This article was going to be about Faried. How I really like Faried but he needs to be benched. The original premise was going to be that Faried needs to go to the bench so that Gallo can be a stretch four with Brewer or possibly Jham taking his spot in the starting lineup. The rationale would have been that Gallo as a stretch four would give him more open looks on the perimeter and allow more creativity from the wings. Gallo's game is predicated on shooting, driving and creating. The advantage of a 6-10 three is that he can post guys up, yet Gallo isn't going near the post. Might as well play him at the four and get some more shots per game. Faried's defense at the four is terrible so Gallo's can't be worse.
The issue is that once I started looking at +/- numbers that theory was blown. KK, Gallo, Iggy, Lawson and Faried compile the sixth best +/- five man group in the NBA according to NBA.com. Now I'm not huge fan of +/- but a for a five man group it has a lot of value. Seeing as how this five man group is the sixth best in the NBA maybe they should be getting more minutes together. KK lags behind the rest with only 22mpg while Bounce gets 29, Iggy, Ty and Gallo around 34. The Nuggets road heavy schedule has been well recorded and it wouldn't surprise me to see this five man unit be the best or close to it by the end of the season, depending on health of course.
The Nuggets have only one group in the top 50 of +/-. The Heat have four, Thunder four, Spurs three, Bulls three and the Clippers three (their best headlined by Bledsoe, not Paul). From the West those are the top three teams right now and if I had to guess I'd say the championship is going home with one of those teams. Basically the Nuggets starting five are pulling their weight and more, it's the bench that isn't doing so well. Brewer is having a career year, yet has some clear limitations. JaVale, while having an astounding PER, (ranked by Hollinger as the 11th best player in the league) has problems with basics such as boxing out and rotating to a open man.
The good news is that when the playoffs roll around our top five guys are looking like they can hold their own. The bad news is Andre Miller, JaVale McGee and Corey Brewer are necessary for us to win big this year and I don't think they are up to it. Miller especially has been disappointing and I'm beginning to cringe when he gets the ball. While his per game stats seem to be fairly close to last year, it seems he's not as capable as he used to be. I know, subjective, but there it is.
The Nuggets starters are posting some really good numbers as a unit, all on a road heavy schedule. It helps that they are clearly a unselfish unit and no one is a diva in that starting five. The problem comes when the second unit steps on the floor. The second unit doesn't seem to understand itself as well or how or when to defer to others. Possible solutions, Karl has a alpha dog, Gallo, Iggy that plays are being run for when subs are in the game. Other solutions are that starters play more minutes, they are young after all. Another could be be that on some back to backs starters only play some 20 mpg and subs know that they are going to carry the workload that night, allowing for valuable time and experience playing with each other.
I'm not sure what the best solution is but the reality is that this team isn't nearly as deep as it thinks it is. Our depth was supposed to be an advantage, however we might do better in the playoffs than we think due to our starters.