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  • 03/10/2013, 03:00PM ET

Are the Nuggets serious contenders in the West?

J-Business (78-66-19) vs Marlins Fan (156-78-31)
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This question comes up every year, can a team without a superstar contend for a title?

I say the Nuggets are legitimate contenders

The Nuggets are currently the 5th seeded team in the West which is actually misleading because they still have the 7th best record in the NBA and would be a 2nd seed in the East.

So how can the Nuggets be in the same discussion as OKC, the Clippers and San Antonio for the West title?

A lot of people say that a team needs a "superstar" to win but in reality, the only team with a major scorer on a top West team is OKC

For LA, Griffin is their leading scorer at 18.6 and for SA, it's Parker (the oft injured) at 21

The only top team with big time scorers is OKC with Durant and Westbrook

Denver is 3rd highest scoring team in the NBA and has the 6th highest pt differential which means they score enough and play enough defense that games aren't that close

The Nuggets have decent scorers in Lawson and Gallinari, defense in Iguadola and Faried. They have a very good bench and many of these players have experience together.

I say the Nuggets are legitimate West contenders


Well if the question is brought up every year I think we can saefly conclude the answer...

No, an NBA team usually cannot win without a superstar.

A quick look at the last several NBA champions proves it:

2012, Heat (LBJ)
2011, Mavericks (Dirk)
2010, Lakers (Kobe)
2009, Lakers (Kobe)
2008, Celtics (KG, Pierce, Allen)
2007, Spurs (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker)
2006, Heat (Wade)
2005, Spurs (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker)

Every single one of those teams had a "superstar", or several of them.

But in reality it's not just a superstar that teams need to win NBA championships; it's a go-to scorer.

The 2004 Detroit Pistons also won an NBA championship, and the argument could be made that that Pistons team possessed no true superstar.

However, the Pistons did have a go-to scorer in Chauncey Billups.

Billups, as you may recall, was at this point known as "Mr. Big Shot". He had a well deserved reputation for being able to close out games (particularly playoff games) with sick fourth quarter runs and timely jumpers, usually three pointers.

The Nuggets have nothing of the sort. In a close 4th quarter playoff game they have NOBODY to provide clutch points.


I agree that a team with a go to scorer is usually required to contend for a title. However, as I mentioned, out of the top 5 seeds in the current Western Conference standings, only OKC has a go to scorer

The top scorers for
SA - Parker 21 pts
Clippers - Griffin 18 pts
Memphis - Randolph 15 pts

Currently, the Nuggets would play Memphis in the 1st rd and probably SA in the 2nd rd and neither team has an elite scorer

So if we are to look at this CURRENT 2012-13 season, we will see that most of the top teams in the West do not have an elite scorer.

The Clippers would also have to decide if the shot goes to Griffin, Crawford of Paul
The Spurs Duncan, Parker, Ginobilli or Leonard
Memphis is looking at Gasol, Randolph or Conley

The only team that can categorically say they have a guy who can pour in 15 straight in the 4th qtr of a big game is OKC and the Nuggets wouldn't meet them until the Western Conference Finals

What you are saying is historically true but with the current makeup of the Western Conference, that theory does not hold water.


You're focusing far too heavily on PPG as some type of abstract barometer of whether or not a player is a go-to scorer.

Tony Parker may "only" be scoring 21 PPG but he has won three NBA Finals and on one of those occasions (2007) was named Finals MVP.

He doesn't shoot as much as traditional superstars because Gregg Popovich's offense revolves around ball movement more than any other NBA offense. Everybody on the Spurs can shoot and they all get ample opportunities.

For example, Parker collects his 21 PPG on 15 field goal attempts. Kobe Bryant scores 27 PPG on 20 FG attempts. Who's the more efficient scorer?

It's Parker, by a mile. Matter of fact Parker is one of only two players in the Top 10 PPG this year to shoot over 53%, the other being LeBron.

The Spurs definitely have a go-to scorer, and also have Duncan and Ginobili was wild cards.

And the Clippers... don't get me started. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul aren't go-to scorers?

Please. Both of those guys can light it up and have a knack for 4th quarter points.

The Grizzlies aren't really a contender.

And that's the point. Denver, like Memphis, isn't a contender because they lack a true go-to scorer.


Yes, I must be insane. I'm suggesting that we look at a player's scoring avg to determine if they are a go to scorer
What was I'm thinking?

Of course we have to look at a player's scoring because it's the only way we can possibly have a discussion. You've mentioned Tim Duncan and Ginobilli but they are both older and simply can't put up the numbers anymore.
This is why the Spurs have brought in younger players
The Spurs have marquee players but their last title was 6 yrs ago

Paul and Griffin may be great players but they aren't great scorers. In fact, during last yrs playoff run, Paul averaged 17pts a game and Griffin 21 pts.

The fact that they weren't is a reason of concern for the Clippers which is why they brought in Jamal Crawford.

In fact, Denver is only 2.5 games behind the Clippers and played the Lakers very tough last yr in the playoffs.

They also have a strong team that has been together and there's no reason why they can't advance.

The Clippers and Spurs have the bigger names, but as far as hard numbers, the Nuggets are right there with them.

