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Shooting efficiency is not the Denver Nuggets strong suit

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Efficiency is key in the NBA. Where do the Nuggets stack up against the most efficient team in the league?

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever heard the phrase, Work Smarter, Not Harder? It's supposed to help you manage your time more wisely aka become more efficient. Just how efficient are the Nuggets on the offensive end this season? Let's find out.

One area the Nuggets have become pretty good at is create possessions. To wit, the team currently ranks fifth in the NBA in pace. Now, when one hears the word pace, they think speed. You must break that habit. Pace in the NBA means the number of possessions a team creates in 48 minutes. Here is how the top five teams shake out:

1.) Golden State Warriors: 101.32
2.) Phoenix Suns: 99.23
3.) Boston Celtics: 98.89
4.) Houston Rockets: 98.59
5.) Denver Nuggets: 98.36

And for the heck of it:

6.) Philadelphia 76ers: 97.90.

That's some pretty mixed company. The Warriors, Suns, and Rockets own a combined 98-45 record. The Celtics, Nuggets, and 76ers own a combined record of 45-98, which is the exact opposite - strange, but true. It doesn't appear that creating possessions means much of anything, especially if you're not efficient.

Let's see how the Nuggets shape up in the efficiency department. Thanks to the fine folks at Synergy Sport Technology, we get some handy charts on where the Nuggets are shooting, and just how effective they are in different areas on the court.

The following chart read just how you think it could. Blue = cold/low and Red = hot/high. Here is how the Nuggets breakdown so far this season:

Nuggets eff

That chart is not so pretty. Only two red zones, no orange, three yellow, two green, four light blue, and five dark blue zones. That's nine problem areas for the Nuggets, all the three-point zones and even around the rim. That's trouble.

Now, let's take a look at the most efficient team in the NBA, the Los Angeles Clippers. Your eye will notice the first difference, right away.

Clippers shooting:

Clips shooting

Looking good for the Clippers with seven red zones, five orange, one yellow, two green, just one light blue, and no dark blue zones. Very important to note is the Clips are red near the rim, red in two of the five three point zones, and much better than Denver in the corner three departments (an area that teams really work to get open looks at).

To contrast that, let's take a look at the least efficient team in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers. Again, you'll notice a big difference between the Sixers and the Clippers right away.

76ers shooting:

Sixers shooting

Not a good look for the young Sixers. They have no red, no orange, one yellow, no green, three light blue, and a horrible 12 dark blue zones. If you look over the Sixers roster, not too many names say: He can shoot the three, and it shows on the chart.

Of the three, the Sixers and the Nuggets are a lot more comparable than the Clippers and either team. This got me wondering, are the Clippers getting better shots than the Nuggets? Let's take a look at some of the key areas and the attempts:

Three Pointers Corner Threes Midrange Around the rim Just outside paint Total
Clippers 1,258 363 858 1,396 451 4,326
Nuggets 1,119 280 636 1,926 461 4,422

The Nuggets have created 96 more shots with their pace, and the Clippers rank 14th in pace with 96.26 possessions created per 48 minutes. What stands out above?

The Clippers create more threes and more corner threes, but the Nuggets shoot far less midrange shots and create many more around the rim. When you think Chris Paul and the new Blake Griffin, you think midrange. When you think Ty Lawson, you think attacking the rim. But when you toss the 76ers into the mix, they have taken just 478 midrange shots.

It would be even more interesting to get the numbers on when the shots are taken. Like how close is a defender when shots are taken? It's not just about where shots are coming from, but about how that shot is taken.

One thing is for sure: the Nuggets haven't been very efficient, no matter where their shots are coming from this season.