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Analysis of Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw's meeting with press

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A double treat for everyone this evening. A Colorado Sports Guys video from today's practice, featuring Brian Shaw's comments on Arron Afflalo and additionally analysis of Brian Shaw's statement that the Nuggets "are not built to run".

The above video features the Nuggets (minus Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo and Randy Foye) working on some basic offensive sets (set?). What's interesting from that perspective is that Jusuf Nurkic looks really good playing post and passing out of this particular set. I'm firmly of the belief Nurkic needs to get as much playing time as humanly possible. You can see the talent and the "rookie mistakes" will iron themselves out if he get's to play enough.

Secondly we have Brian Shaw talking about the "incident" last night that Nate Timmons first brought to you as to Afflalo getting benched the second half. Shaw's answer is interesting. I find it hard to believe that AAA would simply "let those guys play" as Shaw states above. As Shaw points out, injuries to Randy Foye and Nate Robinson would have required and even desperately called out for AAA to come in due to the paucity of guards available. If AAA said no to coming back in, I'm dubious that it was because Alonzo Gee and Ty were playing well.

Horses for courses I suppose.

Later on (not on any video I took) Shaw made some, what can only be described as, provocative comments about the Nuggets as it pertains to this roster and "running". Below is the transcription of the quote from the meeting with reporters after practice.

"This team was, long before I got here ... was constructed to run. This is not the same team that ran. Two of the elite lane-runners in this league, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer, are not on this team anymore. That's not a knock on Randy Foye, Arron Affalo, Gallinari and the guys we have running the wings, it's just they don't have the same speed those guys had that ran before. Now the question is to I continue to try to please everybody else by playing the style the Denver Nuggets have always played which is getting up and down the floor if it's not conducive to what we really have on this roster right now."

"Kenneth can be elite running the floor and J.J. Hickson can too be pretty good. If we are getting stops, if we aren't fouling people and we are eliminating them from getting second shots and play defense, get a rebound and get out and run maybe we can be affective playing that way."

This is an interesting assertion. There may be a philosophical disconnect that Shaw isn't willing to own up to. To claim that Iggy and Cbrew are the reason you aren't or even CAN'T run is rather strange when your own stated philosophy on running would countermand the presence of Brewer on your roster, since he was all about getting steals and "leaking out". Additionally, take a look at Shaw's own quote to our own Nate Timmons in his article last week on the Nuggets "same old problems":

"It doesn't look like we're running at all, because we're not stopping anybody," said Shaw. "Not necessarily because they're scoring baskets, but there's no flow to the game because we're fouling entirely too much. I mean, 97 free throw attempts in two games. It seems like every other time down the floor there is a foul and there's somebody going to the free throw line."

That may hold up as the case in those two Kings games, but the Pistons shot 31 free throws and the Thunder just 19. Why weren't the Nuggets running against them? How were the Nuggets unable to get a running game going against a severely undermanned Thunder team? Shaw has said he wants to run, but we're seeing far more half-court post-up play.

"The post stuff is only really supposed to come into play early when we're attacking," said Shaw. "Whichever big doesn't get the rebound or doesn't take the ball out, is supposed to rim run, and we give that a look. Because we're having to run a half-court set every time, because like I said we're taking the ball out after free throws, then we try to explore the best matchup."

Bold emphasis mine.

So the very fact that you prefer rim-running from bigs on the break means that a player such as Corey Brewer wouldn't matter in the first place. So the example is a bit of a red herring. That is a philosophical difference when it comes to "running". Rather than saying the team isn't conducive to running, the better way to phrase would be "my style of running is different from George Karl". That would make far more sense than asserting that the roster lacks Brewer and Iggy so therefore the roster isn't a running one.

That just isn't true.

Here is the starting lineup of the 2011-12 post Nene Hilario trade:

Ty Lawson
Arron Afflalo
Danilo Gallinari
Kenneth Faried
Kosta Koufos/Timofey Mozgov

To my memory, that lineup was plenty fast and ran quite a bit. Aside from Kosta Koufos you are looking at the starting lineup on opening day this very season.

I will reiterate what I stated last week. The Nuggets run what can only be described as the most basic of offenses but they run that because their emphasis (believe it or not) is on defense. The Nuggets players grasp (or lack thereof) of the defense Brian Shaw want's to play has affected their offense. It is a cyclical thing. There is a reason that teams that run man on man defense tend to run uncomplicated offenses. It's the old school "defense is energy, offense is second nature" way of thinking.

Any person with just a basic knowledge of offense can run what the Nuggets are running. It's not complicated and is a sign that they don't actually spend much time on it. The issue is defense and the Nuggets approach and expense of energy on it. It's a mental shift that represents the "square peg round hole" aspect. THAT is where the disconnect is between Brian Shaw and the Nuggets, not whatever base, simplistic, uncreative offense they choose to run now. Their defense no longer feeds into their offense and that is what is so messy.

Rather than blaming the lack of two players on the Nuggets mess right now, just own up to the philosophical difference. Otherwise these words from Media Day will continue to haunt Brian Shaw:

"In terms of style of play, having gotten to know this team a lot better, we want to get out and run. We played at a fast pace last year, we want to play at an even faster pace this year. The biggest area of improvement that you'll see is on the defensive end."