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Fixing the Charlotte Hornets

With little cap flexibility, the Charlotte Hornets have a tough path toward improving its roster.

James Blancarte

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The Charlotte Hornets are a team searching for answers. The Hornets came into the season following a relatively successful 2015-16 campaign in which they went 48-34 and made the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Making the playoffs was a notable accomplishment for a team that had losing records in four out of the last six seasons going to back to the 2010-11 campaign.

The Hornets came into this season hoping that with continuing focus on defense and hustle, coupled with some offseason retooling, they would again make the playoffs. Unfortunately, things have not worked out quite so well as the Hornets are currently 30-39 and have little hope of making the postseason.

Understanding and embracing the following ideas may help the Hornets move forward after this disappointing season.

Accept the Season is Lost and Prioritize the Future

The Hornets went into a critical matchup with the Chicago Bulls on March 13. The Bulls had just lost five straight games and were struggling mightily. The Hornets needed to score a win to keep their own playoff hopes alive. However, the team suffered an unfortunate setback when starting small forward Nicolas Batum sat out due to severe migraines. Reserve forward Jeremy Lamb stepped up against the Bulls with a career-high 26 points but the Hornets still went on to lose.

Again without Batum, the team lost in a lackluster effort against the Indiana Pacers on March 15. The back-to-back defeats effectively ended any realistic hope of making the playoffs for a second straight year, a feat not achieved since before the inception of the Charlotte Bobcats, which came into existence in 2004. Now that the playoffs are effectively out of sight, the team should look toward the draft and offseason.

The Hornets hold both their first and second-round picks in the upcoming draft. They possess the 10th worst record in the league and only have a 3.6 percent chance at a top-three pick and a .8 percent chance of landing the No.1 pick. With 14 games remaining, they have three fewer losses than the New York Knicks and if they lose enough games, the Hornets could move up a few spots in the projected draft order. If, for example, they were to overtake the Knicks, the Hornets would have a 21.5 percent chance at a top-three pick and a 6.3 percent chance at the top pick.

With a talented draft class and the potential to improve their odds of landing a top pick, the Hornets should consider firing up the tank and resting their starters and veterans. This would allow younger players and prospects to showcase their long-term potential and gain experience, in addition to working towards improving their chances at a top draft pick. This would be beneficial for young prospects such as power forward Johnny O’Bryant III, who was recently signed for the remainder of the season and point guard Briante Weber, who recently signed a two-year deal with the Hornets, just before his second ten-day contract was set to expire. Developing young talent and having a better chance in the draft should be the goal at this point.

Bolster the Bench and Be Overly Cautious with Injuries

While scoring a high draft prospect helps in the long term, it’s unrealistic to expect almost any rookie to contribute meaningfully to a team in his first year. Where the Hornets are in need of serious help is with their bench. Of the players that played the majority of the season, only forward Cody Zeller and All-Star guard Kemba Walker sport a decent net rating, +4.3 and +2.5 respectively.

So far, only Lamb, 9.7 points per game on 45.1 percent shooting and offseason addition Marco Belinelli, 10.3 points on 42.3 percent overall shooting and 35.7 percent three-point shooting, have provided consistent bench production this season. The addition of younger players with potential, such as O’Bryant III and Weber, could help improve this situation if either takes a step forward in their respective games.

Compounding the bench productivity issue is injuries, which have forced bench players to move into the starting lineup and has left the bench even more depleted. For example, Zeller, who started 44 of 48 games, has missed time due to injuries. Trade acquisition power forward Miles Plumlee has only played five games so far for Charlotte due to a calf strain and even big man Frank Kaminsky III recent recently missed time with a shoulder injury.

All of the above has left the big man rotation in Charlotte in disarray, contributing to the lack of bench production and the disappointing results so far this season. While injuries are mostly random and cannot be prevented in most situations, Charlotte should look to add players with track records of being durable to guard against having to dig deep into their roster or look for help from players with little NBA experience. Additionally, they should be overly cautious with treating injuries to avoid recurrence and leaving players vulnerable to suffering other setbacks.

Address the Team’s Defensive Issues in Late Game Situations

The Hornets have struggled mightily in late game situations this season. In fact, this may be the single biggest reason why Charlotte has had such a disappointing season.

