Do the Nuggets know what they’re doing?

Hey statheads you may want to adjust your dials slightly. The numbers in this article are using the new and improved Wins Produced formula. If they’re a little off from your numbers you can find out why by reading the full tutorial here! I use numbers from the 2011, 2010 and 2009 seasons in this post.

This off-season has given me hope as a Nuggets fan. Somehow the Nuggets have managed to make good moves via trade, the draft, and now free agency. It’s very possible the Nuggets may know what they’re doing. Today I’ll quickly review the state of the Nuggets and reasons to be optimistic (and to be complete, maybe pessimistic).

Great: The Nuggets take care of business and re-sign their best player

Last season the Nuggets were in a tizzy over the possibility of losing Carmelo Anthony. It turns out that they really needed to worry about losing Nene. I’ll be using Patrick’s fantastic comparison engine to demonstrate.

Nene per 48 minute stats compared to an average center

Hilario 0.208 22.8 11.9 3.1 2.8 1.5 1.8 5.0
Average C 0.100 17.4 12.3 2.2 2.4 1.9 1.0 5.3

Nene Shooting comparison to an average center

FG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% eFG% TS% FTA
Hilario 61.5% 61.8% 20.0% 71.1% 61.5% 65.7% 8.4
Average C 51.5% 53.7% 35.5% 66.2% 51.8% 55.2% 5.1

Nene is a little worse than average when it comes to rebounding, blocking and stealing. That’s no surprise as Nene is not often thought of as a defensive powerhouse. However while he is slightly below average when it comes to D, he is amazing when it comes to offense. Nene was a huge reason the Nuggets had such a top offense. Re-signing him was key to the Nuggets 2011-12 season.

Great: The Nuggets actually do well in the draft

The Nuggets had a history of giving their draft picks away for overrated players. In fact Kenyon Martin and Allen Iverson were responsible for five first round picks going to other teams. When the Nuggets finally had a first round pick of their own, they used it well to pick up Kenneth Faried. He’s the perfect compliment to Nene and earned the Nuggets an A+ draft rating by our esteemed analyst Devin Dignam. I’ll even use the dreaded eye test to further show my optimism.

Good: The Nuggets pick up Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez was an under utilized piece in Portland. When Dallas picked him up I thought it was an amazing move by Dallas. That is until they sent him to the Nuggets for next to nothing. Here’s a brief rundown of Rudy’s recent performance

Rudy Fernandez’s performance 2009-2011
Player Season MP POS WP48 WP
Rudy Fernandez 2011 1821 1.9 0.117 4.43
Rudy Fernandez 2010 1441 2.0 0.151 4.54
Rudy Fernandez 2009 1993 2.0 0.178 7.38

His numbers last season were a bit down, but on the whole he has been a very productive player. The only problem is that he hasn’t gotten the minutes he needs. I hope that changes in Denver. He is a perfect replacement for J.R. Smith and comes with much less baggage.

Good: The Nuggets lose some “key” components to China

A byproduct of the lockout was the loss of J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler to China.

Denver Nuggets lost to China
Player MP POS WP48 WP
J.R. Smith 1968 2.5 0.140 5.75
Wilson Chandler 2401 3.0 0.081 4.04
Kenyon Martin 1233 4.0 0.114 2.93

Some viewed the loss of these players as a major blow to the Nuggets but  I view it a little differently. J.R. Smith’s contract was up and his constant battles with George Karl meant he was unlikely to return. Wilson Chandler was a decent player but was definitely overrated. By staying in China he prevented the Nuggets from making a bad decision to overpay him. Kenyon Martin put up decent numbers last season but lost significant time to injury. As he’s older — and has been injury prone his whole career — I don’t have a problem missing out on K-Mart. In short the Nuggets lost about 7 wins to China, but had the Nuggets re-signed Chandler and Martin they likely would have been overpriced and costly wins.

Bad: The Nuggets still have George Karl in control

One of my first posts was about how George Karl doesn’t allocated minutes properly.   This severely hurt the Nuggets in the playoffs last season. Karl will have some dangerous choices in terms of which players to give minutes to and choosing poorly could be bad.

Bad: The Nuggets have Corey Brewer and Al Harrington on the roster

Hopefully if you’re reading this a few months from now, Al Harrington will have been amnestied and Brewer will be traded to another team. Until that happens it is still possible that the gaps in the roster will be filled with these two players instead of the better options (hopefully if you’re reading this in the future we’ve also re-signed Arron Afflalo)

The terribleness that is Corey Brewer and Al Harrington
Player MP POS WP48 WP
Corey Brewer 1510 2.1 0.037 1.15
Al Harrington 1665 4.0 -0.040 -1.40

Summing up

After such a long post my advice to the Nuggets is remarkably simple: Play your good players a lot and keep Harrington and Brewer from every setting foot on the floor. With this basic advice I expect great things from the Nuggets. Of course as a Nuggets fan my hopes have been high before only to be dashed. So I’ll stay cautiously optimistic but still expect a winning season.


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