Final Regular Season Grades for Each Denver Nuggets Player in 2013
It was a historical regular season for the Denver Nuggets in many ways
The 2012-13 Nuggets team set multiple franchise records including 57 wins, a 15-game winning streak, 38 home wins and a 23-home game winning streak.
Now that Denver is into its playoff journey and the NBA regular-season honors are being awarded, it's time to hand out the final grades for each Nuggets player.
In examining each player's final grade there are several aspects to look at: general stats and overall production, efficiency, results based on expectations, how good the player is in playing his role, how important this player is to the team and what player's salary is based on these factors.
Therefore, while it's clear that some players are better than others, they might receive grades that don't easily correlate to something as simple as points per game.
With that, here are the final regular-season grades for the Denver Nuggets.
In the seven games rookie Quincy Miller played this season he only combined for 26 minutes of action. Essentially, he played the equivalent of one game and totaled nine points, three rebounds and two assists.
He's someone that fits the style of the Nuggets. He's a 6'9" small forward that can attack the basket, has great athleticism and has touch around the rim.
Nonetheless, since his playing time was so limited, Miller must be graded on a pass/fail scale.
While Julyan Stone is another player we have seen very little of as the third-string point guard, he also suffered a sprained MCL in the late part of March (via MileHighSports.com).
Stone only saw action in four games for a total of 28 minutes, although 14 of those minutes came against Sacramento on March 23 when Lawson didn't play.
While he was quiet with just five points, one assist and one rebound, Stone was plus-10 and didn't turn the ball over.
However, with limited minutes, Stone is the second but last player who can't receive a letter grade.
With the emergence of JaVale McGee, the time and production has gone down for Timofey Mozgov.
He played in exactly half of the games during the regular season, averaging just 2.6 points in 8.9 minutes.
Mozgov has a solid mid-range shot, he can rebound the basketball and he can alter shots in the paint. He also has a sneaky, quick vertical jump and can block shots.
These flashes showed up a handful of times this season, with Mozgov's best game coming in the regular-season finale against Phoenix. He posted a double-double with exactly 10 points and 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes.
Having said that, he has a fairly limited skill set and is primarily a role player. His contract expires at the end of the year and is making $2,794,621 this season (per Hoopshype.com).
That double-double might be his last game in a Nuggets uniform.
Jordan Hamilton is someone we thought we might see more of in his second NBA season, after playing double-digit minutes in 14 games by Christmas. Since then he's only done that six times, which is partially due to the breakout of rookie Evan Fournier.
Even with the decline in minutes, Hamilton recorded a solid PER of 17. He's got a good three-point stroke, can rebound better than the average person at 6'7" and can jump over most players at the 2 or 3.
The downfall is that he doesn't have the upper-body strength to go strong to the glass or the quickness to get around defenders. Most of the time he's going to pull up for a jumper if he puts the ball on the deck. He's also not the greatest passer.
Lastly, and oddly enough, as good of a shooter he is at times, he only shot 50 percent from the free-throw line.
Hamilton can't be encouraged with how little action he's seen since Christmas, but he showed some good signs of what he's capable of.
Anthony Randolph started to deal some damage in the later part of the season. Randolph saw action in 12 of the last 13 games and recorded a double-double in the regular-season finale against Phoenix.
Outside of rebounding on both ends of the floor, one of Randolph's biggest strengths is creating space and finding the gaps in the middle of the court. The Denver guards would attack from the perimeter and if the help-side defense would come, Randolph did a great job from the weak-side creating a passing lane close to the rim so he could get an easy basket.
Another good thing about Anthony is that while he has some explosiveness and can throw it down with his left hand, he also uses some touch around the basket and isn't always trying to make the highlight reel every time he touches the ball.
On the other hand, Randolph doesn't have a good set of basic post moves. A lot of his success comes from finding open spots in the paint and in transition. There's never a reason to double-team him or even guard him on the perimeter since he almost never takes a shot outside the paint and gets very few assists.
Combining this with his expectations and it's been an okay year for Randolph.
First-round pick Evan Fournier only got to display his game in short spurts for much of this season.
However, when the injuries developed in the later part of the season, the French rookie showed why he can be an asset to the Nuggets.
In the last nine regular-season games Fournier posted 12.3 points, 2.7 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 22.8 minutes.
He was also a good addition in improving the 25th ranked three-point shooting and 28th ranked free-throw percentage. Outside of JaVale McGee's 1-of-1 from three-point range, Fournier is second on the Nuggets with a 40.7 three-point percentage. He also made 23 of his last 24 free throws to end the regular season.
Fournier plays a little smaller than the rest of the Denver players outside of point guard but he is someone who can drive to the basket and finish at the hoop in transition.
The next step is to improve his consistency. We will get a better idea of what Fournier can bring to the table next season, but he has certainly helped off the bench at the 2 down the stretch.
Because of Kenneth Faried's late-season ankle sprain (via Rodger Sherman of SB Nation), Kosta Koufos led the Nuggets in games played and games started at 81.
