With all the talk in the NBA surrounding the Miami Heat and their 22 game winning streak, the average fan and apparently most major media outlets, have seemed to not notice the play of the Denver Nuggets. Maybe it has been noticed, but because of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade being household names, the fact that Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried have managed to lead their team to eleven straight victories has seemingly taken a backseat.
Since the All-Star break the Nuggets are 12-1 and have been dominating their opponents overall outscoring them by an average of over 12 points per game. Denver is averaging over 109 points a game during the streak and have scored over 104 points in all but one of their match-ups. The Nuggets seem to be surging at the rite time finding themselves second to the Thunder in their division with a 45-22 record overall, which is good enough currently for the five seed in the Western Conference. Head coach George Karl has his team playing especially well at home in the Pepsi Center where the Nuggets are 30-3, a record that is tied for the best in the NBA with guess who?, the Miami Heat.
Led by a former Tar Heel star, point guard Ty Lawson, and a Morehead State alum in Kenneth Faried, the youth and athleticism of the Nuggets has been their strength. Lawson is having arguably his best pro season yet. On the season, the former UNC standout is averaging team highs in both points(16.8 ppg) and assists(7 apg) per game and during the eleven game winning streak has stepped his game up even more. In the 13 games since the all-star break, Ty Lawson is averaging over 20 points a game and just under 7 assists(6.9). Along with averaging one steal per game as well, Lawson is shooting just over 50 percent from the field overall while giving away just over 2 turnovers a game. A possible area for improvement for Lawson could be his free throw percentage that is just over 76 % during the winning streak.
Along with the improvement of Ty Lawson this season came the emergence of second-year standout Kenneth Faried. Faried made a name for himself in the 2011 NCAA Tournament when he showed his energy and rebounding ability to the entire nation after his 13th seeded Morehead State team upset the 4th seed Louisville Cardinals. On the season, Faried is fourth on the team in scoring averaging 11.8 points per game and leads the Nuggets in rebounding grabbing 9.5 boards a game. During the winning streak, Faried’s numbers haven’t increased or decreased significantly averaging just under a double-double with just over 9 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. Defensively his energy and rebounding has been key to the Nuggets success after the break averaging over one block a game. When you watch Kenneth Faried play you would think he was the energizer bunny. Combined that with the fact that his nickname is the “Manimal” should tell you the guy plays hard from start to finish.
Faried and Lawson are not the only players producing for the Nuggets during their winning streak. Denver has seven players averaging double-digits in scoring since the all-star break. Along with the consistent play and production of Andre Iguodala, this Nuggets roster is the definition of what it means to be a team. Not one star who demands the ball and needs shots because his contract dictates so, just a bunch of guys who want to win and place the teams success above personal accomplishment.
For Denver the streak is something that hasn’t happened in quite sometime for this franchise. In fact, the last time the Nuggets won eleven games in a row the year was 1983 and the only player alive on their current roster was point guard Andre Miller. The streak has been 30 years in the making for all the young fans in Denver.
On the season now, Denver ranks 3rd in the NBA in scoring averaging over 105 points per game but will need to stop somebody in the playoffs defensively if they want to advance. The Nuggets will need to work on holding opponents under 100 points. They rank 22nd in the NBA in that category allowing opponents to score just over 100 points a game(100.9).
Overall, Denver definitely has a team that could do some damage in the playoffs if the team they play is not prepared and full of athletes that can match-up with the Nuggets athleticism. With Ty Lawson in just his fourth NBA season, and Kenneth Faried in just his second season, the future for the Denver Nuggets looks positive as long as these two players are kept as their core. Both players have just begun to scratch the surface of their potential, and that potential could result in both Faried and Lawson eventually becoming household names. They could even become NBA stars like those guys in South Beach who seem to get all the attention.