Sometimes the Nuggets remind you of a 4×100 relay team at a track meet. They sprinted to 35 points in the first quarter and the Lakers had no answer. Denver finished with 33 points on the fast break, the Lakers three; L.A. was also outscored 78-50 in the paint because they allowed a lot of dunks and layups.
When the New York Knicks gave up a sizable chunk of solid players to acquire the services of Carmelo Anthony in the 2010-2011 season, many – especially the team’s fan base – believed that the team simply gave up too much for the scorer that too often focused on only one end of the floor.
That especially appeared to be the case last season, when the Knicks struggled to an 8-15 record before the height of Linsanity, while the Nuggets were flourishing in the competitive Western Conference with one of the deeper teams in the league.
Fast forward to the current season, though, and the storybook has completely flipped in favor of the Knicks.
Anthony suddenly looks like a changed player and is doing things that most never thought he was capable of doing: getting after it on the defensive end. Meanwhile, Wilson Chandler has been largely ineffective thus far as he continues to recover from offseason hip surgery, Timofey Mozgov appears to be a marginal player at best and Danilo Gallinari is shooting a paltry 27.9 percent from the field as he tries to play through a sore ankle.
So to answer Bill Simmons’ question, are there any Knicks fans out there that would pull the trigger to acquire the struggling threesome of the Nuggets for Anthony now?
Head-to-head caught on and passed Roto in popularity because it has a bit more action over the long NBA season. While both are games of skill, luck plays a larger part in H2H success, as it’s really a series of one-week “seasons.”
If you’re a fan of action, enjoy testing your skill and understand that a basketball takes weird bounces sometimes, even H2H moves at a glacial pace compared to daily leagues. FanDuel offers one-day salary cap points leagues, which are challenging and fun. The $1,000 Tournament for Sheridan Hoops readers closes at 7:00 EDT this Wednesday.
There’s a $2 entry fee per team; you can enter up to five teams. Pick nine players (2 PG, 2 SG, 2 SF, 2 PF, 1 C) without exceeding the $60,000 cap. Only six categories count in the scoring system — PTS = 1pt, REB = 1pt, AST = 1pt, BLK = 2pts, STL = 2pts, TO = -1pt — and whoever scores the most fantasy points wins $200 cash, available the next day via PayPal. Second place is worth $125, third $100 and even 52nd through 61st earn $4, double your money. It’s limited to 555 teams; my roster will keep changing until the deadline.
There’s an even bigger (as in enormous) tournament at FanDuel that I just entered; click through to Page 4 to see how you could win a trip to Las Vegas and $50,000 cash.
Injury News You Can Use
Eric Gordon (knee) did contact drills and participated in a short scrimmage yesterday, says John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. While coach Monty Williams remains non-commital, it sounds like Gordon might play limited minutes in Wednesday’s opening game. Teammate Austin Rivers (ankle) is OK.
Kobe Bryant (foot) is limping and has yet to practice. He’s had an MRI and is officially day-to-day. The Lakers’ 4-game slate this week (starting with a back-to-back) is a blessing and a curse to Kobe owners who must set weekly lineups. I would use him — his pain threshold is legendary — but don’t be surprised if he’s not himself, or sits out at least one game.
Chris Kaman (calf) will travel with the Mavs for their first two games, which doesn’t guarantee he’ll play. Dallas signed Eddy Curry to help up front until Kaman is 100%.
Jeff Teague (ankle) and Zaza Pachulia (ankle) aren’t certain to play the first Hawks game. Whether he starts at PG or SG, Devin Harris could be useful.
Kirk Hinrich (groin) may not be 100%, but we expect him to give it a try. The only backup PG for the Bulls is Nate Robinson, making him a decent Week 1 streamer if Hinrich can’t go, or plays limited minutes.
(This is another in a series of 30 guest columns that will run in October, when optimism reigns supreme across the NBA. The theme will be “Five Reasons to Feel Positive About … ” We encourage you to follow the authors on Twitter and visit their sites. – CS)
In the wake of the Carmelo Anthony trade and the departures of Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith – the ending of the “Thuggets” era – Denver Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and coach George Karl have done a masterful job of assembling a team of character-first players with depth at every position.
