Runner-ups: Free Throw shooting, Not as many European Models, George Karl's suit choices.
5. Team chemistry- With two role players gone who contributed a good deal of the scoring bulk and now bringing in Andre Iguodala, there will be some chemistry issues for this year. Who will be the top dog? Will Gallinari slip into the third role on offense and let Iguodala be the second or first option now? Who will make up the scoring loss of Harrington and Afflalo on a consistent basis? Will Iguodala be able to adapt to a offense first kind of team as opposed to the slowed down grind of the 76ers? If Galllinari decides to take a backseat to taking a bigger role for the Nuggets and defers to other players, would that mean trading him to put in Chandler in the starting rotation, one who is more comfortable with being a third option on offense be a better fit? How will the younger players like Hamilton progress and form their own identity? It will be an issue that can be cleared up before the all-star break if all goes well, but if Iguodala doesn't fit into the system that well, does that mean a trade for him and his contract will be in the works?
4. Three point shooting- With Harringtons 33% from 3 point land and Afflalos stellar 39% from last year all gone from the Mile High city, and in their place, Mr. Iguodala and his career 33% coming to town, can Iguodala and the rest of the Nuggets step up from the three point line? Gallinari had his worst season last year from behind the line, Wilson Chandler didn't show promise in his eight games last year, and Lawson had his worst three point percentage last year, so the question is, who will step up? It will be a tough question. Surely, all of these players are capable of lighting it up from behind the three point line as they've had seasons where they were a little above average to elite in three point shooting, so its not a question of if they can, but finding good shot selections for themselves. Iguodala did have his best three point season last year clipping 39%, so there is hope. Still, this team should be as dangerous shooting outside as we are inside and scoring in the paint, if George Karl wants the team to be an offensive juggernaut, he needs to draw up plays that give each player his best spots for outside shots.
3. Half-court offense- When the playoffs come around, fast paced offenses tend to be shut down or are slowed down by the better defenses of the league, where teams know you better, they watch tapes of your offense and examine it with in-depth analyzing, then neutralize it, and eventually put a stop to it. The 2007 playoffs is a good example, where the high, fast paced offense of the Suns who had 61 wins that season faced off against the 58 win Spurs and their (at the time) slower paced, grind-it-out defense type of team matched up, the Suns had trouble scoring more and more as the series continued. The Spurs proved that teams that rely too much on their offense with no balanced attack would eventually lose out in the playoffs. So Denver has shown that when the pace is slowed down, that they struggle to find a go-to scorer, or struggle with their playbook. There are some promising half-court options, like Lawson playing pick-n-roll with the athletic Faried and McGee, but when it comes to giving the ball to a player when the defense tightens up to get the ball in the basket, the team struggles. Gallinari, Iguodala and Lawson can all prove at times they can be that go-to man but never on a reliable basis, that is something that needs to be addressed by the stubborn George Karl.
2. Post Defense - McGee is an excellent shot blocker, this is of course because he has a fluid, skinny frame, with long arms and a tall body so he is able to block shots at a very efficient rate. Same can be said for Faried, who has a very high bounce and energy which enables him to block shots. However the thing missing between these two and having someone like say, Nene in the frontcourt is that this team will struggle containing teams with a reliable post-up player with a strong back to the basket game. While this helps us against teams like the Thunder who lack a post-up scorer, it does not bide well when we face the Lakers, where Dwight Howard can easily back his way into either McGee or Faried for easy dunks. Faried will have trouble defending good post-up players like Pau Gasol and the Jazz frontcourt because of his height, even though he can maintain good foot position because of his incredible strength if he continues getting stronger below the waist. McGee will also have this same problem defending bigger centers like Al Jefferson, Marc Gasol and such who are good at finishing near the rim. Most front courts have at least one guy who can defend in the post, yet we have neither, although there is hope that McGee can add muscle this off-season and establish a post presence on defense.
1. Three point defending- I have no problems with Denver slacking the opposing player if they are taking a lot of long distance two point shots because those are not very high quality shots because they aren't three points and they are less effective than shots near the rim. However, when we are giving opposing wings an entire island to shoot three point shots from, then we have a problem. Only four other teams since 1990 have given up an opposing three point percentage as bad as the percentage we gave up last season, we weren't just bad at it, it was downright ugly. If our perimeter defense was a little tighter, I say we advance to the second round last year, but even into the playoffs we still allowed the opposing teams free, uncontested three point shots. This is not acceptable from George Karl and he needs to use his new working horse in Iguodala to force teams to get to our rim or even better, force them to take difficult contested two point shots. A lot of the blame I think has to go to George Karl who seemed to implement his team to have the other team take three point shots.. I hope that isn't the case, otherwise Iguodalas defense goes to waste quite a little bit.