Per NBA.com, the team is 17-26 in games decided with a point differential of five points or less and were outscored by 10.9 pointers per 100 possessions in these clutch situations. Simply put, the team loses close games at an alarming rate.

The biggest problem is that the Hornets’ defense repeatedly falls apart at the end of close games. In clutch situations, the Hornets are giving up 124.4 points per 100 possessions, which is the second-worst rate in the NBA this season (placing them ahead of only the Los Angeles Lakers). Systematically, the Hornets have failed to make the right rotations, close out on three-point shooters and force opponents into tough shots. Usually, this sort of futility in the clutch is aberrant or can stem from simply having bad luck, as was the case with the Minnesota Timberwolves a few years ago. However, the Hornets’ lack of success in the clutch has been a consistent issue and it stems mostly from a shaky closing defense. This is something Coach Clifford will have to address heading into next season.

The Hornets could also look to adding a player with a track record of hitting clutch shots. Attracting free agents in small markets is not the easiest task, but perhaps taking a risk on a player like forward Rudy Gay, who suffered a season-ending Achilles tear this past season would be worth the risk. In 28 games this year, Gay had a positive 2.8 net rating in the fourth quarter of games while shooting 45.6 percent overall and 42.9 percent on three-point attempts. The Hornets shouldn’t pursue a player like Gay simply because of last season’s clutch numbers, but if he shows signs of making a full recovery and fits in the team’s plans, he could in theory help with these late game issues.

Unfortunately, landing a player like Gay, even with his Achilles injury in mind, will require the Hornets to clean up their cap situation a bit and will also require that free agent to take a discount. This would be a hard sell considering the team isn’t exactly one player away from being a true contender.

Develop a Long-Term Solution to Address the Cap Situation

To put it bluntly, Charlotte’s cap situation is a nightmare, as is readily apparent when looking at Basketball Insiders’ salary data.

The Hornets have some tough choices to make and they need to decide whether they want to clear the ledger or simply make cutbacks where possible. Charlotte could choose not to exercise options on a few players, the key being a team option on career back-up guard Ramon Session’s contract. The league is full of young point guard talent and the team is better off saving nearly $6.3 million owed to Sessions, who would be going into his 10th year and hasn’t lived up to expectations in recent seasons.

The team can look to teams with cap flexibility who are looking for depth in a trade or who might be willing to take on additional burdensome salaries in exchange for a draft pick or two. Trading away Miles Plumlee, who has only played five games and is the team’s third big man, would save an additional $12.5 million annually. Additionally, trading away Lamb (owed $7 million in 2017) or Belinelli (owed $6.6 million in 2017), who they also just acquired, would help relieve their cap situation somewhat.

Charlotte will need to lock in a long term plan to ultimately determine how to best address their cap situation. Offloading salary is great if you have a plan to take advantage of that newly generated flexibility. But if their approach is to simply clear the deck without a well-reasoned plan in place to move forward successfully, it won’t make any real positive change for Charlotte.

Re-embrace the Defense-First Philosophy

Head Coach Steve Clifford has espoused the need for effort and intensity for years. He recently voiced his frustrations with the team’s defensive effort this season.

“We play with no discipline defensively,” Clifford said after the Hornets’ tough loss to Chicago. “We don’t. It’s been the story too many times this year. This is on me now. I have to do a better job of getting them to understand what we have to do.”

A major goal for next season should be to embrace, or re-embrace, the defensive philosophy that has been the hallmark of the Clifford era in Charlotte. The Hornets still rank in the top 10 in defensive rating this season, but last year they surrendered just 101.8 points per 100 possessions, whereas this season they are giving up 105 points per 100. While the Hornets have been pretty solid overall defensively, this team needs to improve its defensive performance since this is a more realistic path to improvement as opposed to improving significantly on offense.

Coach Clifford, venting his frustration with the whole season, spoke recently about his inability to coach the current team through its struggles.

“You know everyone talks about connecting, right? I’m supposed to be good at connecting,” Clifford said. “Well, I haven’t connected with this team, OK. [Because] I know what the problems are. [The players] know what the problems are, see. But the problems have not been fixed. And that’s coaching, that’s my job.”

