Following the Dwight Howard trade, the Denver Nuggets were able to snag Andre Iguodala and brought him to the Mile High City, but how will the addition affect the Nuggets when they face off against the Philadelphia 76ers?
Series Matchup 2011-2012: 1-0
Series Matchup 2012-2013: October 31st and March 21st
Ty Lawson has shown improvement every year that he’s been in the league — as most players should — and this season will prove no different. During the 2011-2012 season, he averaged 16.4 points on 48.8% shooting from the field, 6.6 assists, 1.3 steals and knocking down 36.5% from downtown.
Lawson is an efficient scoring machine and should have his way with Jrue Holiday who averaged 13.5 points on 43.2% from the field, 4.5 assists, and 38% from downtown. Although, Holiday has shown flashes of star potential all of his stats decreased from 2010-2011 from points (14), assists (6.5), and FG% (44.6%).
Denver has the point guard position on lock further with veteran Andre Miller — an underrated point guard as well — coming off of the bench. In conjunction with Miller’s half-court passes, the way he quarterback the offense mixed with Lawson’s athleticism and speed, Denver owns the point guard position in this matchup.
Newly acquired Iguodala will start at the shooting guard position and the Western Conference will have to deal with his tenacious defense regularly, as well as, Iguodala will get a taste of the run-and-gun west. Last season he averaged 12.4 points on 45.4% from the field, 6.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.7 steals, and scoring 39.4% from three-point land. Starting at the SG position for Philly is Jason Richardson who averaged 11.6 points on 40.8% shooting, and 36.8% from three-point land.
Despite his age, Richardson is still a decent three-point shooter, can still score, but his inconsistency for his all-around game will be an issue when Andre Iguodala — master defensive surgeon — is placed upon him. Nick Young, who averaged 14.2 points on 40.3% shooting and 36.5% from the perimeter, but once again Iguodala will attempt to cool down any hot hand that Young tries to formulate.
Starting at small forward for the Nuggets will be Danilo Gallinari, who had a bout of bad luck last season with not one, but too ill-timed injuries, obviously health is the number one priority for Gallinari. Speaking of injuries, Gallo is a game-time decision for their first meeting on Halloween. Despite only playing in 43 games last season, he averaged 14.6 points (second-lowest of his career) on 41.4% shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steal, and shooting 32.8% from beyond the arc.
Evan Turner will start at the SF position and averaged 9.4 points on 44.6% from the field, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. Turner has a talented offensive game, handles the ball well, and has a nice mid-range shot, but you won’t see him camping out from the three-point line. If Gallo does start, this position is a wrap, but Corey Brewer could also see some playing time, as well as Wilson Chandler.
Second-year player, Kenneth Faried, will start at the power forward position, and his first season with Denver was anything but dull. His 2011-2012 NBA averages were 10.2 points on 58.6% scoring, 7.7 rebounds, and 1 block. Faried who is still improving his defenses will be squaring off with Thaddeus Young who averaged 12.8 points on 50.8% shooting, 5.2 rebounds, and .7 blocks.
Young has only started two games over the past two seasons and off the bench he brought energy and offense from the bench — much like Kenneth Faried — but this season he looks to carve out a significant role as a starter. He thrives in a transition game where many power forwards fail to keep pace, but he will meet his proper match with Kenneth Faried. Faried cleans the glass, has the energetic step that will rival Young’s, and he has The Goonies “Never Say Die” approach. Both players are very athletic, and should be an entertaining show down.
Finally, we come to the center position which George Karl has admitted that Kosta Kousta will have the start over JaVale McGee or even Timofey Mozgov for that matter. For arguments sake, let’s use JaVale McGee as the starting center for the Nuggets.
Some will laugh at McGee, but somehow, someway, he works in Denver’s system. In addition, he has tremendous upside that will affect the young squad in a positive manner. Last season, he averaged (with Denver), 10.3 points on 61.2 shooting from the field, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks over 20 games with five of those he started. Lavoy Allen, who averaged 4.1 points on 47.3% shooting, 4.2 rebounds, and .4 blocks, will start at the center position since Bynum is still not clear to play yet.
Allen’s athleticism is just average, he does have a good mid-range jumper and a solid touch, but will that be enough to contend with McGee or Koufos? , McGee has an offensive repertoire compared to Jordan’s offensive skill-set that consists of dunking, not to mention his premier shot blocking skills. Koufos is a very durable and strong player, with the ability to finish strong at the rim. White JaVale has the talent for being a big, Kosta has the fundamentals and mentality in place that is earning him a start with Head Coach George Karl.
Looking at benches, Denver has a bench as deep as an ocean, which is helpful during the regular season — not so much during the post-season — as they have one of the best backup point guards in the game, Andre Miller, paired with Wilson Chandler, Jordan Hamilton, Corey Brewer, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph, Kosta Koufos, and Evan Fournier. Compared to the 76ers bench of Dorell Wright, Kwame Brown, Spencer Hawes, and Royal Ivey; Denver’s second unit is more loaded.
In comparing the two teams, the Nuggets are clearly the fastest of the two, but Philly shouldn’t be overlooked either, even with Andrew Bynum sitting out. Both teams do have one common factor — other than being active teams in the Dwight Howard trade — they both have a reasonable amount of time to cohere and find their offensive — and defensive — rhythm again. With that being said, Philadelphia traded away plenty of its perimeter talent along with defense, and that could pose a problem.
Series Prediction: 2-0; Denver Nuggets