One Team, One Stat: Move It, Denver


VIDEO: Schuhmann’s Advanced Stats: Denver Nuggets

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2015-16 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we go to Denver, where the ball stuck.

The stat

20151016_den_passes

The context

20151016_den_basicsThere’s no correlation between passes per possession and offensive efficiency. There are bad offenses that move the ball a lot and good offenses that don’t.

The Nuggets ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency for the first time in 12 years last season. But that was mostly about how poorly they shot than how infrequently they passed.

Denver had an effective field goal percentage of 43.8 percent from outside the paint, a mark which ranked 26th in the league. They ranked 12th in 3-point attempts, but 28th in 3-point percentage.

Talent, especially when it comes to putting the ball in the basket, is ultimately more important than teamwork.

But the Nuggets were more efficient on possessions in which they made four or more passes (107 points per 100) than they were when they made three or less (102). And last year’s Golden State Warriors are an example of a team that improved its offense (from 12th in offensive efficiency ’13-14 to 2nd in ’14-15) by moving the ball more (from 2.46 to 3.16 passes per possession).

Like last year’s Warriors, this year’s Nuggets have a new coach who will change the way they play. They also have a new point guard.

Ty Lawson wasn’t necessarily to blame for the Nuggets’ lack of ball movement last season. But he ranked fourth in the league in time of possession, led the Nuggets in that category by a wide margin, and accounted for almost half (48.1 percent) of the points the Nuggets scored while he was on his floor via his own points and assists.

Emmanuel Mudiay has playmaking skills, but might not dominate the ball as much as Lawson did. Jameer Nelson will have a bigger role than he did last season and be willing to get off the ball.

The health of Danilo Gallinari and the potential of the Nuggets’ young big men are more reasons for optimism. And it couldn’t hurt if they pass the ball more than they did last season.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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