The other piece of Nuggets news I have missed commenting on thanks to getting the new site up and running was the next chapter in the saga of Chucky Atkins’ groin.
Atkins has been absolutely horrible this year. To be fair, his effectiveness has been greatly reduced because of this groin injury and I do commend him on trying to play through it. His struggles just further underline how bad of a decision it was to bring him in here in the first place.
For those of you who were not exposed to my amazingly detailed and accurate analysis on my former blog I was never on board with the Atkins signing when the Nuggets basically swapped Steve Blake with Atkins.
That made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
Blake was the superior point guard, superior defender, superior playmaker and he is five and a half years younger. Atkins was supposed to be a much better shooter than Blake, but coming into this season they were both had a 37% marks from downtown for their career.
Now if two guys have performed at the same level over the previous three or four seasons, but one is heading into his prime and the other is well past his, which player would you rather have? That is like eating a vanilla sundae out of the trash instead of eating the one you just bought because the one in the trash had a nicer spoon.
I fell into line thinking that Atkins would outshoot Blake from three point range because Blake struck me as the more streaky three point shooter of the two. Obviously, we cannot know what Atkins would be shooting from three point range if he were healthy. However, we can see what Blake is doing from long distance. Guess what? He is shooting over 47%
That is not a typo and it is not a product of a small sample size. Blake is taking 3.2 threes a game. Even if Atkins were healthy I doubt he would be able to top that mark.
To make things worse, Blake is doing it for the Trailblazers who look primed to give the Nuggets all they can handle in the Northwest Division this year and probably more than the Nuggets can handle in the future.
Of course there was a business side to all of this as well. Blake is making $1.25 million more than Chucky this year and with the luxury tax, that difference is doubled. That is big money. However, to put things in perspective we are talking about a sum of about 2.5% of the Nuggets expenditures on player salaries.
The thing is, it is not impossible to make that extra expense up.
Let’s say that the difference between Atkins and Blake playing for the Nuggets is whether or not the Nuggets get to enjoy home court advantage in the first round. Perhaps the difference between the two equates to whether or not the Nuggets advance to the second round. Those additional home games will put a lot of money into the Nuggets’ coffers. Just ask the Rockies how nice that is. Ultimately the Nuggets could be costing themselves money on the bottom line through their attempt to save a little bit on payroll.
Yet another issue here is again the Nuggets let an asset go that basically fell in their lap for nothing. They traded Earl Boykins, who is currently out of the league because of his contract demands, for Blake. That is a good trade, but just as they did with Bobby Jones, they took the gift they had received and exchanged it for store credit at the flea market that is the NBA free agent pool. Lopsided trades don’t come along every day. When a team throws a Steve Blake or Bobby Jones in your lap, you must take advantage of it and build on it.
The Nuggets are in the mix for home court advantage and perhaps even more in the Western Conference and the margin for error is very slim. Mistakes like letting good players go for nothing, especially if you replace them with inferior players, can have dire consequences. Hopefully, the Nuggets will be able to get away with it, but they are making things much more difficult on themselves than they need to be.