nah, just kidding…the days of me twitter-ranting about how the one thing the nuggets need to do to break into the highest echelon of teams is #guardthethree are long gone. this nuggets team has far more significant issues to deal with (although they still suck at guarding the three: opponents are shooting 44% from 3 in nuggets losses but are only shooting 29% in nuggets wins, and the nuggets have failed to win a game when opponents shoot better than 38% from 3…i’m never going to let this go…).
but enough about three pointers. let’s talk holistically.
when the season started, Chris Dempsey (the Denver Post sports writer, not the soccer player) conducted an informal twitter poll asking fans how many wins the nuggets would end up with this season. contradicting my naturally optimistic personality, i went with an answer that fell on the low side of the responses:
a little over a tenth of the way through the season, and the nuggets are 4-5 and on pace for 36 wins. the slightly better (or worse, if you’re arguing the nuggets should tank) news is that a model that i developed to estimate a team’s wins over the course of a season is currently projecting that the team will get to 43 wins. either way, the nuggets aren’t looking good.
for the optimists, there are a lot of good arguments that can be made that suggest the team will get much better throughout the course of the year: it takes awhile for the roster additions to figure out how they fit into the team, it’ll take awhile for the players to learn the system, the team will be drastically improved when gallinari returns, and so forth.
but there are perhaps more convincing arguments that can be made that suggest this team is headed for mediocrity: randy foye is our starting shooting guard (player efficiency rating of 8.57 — half the league average and ranking 58 out of 64 shooting guards in the league), neither of our power forwards can play defense (allowing 106 and 103 points per 100 possessions, compared to the league average of 101), the coach is sticking to an inside-out system that would be better suited for pretty much every other team in the league, and so forth… none of these things will change drastically over time as the players “get used to the system” or when gallo gets healthy. at the end of the day, this team just isn’t that good and it’s being forced to play a style that doesn’t fit the talents of the players.
in summary, i came into this season fully expecting the nuggets to do their best milwaukee bucks impression and settle into that nba dead zone that is the 8th seed playoff contender. and i haven’t been disappointed thus far. looks like the nuggets are headed for no playoffs and a marginally useful lottery pick, which should set them up perfectly to do the exact same thing next year…