Skip to content

Denver’s defense is much better, but that’s not all about ‘Melo

Mar 15, 2011, 7:38 PM EST

Detroit Pistons v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

The numbers do not lie.

It’s a small sample size, but the trend is unmistakable — Denver is a much better defensive team without Carmelo Anthony. They have given up 99.3 points per 100 possessions in the 10 games he has been gone, a number that would be the best in the league if spread out over a season. Again, small sample size theater at play here, but the trend explains why the Nuggets are 8-2 in their last 10.

Over at SB Nation, Rohan Cruyff dove into what the Nuggets are doing better and how much of it is the Carmelo factor.

What exactly are the Nuggets doing on the floor that has fueled this defensive turnaround? In a word: everything. Opponents are shooting nearly 3 percent worse from the floor (a seemingly small figure, but keep in mind the spread from first to 30th in the NBA is less than 7 percent), turning the ball over 14 percent more frequently, visiting the foul line 23 percent less frequently, and Denver has upped its defensive rebounding rate to almost 80 percent during the stretch (Orlando leads the league at 77 percent). This is a completely different team on the defensive end.

At the same time, it’s very important to note that none of these things are blanket indictments of Anthony’s defense. ‘Melo’s departure has likely allowed George Karl to place a renewed focus on the defensive side of the ball; at the same time, two of Denver’s primary defensive improvements — defensive rebounding and foul rate — have been in areas Anthony historically excels in.

The removal of one player — especially not a player who is a defensive anchor in the paint — is not going to make this kind of change. For whatever reason Denver has changed its focus on to the defensive end and is playing with much more energy.

Denver is a team playing with a chip on its shoulder, and at the NBA level defense is as much or more about effort than just scheme. They are trying, they are committed on that end of the floor in a new way.

And that is taking them into the playoffs, where defensive teams are hard to knock out.

  1. denverhoopdreams - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    i rest my case. thanks kurt.

  2. rushbacker - Mar 16, 2011 at 2:55 AM

    We’ll see how far they can go without a true go-to scorer they can rely on in the clutch, but this team absolutely will be a tough out. Their defense and depth will put older teams to the test, especially with two fast point guards that constantly push the tempo. They’re a legitimate threat to upset a high seed if they keep playing the way they are now– I’d love to see them play a series against LA or San Antonio.

    • craigw24 - Mar 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      With Chauncey and Mello the Nuggets really couldn’t develop any other close out scorers – now they can. Stars are developed by teams, not ESPN. There are three or four players – two were included in the trade – who could step up for Denver. We will just have to see how they develop. I am excited to see how they do – and I’m a Lakers fan.

    • denverhoopdreams - Mar 16, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      Well, even though they don’t have Melo or Billups it doesn’t mean they don’t have a player that can take a clutch end game shot. We can get Afflalo to do so… he’s already had one this season. Smith with his current maturity could handle this as well. Gallinari is a clutch player as well, as long as he’s not playing on a broken toe.

      Besides, we’ll out score most teams with our defense… you’re doing a lot better if you don’t need to make the clutch shots than if you have to make clutch shots… against crappy teams.

    • denverhoopdreams - Mar 16, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      Well, even though they don’t have Melo or Billups it doesn’t mean they don’t have a player that can take a clutch end game shot. We can get Afflalo to do so… he’s already had one this season. Smith with his current maturity could handle this as well. Gallinari is a clutch player as well, as long as he’s not playing on a broken toe.

      Besides, we’ll out score most teams with our defense… you’re doing a lot better if you don’t need to make the clutch shots than if you have to make clutch shots… against crappy teams.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Jabari Parker injury latest for disappointing rookie class
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Martin (6662)
  2. C. Bosh (6442)
  3. D. Favors (6396)
  4. A. Bogut (6093)
  5. D. Cousins (6049)
  1. J. Noah (6028)
  2. T. Jones (5961)
  3. T. Parker (5922)
  4. M. Smart (5827)
  5. A. Davis (5723)