You would be hard pressed to find an advanced stat that made the Denver Nuggets offense look good last season. Horrendous shooting efficiency was the calling card but perhaps more telling than the poor shooting numbers was the absurd lack of ball movement.
John Schuhman of NBA.com is previewing every NBA team by providing one telling statistic that explains a team's success or failure. Last week, he previewed the Denver Nuggets by looking at their low pass rate, ranked 30th in the NBA in passes per possession.
"The Nuggets were more efficient on possessions in which they made four or more passes (107 points per 100) than they were when they made three or less (102). And last year’s Golden State Warriors are an example of a team that improved its offense (from 12th in offensive efficiency ’13-14 to 2nd in ’14-15) by moving the ball more (from 2.46 to 3.16 passes per possession)."
As Schuhman points out, the 2013-14 Golden State Warriors were also notoriously isolation heavy and were at the bottom of league rankings in passes per possession. Under head coach Steve Kerr, the team completely changed their approach and became one of the best passing teams in recent history and the 2015 NBA champions.
The Nuggets don't have the all-around passing talent that the Warriors have, but they do have a lot of young prospects that have shown some skill as passers. Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, and Danilo Gallinari are all very good passers that play a lot of minutes in the front court. With a new head coach in Michael Malone, the Nuggets will almost certainly look to increase their passing. If the preseason is any indication, look for the Nuggets to join the handful of teams that are playing an en vogue style of high motion offense that requires a lot of ball movement and player movement.