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NBA Trade Deadline Watch: Southwest Division

Ahead of the trade deadline, Moke Hamilton takes a look at the NBA’s Southwest Division and the odds of us seeing a shakeup.

Moke Hamilton

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For most NBA teams, the trade deadline presents one of the best opportunities to alter the trajectory of a franchise. For fringe contenders, the deadline could see the acquisition of one of the final few pieces to a championship puzzle. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers added Channing Frye, who has since become an important part of their team. Way back in 2004, it was the Detroit Pistons who succeeded in adding Rasheed Wallace to their core.

Some teams find themselves looking to divest of assets, while others see the deadline as an opportunity to acquire some players that can help improve the future fortunes of the team. That’s why, along with the NBA Draft, the deadline is one of the most important dates during the NBA season. Traditionally the Thursday following the conclusion of All-Star Weekend, general managers across the league will have until February 23 to put up or shut up.

Down in the NBA’s Southwest Division, we are likely to see most teams standing pat, but there is bound to be a surprise or two.


San Antonio Spurs (1st in Southwest, 39-12)

Aside from winning basketball games, the other constant with the San Antonio Spurs is their ability to fly under the radar and avoid unwanted attention. Some things never change.

All things considered, the Spurs are doing quite well for themselves this season, despite having been without Pau Gasol since mid-January. What the injury to the Spaniard reminds the franchise of, though, is that you are only as good as your health allows you to be. The Spurs are obviously in the market for another big body, and as we saw previously with George Hill and Cory Joseph, the franchise is gifted when it comes to finding players that other teams covet.

From David Lee to Kyle Anderson to Jonathan Simmons, the Spurs have a number of valuable players on reasonable contracts, and could unquestionably find a trade partner if the franchise deemed it necessary. However, lovers of continuity and those that possess “corporate knowledge,” the Spurs aren’t likely to rock the boat this deadline season. That rings even truer when one considers that they sit atop the Southwest Division and appear to have an inside track to the second overall seed in the tough Western Conference.

Houston Rockets (2nd in Southwest, 38-17)

All season long, the question most commonly posed as it relates to the Houston Rockets is whether or not the team is “for real.” In the past, we have seen Mike D’Antoni teams excel in the regular season, only to falter and fall short when the games really count.

General manager Daryl Morey, despite his team’s early success, isn’t one to traditionally take things for granted. Even he admits, though, that making substantial changes to a team that has played so well is a risky proposition. For that reason, Morey went on record with the Houston Chronicle, assuring the public that his streak of making deadline deals was over.

In all likelihood Morey won’t be able to help himself, but anything that the Rockets do won’t rock their foundation. D’Antoni has earned a reputation for being a very loyal coach, both to his system and to his players. The team that the Rockets have assembled plays to his strengths, and there isn’t much reason to entertain the notion of a shakeup. According to Calvin Watkins of ESPN, the Rockets do have some interest in Serge Ibaka, however. With free agency on the horizon, the Congolese big man could find himself with a new address by the deadline. In many ways, Ibaka could make some sense for the Rockets, but the Magic is a team that is on the fence as it relates to fire selling some of its current assets of making a push for a run at the playoffs.

In the spirit of never saying never, Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer are each regarded as hard-working players who impact both sides of the floor. Each will stand to earn a total of $15 million combined for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, meaning that they are valuable trade commodities. The Rockets also have youngsters in K.J. McDaniels, Tyler Ennis, Sam Dekker, Clint Cappella and Montrezl Harrell, all of whom have low salary commitments and high perceived value.

For the Rockets, they could potentially package a few pieces to make a run at a bigger named player, so Serge Ibaka is worth watching. That is, of course, assuming Morey can’t help but to make a splash.

Memphis Grizzlies (3rd in Southwest, 32-22)

For as long as we can all remember, the Grizzlies have been a team that has seemingly been stuck in the middle. Good enough to make the playoffs and throw a scare into a good team, but ultimately not good enough to win the conference. It seems that, despite an infusion of some younger and more talented pieces, that’s where the Grizzlies are once again.

Many fans lose sight of the fact that consummating a trade at the NBA level requires two teams making a deal, and both teams want to win. It has to be symbiotic. For the Grizzlies, then, there are two questions. First is whether they have pieces that other teams would actually want, and second is whether what they fetch in return would actually help improve the team’s odds of improving their standing as the third-best team in the Southwest Division.