Having done so, many are thinking big things for the 2012-13 Nuggets, going as far as comparing them to the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons – the only NBA team since 1980 to win a championship without a bona fide superstar (or superstars) leading the way. And thus, expectations and optimism are more than a Mile High for the Nuggets in Denver this season.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t square with the reality of what’s happening around the Nuggets in the Western Conference. En route to the 2004 title and another NBA Finals appearance in 2005 by way of a weak Eastern Conference, the mid-aughties Pistons never had to face the likes of this season’s Lakers, Thunder or Spurs – or even the quality of this season’s Clippers and Grizzlies, for that matter.
Lest we forget that as soon as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James elevated their games to superstar status, those Pistons never made it back to the NBA Finals.
So we as Nuggets fans need to temper our enthusiasm and be more realistic with our expectations for this team. This fan in particular would be thrilled to see the Nuggets again win 50 games and get into the second round – something that has happened just once during Denver’s current run of nine straight playoff
appearances dating to 2004.
The Nuggets can and should get into the second round in 2013, and here’s five reasons why.
1. Two Starting Fives
While most teams – even the good ones – struggle to field a solid starting five, never mind a decent bench, the Nuggets go 11 deep. That’s right, 11 deep.
After assembling a solid starting five presumed to be Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried at forward, JaVale McGee at center and Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala manning the backcourt, the Nuggets have a backup point guard in Andre Miller that would start on 10 NBA teams, two backup centers in Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos (yes, Kosta Koufos) that might start on 15 NBA teams, and a backup small forward in Wilson Chandler that would start on 20 NBA teams.
Throw in a vastly improved Jordan Hamilton and exciting French rookie Evan Fournier, and the Nuggets will be able to come at opponents in waves – almost like a hockey team that changes lines throughout the game.
The Western Conference, as we’ve become accustomed to, is once again stacked with playoff-level teams. This means one or more of those teams will miss the playoffs due to the level of competition, even if they end up with a winning record. The Mavericks could end up being one of those teams if Dirk Nowitzki, who has a swollen knee that has yet to improve, misses an extended period of time this season. See how the sharp-shooting big man plans to handle his situation, what Deron Williams told Billy King about Dwight Howard in the offseason, what Kobe Bryant hopes to get out of Dwight Howard and more below:
- Dirk Nowitzki is having knee issues again, and it could lead to surgery if there is no improvement, from Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: “Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t want to sound any alarms, but he also wants to be realistic. For the second training camp in a row, his right knee is sore and swollen. Last season, it took nearly two months to get right. Now, it’s back and Nowitzki would not duck the issue about what will happen if this situation lingers. “We’ll see how it responds,” he said. “But the longer we wait, obviously the worse it is. If we have to do something, it’d be better to do it quick. “But we’re still hopeful that this is a temporary thing. If we relax and rest it for a week and see how it goes, then we’ll have a better idea.” “To do something,” means to go in and clean up whatever is inside Nowitzki’s knee that is causing the inflammation. Those things that are done to alleviate wear-and-tear problems usually are relatively minor arthroscopic procedures that only require a few weeks of recovery.”
- Deron Williams advised Billy King to not wait on Dwight Howard, from Scott Gleeson of USA Today: “Before Williams’ free agency began, though, he was offering advice to Nets general manager Billy King. He urged the team not to throw all its eggs in one basket. In other words, don’t devote everything to land Dwight Howard. ”One thing Deron did say to me, he said, ‘Please just don’t wait on Dwight. We can’t wait and not have a team,” King said during a premiere of NBA TV’s The Association: Brooklyn Nets. It would have been the perfect pick and roll combination, Williams and Howard, but instead the Lakers eventually traded to get Howard. King took Williams advice. Sort of. After multiple attempts to bring Howard to Brooklyn from the Orlando Magic, including offering Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and first-round picks, the Nets ultimately built their team with key pieces instead. Brooklyn brought in nine new players, mainly star shooting guard Joe Johnson, to support Williams.”
