Hi everyone, are you ready for the Mavericks-Nuggets prime time
death match basketball game tonight? Well if not, we have you covered. Nate Timmons, one of the managing editors over at Denver Stiffs, stopped by to answer a few questions about the Nuggets' season, injuries, and how the two teams now match up against each other since the last time they faced off.
The Nuggets seemed to be fringe playoff contenders after a pretty good start to the season. And then lately...well, not so much. I know injuries have been an issue. What happened?
It has been difficult pinpointing Denver's issues this season. Before Lawson's rib injury, the team was just 22-23. So, the roller-coaster season hasn't been all injuries. We've seen wacky player rotations by first year head coach Brian Shaw, we've seen odd efforts out of the team on a nightly basis, and frankly this team just isn't that talented to not do the little things right every night.
After Lawson went down though, things have really been tough. Nate Robinson tore his ACL just a game after Lawson's injury and that really put the team in a pinch as Randy Foye slid over to run the point. Looking for positives, it has been good seeing Shaw play some of the young guys and, for better or worse, a lot of fans are looking forward to the NBA lottery. Wake us up when this nightmare season is over!
Denver made a couple of moves at the trade deadline. How has that changed the team, if at all?
Andre Miller's falling out with the team was one of the more bizarre things that has happened in Denver in some time. And that's with a team that has employed J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Allen Iverson. His departure to Washington was expected. A little more under the radar was the benching of Jordan Hamilton after the "Miller/Shaw incident". Before that, Hamilton was averaging about 19 minutes per game ... then he got benched for almost all of January, played a few games in February, and then was traded to the Rockets.
The additions of Aaron Brooks (from Houston) and Jan Vesely (from Washington) have had little impact on the court. Brooks can score a little bit and Vesely plays hard, but neither is or was expected to do too much. Brooks is a respected guy in the locker room and having the work ethics of both guys in practice is welcomed on a team that has had their professionalism questioned by the coach.
The Nuggets handled the Mavs pretty easily in their home-and-home series back in November. What is it about this Nuggets team that gives the Mavs fits? Do those same things still exist? (Please say no.)
The Nuggets of November are gone, so no worries there. When the two teams met earlier in the season, the Nuggets offense was clicking a bit and the team rose to the challenge of their better opponents, Dallas being one of them. Now? The team is really really struggling on the defensive end to make any sort of stops (especially inside) and offensively they are not shooting the ball well.
If you could have one Mavericks player (other than Dirk) on the Nuggets, who would you take and why?
I swear I don't mean this in a bad way, but I don't think I'd take anyone off the Mavs if Dirk is off the table.
Outside of Dirk, the Nuggets and the Mavs have pretty comparable rosters. Neither team features a dominant inside scoring presence and Sam Dalembert is not a young shot blocker anymore. There is a temptation to say Monta here, but I wasn't a fan of his inefficient scoring in Milwaukee and the Nuggets don't have a Dirk type that would draw enough attention to free him up.
Don't get me wrong, I think the Mavs could be a tough draw in the post-season for any of the top teams out West, but I don't see a building block guy on the roster that would blend with where the Nuggets are headed.
(An aside, Shane Larkin reminds me a lot of Ty Lawson. I liked what I saw in his game coming out of Miami and I think he has the potential to be a very good player for the Mavs, but Denver doesn't need another Lawson.)
What is the biggest thing you'd like people to know about this Nuggets team?
If VCRs were still around and I could get my hands on a magical one, I'd press the Fast Forward button on the rest of this season. The Nuggets haven't had a losing record to finish a season since the 2002-03 season (17-65). That was the year before the team drafted Carmelo Anthony and signed free agent Andre Miller.
Fans are trying to figure out what direction the team is going. We are heading towards our first off-season where many fans actually expect big moves to be made. There are questions surrounding pretty much every guy on the roster. And for the first time in a long time, fans are already looking forward to what will happen after the season. It's strange to see the team out of the playoff picture.