The 28-18 Denver Nuggets had a bevy of expectations placed on their strong shoulders in the off-season; after all, they were able to trade for Andre Iguodala and things were expected to magically cohere together.
Fast forward to the first 20 games, Denver was the picture child of basketball purgatory. They had the talent, skill-set, and even the environment to be one of the better teams in the NBA, but underutilization of rotations, the trouble of adapting to the dribble-drive motion offense, inconsistent perimeter shooters, shoddy free-throw shooting left something to be desired.
So, yeah, the Denver Nuggets were in basketball purgatory; in this place between being a lottery team and being an above average team. The Nuggets were a copious discombobulated team.
That was then, when their road heavy schedule had the team masquerading as if it was this lottery team waffling from win to loss and loss to win. Despite the outpouring of cries from the likes of analysts, fanalysts, and individuals like myself there were early demands of “blowing” the team up. Attempting to settle down a rattled fan base with rational thinking is similar trying to argue with a fanatic. It’s a wasted effort, but low and behold – and thanks to a home-heavy schedule – the Denver Nuggets have been playing exceptional basketball.
They’ve went 18-8 since the 10-10 start with only 8 recorded losses since December 7th and more importantly only 6 losses in 47 days.
47 days. 6 losses.
Yes, the Nuggets are certainly playing some frighteningly impressive basketball.
Since that December 7th date, Denver has shot 47.4% FG, 34.5% 3P, and averaging 105.1 points.
Breaking it down by each quarter, while many of the shooting percentages are in the similar area, there is a clear difference in the third quarter. During this quarter, Denver is shooting 50.9% FG, 27.4 assists ( nearly 3 above game average), a + 16, and this little doozy: during the 3rd quarter since December 7th, Denver is hitting 45.1% of their perimeter shots. That’s an enormous increase over their paltry 34%.
Outside of overtime, the third quarter is also the time where Denver records the greatest eFG% at 56.1 via NBA.com/Stats.
It’s not only team offense that is visibly improved, but players such as Ty Lawson or Danilo Gallinari that struggled early on, are performing effectively during this period.
Gallinari is shooting 45.2% FG, 42.9% 3P, 82.6% FT, and scoring 18.0 points; so those that do state that Gallinari is still struggling aren’t delving deeper into his scoring and clutch numbers.
Lawson is also coming around with 45% FG, 38.9% 3P, 79.3% FT, 6.6 assists, and 1.2 steals.
Even Andre Iguodala who has admitted his struggles has had an efficient turnaround the last 3 games: 15.7 points, 45.9% FG, 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2 steals, and .7 turnovers.
Needless to say, Denver is improving every practice, every game, and while I can’t see the future, the Denver Nuggets are playing an impressive brand of basketball.