- Kobe Bryant is feeling very healthy, and hopes to get the most out of Dwight Howard, from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles: “Bryant said he hasn’t felt as good physically as he does right now since the 2006 season. ”With all the training I put in this summer,” he said, “I feel healthy, I feel strong. I feel ready.” And his most important job, besides preparing himself, is trying to get the most out of Howard. While they’ve spoken a lot since the Lakers acquired the mercurial center from Orlando in the middle of August, Bryant said most of what he can teach Howard is learned through observing how he practices and plays. ”I make guys uncomfortable. When I practice, everybody is a little uncomfortable,” Bryant said. “If you want to get to that next level, if a guy’s guarding you in practice, you have to punish him and send him a message. Make the guy who is guarding you think about if he wants to play in the NBA anymore.” While Howard is known as more of a jokester, Bryant said he’s been impressed by what he’s seen so far. He just wants to see more of it, more often. ”Dwight, to be a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, you’ve got to have a little of that dog in you,” Bryant said. “It’s just a matter of him digging deep and just pulling it out. But it’s already there. It’s just a matter of him having it become habit.”
- Speaking of Bryant, he apparently wasn’t kidding about how his body felt and proved it by serving a facial dunk against teammate Antawn Jamison.
- Al Horford emphasized the importance of post presence and defense in order for the Hawks to succeed, from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Horford said the Hawks yet to introduce the low-post offense during training camp. “You need to have an inside presence,” Horford said. “You can’t just sit around and shoot jumpers all day. We have to have a paint presence. We have to establish that. In camp, we have really been focusing on the defensive stuff and getting out and running but at some point we are going to have to address it.” In keeping with the Hawks’ philosophy, it all starts with defense. “First and foremost to be an up-tempo team, you have to get stops,” Smith said. “You can be an up-tempo team, how Golden State was four or five years ago and run-and-gun and try to outscore teams, but in the Eastern Conference you have to play defense in order to win basketball games. In order for us to be an up-tempo team we have to get stops first. When you get stops it makes it easier to get fast-break points.”
- Wilson Chandler hopes to be ready for the season opener, from Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: “Wilson Chandler worked up a good sweat too, but only on a Stairmaster overlooking the court. For now, Chandler remains on the outside looking in on a team that essentially has had to make do without him for more than a year. But Chandler, who joined the Nuggets from the New York Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade, is close to getting off the Stairmaster and on the court full time. After renowned Vail hip specialist Dr. Marc J. Philippon performed surgery on Chandler last spring, after a tear of the left labral joint in a game in April, the 25-year-old forward is feeling good and hopeful of being in the Nuggets’ lineup for the Oct. 31 season opener at Philadelphia. ”That’s the goal. I’m working toward that. It’s been a slow process with the hip, kind of a delicate situation,” Chandler said. “I think once I get back into the rotation, I’ll be pretty good.”
- Derrick Rose doesn’t know when he will be back and didn’t rule out the possibility of missing the season if necessary, from Josh Sanchez of Fansided: “Anytime you are dealing with an ACL injury, you need to be patient in rehab and not rush your return. That may not be what Bulls fans would like to hear but it is the reality Rose is dealing with. Speaking with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Rose explained the patience he will approach his recovery with: “Everybody has their own opinions,” Rose told Nichols. “When the time comes I just have to be ready and prove to the people here that I am ready to play. Who knows when that time is? If it’s all year I might wait the whole year, so what? If I come back at the All-Star (break), so what? “If anything, I think I’ve learned it’s going to help me with my patience. I think I’m way more patient.”
The starting small forward job for the Warriors could go to Brandon Rush or Harrison Barnes, but Rush has the edge and Marcus Thompson of San Jose Mercury News explains the reason: “Rush is clearly the better defender at this point. The starting lineup needs someone who can really make it tough for opposing perimeter stars, and Rush is even better with Andrew Bogut backing him up. Plus, to this point, Rush is shooting better. If Barnes did start, it would likely be because Mark Jackson already knows that Rush can thrive off the bench. Bringing Barnes off the bench, adding the task feeling a game out and getting going after sitting, might take away Barnes’ aggressiveness and impact. Jackson said he hasn’t decided. He said he could easily start Barnes but he is in no rush to make a decision.”
- Byron Scott was not very pleased with the performance of Dion Waiters in the Cavaliers preseason game against the Bucks, from Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: “Scott was so upset with rookie Dion Waiters that he benched him after just a minute in the fourth quarter. Waiters made just one of seven shots — laying in an alley-oop from Miles before falling down — and had four turnovers. So far in training camp, he hasn’t looked like the No. 4 pick in the draft. ”He struggled offensively big-time,” Scott said. “I took him out in the second half because I drew up a play, guard ran the play, he messed it up. To me that was a lack of focus so I figured he didn’t need to play the rest of the game.” Asked what he’d most like to see from Waiters, Scott said, “Understanding what we’re doing offensively. You’ve got to know the plays. I can’t draw up a play during a timeout and you go on the floor and mess it up.”
