As seen last year and thus far 23 games into this season, the roster Nuggets coach Mike Malone has inherited has been incredibly difficult to analyze. The inconsistency night in and night out with musical chairs of starting lineups due to injuries, production, match-ups, and effort has made it tough for fans to stay tuned.
At first glance, one might say that the Nuggets are two to three deep in every position, and have one of, if not the youngest cores in the league. Seasoned vets like Chandler and Gallinari who have proven, when healthy, can score at will, also are complementary to personnel.
So why so much inconsistency?
Well, for the exactly the same reasons. With so many solid roll players how can a consistent rotation be put into place? This is no minor task. By no means does this give Malone a pass. Some lineups work, some don’t, simple as that. After a year an a half some feel for what works should however be evident.
Nothing reveals this inconsistency more than late game “crunch time” situations. 5 of the 15 losses on the season have been by a margin of 3 or less. 2 of which have been in OT, and almost all have featured late 4th quarter blown leads. These type of losses show two things:
One, Nuggets have every opportunity to win these games.
Two, Nuggets have blown the opportunity to win these games.
Both of which are results of this depth and inconsistency. Not knowing which combinations to rely on, on a nightly basis. These kind of losses can be fixed with proper roster construction and repetition.
What cannot be fixed is the effort night in and night out. Making the same mistakes over and over.
Last week Houston came into town just hours after a grueling double overtime win against Golden State. What should have been a penciled in as a schedule loss for them, especially considering the circumstances, began with the fully rested Denver Nuggets giving up 42 first quarter points to Harden and company. This is unacceptable to any coach, or any fan for that matter, whomever the personnel on the court.
At some point the Denver Nuggets must find an identity. At some point coach Malone must find a consistent rotation. This team has the pieces, but the issue is there are too many pieces. A trade may be imminent to cut down these questions of who exactly should be on the court and at what time. Addition by subtraction may be the formula for success moving forward.
Which pieces in the grand scheme of things are to be moved to ensure that the proper core and supporting cast can consistently be successful are yet to be seen, but front office all the way down to the casual fan can only wait so long for this process.