3 Best Pairings for the Denver Nuggets This Year

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIIJanuary 21, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Corey Brewer #13 of the Denver Nuggets talkes to teammates Kenneth Faried #35 and JaVale McGee #34 during a break in NBA game action against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers defeated the Nuggets 112-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Each basketball player has his own unique style; some styles are more compatible with specific players than with others. The Denver Nuggets are a prime example. 

A player doesn’t have to be solely compatible with one of his teammates in terms of heightened effectiveness when the two are on the floor together. That wouldn’t be ideal for any team sport which involves more than two guys on each side.

As such, the Nuggets have an auspicious combination of big men who each have a connection with the point guards on the squad as well as each other.

Unfortunately, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee don’t get a lot of opportunities to play with each other. From Brett Pollakoff of ProBasketballTalk:

Faried and McGee were together for just nine total minutes on the court [on Nov. 15 against the Miami Heat], but their lineups were a combined +11 during that time. So why not give them some more run, especially with DaniloGallinari struggling with his shot, and with the team so desperately in need of some reliable scoring options?...If [coach George Karl] can get to where he feels he needs to be defensively with McGee and Faried playing at the same time, it would seem that any lineup featuring the two of them together would be a pretty good option.

So far, that hasn’t happened for long stretches frequently. McGee still makes his presence felt with the bench—more on that later—while Faried plays with the starters. Early five-man floor unit returns from 82games.com confirmed statistically that Faried and McGee may not be the most defensively effective combination, but there is a lot of potential by pairing the two young bigs.


They’re arguably the most athletic 4-5 combination that the NBA has to offer (though Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers might have something to say about that), and the pair spent time this summer together training with Hakeem Olajuwon.

JaVale’s play is sometimes described as erratic, which is why Karl wishes he were more like an established NBA veteran—and the best power forward of all-time—The Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs (via the Washington Post). Right now, Karl has to settle for the consistency that his most seasoned player provides.

Fan near me when McGee got the ball: "PASS IT" ... then, when McGee missed the hook shot: "OH MY GAWWWWWWD"

— Benjamin Hochman (@nuggetsnews) January 21, 2013

Benjamin Hochman is a Nuggets reporter for the Denver Post.

The combination of Andre Miller and McGee results in offensive fireworks: Miller is one of the NBA’s renowned lob-passers and McGee can certainly go get alley-oops with the best of them. McGee’s status as an offensive wild card is frequently channeled into the spectacular by the 36-year-old Miller, who has missed a grand total of one game since the start of the 2007-08 NBA season.

Hey @natekreckman.. GK: "My (Nugs) MVP right now? Andre Miller has been the rock, solid foundation that has helped us win the most games."

— Benjamin Hochman (@nuggetsnews) January 17, 2013

Denver’s other point guard gets along with both aforementioned frontcourt players, but Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried have some things in common. Both are seen as undersized and exceptionally athletic for their respective positions.

Lawson is a blur in the open court, and Faried is more than willing to run the floor with his PG. Lawson’s speed and quickness along with Faried’s energy and agility make for a high-effort offense which results in plenty of easy buckets.

Each of them excels at scoring inside in their own way: Lawson can slash through defenses to get to the cup, while Faried cleans up his friend’s messes. He’s averaging almost a double-double (12.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG) with 3.8 offensive rebounds in just 29.8 minutes a night.

#Nuggets F @kennethfaried35 says he had trouble sleeping after his 19-point, 19-rebound game last night. "My energy was still high."

— Denver Nuggets (@denvernuggets) January 10, 2013


All statistics used in this article are accurate prior to games played on Jan. 23, 2013. For more Denver Nuggets analysis, follow Jamal on Twitter