The Nuggets defeated the Chicago Bulls in overtime 119-118. I know the sports culture is that any win is a win and is always better than a loss. In that way I guess I’m different. Reviewing this Nuggets win just makes me angry. Let’s go over the big reason why.
Bad Players have good games
Let’s be candid, the Nuggets probably don’t win this game without Wilson Chandler. His shooting was amazing and the rest of his stats were good or close to average. His overall game was sick. The issue I have is that bad players can have good games. We don’t even need to look any further than the Boston-Miami game that happened tonight. Jeff Green managed to duel LeBron and score 43 points. Of course, he lost to LeBron’s clutch last second shot! A funny note on that. When Jeff Green got to 38 points I did a quick scan at Basketball Reference. How many players have managed to put up 38 or more points against the Heat since LeBron joined? Including Jeff Green, we’re at 7!
- Paul Millsap – 46
- Jeff Green – 43
- Carmelo Anthony – 42
- Kevin Durant – 40
- Jordan Crawford – 39
- Andrea Bargnani – 38
- Nick Young – 38
Fun tangent, only Millsap’s team came away with a win. Now, I’ll give you that Paul Millsap and Kevin Durant are very good players. Melo has been pretty much average the last five or so seasons. The other players? All of them are terrible! Yet, they were able to score insanely well against the best team of the last three seasons.
The problem with Chandler having a good game is that it reinforces the notion that he should be getting minutes. A mere game ago against Memphis he shot a terrible 2-9. Even with his great shooting tonight his shooting efficiency is below average for a forward in the NBA. I will give one comment on Chandler’s shooting (via ESPN):
Chandler’s shot selection was ridiculously good. When I saw only three 3-point attempts I was worried. Chandler only took one midrange jumper and the rest of his shots were in the paint or from deep. The thing is that Chandler has taken around 40% of his shots from midrange this season. Has he turned a new leaf? Will Chandler finally live up to his potential? I doubt it. If it turns out I’m wrong though, that’s fine too.
Chandler has played 22 games this season where he’s played 20 minutes or more. Of those, 13 were below average games. Now, an argument in Chandler’s favor is that he’s played a few really big games, guess what? He’s played some really terrible game (for specifics check out 3/15 against Memphis, 2/27 against Portland and 10/31 against Philadelphia) It’s not a calculated gamble to give Chandler minutes and shots. It’s playing a bad player, who will often play poorly, occasionally play well, and just as occasionally play terribly. And I’ll argue that if you give any NBA player enough minutes and shots as well as enough tries, they’ll eventually have a good game.
A good game from a bad player under a coach that has poor decision making processes isn’t good for a hardcore fan. The Nuggets got a lucky win tonight. The cost though is that Chandler will likely get more shots and more minutes. George Karl‘s bad habits are also getting more cred. He played JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, and Kenneth Faried all less than 24 minutes! In the face of a 35 point game from the player he’s been using instead of Faried and a 12th straight, do you honestly think anyone is going to say Karl has been coaching poorly?