One quarter of the way into the season, ask me my most disappointing team and I’ll say the Denver Nuggets. Sure, the Lakers and Pacers can be on that list too, but I came into this season with high hopes for the Nuggets to be a very entertaining team, only to see them 11-12 and listless.
They are not running teams out of the building with all those athletes like expected and hoped for — Andre Iguodala added to this roster was supposed to improve their defense and let them flourish in transition. Instead Iguodala’s game has taken a step back, their defense has been worse than last season, and teams that don’t defend can’t run taking the ball out of the basket. When they do run, the are 21st in the league in scoring efficiency, reports Synergy Sports. It’s nothing like what was planned.
What went wrong? Well a few things, but former NBA coach and current ESPN analyst Flip Saunders told KFAN 100.3 FM in Minnesota the problem starts with how they are using Iguodala (transcribed by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post).
“Their biggest thing which hurt them was they got rid of Arron Afflalo, who could knock down 3s, gave them a toughness, and they brought in Andre Iguodala — but he’s really not a two, he’s more of a three. So what happened is they don’t have that solid two. I’ve never liked him as a two, I always thought he was better at a three. So they have a little bit of a logjam.”
Afflalo is a glue guy — defends, knocks down threes, efficient. But the Sixers pieces — Iggy, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and so on — should fit together better than they do. Denver is not getting what they expected or paid for out of JaVale McGee for sure, but this is more than that. Iguodala is clearly struggling with his role and being a scorer more than a guy making plays with the ball in his hands.
But for me it all starts on the defensive end — they don’t need to be the Chicago Bulls but they have to get stops and force turnovers or they can’t use all that athleticism and speed in transition. Denver is bottom 10 in turnovers forced per game. If Denver starts to defend better they can start to play to their strengths.
And maybe Iggy will find his footing.