He's not flashy. He's isn't a huge post threat. He very rarely takes a shot outside the lane.
However, even with a lower ceiling of potential, Koufos showed up consistently and played his role.
The key is that he was efficient and led the Nuggets in field-goal percentage (outside of Julyan Stone's 2-of-2) at a 58.1 rate. Koufos grabbed 6.9 rebounds in 22.8 minutes and every so often George Karl gave him extended minutes and would get double-digit points while shooting over 50 percent.
Furthermore, Koufos was a guy that altered shots in the paint even if he didn't use one of his 1.3 blocks per game. He was one of the main reasons why Denver ranked 11th in defensive field-goal percentage despite giving up 101.1 points per game (tied for 23rd).
For $3 million a year (per Hoopshype.com), and this being his first season as a full-time starter, Koufos did his job.
After Danilo Gallinari suffered his torn ACL (via Drew Garrison of SB Nation) and Wilson Chandler entered the starting lineup, Corey Brewer somewhat became the sixth man, at least offensively as a pure shooter.
While Brewer didn't do a lot outside of scoring as far as the stat sheet was concerned, it wasn't really his job. Some might wish that he grabbed more than 2.9 boards at 6'9", but his teammates were so good on the glass collectively (tied second) that his numbers couldn't be too much higher, playing 24.4 minutes.
The one thing that gets overlooked about Brewer is his defense and the fact that he takes care of the basketball. He's recorded 1.4 steals and only lost the ball 1.2 times. It's rare to see someone earn more steals than total turnovers.
The biggest and most obvious concern for Brewer is that he is extremely streaky from behind the arc and doesn't have a good three-point percentage. Even though he improved from last year's 26 percent to this season's 29.6, that's still not good enough for someone who took 3.7 attempts.
Additionally, when Brewer's minutes increased to 28.5 in the month of April when the Gallinari injury occurred, Brewer had one of his worst months, shooting overall at 39 percent.
In its entirety, it was a decent year for Corey.
At this rate, Andre Miller is going to play until he's 50 years old (half joking). He turned 37 a little over a month ago and at certain moments he's playing basketball like he's still in his prime.
Even though Miller played 26.2 minutes (lowest since rookie season), he still scored 9.6 points and dished out 5.9 assists. Andre also had his best year at the free-throw line at 84 percent, and his second best year in field-goal percentage at a 47.9 rate.
The question for Denver fans was how Miller would do with a significant increase in his minutes per game for three weeks because of Ty Lawson's plantar fascia tear (per Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com). In Andre's first start after the injury the veteran went 9-of-14, shooting for 21 points while recording eight assists. Basically, he reminded us that he's still got it.
Granted he most likely wouldn't be able to maintain numbers like that over 82 games, and he doesn't have the speed we are accustomed to seeing, but his production for having 13 years of experience is remarkable. He can still catch fire offensively and hit shots in the clutch.
Even though Miller is making $5 million (via Hoopshype.com) at this point in his career he hasn't slacked one bit and continues to do a little more than most people expect.
Even with an excellent rookie season, Kenneth Faried made some strides in his sophomore year.
While his shooting percentages took a slight decline, Faried still shot 55.2 percent from the field and increased his points to 11.2.
Where the Manimal primarily improved was his rebounding. He made a jump from 7.7 to 9.2 boards, which isn't too shabby for someone who is just 6'8" playing the 4.
It even carried over to the defensive side. Faried was the only player on the Nuggets roster who averaged more than one steal and one block per game.
Through this and being an explosive player in transition, Faried was one of those playmakers that provided a spark to the rest of his teammates.
The one thing that was concerning was that he would occasionally get into foul trouble at the start of games. This led to being taken out early and not getting into the flow of the game offensively.
Another area Faried needs to improve is his free-throw shooting. While he only shot 61.6 percent from the line he also needs to get more than 3.3 attempts for how well he can attack the basket. Obviously, the percentage needs to get better first.
Nuggets fans can only wonder what their record could have been had Wilson Chandler played more than four games by January 13.
Either way, until he entered the starting lineup for the final six games of the year, Chandler brought a lift from the bench that helped the Nuggets tremendously. He is a great sixth man not just because he's 6'8" and can play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward—he is also the best shooter on the team while presenting the threat of attacking off the dribble.
Even when Wilson needed to start in place of Danilo Gallinari nothing changed about his game. He continued to light it up both inside and outside, pull down the boards and even got better at finding the open man. Chandler was also one of the toughest players to stop on the fast break because he could go coast-to-coast while the defense worried about all of the other dynamic Denver players.
What will make Chandler even better is if he works on his postgame in the off season. Because the Nuggets have great depth, height and athleticism, Chandler can get a lot of mismatches with someone who is shorter than him. If he develops a stronger game inside and starts demanding the ball down low, he will certainly take his game to a different level.
Even though it might not be fair since Chandler only played 43 games this year, he can't reach the A level for a grade.
