Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets
February 3, 2014
6:00 p.m. PST
FOX Prime Ticket
1. How far is Ty Lawson from being an All-Star?
Jordan White, Hardwood Paroxysm, (@JordanSWhite): Put it this way: if Ty Lawson played in the Eastern Conference, he’s an All-Star, no question. Unfortunately, he plays in the conference that features the best point guards, one of whom plays on the Clippers (Darren Collison, obviously). Lawson’s speed is unmatched at his position, he’s become a better, more aggressive shooter, and his passing is, oddly enough for a point guard, under-celebrated. Yet a point guard’s gifts can often go unharnessed if the talent surrounding him is lacking, and that’s the case with the Nuggets.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Well, I’d put Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Mike Conley, Goran Dragic, Russell Westbrook, DeAndre Jordan and Tim Duncan ahead of him, so he’s probably the 19th-most deserving candidate at best (I’m excluding Kobe, who will be replaced by one of the aforementioned names, from the list). I don’t think he was ever a serious candidate.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): He’s on the outside looking in. There’s a slew of fantastic guards in the NBA, and it’s a shame so many are out west. The Nuggets have regressed this season but Lawson’s never been better. Among point guards, only Chris Paul creates more points off assists — probably because Lawson spends so many possessions driving to the rim, capitalizing, creating contract or leveraging multiple defenders. But when it comes to All-Star snubs at guard positions, he is still planted squarely behind Mike Conley and Goran Dragic.
2. DeAndre Jordan has posted double-digit rebound totals in 27 straight games. How many games will that streak go for?
White: I think the streak stays alive for six more games. After that, Jordan has the misfortune of running into the lumbering, lethal two-headed monster of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies.
Buha: I believe the streak will end in a random blowout against one of the bottom five teams in the league. Let’s say March 24th against the Bucks (the streak would be at 47 games by at that point). With the way Jordan is rebounding this season, I don’t see how he wouldn’t nab 10-plus rebounds in a game unless his minutes were restricted (foul trouble or an injury are also possibilities).
Sohi: Last week, the Clippers played a top-10 rebounding unit in the Warriors. Jordan finished the game with 20 rebounds. That’s insane. Over the next eight games, the Clips will square off against three of the NBA’s staunchest rebounding squads (Portland, Oklahoma City, Memphis). If D.J.’s streak lives on past the All-Star break, there’s no telling when he’ll stop — conceivably, a blowout in which he plays minimally.
3. Are the Nuggets a contender for the No. 8 seed in the West?
White: No, there are too many better and more consistent teams battling for that spot. Gallo’s gone for the season, and now Nate Robinson (who led the team in net rating, no, seriously, go look it up) is as well. Denver’s been the very definition of streaky this season – eight-game losing streaks precede five-game win streaks, with neither the wins nor losses making any sense – and in a playoff race as contentious as that in the West, one cold streak can kill your chances.
Buha: No. I’d say they have a less than a 15-percent chance. The West is too good and too deep for a starless team like the Nuggets to sneak in. The Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Blazers, Warriors and Rockets are essentially playoff locks. That leaves two spots. The Grizzlies, Wolves, Suns and Mavs (in that order) all have a better shot at making the postseason than the Nuggets; I don’t see how it happens.
Sohi: This is Ty Lawson all over again. The Western Conference is just too stacked. With teams like Minnesota and Dallas on the outside looking in, it’s hard to envision any room for Denver in the playoff picture.
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