Faried is Denver Nuggets game changer

February 22nd, 2012
KennethFaried 300x219 Faried is Denver Nuggets game changer

Kenneth Faried Denver Nuggets

Faried is Denver Nuggets game changerWhen the Nuggets used the No. 22 pick of the 2011 draft on 6’8” and 230 pound Kenneth Faried, it was an intriguing selection. The forward out of Morehead State set the NCAA Division I modern-day rebounding record and was on his way to a team sorely in need of interior toughness. And toughness is just one of Faried’s game-changing assets …

As a member of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, (San Anotnio Spurs) Tim Duncan collected 1,570 career rebounds in his four seasons at the school. The 1996-97 campaign marked Duncan’s senior season where he set the rebounding mark (that has been tracked since 1973) that stood until Faried shattered it during his senior season (2010-11).

Faried’s new record sits at 1,673 and with the rarity of players staying four seasons in college; his record could last longer than the 14-year stretch of Duncan’s.

The Nuggets knew they were getting a fierce rebounder when they selected Faried and with so many questions facing the team heading into the current season, his role could have been a lot different. But the Nuggets were able to re-sign Nene Hilario and the emergence of Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos coupled with Chris Andersen and Al Harrington left Denver with a very crowded front-court. Two positions, just 96 minutes to divvy up, and five NBA battle tested players sitting in front of you on the depth chart … not exactly green pastures for the rookie.

Blessed with off-the-charts athleticism and a nose for the ball, it wasn’t going to be the hustle columns where Faried was lacking. His offensive game needs development, but he has been better than advertised. Faried has shown some moves in the post that have impressed and shown some maturity as he’s shooting 50% from the field. Sure, he hasn’t taken a lot of shots outside of the paint, but that’s where he should be playing. His free throw shooting has been decent for a young big man at 70.5% (24-34) on the season (an improvement over the 57.7% he shot in his final season at Morehead).

It took awhile for Karl to find consistent minutes for Faried, and it’s no secret that injuries to Danilo Gallinari, Nene, and Mozgov forced the Coach’s hand. Will Karl be able to put Faried back on the shelf once his team is healthy again? Through the first 21 games of the 2011-12 season, Faried appeared in just three games. Through 26 games, Faried appeared three more times for a total of six appearances. And over the last seven games, Faried has played in them all as he’s averaging 19.3 minutes per game and a bit of an anomaly from the Feb. 20th overtime Timberwolves game that I didn’t include where he logged a season-high 36 minutes.

Nuggets Nation should hope that Karl continues to find minutes for the exciting rookie. As we saw last night (Feb. 20th) Faried is just getting better and better as the season is wearing on and his energy and nose for the ball are difference making aspects of the game that he is using to stand-out.

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Preview Mavericks Vs Nuggets February 8th 2012

February 8th, 2012

Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets
NBA / Western Conference

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO @ 9:00 PM EST

Analysis of the Dallas Mavericks
The defending champions are getting off to a bit of a rough start this year, beginning 14-11 with a couple of tough three game loss streaks. However, their stellar defense and veteran leadership have still propelled them to 8th place in the Western Conference, and most of the losses they have suffered have come against good teams (the Heat, Thunder, Pacers, & Clippers to name a few). Not exactly the quick start that happened last season, but nothing that fans should be overly worried about.

Analysis of the Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets were defined last year by the trading of Carmelo Anthony to New York, receiving a couple great pieces and draft picks in return. The trade was thought to help make New York a powerhouse squad but has in fact made the Nuggets, 15-10 on the year, a more dangerous opponent. An extremely spread out team, 6 players currently average double figures in points per game on the highest scoring ball club in the NBA this year.

Key Players
Dallas Mavericks: Jason Terry
With PG Jason Kidd potentially out, the Mavericks will be relying on both Terry and Nowitski to carry their team through the much tougher Western Conference games. Nowitski isn’t a question though; he’ll put up 20-8 every night. The question is whether or not Terry will be able to step up in Kidd’s absence.

Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson
Though nursing a hurt ankle PG Ty Lawson should play, and he must if the Nuggets want to win this game. Leading scorer Danilo Gallinari is out for upwards of a month with a severe ankle sprain and Lawson must play well to try and make up for that loss. As well, the lack of Jason Kidd on the other side of the ball should allow for Lawson to have a much better matchup on the court. He has to take advantage.

Key Statistics
Points per game:
Denver scores the most in the league, averaging 104 points scored each time out. Dallas is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA though, only allowing about 90 points every night. This game will come down to the unstoppable force (Denver’s offense) versus an immoveable object (Dallas’s defense); whichever team lets up will lose.

The Nuggets have been a bit of a surprise this year and the Mavericks a bit of a disappointment. That said, it will still be a well-played game. Injuries are hurting both teams badly, but ultimately I think that Denver’s depth will be able to overcome their injury bug while Dallas will end up not being able to put it together defensively, decisively losing a tough road matchup.

