ABC logic is now mostly considered a very flawed logic in evaluating how good a team is to another, because while ice freezes water, fire melts ice, water puts out fire.. we can be certain that the same applies to the NBA and our Denver Nuggets because we match up very well against some of the top NBA teams in the Western conference, while we also on the other end, match-up poorly against other teams of the West. So, to demonstrate, I put up this article on the teams in the West we match up best against, from starting center to point guard, and estimate what our record will look like by regular seasons end, as many of the teams in the west have either improved, gotten weaker, or are still big question marks, so I'll also look at the schedule as a good evaluation as well, this will be a part by part series on my part.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder - The defending western conference champions, I'll look at the team that will cause us the most problems.
With only a few minor changes in the bench from last season, the Thunder are still the same powerhouse that they were last season, and to me the Thunder are the team that we match up the worst against, and a lot of that has to do with Kevin Durant and James Harden. The Thunder play a lot of close games yet they always know how to scratch out a win more often than not. With the editions of potential draft steal Perry Jones and the scratch lotto ticket that is Hasheem Thabeet possibly reaching his full potential with his new team, albeit a small chance of happening, the Thunder look to make more noise this season. While the Spurs had a very good offensive rating, the Thunder were even better, ranking ninth in defensive efficiency, and were tied for 5th in pace, the Thunders style of play matches up wonderfully for the Nuggets.
Ty Lawson 5'11 195 lbs - Point Guard - Russel Westbrook 6'3 187 lbs
This is a matchup that Lawson seems to have problems with because Westbrook likes to attack Lawson early and often, Westbrook has the ability to drain Lawson on defense, making his offense less effective, not to mention Westbrook's obvious height advantages, this is just not a very good matchup for the Nuggets. Probably resorting to have Afflalo guard Westbrook, making Lawson a mismatch with someone else on OKC due to his small stature. If Denver played zone defense, it might negate Westbrook, but Denver does not play zone that much. Advantage - OKC
Thabo is just a scrappy defensive player who plays short starting minutes before having Harden come in to mismatch against the tired starter or the bench counterpart. Thabo still is a very good defensive player, and can give Afflalo problems if Afflalo chooses to handle the ball, if Afflalo decides only to play his normal game, looking for spot up three pointers and such, then that should make Thabo a total non factor. On defense AAA will probably play defense on Westbrook more often than Thabo, but Thabo can get mismatches off the ball against Lawson, which could cause problems for us since we love to switch off our men so much. Advantage - Denver
Danilo Gallinari 6'10 225 lbs - Small forward - Kevin Durant 6'10 235 lbs
This is the matchup that I feel we have a lot of problems, Gallo plays admirable defense against Durant, granted but it just isn't enough to stop a scoring machine like Durant, who always seems to get the best of Gallo. Durant is the reason why the Nuggets always seem to lose to OKC, Durant always scores the key baskets against us down the line which have us losing in the end. While Gallo does have the potential to give Durant problems on offense, he seems to play more timid against Durant as their career matchup stats have been highly in favor of Durant. This matchup is the single reason why the Nuggets can't really beat Oklahoma. Advantage -OKC
While Ibaka is the more established player, and probably the best all around player to Faried due to Ibaka's amazing defensive ability, between the two late first round steals, Faried had the better offensive season last year, no only in scoring, but in rebounds as well. While Ibaka does have a significant height advantage on Faried, Faried still has more muscle and if his training with Hakeem the dream pays dividends, he should be able to learn how to muscle his way in the post against taller, but less strong players like Ibaka. He'll have to if he is to be a truly effective power forward in the league because his height is still his number one issue, yes folks.. believe it or not, Faried can get better. Advantage - tie
Javale McGee 7'0 250 lb - Center - Kendrick Perkins 6'10 270 lbs
While McGee was great for us last season, shooting over 60% in field goal percentage, he only averaged just over 5 rebounds a game for us.. granted he did come off the bench for us more often than not, and he shouldn't be coming off the bench next season just because he is too good of a center not to and with an off-season to prepare but he still needs to learn to become a better rebounding threat for us. Now granted Faried will probably gobble up all the rebounds because Faried sucks his thumb in bed dreaming of rebounding all night long, but Mcgee can't end up becoming like Nene, he still needs to help in the rebounding load, mainly securing defensive rebounds because Faried is more of an offensive rebound specialist. Still, Perkins is a big brute who while not being talented in anything in particular, is still a big body to frustrate players like Andrew Bynum just because of his size. McGee needs to play Perkins like he did against Bynum; use his lanky arms to move around Perkins arms. Mcgee matches up better against players like Perkins than Nene ever really did. Advantage -Denver
Nuggets - Bench - Thunder
The Thunder's bench is not as good as it was last season due to key players like Nazr Mohammed leaving, but hoping to upgrade the old Nazr and hoping that 7'4 Thabeet can replace what Nazr did off the bench, the Thunders bench will mainly rely on James Harden, the best bench player in the league as far as I'm concerned, and the hustle of Nick Collison. However, the real scare for the Nuggets is Perry Jones, the rookie out of Baylor, who really has the potential to be great in the league. While the Thunder have the best bench player, I still believe both teams are equal in terms of talent due to the depth of the Nuggets bench. Many have compared Anthony Randolphs physical feats to Anthony Davis, so it is possible that Denver can utilize him in the bench against the Thunder, because we will need him more than Harrington against the Thunder, since Harrington always seems cold against the Thunder.
Nuggets - stats - Thunder
Again, the Nuggets really will need to work in not giving up so many points as they did last season, as we were ranked 29th in giving up points last season, due to our fast pace, that is still not a good ranking for us, as we'll need to try giving up less points and hopefully with our defensive potential, we can learn to reduce the points given up. Thunder however were ranked 30th in assists last year, so their offense is revolved more around isolation offense, compared to the Nuggets who were ranked 1st in assists last year. The Thunder were ranked 17th last year in points allowed, which is where the Nuggets should be around in order for our offense to be really effective. If we improve our defense significantly this year, I think we can matchup pretty well against the Thunder, but if our defense looks anything like last season, we should try to avoid a Thunder-Nuggets matchup in the playoffs.
Nuggets - Coach - Thunder
While many still scratch their heads at George Karl's in game coaching decisions, he still is the mentor to Scott Brooks, even though a lot will argue Brooks has surpassed his mentor because of his in game decisions. I think that Karl's experience give him the advantage here, but Brooks knows Karl very well it seems, so I'd say in terms of facing off against one another, Brooks has the advantage.
January 16th @ Oklahoma City - after a four home game stretch, where we lastly face off against Portland the day prior, we'll have to come into Oklahoma, who will have two days rest after a three game road trip. This has the potential to be a close, hard fought game, but I see Oklahoma edging us out.
January 20th @ Denver - only 4 days later, Denver will have two days rest after an easy on paper game against Washington, Oklahoma will be on two days rest two after a game in Dallas. I feel like this will also be a close game, but I think the Nuggets will wear them out in the 4th. Nuggets win.
March 1st @ Denver- With three days rest before March rolls around, The Thunder will also have three days rest as well, and they'll probably be in Denver getting used to the air. I think this will be another hard fought game as well, which sadly, I think will end up with the Thunder winning. Thunder win.
March 19th @ Oklahoma City - Denver will be having to travel all the way from Chicago the day before to make it into Oklahoma, where the Thunder will have two days rest, this I feel will be a Thunder blowout just because of the schedule and our apparent mismatch with the Thunder. Thunder win.
Verdict? So, I feel like we will go 1-3 against the Thunder in the season, I think the January 20th game is debatable but until the Nuggets prove otherwise, I don't see the Thunder losing against us.