is alarming about Eduardo's game log is how only eight times this season did he have more than ten points and at least six rebounds. Meaning, generally, that when he gives points he doesn't typically give you rebounding and vice versa.
But as I mentioned before, there is a tremendously bright side to"The Grout"'s contributions. I coined him that for the simple reason that he has a way of filling in the cracks of the Denver Nuggets no matter what, where, or when they need it. Be it a charge, loose ball, or my personal favorite tapping out of a long rebound Eduardo just does the little things that don't ever make it into the box score.
Najera also had a surprise for the Mile High faithful this season...
Eduardo unveiled a fairly reliable three-point shot this season and an uncanny ability for hitting them when the Nuggets really needed it the most. In fact, Najera had never attempted more than 15 three's in a single season before the 2007-08 campaign, (while only making a grand total of 14 up to this point in his career) but this year Eduardo attempted 147 long distance calls and connected on 53 of them. Proving again Eduardo's ability to be that utility player the Nuggets so desperately needed when there is no other foreseeable options. Chucky Atkins was supposed to come in and help the Nuggets from downtown this season, but Atkins went down and The Grout filled in.
But for how much longer will Eduardo Najera be a Nugget is the question that awaits answering. Najera is an unrestricted free-agent this summer and depending on how much interest is out there for a player historically low on statistical impact while being huge intangibly is intriguing. Eduardo is entering his ninth season in the NBA and is turning 32 in July which means his days of making five million per year may be through. So, I say that if the Nuggets can keep Najera around for say... the next three years for somewhere in the range three million a year, great. If not, then it's time to say adios to El Grande Chihuahua.
Eduardo receives a C for yet another professional while yet yeoman season, and a + to go along with it for all the upside he leaves out on the floor everytime he sees it.
Go Nuggets!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dunlap Done with Denver

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Post reported on Friday that Assistant Coach Mike Dunlap is leaving the Nuggets for a position on the University of Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson's sfaff. While not significant news, it may present an opportunity for Jamahl Mosley to move up the ranks on George Karl's assistants. Mosely was a four-year Letterman at the University of Colorado and following his collegiate career he played two years in Australia for the Victoria Titans, one year in Spain with Baloncesto Leon, and one year in Korea.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 19th, and on this day:
'28- Dolph Schayes is born in New York City.

'87- Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson was named the Edge NBA Most Valuable Player after averaging 23.9 ppg and a league-high 12.2 apg, becoming the first guard in 23 years to gain that honor.
Enjoy your day!

Player Report Card: Carmelo Anthony

(Boulder-CO) Now we’re getting somewhere! Grab a drink, maybe a snack, and get comfortable because Carmelo Anthony’s report card is going be nothing short of a novel. There’s just so many good and bad memories from Carmelo Anthony’s 2007-08 season and I‘m taking off the gloves.

For starters, all of Carmelo’s numbers, except for in rebounding, were down in comparison to last year’s breakout when he finished second in the NBA in scoring. His minutes per game dropped nearly two full ticks down to 36.4 minutes per game, his scoring dipped more than three points to 25.7 ppg, his assist average tailed off to 3.4 dimes per game, and his free-throw shooting percentage slumped below the 80% mark for the first time in two seasons.

However, Carmelo played in all but five games this season only missing action due to a twisted ankle suffered via the tops of Kobe Bryant’s sneakers. Talk about foreshadowing.

As for statistical silver linings, rebounding may be Carmelo’s only alibi. Anthony upped his impact on the boards from a career-high tying six rebounds in the pervious season to 7.4 boards this year by being more conscience on the defensive glass and averaging nearly a single rebound more per game than in any other season on the books.
And that’s about where Carmelo’s defensive praises stop singing.
It is of my opinion that he is still, if not the worst defender on the team, one of the two worst defenders currently on the Nuggets’ roster. After last year, I may have been inclined to say his defense was on the up and up, but not now. His defensive rotations are still slow (if at all), his post defense was exploited by other competent offensive-minded small forwards all season long (which is evident by his average fouls also being a career-high 3.3 per game, and the fact that he fouled out in games against the Magic when he was paired up against Hedo Turkoglu and Utah when he drew the defensive assignment of the post-minded AK47), and at 6’8” he leaves a lot to be desired as a shot blocker.

Another area of Carmelo’s persona that the Nuggets really need to examine is his ability to serve as this team’s leader. In the genesis of this season I would have argued that Carmelo was, and still is, the Nuggets’ leader even with the addition of AI. But after watching all 86 games this season I would have to disagree with myself and the reasoning is three fold. First of all, to be a leader of an NBA basketball team you have to be able to get the players around you to raise the level of their game in some way. Be it defensively, offensively, or the effort that they surrender it is the sole responsibility of the leader to bring that crescendo out of their teammates and Carmelo certainly did not do that this season. Another attribute of an NBA leader is someone who brings their A-game to the arena night-in and night-out, no excuses. I think you’ll be interested to know that Carmelo’s Anthony’s scoring average, when measured by how many days rest he has had, ranges from a low of 24.7 points per game in back-to-back games to a high of 31.4 per game with more than three days to recuperate and his rebounding follows the same disturbing trend. Does this mean Carmelo wasn’t in the kind of physical conditioning that allows him to compete at his highest level on 24 hours rest or is it just a normal trend of players playing at the highest level of competition? You be the judge, but if you’re the stand-in leader of a team and can’t provide your fellow troops with a steadier, regardless of how many nights off before tip, effort than it certainly does raise some eyebrows. And lastly, an NBA leader must be vocal. Carmelo Anthony makes Tim Duncan look like Kevin Garnett when it comes down to bellowing out a war cry in the heat of battle. Hell, for that matter, his best attempt was accusing his fellow brethren of quitting on him when it was all but too little too late and the Nuggets were already being sized up by the dust pan of L.A.’s sweep.