The Hornets face a tough road ahead. Their cap situation limits their ability to make significant upgrades in the short term and the players they have don’t collectively have a ton of upside. However, this team has the net rating of a team that should have been in striking distance of the postseason but fell short in large part because of its terrible clutch-time defense. Fortunately, Steve Clifford has proven himself to be a talented defensive coach and should find some solutions during the upcoming offseason.

James Blancarte is a writer for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney based in Los Angeles, California.

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NBA PM: Lopez Leading On And Off The Court

Brook Lopez has been a valuable addition to the Los Angeles Lakers, both on and off the court.

Ben Nadeau

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In spite of the ongoing media circus, an inherently tougher conference and a roster that features just five players with more than three years of NBA experience, the Los Angeles Lakers are 8-10. Naturally, that won’t be good enough to reach the postseason in the West, but it’s better than most expected the young Lakers to fare. Their early season successes can be chalked up to their glut of budding talent — Julius Randle, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, among others — but there’s one other major driving force at hand here and his name is Brook Lopez.

Following years of will-they, won’t-they rumors, Lopez was acquired in a shocking blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets just prior to this year’s draft. The Lakers were eager to get out from under Timofey Mozgov’s lengthy, albatross-sized contract, so they packaged him with the once-troubled D’Angelo Russell, shipping the pair off for Lopez and the No. 27 overall pick. The deal was largely made with financial implications in mind, but the initial returns on Lopez have been a massive win for the Lakers as well.

Although Lopez is currently logging a career-low in minutes (24.3), he still often leads the way for Los Angeles — like the night he effortlessly dropped 34 points and 10 rebounds on 6-for-9 from three-point range against his former franchise. Through 18 games, Lopez is averaging just 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds — a scoring mark that ranks only above his rookie season with the New Jersey Nets in 2008-09 — but his statistical impact is key on this inconsistent roster nonetheless.

But beyond that, it seems as if some of Lopez’s biggest contributions this season have come off the court — just ask Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac.

“[Lopez] has taught me how to be a professional,” Kuzma told Basketball Insiders prior to their game against the Boston Celtics earlier this month. “He’s one of the first guys in the gym, one of the last ones to leave.”

Lopez, who has carried his fair share of incredibly poor teams in the past — and often with a smile — is in the final year of the contract he signed back in 2015. His expiring deal worth $22.6 million made Lopez the perfect acquisition for a Lakers team hoping to shed cap space before the upcoming free agency period — where, allegedly, LeBron James and Paul George are both targets.

For a 7-foot center that just added a three-point shot to his game and knocked down 134 of them last season alone, Lopez may be one of the greatest trade afterthoughts in recent memory. The Lakers will likely finish in the lottery rather than the postseason, but Lopez — along with veterans Andrew Bogut, Corey Brewer and Luol Deng — have been a helpful presence for the slew of young Lakers as they adjust to professional basketball.

“They’re all great — they’ve been there, done that,” Kuzma said. “They have a lot of experience in this league, so it’s good to learn from those guys because they’ve played 10, 13 years and that’s what I want to do.”

Kuzma, of course, was selected with that No. 27 overall pick that the Nets sent to Los Angeles in the trade, and he’s been red-hot ever since. Following an impressive combine, summer league and preseason, Kuzma jumped into the starting lineup after Larry Nance Jr. fractured his hand just eight games into the campaign. Although the Rookie of the Year battle has been dominated by the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons so far, Kuzma — averaging 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game — has emerged as a strong runner-up candidate.

For Zubac, however, it’s been a slower start to his NBA career but with Lopez, he says, things have gotten easier.

“The whole summer, I worked on my three-point shot,” Zubac told Basketball Insiders. “But also [I worked on my] post offense too, that’s what [Lopez] is good at. I’m really focusing my game around the post, so that’s where I’m trying to learn.”

Last year, Zubac was a popular late-season member of head coach Luke Walton’s rotation and he finished his rookie year averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 16 minutes per game. Unfortunately, the new arrivals and recent emergences have limited Zubac to just 10 total minutes over four appearances in 2017-18. Still, Lopez gives Zubac a mentor worth modeling his game after, even if it’s at the expense of real experience this season.

