The Denver Nuggets have admirably hovered around .500 despite low expectations for the season. Prognosticators pegged them right around 27 wins this year and in less than a fifth of the season Denver has already achieved more than 20% of that win total. However, the shooting has not been good. This is somewhat to be expected as the team brought Randy Foye into this season as their best shooter. The lack of shooting ability has created spacing issues for the Nuggets which have caused the offense to stagnate at times. In fact, Denver currently is in the bottom half of the league in virtually every shooting stat known to man. Here's where they sit: eFG% - 18th, TS% - 19th, 3pt% - 18th, FG%- 20th and FT% - 16th. There have been some pleasant surprises, Will Barton and Gary Harris are shooting the lights out from three and Danilo Gallinari has been virtually automatic from the free throw line, but by and large the team struggles to get, and make, quality shots.
The Nuggets are seriously going to have to consider bringing in Stiffs big men Adam Mares and Andrew Feinstein for a tryout if the injuries go on much longer. Suddenly back strains have become more contagious than ebola and, after tweeking his ankle, Kenneth Faried was the latest Nuggets major rotation player to miss time. This of course comes on the heels of the news that Wilson Chanlder is gone for the year recovering from hip surgery. The health issues aren't just limited to our current roster either. Overseas prospect Nikola Radicevic is dealing with hip issues (you'll need the ol' Google translate for that link) similar to Chandler and is also currently out for an extended time. The chart below, via Mangameslost.com, is an excellent graphical representation of how the Nuggets have been decimated by injuries more than almost every team in the NBA in this young season.
3) Sam Hinkie
I can see the reasoning behind Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie's strategy. Being just good enough to make the playoffs or end the season barely outside of them is a good recipe to make no progress towards becoming a championship contender, look no further than our own Nuggets for proof of that. Yet, the 76ers are going on three years of putrid basketball and once again are finding themselves in position to challenge the record for futility to start an NBA season. It's questionable how necessary Hinkie's strategy is as well. Four years ago the Golden State Warriors fans were booing their owner for being behind a terrible team and now they are world champs looking to break the record for wins to start a season. They didn't make that turn around by throwing in the towel every year so they could get a top three pick. They did it by making smart picks throughout the draft and doubling down on that with smart trades. Jahlil Okafor may be a superstar in the making so perhaps the 76ers are on the right track, but man has it got to be tough to be a Philly fan and believe in your teams direction.
4) Kristaps Porzingis
I know, I know, you're probably thinking I'm hating right now. Not the case. On draft night when the Knicks selected the Zinger with the 4th overall pick there was a loud roar of boos from the New York faithful, meanwhile cheers were ringing out from Denver Nuggets fans everywhere. This was partly becasue that selection guaranteed at least one of Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow and Emmanuel Mudiay would be there at pick seven when the Nuggets were on the clock, but also because many (with really no justification other than the guy was from Europe) believed Porzingis was going to be a monster bust and thus the Knicks would continue to be terrible and the Nuggets would be swapping their first round pick in 2016 with a top 5 Knicks pick. In actuality what has happened is Porzingis has taken New York, and the whole league, by storm and has very arguably been the best looking rookie thus far this season while destroying Nuggets faithful hopes of a beneficial pick swap. He also has been putting up similar stats to a guy you may have heard of.
Just gonna leave this here: Anthony Davis (Rookie Year): 13.5/8.2/1.0/1.8/1.2 .516/.000/.751 Porzingis: 13.2/8.8/0.8/1.5/0.7 .427/.308/.830— Kevin McElroy (@knickerbacker) November 22, 2015
5) Zach Mikash
Yep. I have to put myself on the Stiff List. In games that I have written the previews, whether it be regular or pre-season, the Nuggets have amassed a total of zero wins. Zip, zilch, nada, bupkis, nothing, however you want to put it, when I'm writing the preview the Nuggets are getting beat. Not only are they getting beat but they're getting beaten bad. The putrid game in Phoenix against the Suns, the listless home loss to the Jazz, preseason shellackings from Utah and the Oklahoma City Thunder, all mine. What's the worst part of it all? I've got the preview for tomorrow's game against the Los Angeles Clippers...hopefully Adam doesn't fire me tonight, or maybe hopefully he does, depending on your point of view.