So, with all those question marks and sour notes fresh in your mind in retrospect of Carmelo’s season, let’s take a look at one very special night at the Pepsi Center. A night that I was in attendance for, and what was certainly the apex of Carmelo Anthony in the 2007-08 season. I present to you ‘Melo’s career-high scoring night of 49 points.

Other solid areas of note for Carmelo’s season are as follows: 25 games with a double-double of rebounds and points, a career-high field goal percentage of 49.2, a career-high three-point shooting percentage of 35.4, and a career-high number of steals with 98. Areas of concern are, also, as follows: Carmelo was not the team’s leader in scoring despite taking the most average nightly shots at 19.2 per game, he was hit with eleven technical fouls, two flagrant fouls, and finished sixth on the team in adjusted field goal percentage at 51%. And I don’t think I need to mention a little late season incident in the midst of playoff position being jockeyed for to justify giving Carmelo Anthony a C for what was an otherwise very average year for a player with so much responsibility to a team with expectations of breaking out of the trend of just being average.

Are the Nuggets Crazy?

(Boulder-CO) I prose the question because of a rumor that has gained a little bit of steam in the last couple of weeks. The alleged rumor (that I hate personally) has Nuggets brass trading Carmelo and Camby to New Jersey, and their newly acquired management team consisting of Kiki Vandeweghe, for Richard Jefferson, some middle tier players, and the Nets' lottery pick.
I just hope the Nuggets really take a good look at what they are doing here before Kiki doops this franchise into another debacle like the Kenyon Martin acquisition.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Last Few Days in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Fell asleep at the wheel for a few days... Here's what went down in the last three days of and in NBA history. Things are returning to the grind around here starting tomorrow. That means the rest of the player report cards, all the trade rumors, what I think the Nuggets need to do by means of The Blueprint: Phase Two, and anything they might do in the meantime.
May 16, 1980 Rookie guard Magic Johnson filled in at center for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and came up with 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title by beating Philadelphia 123-107 in Game 6 of the Finals. Johnson sank all 14 of his free throw attempts to set a Finals record and he was named the Finals MVP. Johnson’s 42 points were the most scored by a rookie in an NBA Finals game.

May 16, 1999 The New York Knicks became only the second eighth-seeded team in NBA playoff history to defeat a number one seed in the playoffs when they defeated the Miami Heat in five games. Seattle was the other eighth-seeded team to advance when they ousted Seattle in 1994.

May 16, 2000 Utah’s Jef Hornacek walked off the court for the final time after the Jazz are eliminated from the postseason by the Portland Trail Blazers. Hornacek, who entered the league as a point guard and ended up one of the game’s best pure shooters, concluded his career after 1,077 career games. He averaged 14.5 points and 4.9 assists per game, with shooting percentages of 49.6% from the field, 40.3% from three-point range and 87.7% from the free throw line.

May 16, 2001 Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers scored 52 points against the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Iverson joined Michael Jordan as the only two players ever to score 50 or more points in two games of the same playoff series. Iverson scored 54 points against Toronto in Game 2 of the series.

May 17, 1979 Jack Sikma of Seattle scored 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the SuperSonics to a 114-110 victory over Phoenix in Game 7 of their Western Conference Finals series, before a crowd of 37,552 at the Kingdome. The Sonics went on to win their only NBA Championship, defeating Washington in five games in the Finals.

May 17, 1988 John Stockton of Utah tied Magic Johnson’s NBA Playoff assist record with 24 in a losing effort (111-109) against Los Angeles in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

May 17, 1993 New York’s Pat Riley was named IBM NBA Coach of the Year, beating out Houston’s Rudy Tomjanovich by a single vote in the closest balloting ever, becoming only the fifth NBA coach to win the award twice. Riley, who led the Knicks to a 60-win season for only the second time in the 47-year history of the franchise, also won the Coach of the Year award with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1990.

May 17, 1995 Jason Kidd of Dallas and Grant Hill of Detroit were named co-winners of the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, marking the first time since 1971--when Boston’s Dave Cowens and Portland’s Geoff Petrie were named co-winners--that two players shared the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy.

May 18, 1975 Rick Barry hit a jumper with 38 seconds remaining to put Game 1 of the NBA Finals out of reach as Golden State defeated Washington 101-95. Barry, the series MVP, continued with dominating performances as the Warriors swept the Bullets 4-0 to take the title.

May 18, 1998 Michael Jordan is named the 1998 NBA Most Valuable Player, earning his fifth MVP honor, tied for the second-most league MVP awards with the legendary Bill Russell. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was named NBA MVP a record six times.
Enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 15th and on this day:
'82- The Los Angeles Lakers moved into the NBA Finals by beating San Antonio 128-123 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. It was the Lakers’ eighth straight victory, making them the first team in NBA Playoff history to sweep back-to- back best-of-7 series.

'84- Magic Johnson notched a playoff record 24 assists as the Lakers beat Phoenix 118-102 in Game 2 of the West Finals. John Stockton of the Utah Jazz tied the record with 24 assists against the Lakers on May 17, 1988.

'90- Former NBA stars Dave Bing, Elvin Hayes, Neil Johnston and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

'95- Former NBA stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Vern Mikkelsen, former NBA coach John Kundla and former NBA referee Earl Strom were among seven individuals inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

'01- Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers was named the recipient of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2000-01 season, at 6-foot and 165 pounds becoming the shortest and lightest MVP in league history.
Enjoy your day!
(I know I've been slackin' on the posts and the analysis, so starting next week you can expect the usual grind we are all accustomed to.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 14th, and on this day:
'80- Magic Johnson committed an NBA Finals-record 10 turnovers in Game 5 against Philadelphia, but the Lakers won anyway, 108-103 at Los Angeles.

'81- Larry Bird scored 27 points and Cedric Maxwell added 19 to lead Boston to a 102-91 victory over Houston in Game 6 of the Finals, giving the Celtics their 14th NBA Championship.

