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Denver Nuggets Gold and Fools Gold

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A look at the good and the bad of the Nuggets season so far.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Guards not shooting open shots

One of the most frustrating parts about the Nuggets offense is that the shooting guards routinely pass up open shots on the perimeter. Will Barton and Gary Harris are the two biggest offenders and the two who's 3-point threat is most important for putting pressure on the defense.  Threat is the operative word because taking 3-point shots can be as important as making 3-point shots, especially if you are a perimeter shooter that takes as few 3-point shots as Barton and Harris.

In the clip below, the Jameer Nelson, Nikola Jokic pick-and-roll collapses the defense perfectly and Jokic makes a great read by kicking it out to the corner.  The ability to make this read quickly is one of the things that makes Jokic such an interesting prospect. There are three year veteran wing players that still hesitate on this pass but Jokic catches the ball, reads the defense and finds the open man in a split second.

Unfortunately, not only does Barton not shoot the open shot, he isn't even considering the idea of shooting. And the defender knows that. Had Barton been a threat to shoot, or even set his feet before the catch and shot faked, he probably would've created enough space to attack, further collapsed the defense, and created a better look.  Just look at the floor balance when he caught the ball, it's nearly perfect. Two offensive rebounders near the rim, and two guards in position to get back on defense. Shots like this get passed up far too often by Harris and Barton and more often than not, the possession ends with a field goal attempt that is worse than the shot they passed up.

Post frequency

The Nuggets were one of the worst post up teams last year.  Kenneth Faried in particular is a uniquely bad back to the basket player.  One of the fears coming in to this season was that Michael Malone, who coached the post-up all-star, DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento, would try to implement a post heavy offense.  There was even fear that Malone would post up Danilo Gallinari too much, running stagnant possessions that haven't been effective in season's past.

Through 10 games, the Nuggets are the 4th most infrequent post up team in the NBA, posting up on just 5% of their possessions, according to Synergy. Equally as important, many of the team's post ups have gone to either Faried or Gallinari in situations when there was a clear mismatch. Gallo has been given the opportunity to post up much smaller forwards and has scored at a very impressive 1.17 points per possession, drawing fouls on an insane, 27.8% of his post up chances. Over a quarter of the time that he posts up, Gallo draws a foul. It's a small sample size, but Malone seems to only be using post ups in certain, very specific situations, and so far it has been effective.

Malone's press conferences

Players and coaches in the NBA all have their own way of dealing with the media. Admittedly, the media is incredibly invasive on their work flow. Coaches in particular are forced to address the media at practice, at shoot around, before the game and then after the game, often times getting bombarded with the same questions over and over again.  Frequently, a media member armed with only a basic understanding of the game of basketball will ask a silly or uninformed question to a coach who is himself in the top 0.01% of basketball minds in the world.  It feels at times like Albert Einstein being forced to take questions from a bunch of middle school studens and as a result, some coaches provide only the most broad and uninformative platitudes.

For four months now, Malone has fielded every question thrown his way with insight and grace. Often times he'll turn even the most basic and broad questions into something of substance.  Asking more detailed questions almost always leads to a very interesting discussion, one that illuminates pieces of the game that were never evident before.  This isn't to say that he's never been annoyed of the media. He's just always handled the media with respect and a sense of duty that is incredibly admirable.