1. Should the Nuggets keep or trade Kenneth Faried?
Charlie Yao, Roundball Mining Company, (@skitalicious): Trade, only because Denver’s new front office seems headed that way with no practical way of going back. Coach Brian Shaw has made it clear Faried won’t have anywhere near the amount of leeway he had with George Karl and the Manimal’s playing time, production, and efficiency are all down as a result. It’s worth noting that despite his early-season struggles, Faried remains an extremely active impact big – he ranks 10th in the NBA in terms of wins produced per 48 minutes. Denver must get value and that will be difficult because of their salary situation and his looming extension after next season. The Nuggets are essentially trying to trade the rights to pay an energy guy big bucks down the line.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Keep him. I’ve never understood the reason behind trading him. He’s their best big man, and in my opinion, it’s not really close. He’s slightly overrated given his lack of size and limited offensive skill set, but I think he’s a quality starter. Given his contract, it’s difficult to find equal value unless they dump Andre Miller or another player in a trade, which is the only enticing aspect of a potential deal.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): In a vacuum, no. Faried, as predicted, still can’t post up or shoot jumpers but he’s menace when leveraging his athleticism and perpetual movement. Brian Shaw should concoct a game plan that plays to the strengths of his personnel. Failing that, the Nuggets are better off waiting to see if they can trade Faried from a position of strength. Right now, every GM in the league knows he’s being willfully shopped.
2. What’s the key matchup in this game?
Yao: Chris Paul versus… whatever the Nuggets have for him? Chris is the best player on either team and since Andre Iguodala left the Mile-High City, Denver has had no success keeping superstar players from going off on them. CP3 eviscerated the Nuggets in the preseason and they simply don’t have an answer short of praying he has an off night.
Buha: Ty Lawson vs. Chris Paul. Lawson is the Nuggets’ best player by a mile, and if he can attack the seams of the Clippers’ half-court defense and get out in transition, Denver has a chance to steal this game. On the other end, the Clippers win basically anytime Paul has a big scoring game, so keep an eye on how he aggressive he is in looking for his own shot.
Sohi: It has to be Ty Lawson vs. Chris Paul. Lawson’s speed is well documented but this season, he’s added new wrinkles to his game and made an unprecedented jump to the tune of 18 points and eight assists. Luckily for the Clippers, his defense is still non-existent.
3. The Clips and Nuggets both play pretty fast. Are the Clippers better off running a bunch Saturday or slowing it down and letting Chris Paul work in the half-court offense?
Yao: The Clippers obviously want to run as much as possible in this one. Denver played last night and the Clips have been off since Wednesday. I also noticed the Clippers’ pace factor is a blistering 98.9 at home, where they hold a 10-2 record which is tied for second best in the West. There’s just no compelling reason not to.
Buha: The Clippers are better off playing to their strengths and skill set, regardless of the competition. With that being said, the Nuggets are undersized in the interior, so the Clippers would be wise to occasionally slow the pace and exploit the Nuggets’ defensive shortcomings. Overall, though, the Clippers should run if the opportunity is there.
Sohi: Ideally, I’d want to get Griffin and Jordan out in transition for easy baskets but Denver’s recent success is predicated on a deviation back to faster play. Forcing them into a half court game might play into L.A.’s hands, especially considering the Nuggets’ putrid pick and roll defense outside of Darrell Arthur.