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04-02-2005, 12:27 AM
Anyone have a subscription and could get me this article?


04-02-2005, 12:34 AM
Here you go...

3-pointers fuel amazing run

Are they really this good? That's the burning question about the scorching-hot Nuggets these days. Once mired at 17-25 and seemingly out of the playoffs, they've caught fire since hiring George Karl. After Friday's 102-84 victory over the struggling Spurs, the Nuggets are 23-6 under his tutelage, the second-best record in the NBA over that span.

Recently, they've been even better. The Nuggets are 16-2 since the All-Star break, with Phoenix delivering both defeats. And Denver isn't just beating teams, it's crushing them, winning by an average of 12 points per contest since the break.

So we know the Nuggets are winning big, but how are they doing it? To answer this question, first we must establish which side has played a bigger role, the offense or the defense. Using two of my tools, Offensive and Defensive Efficiency, we can measure how many points a team scores and allows, respectively, per 100 possessions (not including Friday's game).

Let's start with the offense. The Nuggets went from averaging 100.0 points per 100 possessions to 107.8 under Karl. To give you an idea of the transformation, 100.0 would rank 24th in the NBA, while 107.8 would rank fourth. So, basically, overnight the Nuggets have gone from having one of the league's worst offenses to having one of the best. It would be like replacing the Jazz with the Mavericks.

Likewise, the Nuggets have surged at the defensive end. Denver's Defensive Efficiency improved from 103.0 prior to Karl's arrival to 98.5 in the 28 games since. Again, some perspective is in order: Denver's pre-Karl marks are a proletarian 14th, while its post-Karl achievement is a more regal fourth.

Overall, it's been an across-the-board improvement, but the offense has played a bigger role. Approximately 63 percent of Denver's gain has come at the offensive end, which is in keeping with Karl's reputation as an offensive coach. In his past two jobs (not counting "Third Rock from the Sun"), Milwaukee and Seattle also were far above the league average in Offensive Efficiency.

Nuggets Before and After (as of Thursday)
Category Pre-Karl Post-Karl
W-L 17-25 22-6
Off. Eff. 100.0 107.8
Def. Eff. 103.0 98.5
2-Pt. % 46.5 49.1
3-Pt. % 31.1 37.6
Assists/FG .627 .664

Since the offense has been the major thrust behind the Nuggets' renaissance, let's examine it more closely. Under Karl, the Nuggets have shored up two important weaknesses. First, the team upped its mark on 2-point baskets from 46.5 percent to 49.1 percent. Second, the team is getting to the line much more often, by about 3.5 attempts a game.

Those numbers suggest Karl is having a major impact with his Carolina-inspired offensive philosophy of sharing the ball, passing and moving. It helps that his message was badly needed. In the season-and-a-half preceding his arrival, Denver had perhaps the league's most unimaginative half-court offense. Nobody moved, cut or screened, so the offense had less motion than a buskers' convention. Too often, it degenerated into four players standing around watching Carmelo Anthony go one-on-one.

Thus, it was easy for Karl to make an impact. Two metrics show how his philosophy has taken hold. First, the Nuggets jumped from assisting on 62.7 percent of their baskets to 66.4 percent under Karl. The latter figure would rank first in the league by a healthy margin.

Second, check out the marks from Anthony. His scoring average hasn't changed much, going from 20.2 previously to 19.7 now. But that disguises the wholesale improvement in the quality of his shots. 'Melo shot frequently, but not accurately before Karl showed up, shooting 39.0 percent while hoisting 19.6 shots per 40 minutes. He's lost two field-goal attempts from his 40-minute average but made up for it by boosting his shooting to 45.4 percent. Overall, half the post-Karl increase in the Nuggets' field-goal percentage is from Anthony alone.

However, the most notable offensive change has been Denver's 3-point shooting. The Nuggets were a horrendous 3-point shooting team when Karl arrived. Their 31.1 percent mark ranked 29th of the 30 teams, and it was a distant 29th the league average is 35.5 percent. But when Karl showed up, the team magically started raining 3-pointers. During Karl's first 28 games at the helm, the Nuggets drilled the long ball at a 37.6 percent clip.

The Nuggets will tell you the reason is the acquisition of Wesley Person, who gave the team its first legitimate long-range shooting threat since Voshon Lenard hurt himself on opening night. The truth is the Nuggets have taken 348 3-pointers in that time, and Person only heaved 43 of them. The other Nuggets are hitting at a 37.0 percent clip, seemingly turning into great shooters overnight.

Furthermore, the trend appears to be accelerating. In Denver's last 13 games, the team is shooting a scalding 43.3 percent on 3s. What's puzzling is that the shots are coming from all the same players who were firing up bricks under Jeff Bzdelik and Michael Cooper. As the chart shows, five players Anthony, Earl Boykins, Greg Buckner, DerMarr Johnson and Bryon Russell are shooting at least 9 percent better in those 13 games than they were before.

Lest you think those players were just unlucky to start the year, I've posted their career averages for comparison purposes. As you can see, all five were near their career marks until the recent 3-point explosion.

Nuggets' 3-Point Percentage (as of Thursday)
Player Career First 57 gms Last 13 gms Change
Anthony .308 .270 .381 +.111
Boykins .332 .323 .464 +.141
Buckner .345 .359 .531 +.174
Johnson .345 .280 .500 +.220
Russell .370 .366 .462 +.096

Denver's improved 3-point shooting has been significant enough to be a major factor in its turnaround. The Nuggets average about 12 3-point attempts a game under Karl. By shooting the long-range shot 6.5 percent better under Karl than they did before, Denver adds nearly 2.5 points a game to its bottom line. Thus, roughly a third of the increase in Offensive Efficiency is due to the sudden outburst of long-range accuracy.

Since sudden, short-term spikes in 3-point shooting are almost always flukes, we should temper our expectations for the Nuggets offense. Yes, they've improved significantly, but lop off 2.5 points from that Offensive Efficiency figure, and we have an answer that's closer to the truth.

So we've learned two things from our examination of the Nuggets' revival. The first is that Karl's message is getting through. By sharing the ball, playing better defense and taking higher-quality shots, Denver has salvaged its season in time to live up to its preseason expectations.

The second lesson, however, is that they're really not this good. A 3-point barrage has fueled an amazing run of play by the Nuggets recently, but it's unlikely to continue much longer based on the career and season averages of the players involved.

They don't need the 3s to be effective, however. As long as Denver's other marks hold up, the team would have the league's seventh-best offense and fourth-best defense. Thus, even without the 3s, the George Karl Nuggets are still better than all but a handful of clubs. For a team that was 17-25 two months ago, it's been an amazing recovery.

John Hollinger, author of "Pro Basketball Forecast 2004-05," is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider.

04-02-2005, 12:35 AM
Here you go...

Thank you very much :)

J Diddy
04-02-2005, 12:37 AM
did you check my pm

04-02-2005, 12:43 AM
did you check my pm

yeah I did thanks :)

J Diddy
04-02-2005, 12:45 AM
yeah I did thanks :)

Hey, I changed it cuz I don't know what's in it, but if there is something you want just let me know

04-02-2005, 12:47 AM
Hey, I changed it cuz I don't know what's in it, but if there is something you want just let me know

ok cool