'96- The legendary Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the LA Lakers, who returned to the NBA after a four-year retirement to play 32 regular season and four playoff games, announced his retirement from the NBA.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Camby is First-Team All-Defensive

(Boulder-CO) Released yesterday were the NBA's All-Defensive Teams anchored at center by the Nuggets' Marcus Camby. Kevin Garnett, this year's Defensive Player of the Year, of the Boston Celtics and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs round out the forwards with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles and Bruce Bowen of the San Antonio Spurs making up the two guard selections. Garnett, who earns his ninth All-Defensive Team selection, and Bryant, who earns his eighth selection, each received 52 points overall including 24 first-place nods. 2007 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets, who ranked first in blocks (3.61 bpg) and second in rebounds (13.1 rpg), made his second All-Defensive team. Duncan earns his 11th consecutive selection, while Bowen earns his eighth.
Congratulations, Marcus!
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 13th, and on this day:
'76- The New York Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets 112-106 to win what became the last ABA championship, four games to two. The next month, four former ABA teams--San Antonio, Denver, New York and Indiana—were admitted into the NBA.

'77- Maurice Lucas scored 26 points to help the Trail Blazers defeat the Lakers 105-101, for a sweep of the Western Conference Finals. Portland went on to capture its only NBA title, defeating Philadelphia 4-2 in the NBA Finals.

'91- Former NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien, National Basketball Players Association founder Larry Fleisher and NBA legends Nate Archibald, Dave Cowens and Harry Gallatin were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

'99- The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 85-71 in Game 3 of their first round Western Conference playoff series. The win was the first of what would become a record 12 straight playoff game victories in one playoffs for the Spurs. San Antonio would lose only once more in the 1999 playoffs en route to capturing its first NBA championship.

'99- Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson recorded an NBA Playoff record 10 steals in a 97-85 win over the New Jersey Nets.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Player Report Card: J.R. Smith

(Boulder-CO) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There is not a better suited nickname for a player in this entire league than “The Prodigy” for J.R. Smith. Freakishly athletic, prototypically built, and brimming with confidence are the three best ways to describe Smith who, at times, leaves us all gathering our mandibles from off the floor. Before we get into the deeper analysis of J.R., I feel it’s only fitting to review some of the more spectacular moments from J.R.’s season.

The music in this first clip is NSFW, but the footage (minus the opening scene from a previous season) is comprehensive for the 2007-08 season.

Here is J.R. setting a franchise record for three-pointers made in a single half while scoring 25 points in the fourth quarter against the Grizzlies:

And here is J.R. scoring a career-high 43 points against the Bulls, who conveniently traded Smith to Denver for Howard Eisley. Thanks, Chicago!

I think I speak for all of us when I say, "WOW!"
And when you read how this young player progressed over the course of this season I think you'll agree that the upside on Smith is still worth the set backs (including the tragic death of friend Andre Bell before the start of this season) he has endured up to this point in his life.
For starters, J.R. Smith recorded the most 20+ point games of anyone in the league not to be one in a single game this year with 13 separate such occasions and from that point there is a plethora of good things to illustrate about "The Prodigy". He finished 16th in treys made league wide while shooting a career-high 40.3% from behind the arch while also leading the Nuggets in adjusted field goal percentage (57.8).
AFG% measures shooting efficiency by taking into account the total points a player produces through his field goal attempts. The intention of this adjustment is largely to evaluate the impact of three-point shooting. For example, if Kenyon Martin has 3-5 FG, all two-point shots for 6 points, then his AFG% = [(6/5)]/2 = .600. Meanwhile, if J.R. Smith is 2-5 FG, but his 2 FGM are both three-pointers for 6 points, then his AFG% = [(6/5)]/2 = .600 too despite making less attempts.
But whats more than all that statistical jargon is how J.R. progressed from the early season dog house into Denver's prime time scoring option off the bench over the course of this season. J.R.'s numbers started out very modest in December with a line consisting of 7.9 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while only seeing a shade over 14 minutes per game and a ton of George Karl's backside while players like Linas Kleiza and Eduardo Najera saw action. But, when LK went down for over a week with an ankle sprain that took him around a month to fully recover, J.R. pounced on his opportunity to prove to George Karl he was capable of helping this team.
And you have to give Karl credit in this regard for giving J.R. that chance. He could have easily given up on 'The Prodigy" while letting him rot at the end of the bench, but no, he turned back to J.R. and J.R. did not disappoint. His numbers jumped up to 15.4 points over the course of March and April while also posting over two rebounds and two assists.
Now here is where it gets tricky...
For every time that J.R. displayed maturity and poise in one aspect of his game. On some night down the road he would do something completely ridiculous to nullify that warm and fuzzy feeling. For instance, he would display fundamental principles on the fast break by passing the ball early and looking to get it back one night and then try to force it later in the game or, gasp, even worse. Same principle applied when in some cases he would let the game come to him instead of firing up heat-check after heat-check. With J.R., you just couldn't be sure what decision you were going to get from one situation to another, but overall this season proved to me that things are indeed getting better with this young talent.
Overall, I give J.R.'s final line of 12.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists a B-. The B was earned for areas of continued maturation, the seizing of opportunity, and character resiliency. The minus is there to remind us there is still a long way to go with "The Prodigy". Hopefully, Nuggets brass will see things the same way and match any 2.3 million dollar qualifying offer that comes J.R.'s way to keep him in the Mile High.
Go Nuggets!

Wild Speculations are Abundant

(Boulder-CO) As the off season starts to lean on all of us, we couldn't but expect there to be wild, and I do mean WILD, speculation to swirl like a Midwest twister concerning this franchise. And let's face it, the Nuggets have been a first round blunder for the last five years and it is probably time to start thinking drastic changes.

In an article very reminiscent of my original blueprint from last season, Woody Paige has outlined what he thinks the Nuggets can do to improve. However, I'll forewarn you... Woody has a few ideas that are, well... let's just say they are very "Woody".

Then there is this next piece written by Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Ira thinks that of all the Nuggets who are presumably "on the trading block" that it's Carmelo Anthony who would benefit the Miami Heat. And he even has a few ideas on how it would all work out.