To get Zubac on the floor, the center has spent time with the South Bay Lakers, Los Angeles’ G-League affiliate, as of late. In two games, Zubac has averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds on 73 percent shooting from the field. Despite the lack of playing time, Zubac was more than happy to praise not only Lopez but the efforts of the other aforementioned veterans too.

“I can learn a lot from them and they help me play my game,” Zubac said. “Whoever’s on the court, whoever I’m playing with, I just try to learn as much as I can from them.”

Ultimately, though, it all comes back to Lopez.

Again, Lopez has averaged a career-low in minutes, but his contributions have been crucial in the Lakers’ overall standing thus far. In the games that Lopez has played less than 21 minutes, the Lakers are 0-5; but when he plays more than 30, the team is 3-1. On top of that, the Lakers are 5-1 when Lopez hits two or more three-pointers in a game as well. That sample size is still certainly small, but it’s nice indicator of Lopez’s inherent on-court impact, even when he’s not carrying the team on his shoulders.

“[He makes life] a lot easier for me,” Kuzma said. “He’s one of the most established scorers in the league and his career average is, like, 20 [points] a game. You can always count on him to be there every single night.”

While the Lakers can plan for a dream offseason haul involving James, George and others, they’ll have a tough decision facing them in July. Whether he’s efficiently stretching the floor, finishing off assists from Ball or setting the tone in an inexperienced locker room, Lopez has been quite the addition for Los Angeles.

This summer, Lopez enters unrestricted free agency and will likely garner offers outside of the Lakers’ pay range considering their big plans. If the Lakers decide to focus elsewhere, another team will reap the rewards. Until then, the youthful core in Los Angeles will benefit from having Lopez train and educate them each day.

“[Lopez] takes care of his body, he stays low-key and is never in trouble,” Kuzma said. “He’s the type of professional I want to be.”

Whether this is just a one-year detour in his extensively underrated career or the start of a great, new partnership, Lopez’s arrival in Los Angeles has been a huge success already. But as far as role models go for both Kuzma and Zubac, there are few choices better than Brook Lopez — both on and off the court.

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The Most Disappointing Teams So Far

Shane Rhodes looks at a few teams that have disappointed so far this season.

Shane Rhodes

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Approaching the season’s quarter mark, NBA teams are finally starting to settle into their respective grooves. As more and more players become comfortable, their teams begin to demonstrate what they can really do on the court. While some teams have exceeded expectations, a number of teams have underperformed and are looking worse, in some cases much worse, than expected.

Here are six of the NBA’s most disappointing teams so far this season.

6. Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks were going to be bad this season. They just weren’t expected to be this bad.

At 3-15, the Mavericks currently hold the worst record in the NBA. They rank 27th and 22nd in offensive and defensive rating, coming in at 99.3 and 107.6, respectively. Collectively, they are shooting just 42.2 percent from the floor and 34.7 percent from three-point range, both below league average. Nerlens Noel, whom Dallas acquired at the trade deadline last season, has played sparingly.

But there is seemingly a light at the end of the tunnel. The Mavericks’ three wins have come against the Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks, three teams that made the playoffs a season ago and are expected to do so again this season. Victories against the Wizards — who are currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference at 10-7 — and the Bucks — who boast one of the best players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo — are especially encouraging.

As of now, though, the team is still a mess on both sides of the ball.

5. Miami HEAT

The Miami HEAT were expected to be playoff contenders after a torrid second half last season that saw them win 30 of their final 42 games. Now, the HEAT are currently sitting at the 11th seed in the East and, with a record of 7-9, are currently boasting a worse record than the New York Knicks (9-7), Indiana Pacers (10-8) and the Los Angeles Lakers (8-10).

The offense just hasn’t arrived yet in South Beach. Miami has an offensive rating of 103.13, good for 26th in the NBA. They are shooting under league average from the field (44.5 percent) and from three (35.2 percent) and are fifth in turnovers per game with 16.6 per contest; not exactly a winning formula. The $50 million man Kelly Olynyk has contributed just 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game while the roster outside its starting unit looks flimsy at best. Dion Waiters hasn’t shot the ball as well as last season, either.

