Denver Nuggets: Why They Are The Most Dangerous Team In The West

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Photo Credit: PaGuy1955, Flickr.com

The Denver Nuggets are on a nine-game winning streak and no one has yet to pay any serious attention on their success.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that Denver’s balanced roster doesn’t consist of the big name. Andre Iguodala is about as close as anyone the Nuggets have that can fit that bill.

However, the Nuggets shouldn’t be written off just because they lack a superstar player. In fact, this equilibrium throughout their roster makes them less susceptible to prolonged losing streaks. And for Western Conference teams, the Nuggets are a team to avoid in the playoffs.

When you think of teams that teams want to avoid, you think of the obvious. Teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers all fall into this category. The Thunder have Kevin Durant, the Spurs have Tim Duncan and the Clippers have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Those four names carry attraction alone.

Names that don’t fall into the relevance category are, well, most players on the Nuggets’ roster. Ty Lawson is rarely mentioned as one of the league’s primer point guards. Yet he’s 10th in the NBA in assists among point guards and 11th in points. To boot, he’s averaging nearly 20 points and nine assists over his last six games.

No, Lawson isn’t considered an elite point guard. Truth be told, he’s not on the platform yet. He doesn’t need to be, though, because the Nuggets play team basketball.

During their nine-game winning streak, the Nuggets are averaging 25.9 assists per game, which ranks second in the league. This little tidbit is yet another justification of their “team” basketball theme.

Those nearly 26 assists per game don’t come from the perimeter, however. Denver is different in that their frontcourt does most of the heavy-lifting offensively. The Nuggets rank No. 1 in the NBA when it comes to taking shots in the five-to-zero-foot range and more than 64 percent of their shots are 2-pointers.

Of course, if the Nuggets could shoot the ball even decently, they’d be even more dangerous. But this doesn’t seem to be in the cards. No one on the team has a 3-point shooting percentage of 40 percent or more, and in turn, the Nuggets, as team, are the fourth worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA.

In other words, they’re the exact opposite of the Knicks. The Knicks have shooters from the top to bottom of their roster, and they heavily rely on good 3-point shooting to win. That’s risky. And it’s also why a slew of pundits don’t view them as legitimate championship contenders.

See, if their 3-point shooting light switch was to be flicked off, they’d be hopeless. In retrospect, the Nuggets won’t fall like flies if something goes wrong. Their interior game is simple to run consistently, and obviously, closer shots are easier than 24-footers.

As for their subtle flaws…

Many pundits are quick to point out the fact that George Karl’s club plays at a very quick pace, which is 100 percent true, as Denver’s pace factors trails just the Houston Rockets for the NBA’s top spot.

However, those same experts shouldn’t use Denver’s pace as a point of criticism. The natural tendency among basketball people is that championship teams don’t play at a fast pace. The Mike D’Antoni version of the Phoenix Suns started this trend, proving that little defense paired with a lot of offense isn’t the formula for a championship. Those Suns, in hindsight, relied heavily on perimeter shooting, like the New York Knicks.

But, let’s take a gander at some of the league’s best and their respective pace factors. For instance, the Spurs rank fifth in the pace department and the Thunder rank seventh. If I’m not mistaken, those two teams are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the West, respectively.

So no, Denver’s quicker pace shouldn’t or isn’t the end all, be all. If anything, it makes them more dangerous compounded with their elite inside play. Better yet, the Nuggets are equipped to play at a quicker pace given their young roster, as Andre Miller is the only one on the Nuggets’ roster who is older than 30.

It’s time to start recognizing the Denver Nuggets. They have the weapons to make a deep playoff push, and their consistency will bode well in the playoffs. For now, though, I think they’ll take the underdog role despite technically being one of the NBA’s most dangerous teams.

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