And for the most entertaining, and quite possibly the most realistic, of trade scenarios I present an article from The Bleacher Report. I'm not so sure that a few of those proposed deals would line up financially, but hey, it's the off season and this whirlwind of who's going where is probably just heating up!
I'll also just throw this out there: I'll be writing "The Blueprint: Phase II" soon enough, so be sure to stay refreshed right here on The Nugg Doctor.

Today's (and Yesterday's) Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 12th, and on this day (and yesterday's date):
May 11, 1976 Before a capacity crowd of 21,564 at the Richfield Coliseum, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 83-78 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston went on to win the series 4-2 and later the NBA Championship, but the 1975-76 season still stands as the Miracle of Richfield.

May 11, 1980 One of the NBA’s most memorable moves took place on this date. Julius Erving started out on the right side and drove past Lakers’ forward Mark Landsberger along the baseline. As Erving elevated toward the basket, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came over to block a layup attempt. Erving changed course in mid-air and floated behind the backboard to the other side of the basket then wrapped his right arm behind Kareem and laid in a reverse layup. “Here I was trying to win a championship and my mouth just dropped open,” recalled Lakers’ guard Magic Johnson, then a rookie. “I thought, ‘What should we do? Should we take the ball out or should we ask him to do it again?’” The Lakers would win the series in six games.

May 11, 1992 NBA legends Bob Lanier and Connie Hawkins and long-time NBA coach Jack Ramsay were among nine individuals inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

May 11, 1992 The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the host Phoenix Suns 153-151 in double-overtime in Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series, the highest-scoring NBA Playoff game ever. The Blazers went on to win the series in five games.

May 11, 2000 Elton Brand of the Chicago Bulls and Steve Francis of the Houston Rockets, who both enjoyed stellar first-year campaigns, are named co-winners of the 1999-2000 Schick Rookie of the Year Award. Brand and Francis each received 58 of a possible 121 votes from a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters.

May 11, 2000 Hall of Fame guard Nate “Tiny” Archibald is named head coach of the NBA Ambassadors, the NBA developmental league’s entry in the 2000 Asian Basketball Association League. Former NBA swingman Tony Campbell was named as Archibald’s assistant coach. The NBA Ambassadors were one of six teams to take part in a six-week competition against teams from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

May 11, 2001 Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors connected on eight three-point field goals in one half of his team’s 102-78 win over Philadelphia in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It broke a record shared by five players of six three-pointers made in one half of a playoff game.

May 12, 1974 The Boston Celtics won their 12th NBA Championship, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 102-87 in Game 7 at Milwaukee.

May 12, 1985 New York won the first-ever NBA Draft Lottery, enabling the Knicks to select Georgetown center Patrick Ewing with the first pick in the 1985 NBA Draft.

May 12, 1992 USA Basketball named Christian Laettner and Clyde Drexler to the remaining spots on the "Dream Team" for the 1992 Olympics.

May 12, 1996 Houston's two-year reign as NBA Champions ends as Seattle, led by Shawn Kemp's 32 points and 15 rebounds, tops the Rockets 114-107 in overtime in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals, completing a series sweep.
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 10th, and on this day:
'74- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky-hook with three seconds remaining in the second overtime gave Milwaukee a 102-101 victory over Boston in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics, however, took the deciding seventh game.

'87- Sleepy Floyd of Golden State set NBA Playoff records with 29 points in the fourth quarter and 39 points in the second half as the Warriors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 129-121 in Game 4 of the West Semifinals. Floyd finished the game with 51 points.

'93- Former NBA players Julius Erving, Walt Bellamy, Dan Issel, Dick McGuire, Calvin Murphy and Bill Walton were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

'95- Chicago’s 104-94 win over host Orlando in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Round series drew a 7.9 rating on TNT and was viewed in an average of better than five million homes, making it at the time the most watched NBA game ever on cable television.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

All-NBA Teams Announced-Nuggets Diss'd

(Boulder-CO) The All-NBA teams were released today and the Nuggets were disrespected once again by the national media. I would have thought that with the league's third and fourth highest scorers, and the top overall shot blocker and second leading rebounder at least one Nugget would have made the grade. The All-NBA Teams were chosen by a panel of 127 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The media voted for All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams by position with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.
Here are the teams with their position selected for, team, and votes received:
Forward Kevin Garnett, Boston (118) 612
Forward LeBron James, Cleveland (117) 610
Center Dwight Howard, Orlando (86) 546
Guard Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (127) 635
Guard Chris Paul, New Orleans (124) 629
2007-08 ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM- ()-denotes first team votes
Forward Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (1) 189
Forward Tim Duncan, San Antonio (25) 397
Center Amaré Stoudemire, Phoenix (30) 412
Guard Steve Nash, Phoenix (2) 311
Guard Deron Williams, Utah 228

Forward Carlos Boozer, Utah 174
Forward Paul Pierce, Boston (2) 151
Center Yao Ming, Houston (2) 71
Guard Tracy McGrady, Houston (1) 137
Guard Manu Ginobili, San Antonio 123
Here's the rest of the players receiving votes in this year's balloting:
Allen Iverson, Denver, 116; Carmelo Anthony, Denver, 89; Marcus Camby, Denver, 59; Chauncey Billups, Detroit, 38; Baron Davis, Golden State, 32; David West, New Orleans, 24; Rasheed Wallace, Detroit, 22; Tyson Chandler, New Orleans, 18; Antawn Jamison, Washington, 15; Al Jefferson, Minnesota, 14; Chris Bosh, Toronto, 11; Joe Johnson, Atlanta 8; Andre Miller, Philadelphia, 7; Caron Butler, Washington, 5; Shaquille O'Neal, Phoenix, 5; Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers, 5; Kevin Martin, Sacramento, 4; Ray Allen, Boston, 4; Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando, 3; Jason Kidd, Dallas, 2; Josh Howard, Dallas, 2; Richard Hamilton, Detroit, 2; Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia, 1; Brandon Roy, Portland, 1; Michael Redd, Milwaukee, 1; Tayshaun Prince, Detroit, 1; Tony Parker, San Antonio, 1.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 9th, and on this day:
'83- George and Gordon Gund, co-owners of The Coliseum, assumed ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

