USA TODAY Sports
In 2013, the Nuggets have lost just four games with Wilson Chandler in their lineup. Does that make him the team's most valuable player?
The win / loss record speaks for itself.
Since returning to the Nuggets from a nasty hip injury / surgery on January 13th, Wilson Chandler has been on the losing end of a game just four times in 26 tries - an 84.6% winning record. And in 41 games played without Chandler this season, the Nuggets are 23-18 - not much better than .500.
That's astounding considering Chandler doesn't start (Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried are permanent fixtures at the two, three and four starting spots, respectively), doesn't shoot particularly well (43.6% from the field), plays less than 25 minutes per game and has given mixed signals via Twitter about his happiness being in Denver in the first place.
Moreover, Chandler - he of the flexible game and flexible salary structure - is usually at the top of the list when trade rumors surface about the Nuggets. But if the Nuggets recent winning ways with Chandler in the lineup are any indication, perhaps the Nuggets should consider trading anyone but Chandler. Because simply put, with Chandler in the lineup the Nuggets are far better than anyone foresaw them to be (including this fan).
The reasons for the Nuggets exceptional success with Chandler on the floor seem to be more subtle than stat-driven. For starters, as another small forward who can go for 20-plus points on any given night, Chandler spares Gallinari from the pressure of having to deliver those 20 himself in every game. And like Gallo, Chandler's ranginess enables him to guard the opposing team's small and power forwards, allowing Gallo to rest up a bit on the defensive end, too.
The same Chandler does for Gallo he does for Iguodala, as the versatile Chandler can guard the opposing team's two-guards, as well. And when Chandler spells Faried (and thus the Nuggets go small), Chandler's ability to make a three-pointer - where he connects an impressive 41% of the time - stretches the floor, forcing the opposition's power forward to play outside his comfort zone defensively.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, Chandler isn't afraid to take - and can make - big shots. Chandler rarely makes "the big shot" to tie or close out a game in the final seconds, but he seems to routinely make "the shot before the big shot" which often puts the Nuggets in a position to close out tight games.
It's unfortunate that Chandler will have missed half of the games played in the 2012-13 season. Because while calling him the Nuggets' MVP might be an admitted stretch (I'm sure most fans would give such an award to Ty Lawson, Gallo or Faried), Chandler would be a shoo-in for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award had he played in 20 more games.
And if the results with Chandler on the floor could be expanded by 20 or so games, the Nuggets might be competing for the Western Conference's one-seed instead of the three-seed.
On to the links ...
Adrian Dantley works as a school crossing guard in Maryland now | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo! Sports
Ever wonder what happened to AD? Dan Devine has stumbled upon it.
Tis the season for determining seeds in NBA playoff chase - The Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman breaks down the Nuggets chances of ending up third at season's end.
Nuggets and Streak Jr. Keep Growing - NBA.com | Hang Time Blog
Fran Blinebury points out that the Nuggets are now a win shy from their all-time win streak record.
Carmelo Anthony limps out of Denver amid boos, taunts from Nuggets fans - Yahoo! Sports
From Marc Spears - Carmelo Anthony got the villain treatment in his return to Denver and the Knicks were run out of the Pepsi Center as the Nuggets improved to 100-57 post-Melo.
Corey Brewer making big impact for Nuggets - The Denver Post
Hochman discusses Brew's positive impact on the Nuggets this season.
Nuggets Still on Rise After Carmelo Anthony Trade - NYTimes.com
Carmelo Anthony will return to Denver on Wednesday night for the first time since his February 2011 trade, which significantly altered the Nuggets and the Knicks, writes Harvey Araton.
REMINDER - THIS TUESDAY is March Madness Stiffs Night Out!
Our ninth Stiffs Night Out is two days away!
On Tuesday, March 19th we're going to kick off March Madness by watching the Nuggets take on the Thunder in Oklahoma City at 6pm from Jake's Food & Spirits. Free appetizers and 2-for-1 drinks will be served.
We will be distributing NCAA brackets for $10, with all of the proceeds going to the Denver Hooperz, a local non-profit that provide after school basketball programs to at-risk youth. Prizes - including tickets to the Spurs game on April 10th - will be given out to bracket winners. Also, the Colorado Sports Guys (Nate Timmons and Ross Martin) will be live podcasting throughout the event - and it's Nate's birthday!