The schedule doesn’t get easier for the HEAT, with four upcoming games against the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors in their next seven. Expect Miami to get even worse before they start to get better.

4. Milwaukee Bucks

Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks were the sixth seed in the East. They boast one of the best young cores in the league, headed by phenom Antetokounmpo and supported by the likes of Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and, eventually, Jabari Parker.

Somehow, the Bucks find themselves at just 8-8.

In a weakened Eastern Conference, Milwaukee was expected to make a play for one of its top spots. Instead, the Bucks have gotten blown out by the Mavericks, while barely squeaking by teams like the Charlotte Hornets and Lakers. The Bucks are 23rd in the NBA in defensive rating with a mark of 106.5, worse than the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls while also sitting at 23rd in net rating at -2.2, behind the Los Angeles Clippers (-1.7) and Utah Jazz (-1.3).

Antetokounmpo has yet to improve his stroke from beyond the arc, an undesirable albeit expected deficiency in his game. But, much of the Bucks roster hasn’t shot well from three. Middleton is shooting just 32.1 percent while big-acquisition Eric Bledsoe is shooting an abysmal 16 percent from beyond the arc since arriving in Milwaukee. If they can’t improve here it will be extremely hard for the Bucks to improve their position in the standings.

With six of their next nine games coming against teams at or below .500, the Bucks have a great chance to rebound from their sluggish start. That doesn’t change the fact that, with one of the NBA’s more talented rosters, the Bucks have been a major disappointment up to this point.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers

At the time of this writing, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won five straight games. Most would say that would or should exempt them from a list like this.

They would be wrong.

The collective record of the teams Cleveland has played during its five-game win streak? 35-48. It may be encouraging to the fans to see the team rattle off five straight, but the Cavaliers aren’t exactly beating the best teams in the Association. They have been careless with the ball as well, turning it over more than 15 times per game while

Their biggest problem, however, is the fact that they can defend absolutely no one. With a defensive rating of 109.4, the Cavaliers have the worst defense in the league. They have gotten away with a lackluster effort in the past, Cleveland’s current roster, outside of LeBron James, just doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to make up for it. And the offense has been good; Cleveland is currently averaging 110.9 points per game with an offensive rating of 109.4, but that leaves them with a big goose egg for their net rating.

The Cavaliers will continue to struggle to beat teams as they attempt to outpace them on the offensive end. For a team that has made three straight NBA Finals and has one of the greatest of all time on its roster, that should certainly be regarded as a disappointment.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

Another “Big-3” was formed in the NBA after Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were paired with reigning Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook in the offseason. However, the 2017-18 season hasn’t exactly gone according to plan for the Thunder

Labeled as a team to rival the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy, the Thunder have done anything but so far this season. While the individual stats counting of Westbrook, George and Anthony have looked good, the Thunder have not as a collective. The team sits at just 7-9, good for 10th in the Western Conference. They rank 19th, 23rd and 21st in the NBA in points, rebounds and assists per game, respectively while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 35 percent from three, both good for 21st.

Westbrook’s early season shooting struggles have hurt the Thunder as well. Westbrook is shooting just 39.4 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from three. The dominance he displayed last season, especially late in games, just hasn’t appeared this season and the team is hurting because of it. If the Thunder want to move up in the standings, Westbrook will need to find a way to improve his shooting numbers; they will go as he goes much like last season, even with George and Anthony on the roster.

On a brighter note, the defense has been one of the best in the NBA. But if the Thunder can’t figure it out on offense and score well as a unit, they will continue to struggle, especially when having to face the high-octane offenses of the Warriors and Houston Rockets.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

When losing a player the caliber of Chris Paul, some regression is to be expected. Fortifying the roster with guards Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Milos Teodosic and forward Danilo Gallinari, however, the Clippers were expected to weather the storm, to an extent.

Early on the Clippers did exactly that. The team looked impressive in the early going, winning five of their first seven games and averaging 109 points per. Since then? Everything has seemingly gone downhill in Los Angeles, and fast.

The Clippers have lost nine straight by an average margin of 9.8 points per game. Thirteenth in the Western Conference with a 5-11 record, they have looked nothing like the playoff team they were expected to be and are by far the season’s biggest disappointment. They have played poorly on the defensive end, ranking 20th in the NBA with a defensive rating of 106.2. Opponents have shot 45.4 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three against them.