'88- Former NBA legends Lenny Wilkens and K. C. Jones were among three men inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Wilkens would get the call from the Hall again 10 years later, when he was inducted as a coach.
'94- Longtime NBA head coach and former NBA player Buddy Jeannette were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

'00- The NBA announced that Stu Jackson, former President and General Manager of the Vancouver Grizzlies, would join the NBA as Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations, effective June 1. On June 6, 2000, the NBA announced that, effective July 1, Jackson would assume the responsibilities previously held by Rod Thorn as head of the NBA's Basketball Operations department. Jackson’s new duties would include chairing the league's Competition and Rules Committee, overseeing officiating, and imposing discipline for misconduct by players and coaches. The NBA said Jackson would report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Russ Granik.
Enjoy your day!

Player Report Card: Kenyon Martin

(Boulder-CO) With absolutely no way to gauge how Kenyon Martin would perform after having his second microfracture surgery (one now in each knee) and only playing in two games last year, I was pleasantly surprised with the level of play K-Mart returned with this season. He proved able to come back and stay healthy by playing in 71 games, all starts, with his toughness still being a factor for the Denver Nuggets. But there is still that huge salary that every sportswriter, including myself, just can’t overlook when examining the overall picture that is Kenyon Martin. K-Mart took home 13 million dollars this season making him the third highest paid player (behind only AI and ‘Melo, of course) on the league’s third highest team payroll while still not coming even close to his former self, statistically speaking.

Kenyon’s numbers this year were modest yet steady in increase over the duration of the season. In November, Kenyon started slow with averages of 8.3 points, five rebounds, and a single assist, but by March Martin’s numbers had peaked at 15.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and a few more assists here and there. Martin finished with the highest overall field goal percentage on the team with a mark of 53.8% (a career-high for the former #1 overall pick). And another career-best category for Kenyon this year was his turnover rate which was an economical career-low 1.3 miscues per game. However, Kenyon’s season averages of 12.4 points, 6.5 rebounds (both ranking third on the team), and 1.3 assists were all below his career averages and were, in fact, his lowest totals since his rookie year.

And it’s that kind of half-empty, half-full kind of season that makes evaluating Kenyon Martin quite possibly the most difficult player to really stand firm on.

On the one hand, he came back from not one, but two, devastating injuries and showed glimpses of the player Denver thought they might be getting after acquiring him from New Jersey fresh off an NBA Finals appearance. He was efficient with the basketball, provided the Nuggets with their only “real” one-on-one post defender, and brought an overall toughness to the Nuggets that no other player could provide. And that toughness was never more evident then in the must-win game against the Warriors on March 29th when Kenyon poured in a season-high 30 points and eleven rebounds to help the Nuggets overcome a huge first half deficit to eventually win and keep their playoff hopes alive.

On the other, Kenyon Martin’s scoring average shrank down to 8.8 points come playoff time which left the Nuggets searching for an offensive post presence (seeing how Marcus Camby plays guard on O) and his humongous contract will always leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Nuggets Nation.

Now, here is the bright side of things: at this point, Kenyon Martin may still be valuable to the Nuggets. Because the way I see it is depending on how rocky Nene’s comeback trail is the Nuggets either have a solid, tough, and veteran player to bring in off the bench or a player who can still start after proving physically strong enough to play over 70 games.

So, for all that I give Kenyon a C+. The plus is for coming back from the injuries and staying healthy, but overall it was “half-full” mediocre season for Kenyon Martin. Chime in if you feel differently or have anything to add.
Go Nuggets!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 8th, and on this day:
'70- The Knicks claimed their first NBA title by defeating Los Angeles 113-99 in Game 7 of the Finals. New York was led by the inspirational play of injured center Willis Reed, who limped onto the court and scored the game’s first two baskets, and guard Walt Frazier, who led the Knicks with 36 points and 19 assists.

'88- Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls scored 226 points in the Bulls’ five-game Eastern Conference First Round series against Cleveland, breaking Bernard King’s record of 213 set in 1984.

'88- The Los Angeles Lakers held the Utah Jazz to just eight points in the first quarter of Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series, a 110-91 Lakers’ victory, with the Jazz setting a record low for first quarter points scored in an NBA Playoff game.

'99- Utah’s Karl Malone (3,712 points) passed Magic Johnson (3,701) for the sixth position all-time in playoff scoring.

'00- John Nucatola, one of the original referees in the NBA when it was formed as the Basketball Association of America in 1946, dies at the age of 92. Nucatola, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a referee in 1978, was the NBA’s Supervisor of Officials from 1970 to 1977. He officiated in more than 2,000 games during his career at the collegiate, Olympic and professional levels. Born November 17, 1907, in New York, Nucatola was once called basketball’s “greatest official” by Hall of Famer Clair Bee. After a playing and coaching career of 22 years, Nucatola became a referee in the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC). He later went on to officiate games in the ACC and Ivy League and became one of the founders of the College Basketball Officials Association. He officiated in 18 NCAA and 18 NIT tournaments while conducting over 1,200 clinics worldwide.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 7th, and on this day:
'72- The Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 4-1 in the NBA Finals, capturing their first league championship since moving to Los Angeles from Minneapolis.

'89- Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls got the ball on the right side of the court with his team trailing by one point in the closing seconds of a deciding Game 5 of their 1989 Eastern Conference First Round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jordan drove just inside the top of the key and while falling away from the basket to his left nailed an 18-footer over the outstretched fingertips of leaping Cavaliers’ defender Craig Ehlo for a 101-100 victory.

