Nuggets Must Defend The Arc

Andre Iguodala should be a perfect fit in Denver. The Nuggets are a team that pushes the pace, and he’s a guy who loves to run and who finishes well at the rim. The Nuggets needed perimeter defense, and he’s maybe the best perimeter defender in the league.

The Nuggets ranked 19th in defensive efficiency last season, allowing 103.4 points per 100 possessions. But they ranked in the top 10 in defensive rebounding, forcing turnovers, and keeping their opponents off the free throw line. They just couldn’t defend the perimeter, ranking dead last in opponent 3-point percentage (38.3 percent). That number was slightly higher (38.5 percent) when Arron Afflalo was on the floor.

The Nuggets did a good job of protecting the basket, with only 43.8 percent of their opponents’ shots coming from the paint (the second lowest rate in the league). But they tended to over-help on penetration and couldn’t recover out to the 3-point line.

Meanwhile, Iguodala’s Sixers ranked third in defensive efficiency last season and sixth in defending the arc (33.4 percent). Their opponents shot just 31.6 percent from 3-point range when Iguodala was on the floor.

So replacing Afflalo with Iguodala on the perimeter has the potential to give the Nuggets a huge boost defensively and elevate them to contender status in the Western Conference. But over the last three games, the Nuggets’ defense hasn’t looked so great.

In their last three games, Denver has allowed the Warriors, Blazers and Thunder to shoot a combined 39-for-83 (47 percent) from 3-point range. With Iguodala on the floor, the Nuggets’ have allowed their opponents to shoot 25-for-55 (45.5 percent) beyond the arc. Those aren’t good numbers.

The good news is that, looking at the last two full preseasons (2009 and 2010), there’s a stronger correlation between preseason offensive stats and regular season offensive stats than there is between preseason defensive stats and regular season defensive stats. And there’s really no correlation between opponent 3-point percentage in the preseason and in the regular season.

Still, watching them, you can still see that tendency to over-help on penetration. And if the Nuggets are going to make that leap into the West’s top three like many of us expect them to, they need to do a better job of running their opponents off the 3-point line.

And it’s something to keep a close eye on as they conclude their preseason with two games on national TV. They host the Clippers on Thursday (10 p.m. ET, TNT) and visit the Suns on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 2).


  1. MrMojoRisin says:

    i don’t think there’s an easy way to predict who will make the playoffs this year, there’s too many ”ifs”

    OKC i’d say is a given.. as are the clippers around the top two, depending on how the Lakers fare.
    the Lakers i’d say defiantly they have too much talent to stay out, as to which seed.. it depends how Nash & Kobe co-exist, if they gel together, i’d say they could easily knock OKC off the top spot, they have SO much experience over OKC and one of the best go to, clutch shooters in NBA history in Kobe, i’d say if Nash & Kobe play decent, they’re about a 3rd or 4th seed, if Nash & Kobe turn it up, and Dwight brings it you’re looking at an EASY #1 seed maybe #2 depending on how OKC fare against them without James Harden.

    the spurs.. will probably make the playoffs again around 4th..5th seed, depending on how the Lakers do.. and fail again, they’re just not exciting to me at all, Tony Parker has his moments but meh, they’re a playoff team, just not a contender in my eyes.
    place 5-8 seeds on Golden State, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets.

    Warriors are a big IF Bogut can stay healthy,

    all things considered i’d go out on a limb to say the playoff picture will look a little like this

    1. LA Lakers
    2. OKC
    3. LA Clippers
    4. SA Spurs
    5. Mavs
    6. Nuggets
    7. Golden State
    8. Jazz

  2. KOBEshigawa says:

    The big Andre Iguodala trade this summer wasn’t necessarily a game changer for the Nuggs, but it certainly made them a better defensive team. However, even a much improved D and better facilitation on the wing (from AI) won’t solve their biggest problem: no go-to scorer in the clutch. I though before last season that Ty Lawson could be that guy, but I’m not so sure anymore. The Nuggets are still a super fun team, but not a contender…yet. –

  3. Per says:

    Where are the Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz

  4. DHAM says:



    • Ricardo says:

      Hummm, I’m surprised that the Lakers fan boys haven’t eaten you alive. Lakers at 4th seed? Its is an heresy nowadays to write such bold statements.
      Anyway, I kinda agree with you in most of the picks, BUT:
      – Huston is too green. Maybe I’m wrong, but if they end up qualifying to the playoffs, I believe it will be at 8th seed, at best. Next season maybe, but this one is just too soon.
      – Golden State is a good bet for 7th seed if, and only if, Curry and Bogut are able to survive the season relatively healthy and Klay Thompson has indeed a breakout year. Other that that I can’t just see it happening.
      – What about the Grizzlies? Last season they proved that they aren’t a fluke.
      – Again, between Portland and Dallas for the 8th seed, I will go with Dallas. Portland has a lot of potential but Dallas has Dirk. Even if they ended up short in the Williams/Howard race, they where able to maintain a fairly decent core.

    • Bret says:

      Houston, Golden State, and Portland over Dallas, Memphis, and Minnesota? The Mavs and Wolves need to survive the loss of key players early but still, you’re reaching big time!!

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