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Prediction = Denver Nuggets: 98 – Dallas Mavericks: 78

The Rise of Danilo Gallinari

February 4th, 2012

The Rise of Danilo Gallinari

In July of 2007, the Orlando Magic changed the landscape of not only their team but of the NBA as a whole by signing Rashard Lewis to an absurd contract.  While Lewis was always a decent 2nd option on some mediocre Seattle teams in the early part of the decade, his excellent shooting skills and ability to rebound a bit and create his own shot did not make up for his so-called matador defense.  The Magic apparently loved this about Rashard and gave him a six year max contract worth $113 million.  Today, the Washington Wizards bear that contract and it may take both the Magic and the Wizards a full decade to get over the Lewis contract, much like the Isaiah Thomas-led New York Knicks of the early 2000s.  A player that may one day find himself in a similar situation is current 1st option the Denver Nuggets, Danilo Gallinari.  Presently, Gallinari is in a contract year making around $4.2 million a year, which is a fantastic steal for the Nuggets.  However, after this season, Danilo becomes a free agent without a team option.

Gallinari is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA and has a tall, lanky frame not too unlike Rashard Lewis.  He has gradually become better at acquiring his own shot in traffic, just like Rashard, and is also a decent rebounder.  Also like Lewis, he does not play very much defense.  Growing up in Italy, Gallinari is very much a product of the European style of basketball.  Current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni recruited Gallinari and hoped to mold him into his prototypical SF/PF hybrid who is deadly spotting up from beyond the arc.  When the Knicks had the chance to acquire Carmelo Anthony, who is arguably one of the most talented players in the league, for Gallinari and fillers, the Knicks could not resist the opportunity to begin creating their own “Big 3″ to rival Miami, Boston, the Lakers, and the Spurs.  Gallinari plus fillers was a great deal for them, or so they thought.  So far this year, though, it is the Denver Nuggets who have reaped the most benefits of the trade and the Knicks are reeling out of playoff contention.

Gallinari’s stats look nearly identical to previous seasons with one major difference:  he is getting to the free throw line more easily.  This means Gallinari’s aggression is gradually maturing and he actively wants to handle the scoring burden–a great sign.  Gallinari is still just 23 years old, and at 6’10, he can guard–or at least pretend to guard–Small Forwards and some stretch Power Forwards.  In the past two seasons, Gallinari’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) has increased dramatically, despite having a similar Usage Percentage and similar number of shot attempts.  In the 2009 and 2010 campaigns, Gallinari’s PER was 14.8 and 15.7 respectively.  This year he is at 20.1, right in the mix for one of the top 25 PERs in the league.  Part of the reason is that his assist percentage has nearly doubled and he is turning the ball over less than before.  He is also playing better defense statistically, lowering his defensive rating from 111 last year to 102 this year (for this number, lower is better!).  If Gallinari continues to develop a little each season, by the time he is 27 or 28 and entering his prime he should surely be an All Star caliber player.  However, much depends on the contract he gets.  Will the Nuggets pay him what he deserves, which is probably anywhere between $9 million and $11 million, or will some team like New Orleans Hornets or Sacramento Kings attempt to poach him away with an enormous contract a la Rashard Lewis?

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Nuggets beat Clippers 112-91 behind Gallinaris 21

February 3rd, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points, including all five of his 3-pointers, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Clippers 112-91 Thursday night, ending Los Angeles’ season-high four-game winning streak that included a victory over the Nuggets last weekend.

Ty Lawson added 18 points, Arron Afflalo 15 and Timofey Mozgov 11 for the Nuggets, who had lost two straight overall and three in a row to the Clippers, their longest active losing streak against any team.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 18 points, Chris Paul added 15 points and nine assists, and Caron Butler had 11 after missing Wednesday night’s win at Utah with a sore lower back. Earlier Thursday, Griffin and Paul were voted to the starting lineup for the All-Star game, giving the Clippers two players on the team for the first time since 1976.

The Nuggets pulled away with a dominant third quarter in which they outscored the Clippers 32-16 while shooting 65 percent. Gallinari hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the quarter, and Al Harrington closed it with two straight 3-pointers. In between, Mozgov had nine points while Los Angeles slumped to 7 of 19 from the floor. Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Clippers closed within 10 points midway through the period before getting outscored 14-5 going into the fourth.

All five of the Clippers’ starters began the fourth on the bench, although Paul checked in 2:10 into the period with his team trailing by 21. He was the only starter to return and he sat down for good a couple minutes later, leaving Mo Williams to run a second unit that never posed a threat. Williams finished with 13 and Randy Foye 17.

Chauncey Billups, who had 32 points in the Clippers’ 109-105 win at Denver on Sunday, had eight points and three assists against his old team.

The Clippers led most of the first half before Denver outscored them 9-4 to lead 54-51 at the break.

NOTES: Nuggets reserve G-F Corey Brewer wasn’t with the team for personal reasons. Coach George Karl said he thought Brewer could be out the rest of the week. … Billups played in his 1,000th career NBA game as did former Clipper Andre Miller. … Rihanna, Billy Crystal and Don Cheadle were among the sellout crowd that included retired Nuggets coach Dan Issel

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