'94- In one of the biggest upsets in NBA Playoff history, the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets eliminated the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics 98-94 in overtime in Game 5 of their Western Conference First Round series at the Seattle Coliseum. The Nuggets, who won the last three games of the series, became the first # 8 seed to upset a # 1 seed since the First Round of the NBA Playoffs went to a best-of-5 format in 1984. Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo fell to the floor after grabbing the final rebound, clutching the ball as tears of joy streamed down his face. Dikembe had spoke to the team of a dream where he had led the Nuggets to victory in the days prior and the memory stands as one of the Nuggets most memorable and famous moments.

'95- Indiana’s Reggie Miller scored eight points (two three-pointers, two game--winning free throws) over the final 16.4 seconds of the game, helping lead the Pacers to a shocking 107-105 come-from-behind win over host New York in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. The Pacers went on to win the series in seven games.
Enjoy your day!

Player Report Card: Anthony Carter

(Boulder-CO) Now we are getting into the thick of it. After drudging through the likes of Steven Hunter, Chucky Atkins, and Yakhouba Diawara we finally arrive at a Nugget who actually provided our nation with a touch of joy and mirth. Anthony Carter was this year's biggest surpise after presumed starting point guard Chucky Atkins went down and stayed down with a groin injury. AC-eeeeeeeeeeee, as he is affectionately known by the Pepsi Center faithful, stepped into the starting role for the Nuggets about ten games into the season and maintained his position for the majority of the season from then on.

And it didn't take Carter long to show us all why he was truly the unsung hero on this team.
Anthony Carter came into this season with his career's future in an uncertain place. After his agent fumbled the ball and cost Anthony millions in contract extension money from the Miami Heat, Carter bounced from Seattle to Minnesota in very limited opportunity situations and posted the leanest numbers of his career up to that point. And it was in Minnesota where he posted his lowest numbers of his career by averaging just three points and three assists in the two years spent with the franchise. He was then picked up on a ten-day contract with the Nuggets at the end of last season and stuck around long enough for an opportunity to present itself to be seized.
They say one man's unfortunate turn of events is another's opportunity and for AC, Chucky Atkins' groin injury was a chance to re-establish himself in this league.
In a career-high number of games started (67), Carter posted his best offensive numbers straight across the board while also drawing the opposing team's most difficult backcourt match-up on most nights. AC averaged career-highs in minutes played (28), points (7.8), assists (5.5), assist to turnover ratio (3.1), rebounds (2.9), steals (1.5), free-throw percentage (75.3), field goal percentage (45.8), and made the most dramatic improvement in three-point shooting from a previous career-high of 26.7% to 35% this season.
And for that kind of effort Anthony Carter has earned a rock-solid B. Now, do I think he is the long-term answer for the Nuggets' woes at point guard? No, but at a meager $770,610 salary for services rendered Anthony Carter was worth every penny of that and then some. He is the kind of player that conducts himself with professionalism (you never hear a peep out of him in a negative context) and his charitable efforts as the spokesman for the "I Have a Dream Foundation" this season were second to none. Quiet, classy, yeoman, and humble are all words that summarize Anthony Carter's impact this season for the Nuggets. Management would be wise to keep this unrestricted free-agent as he has proven to be a valuable reserve while they continue to search for a more dynamic solution at the point.
Great season, AC-eeeeeee.
Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today is May 6th, and on this day:

'70- The Los Angeles Lakers converted 57 of 94 field goal attempts in a 135-113 Game 6 victory over New York in the NBA Finals. The Lakers’ field goal percentage of .606 set a record for an NBA Finals game that would last 15 years, and their 44 assists set an NBA record that stood for 17 years until it was tied by the 1987 Los Angeles Lakers.

'85- NBA legends Billy Cunningham, Tom Heinsohn and Red Holzman were among six men inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

'93- Shaquille O’Neal of Orlando is named the NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 23.4 points (eighth in the NBA), 13.9 rebounds (second) and 3.53 blocks per game (second), leading the Magic (41-41) to an improvement of 20 wins over the previous season.

'96- The Seattle SuperSonics (20) and Houston Rockets (13) combine for 33 three-point field goals made in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series, a 105-101 Seattle win. The 33 three-pointers made is the most ever in an NBA playoff game.

'96- Former NBA stars George Gervin, David Thompson, Gail Goodrich and George Yardley are four of the six individuals inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The other two inductees are Kresimir Cosic and Nancy Lieberman-Cline.
'97- Robert Horry of the Los Angeles Lakers sets an NBA playoff record by making all seven of his three-point field goal attempts in the Lakers’ 103-101 loss to the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

'98- Michael Jordan becomes the first player in history to be selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times when the NBA announced the 1997-98 NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams.

'98- Former Syracuse Nationals’ star Paul Seymour died after a long battle with heart disease at the age of 70.

'00- Indiana Pacers Reggie Miller and Jalen Rose each notched 40 points in the Pacers’ 108-91 triumph over Philadelphia in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Their productivity gained the duo entrance into an exclusive club, as they became the fourth pair of teammates in NBA history to score 40 or more points in the same playoff game. It was the first time the feat had been accomplished since May 5, 1995, when Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon scored 41 and 40 points, respectively, in a first-round game against Utah.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Report from Another Source

(Boulder-CO) Yahoo! Sports has a team report on the Nuggets for today's link offering. My personal favorite quote from the article is from a section titled, "Most Disappointing Player". The quote states, "The Nuggets signed Chucky Atkins to a three-year, $9.7 million contract last summer in hopes he would be the starting point guard. But Atkins, 33, was bothered by a groin strain and a sports hernia and played in just 24 games. Even when healthy, Atkins, who averaged 4.7 points and shot 34.4 percent, didn’t show a lot, leading some to believe he’s washed up."
I'm with the some.
Is Antonio Daniels available?

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 5th, and on this day:
'69- Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Sam Jones, two of Boston’s all-time greats, ended their Celtic careers with a 108-106 Game 7 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, giving Boston its 11th NBA championship in 13 years.