Unfortunately, in either instance, the answer is probably no. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are as close to unmovable as can be. The former two are the team’s best players, while the latter, along with Tony Allen, give the Grizzlies the tough mindset the team had used as its blueprint. Reminiscent of the way the Indiana Pacers fell apart without Roy Hibbert, David West and Frank Vogel, similar things would happen to the Grizzlies without any of the four aforementioned players.

Toward the end of the bench, rookie Wade Baldwin has had his fair share of high moments this season, while Andrew Harrison, JaMychal Green and Deyonta Davis continue to have value, as well. But none of those players are thought to have superstar potential, and unless the Grizzlies can find a way to nab a true difference maker who finds himself on the trade market—think Serge Ibaka, Carmelo Anthony or DeMarcus Cousins—any trade they find themselves making this deadline season will likely be one that is inconsequential in the grand scheme.

Dallas Mavericks (4th in Southwest, 20-32)

Without question, the Mavericks are thinking about life after Dirk Nowitzki. Truly a franchise pillar, the sun is setting on one of the greatest careers we have ever witnessed. Now, what the future holds for Mark Cuban’s team is tied directly to the strides that Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews can make in their personal games.

Having recently signed upstart Yogi Ferrell, the Mavericks are continuing their youth movement, which does make Andrew Bogut somewhat of an odd fit. Bogut, despite his injury concerns, is a valued commodity. He can still serve a valuable role for a team that needs a defensive-minded center off the bench who can control the paint and grab some rebounds during some key moments down the stretch of a tight playoff game. What makes Bogut even more appealing is that he is playing in the final year of his contract; he doesn’t require a hefty investment.

Knowing that the days of playoff contention are behind them, the Mavericks would likely require some minuscule form of compensation for Bogut; heavily protected picks would probably get it done. Both Deron Williams and Devin Harris would have similar appeal, as well. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Cavaliers did have some interest in Deron Williams in the not so distant past, though many believe the team will address their point guard and depth issues via buyout candidates. They typically show up after the deadline.

Never the type to not answer their phones during trade season, the Mavericks will likely entertain bids for some of their aging players. This time around, however, the trade deadline will be more about divesting assets than trading for pieces and players that can assist with a playoff run. Those days appear over for the Mavs, at least for now.

As it currently stands, the Mavs have just one pick credit—a 2019 second rounder from the Golden State Warriors. They would be best served by trying to improve the depth of their coffers.

New Orleans Pelicans (5th in Southwest, 20-32)

Teams that are struggling tend to be open to the idea of mixing things up. And “struggling” is a word that can be used to describe the Pelicans quite well. Since being ousted by the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 playoffs, the Pelicans have regressed badly as Anthony Davis has struggled to remain healthy over the course of an entire season. Last season, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon had trouble staying on the court and this season, things got off to a rocky start because of Jrue Holiday’s extended absence. The end result is a team that many feel is underachieving, and those are the teams that typically shake things up.

It’s probably safe to assume that Anthony Davis remains the team’s franchise player. Despite his health concerns, his appreciable upside makes him among the most valuable players in the league. Rookie Buddy Hield has shown flashes over the course of the young season, and indications coming out of New Orleans are that he continues to have the support of the organization.

The Pelicans were recently linked to the Philadelphia 76ers, who have an obvious logjam in their frontcourt. The rumored trade would see Jahlil Okafor sent to New Orleans for Alexis Ajinca and a first round pick. With the Sixers most interested in the pick, the Pelicans may substitute another player. It’s fluid, but what is obvious is that general manager Dell Demps needs to upgrade the talent on the roster – and doing it with Okafor would make a lot of sense, so long as the Pelicans don’t have to sacrifice one of their core players.

Tyreke Evans is worth keeping an eye on in the final year of a contract paying him a reasonable $10.2 million, while rookie guard Tim Frazier has played up his value tremendously while filling in for the injury-riddled team.

Of all teams in the Southwest, the Pelicans appear most likely to make a groundbreaking trade, which really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the franchise’s recent struggles.


For many years, the Southwest Division was thought to be the best in basketball. Times have changed a bit, but with the Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies all vying for supremacy, the Pelicans and Mavericks are stuck in the cellar. Whether it be one of the teams up top trying to improve their stock or the Pelicans and Mavs trying to change their fortunes, the odds of the division experiencing some sort of shake up, in some way, seem fairly high.

Stay tuned.

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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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