What a tough break for Danilo Gallinari after having the best season of his career. His torn ACL on April 4 against Dallas kept him out of the last six regular season games and will miss the entire playoffs (via Drew Garrison of SB Nation).
As another athletic small forward but at 6'10" with a great skill set, Gallinari posed many matchup problems for the opposition.
He can drive, post up and launch it from long distance. While it's between him and Wilson Chandler, Gallo is arguably Denver's best three-point shooter with a hand in his face.
Danilo didn't just score 16.2 points multiple ways—he was also Denver's leader in free-throw attempts (4.9) and was second best in free-throw percentage (82.2). Great scorers know how to get points everywhere.
Another thing that Gallinari brought was his passing ability in the half court inside. The 2.5 assists might not be a lot but he was the best Nuggets big man who could see the floor and hit the cutting player from the weak side.
Gallo is a streaky shooter. He had several games where it seemed like he couldn't buy a bucket from three-point range, which sometimes went unnoticed because Denver wound up winning the game anyways.
Gallinari is signed through the 2015-16 season (via Hoopshype.com) and Nuggets fans should be excited, despite the ACL injury.
When Ty Lawson signed his long-term contract with the Nuggets at the beginning of the season (via Marc Stein of ESPN.com), Denver was signing up to continue its fast-paced offense in the years to come. Lawson and the Nuggets certainly accomplished that this season as they were the best in the NBA, with 20.1 fast-break points.
Sometimes when someone earns a long-term contract a decline in performance can happen in the upcoming season. Lawson held up his end of the deal.
His numbers are relatively similar to last years but he did have a career high in points (16.7), assists (6.9) and steals (1.5) this season. Ty also maintained a solid 46.1 field-goal percentage with 13.3 attempts per game.
Lawson's speed is what makes him so dangerous, whether he penetrates the lane in the half court or gets up the floor in transition. He has great vision and was a big reason why Denver was third in assists, with 24.4 per game.
It was perhaps even more impressive that Lawson dictated this up-tempo play and impressive numbers while only committing 2.5 turnovers per game.
Because of the balance on the Nuggets, Lawson isn't going to—or supposed to—have stats like Russell Westbrook, so there aren't a lot of flaws to point to on the basic stat sheet.
However, there are two areas where Lawson can improve the most: consistency on offense against the slower-paced teams and defensive consistency against the better point guards in the West.
Ty had games against Indiana and Memphis where he combined for just five points on 2-of-17 shooting with only five assists. He also had games where he struggled in the pick-and-roll defense against point guards like Westbrook and Tony Parker.
Still, the positives far outweigh the negatives and the Nuggets have themselves a great point guard for the future.
We all knew that Andre Iguodala could do a little bit of everything in Philadelphia, but could he do it in Denver? Absolutely.
As the best all-around defender on the team, who is also 11th in the NBA in steals with 1.74 per game, Iggy helped turn those steals into transition points. He flew at the rim on a nightly basis, throwing down a ferocious dunk or finding a trailing Kenneth Faried or JaVale McGee.
When Gallinari went down and Lawson was out for three weeks, Iguodala stepped up his game. In the month of April, he upped his numbers to 15.9 points, 8.1 assists and 6.8 rebounds while recording a triple-double against San Antonio. He also had several late-game clutch shots, most notably at Chicago and against Dallas.
The glaring issues, like other Nuggets players, are the percentages from three-point range and the free-throw line. Except with Iguodala, his percentages come as a bigger surprise than his teammates.
In Iggy's third year in the NBA he shot an impressive 82 percent from the line, with 7.3 attempts per game. Since then, his conversion rate has declined all the way to a poor 57.4 percent this year.
As for three-pointers, Iguodala has never been an excellent shooter from behind the arc but he is only making 31.7 percent compared to 39.4 last season.
Nevertheless, Iggy was one of the most essential players all season.
Let me be clear on this. I'm not saying that JaVale McGee is the best player on the Nuggets—not even close.
Having said that, he is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle, and gives some of the best 18.1 minutes in the league.
This is a guy that had previously been known for his boneheaded plays and ridiculous errors. This is also the same guy who leads the Nuggets with a 20.8 PER and can turn a game around by his energy alone.
Remember the San Antonio game in early April? It was the last hope for the Nuggets to improve their potential No. 3 seed for the playoffs and Denver had scored a horrendous six points with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Then, with the Nuggets crowd silent, swat! Then the Spurs with the putback, but rejected! The end result is a shot clock violation.
All of a sudden, the crowd is completely back in the game and McGee's body language is similar to the image shown above. He was one of the biggest reasons why the Nuggets had a league-best 38-3 record at home this year.
The energy and intimidation McGee displayed, whether he was running the floor and taking off from space to throw down one of his insane dunks or blocking a shot that seems multiple arm lengths away, was unlike any other player.
He didn't make others better by making the extra pass. He made others better because his teammates wanted to feed off his energy.
He never won games at the buzzer. He saved them when nothing was going right.
There are countless things for him to work on, but JaVale McGee was the perfect fit for the necessary role on this Nuggets team.