- Dwyane Wade believes the matchup between the Heat and Knicks will be a fun one, from Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York: “All-Star Dwyane Wade told ESPNNewYork.com early Thursday morning in Beijing, where the Heat are playing a preseason game against the Clippers, that the Knicks-Heat rivalry this season will be competitive. ”Oh, man. It’s going to be exciting to see,” he said. “The Knicks are trying to build a team that they feel that can compete for a championship, and we have as well. It’s going to be the first matchup of many, and it’s going to be fun.” Wade joked that one of worst parts about the rivalry is that Mike Bibby won’t be a Knick. During the first round of the playoffs last season, in which the Heat won 4-1, Wade stepped on one of Bibby’s sneakers, removing it in the process. He then threw it to the Heat bench, while telling him he should be wearing his instead.”
- Carmelo Anthony would prefer to stay at his natural position rather than make a move to power forward at any point, from Ian Begley of ESPN New York: “Carmelo Anthony, an All-Star at small forward, played arguably his best basketball at power forward last season. But if it’s up to him, he won’t be playing there much this season. ”Right now, we have guys in that position. We want to keep it like that,” Anthony said Monday when asked about playing more power forward this year. “I’d rather play my natural position then go down there and play the 4, the 5 and things that I don’t really want to do. So with the guys that we have now, I find that we’re definitely that much more effective.” When asked if he meant that, as long as his teammates remain healthy, his preference is to play the wing, Anthony said, “Absolutely.”
- Brandon Roy is excited about how his knee has reacted to after practices, and believes aggressive driving to the hoop is still a big part of his game, from Eric Schmoldt of Sports Radio Interviews: “The knees have been great. We went at it pretty hard the last five days, been going for about three hours. I think a big question in the back of my mind was, ‘How will the knees hold up with some grueling practices?’ And after coming out of all those practices, I feel just as good as I did going in. I’m really excited. We’ve got a game [Wednesday], finally, so I can get out there and play my first game in a very long time.”… Do you think driving to the hoop aggressively can still be a part of your game?: “Yeah, that’s a big part of my game. … If I’m able to make a move on a guy and get a step, my first mindset is to get to that basket and draw a foul or draw some kind of a response where we create a shot for our team. That’s a huge part of my game. If I wasn’t able to get to the basket and have confidence in doing that, then I wouldn’t have tried to make this comeback. That was the first thing that I told myself, ‘Can I still create and get to the hoop?’And I’ve been able to do so. I don’t want to just sit out there and settle for jump shots.”
- Keith Smart will look to implement the triangle offense for the Kings this season, from Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: “Smart is looking for a system to space the floor and cut down on the excessive dribbling that bogged down the Kings last season. ”I’ve been trying to give these guys some freedom to still get the ball and do your thing whenever you need to do it, but you’ll have space,” Smart said. “So we’ll see how it goes.” Besides the triple post, the triangle relies on players cutting away from the ball, reading the defense and good passing. It’s a contrast from how the Kings have played offense in recent seasons, often with four players staring at whoever had the ball. ”So there’s not so much standing around,” said center DeMarcus Cousins. “Everyone gets involved, everyone gets touches. It’s going to be harder to guard us as a team.”
- Mike Woodson seems to prefer having J.R. Smith come off the bench, from Barbara Barker of Newsday: “Four days after Smith told reporters that he “preferred to start” for the Knicks this season, his coach made it clear that his preference is that Smith continue to play a sixth-man role. ”I kind of like where J.R. is coming off the bench,” Woodson said. “He could start, you never know. But everybody can’t start. I have a nice mixture of guys at this starting unit and I have to have some offense coming off the bench, as well. ”There’s nothing wrong with that. He could be the best player coming off the bench in this league and perhaps win the Sixth Man Award.”
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star has the odds of every NBA team’s chance of winning it all this season.
- Jalen Rose explains the rookie treatment and his personal experience of being hazed by Dikembe Mutombo as a rookie: