ICYMI, My latest at BSN: Understanding the Nuggets’ next big salaries as a percentage of the salary cap


Should the Nuggets, or any team, pay Gallinari $22-25 million a year? Head on over to BSN Nuggets for my latest article on how all these outlandish new NBA salaries are best understood as a percentage of the salary cap.

You can read it here: Understanding the Nuggets’ next big contracts as a percentage of the salary cap.

And while you’re there at BSN Nuggets, be sure to also check out all the great coverage of NBA and Nuggets free agency and trade news and rumors.



The Nuggets Den social media stuff

Twitter: @NuggetsDenJoel

YouTube: NuggetsDenJoel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NuggetsDen/

Instagram: nuggetsdenjoel

Twitter is pretty much where I live, so if you want to actually communicate with me, that’s the best place to do it.

I don’t make videos nearly as often as I used to, so my YouTube channel contains more relics than not (although that is kind of fun in its own right). I will have some time this summer so I hope to make some fresh vids there, but it’ll more likely be for embedding in posts than standalone content.

I created a Facebook page mainly in case some people might just prefer that medium as a way to follow posts. But it will primarily be a repository feed for Nuggets Den blog and Instagram posts, so if you already follow me on Twitter it’ll probably be pretty redundant.

Mainly to follow rather than post, I just got on Instagram today, inspired by Steve Hess’ posts of Jokic working out in Serbia. Again, there will be a good deal of redundancy here, as I’ll basically be posting Nuggets charts and graphics, most of which will have already been used in my posts either at the Nuggets Den or at BSN Denver. So if you’re already checking those, you may not find a whole lot of new offerings there.

The bottom line is that I’ll always be most active on Twitter, and much less so on Facebook and Instagram, so the latter two are mainly just there for people who really prefer those platforms.

Oh yeah, I have a Google+ page, too, but I can’t get WordPress to auto-trigger posts to it, and does anyone use that, anyway? I don’t know. I don’t. As of now, thouh, I have a lot of posts sitting there that say “Shared only with you” that I can’t seem to make publicly visible – and frankly, it hardy seems worth trying.

So now that you know where everything’s at, feel free to follow or like – or not – as you please, and maybe I’ll see you around one place or another. Thanks for dropping by.


Jamal Murray’s production in 9 games as a starter puts him in good company


During his rookie season with the Denver Nuggets, Jamal Murray started 9 games.
In those 9 games as a starter, he averaged 13.0 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game in 32.9 minutes with a true shooting percentage of .519.
Using search parameters approximating those stats (>/= 12.5 pts, 4.5 ast, 2.5 reb, .500 TS%), this is the complete list of NBA guards 20 years old or younger (per Basketball-Reference.com) who had that level of production in their rookie seasons:
Murray is not, of course, on that list, as his numbers for the entire season were considerably lower (9.9 points, 2.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds, .518 TS%).
So while this is not to suggest that he had nearly as impressive or impactful of a rookie season as the players above, what it does show is that, in the small 9-game sample size of his games as a starter, he was producing on a level that, if he can sustain it going forward, will put him in some fairly respectable company.
It is also worth noting, that even as his minutes and production increased as a starter, his TS% stayed constant, which is a good sign that his efficiency will likely not drop off in the larger role he will certainly have next season.

Why is Jamal Murray’s offensive rating 103 at Basketball-Reference.com but 109.1 at NBA.com/stats? Explained.


A few days ago I was perusing the data for Jamal Murray at NBA.com/stats, and noticed that his offensive rating was fifth in the NBA among all qualified bench guards, significant not only since it’s a high ranking for a rookie, but perhaps even more notably due to whose company he was in the midst of:

The Blue Arrow’s offensive rating of 109.1 (the 109.4 in my initial tweet was a typo) was fifth among bench guards, after Andre Iguodala, Eric Gordon, Patty Mills, and Manu Ginobli. Coming in next at sixth and seventh were Joe Johnson and Lou Williams. It’s a feather in Murray’s cap for him to be so solidly in the mix of this crew of veterans, all of whom have eight or more years of experience in the NBA, and play for some of the league’s best teams (as evidenced by the fact they have all advanced to their respective conference semi-finals in the playoffs).

Wanting to explore Murray’s standout offensive rating in a little more depth, I turned to Basketball-Reference.com, intending to search for a historical perspective on how many  past players (qualified with a sufficient number of games and minutes) had likewise finished their rookie campaigns with an offensive rating of 109 or higher.

The only problem was, when I looked up Jamal’s page at Basketball-Reference, they had his offensive ratingg listed as 103. I wrinkled my brow, scratched my head, and tweeted about my puzzling find:

I had noticed in the past that there had sometimes been this sort of discrepancy, but I had always chalked it up to the two sites perhaps having slightly different formulas, and, if memory serves (and it might not), this was the first time the difference was so big as to really jump out at me.

For one reason or another, probably just because I got sidetracked, I didn’t pursue the matter any further, and I expected it would likely go unresolved.

But just now I had the pleasant surprise of getting a very helpful reply from Basketball-Reference which clears the mystery up completely:

So there you have it. In basic terms, offensive rating at Basketball-Reference is an individual production stat, while the metric of the same name at NBA.com/stats is essentially a measure of team production when the player is on the court.

So in Murray’s case, the Nuggets as a whole scored 109.1 points per 100 possessions while he was on court, but Jamal himself individually produced 103 points per 100 possessions during his playing time.

Clear enough, right? Two different stats, measuring different things, but both have ended up bearing the same name. (I didn’t ask, but presumably the same difference will be found between defensive ratings at the two sites as well.)

What is less clear, to me at least, is the immensely complicated formula, which is quite a few levels above my pay grade, that Basketball-Reference uses to calculate a player’s offensive rating. For those of you who wish to brave those waters, the formula can be found here.

Many thanks to Basketball-Reference for claring up this matter, which surely would have stuck in my craw for a good long time if they hadn’t shed light on its resolution. Much appreciated!


Why Nikola Jokic is the “King of the Unicorns” – animated video by Benjamin Sterne

Benjamin Sterne asked me to share the latest creations in his “Nug Sesh” animated Denver Nuggets video series, and I am more than happy to oblige, given the fantastic quality of his work. In this release, he compares Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to the NBA’s other “unicorn” big men, and makes the case for The Joker being King of them all.

If you have not done so already, I highly recommend that you subscribe to Benjamin’s YouTube channel “Dr. Skipaturner Productions” here, and follow him on Twitter @BenjaminSterne here so that you can always stay on top of his latest and greatest Nuggets video work as he drops it.

So, with no further ado, enjoy!


A late live tweeting of the Apr. 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game


Since, as is often the case for me, I wasn’t able to watch the April 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game live, I live tweeted it after the fact in two installments, and that’s what follows below.


First Half

Okay, here we go. Sitting down for a delayed viewing & live tweeting of the #Nuggets at #Pelicans game. Did not stay spoiler free, though.

Nuggets open with a turnover leading to a concession dunk by AD. Get the eeling that’s not the last of those…

Gallo with the long step-back 2 and the I totally DGAF anymore hair.

Murray hits a 3 and thankfully does not do the arrow gesture. I love it at the right time – but not every time.

Jokic gets stuffed twice in a row by Davis, then ties up Boogie on the other end for a jump ball.

Murray has already passed up at least 2, maybe 3 open 3-pointers. Think he wants to play in the flow, but hesitation isn’t his game.

Jokic drives in w a crazy behind the back move and lays it in. He’s just unreal sometimes, man.

DEN fails to score on about 3-4 straight trips until a Harris tip-in. Doing a lot of stationary passing. Ball moving, players not so much.

Mudiay passes over the shoulder from the paint over to Chandler for 3, reminiscent of the passing in his SL debut.

Always a good sign when Chandler gets off to a great start, which he has in this game. Plumlee on the other end can’t stop DMC at all.

Wilson really playing aggressively now, going right at the rim on a few straight possessions. This after some made jumpers. Mixing it up.

Plumlee hardest working Nuggets on the floor through this stretch, scrapping for some tough boards. Hardest job to do on D, too w Yoke out.

Mudiay another dish out from the paint, this time to Gallo for 3. He’s looking like who we thought he was.

5:35 left in the 2nd Q. Harris fights through a screen, starting a rare solid defensive possession for Denver.

Now that it’s in the past, an unanswerable chicken/egg question: Is Mudiay playing this well *because* he spent time on the bench?

Can’t really pin down causality there, but at the very least there is precedent for the same pattern his rookie year when he got injured.

Excellent pass by Faried to Harris as he cuts to the basket.