Things haven’t been the greatest on offense, either. In Paul’s absence, the Clippers have dropped from 15th in assists per game a year ago to 28th this season, averaging just 19.6 per game. While they are averaging 104.9 points per game, they are doing so on just 44.1 percent shooting.

Injuries have played a major role in the Clippers struggles; additions Beverly, Gallinari and Teodosic have all missed or are currently missing time with injury. But it’s discouraging to see that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are unable to elevate the Clippers outside of the Western Conference basement.

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NBA AM: Paul Millsap’s Injury Derails Denver

With Paul Millsap injured, the Nuggets hopes to become a contender take a hit.

Lang Greene

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After missing the playoffs for the past four seasons, the Denver Nuggets are a team on the rise. The team won 30 games in 2015, 33 in 2016, 40 in 2017 and are currently on pace to record 48 victories this season, which would be their most since 2013.

The squad features six players averaging more than 10 points per contest, not including two veterans in Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, both of whom are career double-digit scorers. The Nuggets also boast one of the youngest teams in the league with only three players over the age of 30 (Paul Millsap, Chandler and Richard Jefferson).

But the team was dealt a huge blow this week when it was learned that four-time All-Star forward Paul Millsap will be out the next three to four months after suffering a torn ligament in his wrist.

Millsap was extremely durable during his first 11 seasons in the league, missing 10 games just once (2017). This injury marks the first time in Millsap’s career where he will miss significant time while roaming the sideline in designer suits.

Millsap signed a three-year, $90 million deal this past summer and his acquisition was viewed as the next step in bringing the team back into the realm of the playoffs.

After an early season adjustment period, Denver (10-7) has rattled off seven victories in their last 10 games. For the team, Millsap’s injury news couldn’t have come at a worst time.  The veteran was averaging 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds through 16 contests. The points are his lowest since 2013 and the rebounding output is his lowest since 2010, but Millsap’s presence has helped stabilize the young Nuggets on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

The Nuggets do have a plethora of power forwards on the depth chart. Veteran Kenneth Faried has started 366 contests for the franchise since being drafted in 2011. Faried’s future with the franchise has come into question in recent years as his playing time and role in the rotation has consistently diminished. The signing of Millsap likely solidified that fate, however, by not dealing Faried, the Nuggets were able to keep an insurance policy in the fold.

Third-year forward and former lottery pick Trey Lyles is another candidate for an increased workload. Lyles is currently averaging 6.8 minutes in 12 appearances but is shooting a career high from the field (52 percent) and three-point range (42 percent) in his limited court time. Another like candidate for more playing time is second-year big man Juan Hernangomez, who has currently appeared in just six contests.

Offensively, the Nuggets will be able to absorb his loss. Guards Gary Harris and Jamal Murray score the ball efficiently while swingman Will Barton provides pop off the bench. The team will also likely ride the back of their franchise player Nikola Jokic a bit more as well, with the big man averaging just 11.6 shot attempts per game—third on the team.

Perhaps the biggest area the Nuggets will have to adjust is on the defensive end.

According to ESPN’s real defensive plus-minus (DPM), Millsap ranks 31st overall in the league (1.62). He ranks seventh among power forwards with at least 10 games played this season. Last season, Millsap was fifth among power forward and 14th overall in DPM.

The veteran’s track of improving a team’s prowess on the defensive end is proven and it’s exactly the type of “silent” attribute the Nuggets needed on a loaded young team still learning how to play on that side of the ball.

                              Paul Millsap – Real Defensive Plus-Minus
Season DPM League Overall Rank Power Forward Rank
2013-14 2.06                 63                   12
2014-15 2.22                 43                    8
2015-16 3.26                 12                    2
2016-17 3.35                 14                   5
2017-18 1..62                 31                  9

 

The Nuggets will be tested immediately without Millsap in the fold. The team travels to Houston (November 22) and will play nine of their next 13 games are on the road. This includes a six-game road trip from December 4 to December 13.

The team is currently 7-2 at home and just 3-5 away from the Pepsi center.

They will, for sure, be tested without Millsap.

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