'81- Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, anticipating that his jumper from the right of the key during Game 1 of the 1981 NBA Finals against Houston was going to be off target, raced to the right baseline, grabbed the rebound with his right hand, switched the ball into his left hand as his momentum was taking him out of bounds and somehow laid it in the basket. Red Auerbach called it the greatest play he had ever seen, both for Bird’s physical ability to make the shot and his basketball instinct to get into position for the rebound. The Celtics won the game 98-95, and went on to take the series in six games.

'86- NBA legends Rick Barry, Walt Frazier and Pete Maravich were among five men inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

'95- Clyde Drexler scored a game-high 41 points and Hakeem Olajuwon added 40 to lead Houston to a 123-106 win over visiting Utah in Game 4 of their Western Conference First Round series. It marked the third time in NBA Playoff history that a pair of teammates had scored 40 or more points in the same game.

'98- Atlanta's Dikembe Mutombo is named the winner of the 1997-98 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, becoming the first player in NBA history to win the award three times.

'00- Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Bill Musselman died in the morning from complications from amyloidosis, a disease affecting the liver. He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. A moment of silence was observed at the Rose Garden on Sunday, May 7 before the Trail Blazers’ 94-75 victory over Utah in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series. The 59-year-old Musselman, a former NBA head coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, was in his third season with the Blazers.
Enjoy your day!

Player Report Card: Yakhouba Diawara

(Boulder-CO) The beginning of the season was once again filled with optimism for Yakhouba Diawara, but just like last year he again found himself lost on George Karl’s bench by season’s end.

And the reason is simple:

Yakhouba is a major liability on offense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “His defense is NBA, but his offense is CBA”.

And for a team that was supposedly going to focus on defense, as was the word from Karl’s mouth back in early October, Yakhouba still couldn’t even fit in because of his offensive woes. After appearing in 64 games, with 19 starts, for an average of 18 minutes last year, the Yak’s playing time declined to a mere ten minutes per game in 54 appearances with just 14 starts.

Now, after looking at ‘Khouba’s stats from this year in comparison to this year there are few things that jump right out at me. Despite the fact that all his overall numbers (2.8 points, 0.7 rebounds, and 1.1 rebounds) slid from last year, there was some positive signs for Diawara. For starters, both his three-point percentage and overall shooting percentage went up. From the field, Yakhouba was 41% this year after shooting only 34% the year before, and from deep he increased his percentage three points to 31%.

The only problem for Yakhouba are the tangible gains by his immediate competition for Karl’s minutes are far superior. Both J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza are swiftly developing into mainstream NBA names while the Yak continues to have his name mispronounced at opposing arenas. But, at just a few trips to the Pepsi Center more than $600,000 in annual salary things could be worse.

Nuggets brass is in the driver’s seat when it comes to Yakhouba’s future in the Mile High City because his $711,517 salary for next year’s services is only going to be payable if the team decides to exercise his option. Which, at this point, is anyone’s guess whether or not they will. I know George Karl likes his yeoman work ethic, and reports are that he is a good locker room guy to have around, but the fulcrum question is whether or not the Nuggets can afford to have a situation-only player on their roster.

My grading for Yakhouba is a D+. There wasn’t far for him to slide after meager numbers in his rookie season , but due to the circumstances aforementioned the Yak did just that and probably slid even farther from having much of a shot at contributing for this team in years to come.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 4th, and on this day:
'68 The Pittsburgh Pipers won the first ABA title with a 122-113 win over New Orleans.

'70- The New York Knicks, with Dave DeBusschere forced to play center against Wilt Chamberlain after a leg injury sidelined Willis Reed, nevertheless defeated Los Angeles 107-100 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Knicks ultimately captured their first NBA title with a Game 7 victory.

'94- Charles Barkley of Phoenix hit 23-of-31 field goal attempts and finished with 56 points, leading the visiting Suns to a 140-133 win over Golden State and a three-game sweep of their Western Conference First Round series. Barkley’s 56 points tied for the third-highest total ever in an NBA Playoff game, and his 38 points in the first half set a record. Sleepy Floyd holds the second-half scoring record in the NBA Playoffs with 39 points, which he scored in Golden State’s 129-121 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals.
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 3rd, and on this day:
'68- It is announced that the St. Louis Hawks would move to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season, under the guidance of new owners Tom Cousins and former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders.

'74- “Pistol” Pete Maravich was obtained by the expansion New Orleans Jazz from Atlanta in exchange for first-round draft picks in 1974 and 1975, second-round picks in 1975 and 1976, and the Jazz’ second and third selections in the expansion draft.

'81- The Boston Celtics wiped out a double-digit deficit in the second half for the third straight time and defeated Philadelphia 91-90 in Game 7 of a memorable Eastern Conference Finals series.

'87- Milwaukee beat Philadelphia 102-89 in the deciding Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series, the last game of Julius Erving’s illustrious 16-year professional basketball career in the NBA and ABA. Dr. J led the Sixers with 24 points.

'94- Golden State’s Chris Webber, who became the first rookie in NBA history to total over 1,000 points (1,333), 500 rebounds (694), 250 assists (272), 150 blocks (164) and 75 steals (93), was named the NBA Rookie of the Year.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Must-Watch Hoops TV

Oakland, California is the birthplace to more NBA basketball stars than any other city in the country. But there is a street ball legend named Demetrius "Hook" Mitchel who rises above them all.
At 5'9", he built his legendary street status by jumping over the top of a Volkswagon and slam dunking a basketball. As NBA superstar Jason Kidd puts it, "He could jump over a building."
Gary Payton, another NBA superstar and childhood friend asserts, "He was better than me, he was better than Jason (Kidd), Antonio (Davis), he was better than everybody."
But while Hook's childhood friends, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Antonio Davis, Brian Shaw, J.R. Rider and Greg Foster all ended up playing basketball in the NBA, Hook ended up incarcerated. From the drug and crime infested streets of West Oakland to the California Men's Penal Colony, Hook made all the wrong choices. The story of how "Hook" wound up incarcerated, while the buddies he grew up with skyrocketed to superstardom with multi-million dollar salaries, is told in this poignant tale of a life gone wrong."Hook" Mitchell is one of the greatest basketball player to never make it to the NBA.
Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell, the first film out on FADER Films, will air on ESPN Classic this Saturday, May 3rd at 2PM. Be sure to tune in and catch the compelling documentary of how the legendary "Hook" Mitchell became one of the greatest basketball player to never make the NBA.
Be sure to watch the trailer and tune in this weekend.