If the Clips and Spurs are contenders, then the Nuggets also are in the conversation


Nice examples of sarcasm but my point remains; PPG isn't a great gauge for scoring ability, especially when used in a vacuum like you're doing.

Again, Tony Parker is one of the most efficient scorers in the world. He's one of the most efficient guards of all time. If he dominated the ball like Kobe or Durant his PPG would be even higher. It's simple math. Parker is shooting a higher FG% than any of the NBA's top scorers except LBJ, meaning more FGA's would boost his PPG past everyone but LeBron's.

Your attempt at belittling all the other Western Conference teams due to their "lack of quality scorers" falls flat because it's rooted in bull poop.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, don't have any efficient scorers. They also don't have anybody who has ever made a name for themself by going crazy in the playoffs.

There is no reason to expect Denver to change their system and produce a go-to scorer in the playoffs.

Chris Paul, on the other hand, has proven he can elevate his game in the playoffs. Ditto Tony Parker. Ditto Tim Duncan. Ditto Manu Ginobili. Ditto Durant and Westbrook.

Denver just doesn't have the star power to compete, offensively or defensively.

Good TD.

March 10, 2013  05:50 PM ET

Parker isn't "oft" injured.

He's just currently injured.

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March 10, 2013  06:08 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

At best, they get to the 2nd round. Depending on the matchup, they could get bounced in the 1st round.

Agreed.

It's gonna be part of my second/third arguments, but Denver just won't be able to keep up with San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the playoffs.

Not only do they lack a go-to scorer but their home-road splits aren't great and they will NOT have home court advantage against either SA or OKC.

Comment #5 has been removed
March 10, 2013  06:16 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

The last team to win without a superstar was Detroit. This Denver team doesn't play defense like the Pistons did.

I agree, and it's not even close.

The Pistons were the best defensive team I've ever seen.

The Nuggets aren't even really a good defensive team this year, and honestly they really only have one good defensive player. (Iguodala)

Good defensive team>good defensive player

March 11, 2013  04:03 AM ET

The Denver Nuggets have been able to get wins against the following top tier teams:

Thunder
Spurs
Grizzlies
Clippers

And so far they have swept the recently surging Lakers.

The Spurs are without their All-Star PG and the Thunder hasn't found a comfortable 3rd man since they let James Harden go. I can easily see the Nuggets as being serious contenders. I also like their roster, they are very athletic and they can mix up their rotation from going small and quick to tall and abusive, and most of them can create their own shots. And the way they play as a cohesive team that enjoys each others contributions makes them a legit threat to the West Con. title....

March 11, 2013  04:32 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

The Denver Nuggets have been able to get wins against the following top tier teams:ThunderSpursGrizzliesClippersAnd so far they have swept the recently surging Lakers.The Spurs are without their All-Star PG and the Thunder hasn't found a comfortable 3rd man since they let James Harden go. I can easily see the Nuggets as being serious contenders. I also like their roster, they are very athletic and they can mix up their rotation from going small and quick to tall and abusive, and most of them can create their own shots. And the way they play as a cohesive team that enjoys each others contributions makes them a legit threat to the West Con. title....

It is just weird seeing the Clippers and Grizzlies mentions as top tier teams.

March 11, 2013  04:37 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

The last team to win without a superstar was Detroit. This Denver team doesn't play defense like the Pistons did.

This topic is in regards to the Western Conference where offenses run wild.

March 11, 2013  04:39 AM ET
QUOTE(#8):

It is just weird seeing the Clippers and Grizzlies mentions as top tier teams.

Yup. Who would have thought that the Clippers and Grizzlies would be way better than the Lakers even with a roster of Kobe, Artest, Howard, Gasol and Nash....

March 11, 2013  04:41 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

The last team to win without a superstar was Detroit. This Denver team doesn't play defense like the Pistons did.

True but with the exception of OKC, no other top Western team has a legitimate top level scorer.

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March 11, 2013  04:59 AM ET
QUOTE(#11):

He doesn't shoot as much as traditional superstars because Gregg Popovich's offense revolves around ball movement more than any other NBA offense. Everybody on the Spurs can shoot and they all get ample opportunities.

This is the same exact thing that Denver does. George Karl's offense revolves around moving the ball and I'm sure if Gallinari, Lawson or even McGee were to get 24 shots a game, they'd probably average over 20 pts a game.

March 11, 2013  05:03 AM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Not in the postseason. The game slows down in the postseason and a team must be able to olay defense in order to be a contender. A big reason why the Suns never were serious contenders.

Are you forgetting that the Spurs and Lakers were stacked with All-Stars that were proven and continually won the Finals for the reason why the Suns never was a serious contender?

Would you rather have Tim Duncan, Robinson, Parker, Ginobli, Big Shot Bob or Nash & Amare?

How about Shaq, Kobe, Big Shot Bob, Ron Harper, Glenn Rice, and the great Mark Madsen or would you prefer Nash and Amare still?

Bringing up the Suns is not a good example IMO.

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March 11, 2013  05:05 AM ET
QUOTE(#16):

This is the same exact thing that Denver does. George Karl's offense revolves around moving the ball and I'm sure if Gallinari, Lawson or even McGee were to get 24 shots a game, they'd probably average over 20 pts a game.

And that's what makes Denver dangerous, anyone on that team can score, they don't have to wait pleasing Melo anymore.

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