Faried’s improvement in passing this season is one of the most visible examples of the transmutative power of the Jokic effect.

Davis drives around the elbow screen to the basket, and the seas part.

Jokic threads the needle as Harris cuts again. Denver’s bread and butter.

Was tied 65-65 w/ ~2:30 left in the half, but NOP closes w/ a 10-4 run to go up 75-69 at the break. Seventy. Five.

But since it’s past 3 in the morning, gotta catch a few winks. Will have to do the second half sometime later, hopefully tomorrow, but…

Will miss HOU as well, so probably I’ll delayed live tweet that first b4 finishing the 2nd half of the Pels game. Sorry if it’s confusing.


Second Half

I only got through the 1st half of “live” tweeting the #Nuggets @ Pelicans last night, so I’m gonna finish it now b4 moving onto Houston

And then after watching HOU tomorrow, I’ll be all caught up before the Pelicans rematch. (Hopefully.) Wish I could watch it all live.

So, here goes, 2nd half of the Apr. 4 DEN @ NOP game…

Murray w/ a great pass on the drive to Plumlee who cuts for the dunk. Good for them to be developing good chemistry.

After Jokic ties it up w/ a bizarre shot off the glass from the high post, Plumlee hits a floater in the lane to put DEN up 87-85.

I doubt Plumlee will ever have range beyond 3 feet, but if he developed even a semi-reliable floater/hook in the lane, that would help.

Harris with a great spin move in the lane for the layup. He just keeps getting craftier in finding creative ways of getting to the rim.

Murray in transition w a jump pass at the arc right into 3 Pels, turns it over, easy layup the other way for Jrue.

Can’t wait to see Murray after SL & training camp next season, reducing rook mistakes, hitting the open 3s he’s missing now. Big leap ahead.

One of those stretches: DEN getting the looks they want, but shots not falling, and can’t stop anything the other way. NOP back up 5.

lol Gallo WAY off to the left on a 3 to end the 3rd but it banks in. I’m sure later he said he meant to do that. Brings DEN w/in 3.

Gallo to Mudiay, wide open catch-and-shoot 3. He’s .356 on C&S 3s on 2.3 3ptA/G this season, up from .343 on 2.0 3ptA/G last year.

Boogie torpedoes the entry pass into Crawford for the layup. He’s no Jokic, but he’s a really good passer.

Mudiay nails another open C&S 3, but Cousins answers right back w/ a 3 of his own. Then Harris 2, Harris steal, Murray 2, DEN on a run.

Mudiay to Gallo for 3 this time, his 7th dime, Nuggs go up 9 w/ 6:53 remaining. Got 3 consecutive stops by my count – an all too rare sight.

All of Mudiay, Murray, and Harris playing so well in this game, it’s hard to justify (even if healthy) why Malone started Jameer vs HOU.

With Nuggets up 5 w/ just under 3 min left, Harris banks in a huge 3 off a Jokic screen. Marlowe says “Oh, yeah!”

Refs bail out Gallo, who goes to the line & puts Nuggets up 7 with 1:26 remaining.

Meanwhile (and perhaps more interestingly), Malone off to the side has the ear of Murray, who listens attentively.

Which is another of the many reasons to believe Murray is set for a big jump next season: His attentiveness, his drive to get better.

Boogie answers with another huge 3 to cut Denver’s lead back to 4 with 1:17 remaining.

I know the outcome of this game, but it’s still pretty exciting and fun to watch how it unfolds…

Just under 40 seconds left, Jokic makes 1 of 2 FTs after a Davis oop, 131-128 Denver.

Gallo gets duped into no-man’s land, Boogie left wide open for the 3, ties it up. Nuggets fans must’ve been thinking “here we go again…”

Just like against Miami (twice? three times?) Nuggets can’t inbound, have to call time out. Maybe put this on the docket for training camp?

Wilson gets to the line, drawing a foul on Boogie on the drive, misses the first, sinks the second, Nuggets up 1 w/ 18.2 on the clock.

Like Chandler, Mudiay makes one of two FTs after being fouled on the inbound play. Nuggets use last foul to give, up 2, 9.3 left.

And there it is, Harris game-winning steal, DEN holds on to win. Unlikely, but if they make the playoffs, one of the season’s biggets plays.

And that’s all she wrote. Tomorrow, catching up with the Houston game if I have the intestinal fortitude to do so.