It’s the All-Star break, which means Nuggets fans don’t have much basketball to watch outside of the few minutes Jokic will receive in the All-Star Game on Sunday.
It does give us a chance to reflect on the first chunk of the season. Here’s a deep dive on some stats that we found interesting.
Nikola Jokic has been the leading scorer in 25 games this season. In those 25 games, he’s also had the most rebounds on the team 18 times, and had the most assists 15 times.
Jokic has had the most assists in a game for the Nuggets 37 times, and the most rebounds 34 times.
There are two players that have led the Nuggets in rebounds the second-most often — Paul Millsap and Juancho Hernangomez, who have each done that six times.
Jokic has recorded twelve triple-doubles this season.
Here’s Jokic’s per game stats: 20.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. The only player in the 3-point era to record those stats over the course of a season? Russell Westbrook, the triple-double king.
Jokic has a higher win shares per 48 minutes this season than Westbrook has had in any of the seasons (including this season) he’s reached those marks. Win shares is a statistic created by the folks at Basketball Reference, and is “a player statistic which attempts to divvy up credit for team success to the individuals on the team.”
Jokic is behind Monte Morris, Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap in average seconds per touch — and that’s factoring in the number of times Jokic dribbles the ball up the court. The ball pops to other players when Jokic gets touches!
Want another Jokic stat? He leads the team in steals — and he’s third in the league for centers in steals per game.
Actually, it’s easier to just list the categories Jokic doesn’t lead the team in: 3-pointers and blocks. He doesn’t have the most personal fouls either, but that’s not a number someone wants to be tops at (that’ll get discussed later).
Okay, I have to add another. Jokic is the fulcrum of the Nuggets offense, and has been for a couple years. But this season, things have ramped up even more. Jokic has assisted on an estimated 38.4-percent of the Nuggets field goals while he’s been on the court.
Okay, last Jokic stat. He has an average speed of 3.94 MPH, making him officially the slowest player on the team.
This has been a much-repeated stat, but the Nuggets have missed a total of 75 games from Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Paul Millsap, all three whom were among the starters on opening day. The Nuggets have only had those three players available for eight games this season.
This is a Ryan Blackburn discovery:
“Among all players in NBA history 22 and under to shoot as many threes as Malik Beasley, only three seasons have exceeded his 43.3 three point percentage: Ben Gordon in 2005-06, Stephen Curry’s rookie year, and Stephen Curry’s sophomore year.”
Here’s some more Malik Beasley love - he leads the team in made 3-pointers this season with 119, with the next closest player at 100 (Jamal Murray).
Beasley was on fire going into the All-Star break. In his last 10 games, Beasley is shooting 55/48/81, and has made 33 3-pointers.
Beasley set a new career-high in made 3-pointers in a game in the Nuggets second game this season against the Warriors with six. The Nuggets still lost by 31 points.
The Nuggets 31 point loss to the Warriors is their worst loss this season.
The player that is third on the team in made 3-pointers? That would be sophomore point guard Monte Morris, who has 69 this season.
Time for some Morris love. Of the players drafted in the 2017 draft, Morris is ninth in win shares, but 26th in total minutes played. He’s above the following guards that were drafted before him: Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Malik Monk, Juke Kennard, Derrick White, Frank Jackson, Jawun Evans, and Damyean Dotson.
Morris has played 1449 minutes in his career, and has 36 total turnovers.
Morris has an assist percentage of 22.2 this season, and a turnover percentage of 6.2 this season. The only players in the 3-point era to have a turnover percentage below 8.5 and an assist percentage over 22 in a season are Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady, World. B Free, Lou Williams, and Kemba Walker. The only player to have a turnover percentage below 8.0 was Lou Williams, and again — Morris is at 6.2 percent.
Morris has the same number of dunks this season (2) as Tyler Lydon and ... Will Barton.
Barton is shooting just 45.3-percent near the rim. He shot 55 percent there last season. He missed a huge chunk of the season with a hip injury, and hasn’t been as explosive since he returned. Hopefully he’ll be able to hit the weights during the All-Star break and try to build back some of that strength, while rebuilding trust in his rehabbed hip.
Jamal Murray has seen his defense slip month after month since the season began. It’s gone from 104, to 110, to 114, to 119 in January.
Sticking to defense, Murray has one of the worst steal rates in the NBA among guards. With just 41 steals in 1700 minutes, Murray has a 1.2 steal percentage, tied for second-worst for his position.
Torrey Craig also has a 1.2 steal percentage. The Nuggets could definitely use a healthy Gary Harris on the perimeter.
Murray leads the team in shots following seven or more dribbles with 3.4 attempts per game. Monte Morris averages 2.0 attempts per game, but no other player averages more than 1.0 on the team.
Most of those shots for Murray at 2-point field goals, and he’s shooting 44 percent on those attempts.
Bump the number of dribbles down to two — which is close to what a guard would need off a dribble handoff to create space, especially if the defender goes under the screen — and Murray is shooting just 27.6 percent on 0.6 attempts per game. I continue to plea - please take more 3-pointers off the dribble! Make that a weapon!