Big Names Named as Trade Bait Already

(Boulder-CO) Aaron Lopez and Chris Tomasson of The Rocky Moutain News have produced a blog entry where they (I'm not sure which one) state, "A source close to the situation called Camby the most likely of Denver's five big-salaried players (Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and Nene being the others) to be traded."
I expect this to be just one of many rumors that start to trickle out concerning one of the aforementioned getting traded. My feeling is that Carmelo is safe. Despite off the court concerns, he's too young and talented to just ship out of town this early in his career. Now, AI and his huge expiring contract could just as easily be shipped as Camby, but I highly doubt either Kenyon Martin or Nene, and their sizable salaries, are actually tradeable.
Tomasson also outlined the Nuggets roster, contract, and salary situations in a different article today. also provides detailed salary cap information.

Player Report Card: Chucky Atkins

(Boulder-CO) Here is a tough one. Chucky Atkins, fresh off of his best statistical season ever in Memphis, was thought to be by many the answer for the Denver Nuggets at point guard. A guy that could have extended the defense of the opposition around the three-point line due to being a career 36% long bomber while we all held our fingers crossed in hope of his ability to commandeer the Nuggets' high-power offense. Instead, Chucky went down with a groin injury -turned- sports hernia in the preseason and never made the slightest bit of difference.
While I still don't think Chucky is the right fit for the Nuggets (mainly because of his lack of size and defensive concerns) his situation is one that you have to look at sympathetically; especially now that the 6'6" J.R. Smith has emerged as the kind of shooter that puts eight-year veterans with durability issues into early retirements.
At the risk of sounding heartless, Chucky Atkins' season was a disaster. When he returned from hernia surgery his offense was out of sync and his defense was, shall we say, soft. Chucky appeared in just 24 games due to injury and posted the lowest numbers of his career with averages of 4.7 points and two assists. And injury aside, the grade for that kind of dip is a D. While not a complete failure, as would be the case if he would have not been injured, Chucky Atkins' acquisition proved to be the defensive liability I thought it would be and it left the Nuggets still in search of a point guard.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 2nd, and on this day:

'68 Bill Russell won his first NBA title as player-coach of the Celtics when Boston defeated the host Los Angeles Lakers 124-109 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Player Report Card: Steven Hunter

(Boulder-CO) A quick word about these player report cards and we'll get right into Steven Hunter. First and foremost, if you remember anything that I forgot to include feel free to speak up. It has been a long season and I certainly do not have total recall. Secondly, the grades assigned will reflect not only the player's overall statistical performance this year, but also will be determined by previous season's played. For instance, Anthony Carter had a career year in almost every statistical category (which is tremendous), but in addition his contributions will be evaluated by how they benefited the Nuggets overall this year. The last thing I would like to mention is how this year I'm going in order from least amount of games played to the most. This will surely mean that as we progress up the roster the reviews will become more lengthy and comprehensive.
Are we crystal?
So this year's low man on the totem pole is Steven Hunter. Steven appeared in a mere 19 games this season after starting the year with a relatively good shot to see some solid minutes. Granted, he did battle a knee injury early in the season, but I was very disappointed with the lack of Steven Hunter appearances this year especially when considering the injury to Nene.
My reasoning is simple: in Philly the season prior, Hunter produced his best statline across the board with 6.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in a career-high 70 games with 41 starts in an average of 22 minutes per game. Unfortunately, with the Nuggets Steven Hunter only saw action in a career-low 19 games averaging just a shade over six minutes per game. He also posted his leanest numbers of his six-year career with averages of just 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds.
As for grading a season like this I think it would only be fair to assign an INC for incomplete. We just didn't see enough of Steven Hunter for one reason or another. Whether or not that reason is correctable should determine if Hunter is on next year's roster.
Go Nuggets!

Todays Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is May 1st, and on this day:

'63 J. Walter Kennedy was named the NBA’s second President, succeeding Maurice Podoloff. The job title was later changed to Commissioner.

'70 The Los Angeles Lakers outscored New York 22-16 in the highest scoring overtime in NBA Playoff history, defeating the Knicks 121-115 in Game 4 of the Finals.

'80 Dallas is granted an expansion franchise, and the Mavericks bring the total number of NBA teams to 23.

'88 Michael Jordan of Chicago became the first player to score 50 or more points in consecutive playoff games when he drilled Cleveland for 55 points in Chicago’s 106-101 victory in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first round series. In Game 1 on April 28, Jordan scored 50 points in Chicago’s 104-93 victory.

'99 NBA referee Tommy Nunez, a 27-year veteran referee in the NBA, is presented with The Gold Whistle Award during halftime of the Phoenix Suns home game against the Vancouver Grizzlies. The award is presented annually to an official recognized for community involvement, achievement in officiating and a reputation of strong integrity and ethics.

'01 Harold “Happy” Hairston, a key member of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1972 NBA championship team that posted a 69-13 record and an 11-year NBA veteran, died in Los Angeles at age 58.

Enjoy your day!

Now We're Going to Get Tough?

(Boulder-CO) In a real gem of an article, George Karl says, "I think the players have kind of done it their way more often than doing it my way. As an organization, as a coaching staff, as a team, we're going to have to address that next year."

Well, well, well George how surprising to hear you admitting that things were, maybe, just a smidgen out of control... You certainly had all of us in the Nuggets Nation fooled. My only questions is why did it take until the end of the season for sudden this epiphany occur?
Protocol in professional sports is unbelievable.