Monday Morning Point Guard
Happy New Year! It’s time to scribble down your resolutions for the coming year everybody. Whether you are vowing to give up candy, promising to do more push-ups, or planning on skydiving in the next 365 days, its always healthy to create goals in life.
For the Denver Nuggets, who are now 3-2 on the season, here are some resolutions for this year’s team, as we steamroll into 2012.
Fitness will be factor all season long, and the ability for any given team to stay healthy is always paramount to success. Stretching will be important for the Nuggets to avoid any unnecessary, nagging injuries. With back to back to back games a reality, keeping the team fresh will be a challenge for George Karl. Because of the lockout, the season is jam-packed with games, so it will be a war of attrition for every squad. Good old-fashioned stretching will help the Nuggets win that war.
2. Keep stealing.
Watching the Nuggets play defense this year has been like watching gypsies scour the long lines of people waiting for attractions in Europe. There’s been a lot of theft. The Nuggets have been racking up the steals this season. They lead the league with 14.8 swipes per game. Ty Lawson leads the league with 14 steals, and Nene, Miller, Harrington, and Gallinari are all in the top 20. With Lawson spearheading the effort, the Nuggets are getting their hands in the passing lanes, and creating turnovers aplenty. There’s an old saying that the best offense is a good defense, and that adage holds true for the Nuggets. Steals lead to easy buckets, and easy buckets lead to easy victories. If the Nuggets defense continues to clamp down, their win total will continue to go up.
3. Finish games strong.
The Nuggets have been in every game. They have yet to be blown out, and have had a fighting chance in every contest to date. That’s a trait of a good basketball team. But the difference between a good basketball team and an elite basketball team is how you finish. The great teams finish strong and find ways to win the close games. Lethargic fourth quarter efforts have led to both their losses. They were in the game in Portland and in Los Angeles, but ran out of gas in crunch time. On the other hand, the Nuggets rattled of an 11-0 run to polish off the Lakers last night, picking up the W going away. It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. The more strong finishes the Nuggets achieve, the better their record will be.
4. Practice shooting 3’s.
The Nuggets are shooting 29 percent from downtown. That is downright dreadful. They are scoring at a tremendous clip (105 points per game), but still averaging an abysmal percentage from beyond the 3-point arc. Every legitimate 3-point shooter on the Nuggets has underperformed so far this campaign, with the exception of Lawson, who is shooting 40%. Gallinari is an awful 13%. Fernandez is a mediocre 27%. Afflalo is a disappointing 25%. And Harrington is an unimpressive 33%. For gosh sakes, the Nuggets are 2nd in the league in scoring, and 24th in the league in 3-point shooting. Imagine if they straighten out their long range shooting? There’s no telling how explosive the Nuggets offense could be.
5. Sharing is caring.
The Nuggets are at their best when they share the rock. Not only do assists assist in winning games, but there’s something about making the extra pass that invigorates a team. Case in point, Andre Miller and Ty Lawson had a textbook 2 on 1 late in the game against the Lakers last night. Lawson laid it off to Miller who touch passed it right back to Lawson for the easy deuce. The Nuggets never looked back after that bucket, which energized both the team and the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets are 13th in the league in assists per game. Not bad, but not amazing. If they care more to share more, they will be a better team in the long run.
Only five games in, there are plenty more resolutions to be made. Sixty one games to go in the 2012 season. Should be quite the year.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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