Murray is averaging 18.3 points and 5.0 assists per game — the only guards to put up those kind of numbers before they were 22 years of age in the 3-point era are Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Damon Stoudemire, Gilbert Arenas, and this season, D’Angelo Russell. Pretty good company (for the most part).
Mason Plumlee commits 7.6 personal fouls per 100 possessions. Not only is that the highest rate on the team (excluding Isaiah Thomas’ 13 minutes and Devaughn Akoon-Purcell’s 22) by a significant margin, he is the only NBA player to have played over 1000 minutes this season with that high of a rate. The next closest minutes and foul rate per 100 possessions guy is Memphis Grizzlies rookie Jaren Jackson Jr., who commits 7.3 fouls per 100 possessions. (Link)
Mason Plumlee had attempted 17 3-pointers before the start of this season, and had made zero of those attempts. His last made 3-pointer during a competitive game came in college while he was at Duke. That all changed this year though.
The Nuggets are 8-4 when Trey Lyles makes more than one 3-pointer in a game.
There are 123 players in the NBA that have attempted more than 180 3-pointers this season. The only player that has a lower 3-point percentage than Lyles’ 25.4-percent is Russell Westbrook, who is shooting 24.9-percent. (Link)
Of that group, the fifth-worst shooter is Nikola Jokic, who is shooting 30.8-percent on 201 attempts.
Here’s a stat to combine Jokic and Lyles. Out of the ten two-man net ratings that have been recorded this season with Jokic, the only player to have a negative net rating is Trey Lyles, at -11.0 The next lowest player is Juancho Hernangomez, at 4.8.
When Trey Lyles is on the court, the Nuggets shoot 31.9-percent on 3-point attempts. That’s good for ... thirtieth in the NBA if that mark was indicative of overall team 3-point shooting. When Trey Lyles is off the court, the Nuggets shoot 37.8-percent on 3-point attempts, which is good for fifth in the NBA under the same conditions as stated earlier.
Only three players have appeared in every game this season for the Nuggets — Mason Plumlee, Malik Beasley, and Monte Morris.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Juancho Hernangomez. The third member of the 2016 Nuggets draft class had a strong 2018, but has been a disaster in 2019. While the good version of Hernangomez is a valuable piece in the rotation, the bad version doesn’t deserve any minutes.
Juancho Hernangomez 2018/2019 Averages
Using the January 1 mark again, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris are among the league leaders in field goal percentage. Considering guards that have played more than 300 minutes in 2019, Beasley ranks fourth and Morris ranks seventh in that stat. (Link)
Torrey Craig has made zero field goals in the 16-21 foot range. At least he knows where to shoot though, because he’s only attempted seven field goals from that distance. Craig has attempted 137 2-point field goals, and 121 of them have come around the rim.
Craig also has 139 3-point attempts this season, making his split between 3-pointers and shots at the rim nearly identical. Mike D’Antoni would be so proud.
Craig is king of the hustle for the Nuggets. He has the second-highest offensive rebounding rate for players 6’7” and shorter in the NBA among guards, behind only Hamidou Diallo. Craig grabs 2.3 offensive rebounds per game, according to Basketball Reference.
The Nuggets are the second-best offensive rebounding team in the league, averaging 12.1 per game.
From the beginning of the season until December 7, the Nuggets were fourth in the NBA in defensive rating at 104.4. From December 8 until now, the Nuggets rank nineteenth in the NBA in defensive rating at 111.5.
For the season, the Nuggets rank eleventh in the NBA in defensive rating, tied with the Lakers and 76ers with a 108.4 rating. Defenses league-wide have gradually gotten worse as the season has progressed, which reveals a lion share of the decline is due to fatigue.
The Nuggets are third in the NBA in percentage of points in the paint, at 47.7 percent.
The Nuggets are twenty-sixth in the NBA in percentage of points via free throws, at 14.3 percent.
The Nuggets are one of the leaders in percentage of shots taken in what NBA.com classifies as “late” and “very late” shots. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the Denver offense relies on forcing defenses to rotate several times, creating openings that Jokic can find for a pass and a guard can cut into for a layup or dunk. It also allows them to slow the pace of the game down, giving them fewer defensive possessions where they would need to get a stop.
The Nuggets are one of the most consistent teams in terms of sharing the ball this season. They have only had two games this season where they had fewer than 20 assists in the game, tied with the Pelicans and Warriors for the fewest sub-20 assist games.
Denver is second in the league in assists per game, with 27.6. Jokic-ball works!
Denver leads the league in winning percentage in clutch games this season, winning 23 of the 33 close games they’ve been in.
While they have been winning those games, they’re the third-worst team in the league in turning the ball over in those situations. It’d be nice to see them clean that up — it’s not like the Nuggets have a history of bad turnovers in clutch playoff games, right?
Denver has two games this season where they didn’t record a single blocked shot. There are four other teams (Detroit, Dallas, Indiana, and San Antonio) that have also had two games with zero blocked shots, while Cleveland has the most, with five of those games.
The Nuggets 25-point comeback against the Grizzlies was the second-largest fourth-quarter comeback victory in franchise history. They had the lead for 34 seconds in the game. On the flip side, it was the largest regular-season blown lead ever for the Grizzlies.