Denver Nuggets Mid-Season Report Card: Guards

After tying the team record for best start to a season, a slew of injuries combined with a certain small forward still stuck in China has resulted in the Denver Nuggets cooling off in February. Denver is now 18-17 and currently on the outside looking in in the Western Conference. With that being said. Let's take a look at the mid-season grades for the Denver guards.

Mid-Season Report Card: Forwards

Mid-Season Report Card: Centers

Point Guards


[caption id="attachment_222" align="alignright" width="210" caption="Ty Lawson has taken the keys to Denver's offense, but could still improve defensively. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) "][/caption]

Ty Lawson: B+

Lawson has continued to progress in his third year and is proving to be one of the quickest players in the NBA. Lawson has been essential in conducting the fast-break and has made a living off turning steals, defensive rebounds and even made baskets by the opponents into easy baskets in transition. Lawson is recording career highs in points, assists, rebounds and steals per game. Lawson's shooting percentages have regressed but that can be expected for someone who gets more minutes. Lawson has shown an innate ability to finish in lane despite being 5-foot-11.

The reason why he didn't receive a higher grade is due to his defensive performance. Lawson has had significant trouble guarding some of the NBA's best point guards. For instance, Lawson surrendered a 40 point game to Russell Westbrook and a 36 point game to Stephen Curry. Of course, Lawson isn't completely to blame. But if Denver is going to be a contender in the West, Lawson and others are going to have to pick things up on the defensive end.

Andre Miller: A-

This year marks only the second time Miller has averaged less than 30 minutes per game with the only other time being in his rookie year. This has resulted in Miller recording his lowest points per game average of his career. However, his assists totals are still there and Miller has shown the capability to take over a game when necessary.The 35-year-old certainly isn't as quick as Lawson, but he is less of a liability on defense. Miller is also one of only two Nuggets to play every game so far.

However, Miller hasn't exactly been thrilled with being a backup. Miller only has one year left on his contract which means he will likely sign with a team that can offer a starting spot next year. As a result, Denver will likely explore trade options within the next couple weeks in hope of getting some value for him. One potential suitor would be the Indiana Pacers.

Julyan Stone: B-

The undrafted rookie out of UTEP has received a lot of minutes in recent weeks due to injuries. Stone has been a versatile player who has seen action in the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions. Stone is a quality defender who also has shown good passing skills at times and can score in transition.

With that being said, Stone needs to work on developing an outside game as well as making better decisions. With Fernandez, Gallinari and Wilson Chandler likely to come back in the next couple weeks, Stone will likely see limited minutes. Stone has the potential to develop into a backup point guard but still has a lot of work to do on the offensive end.

Shooting Guards


[caption id="attachment_221" align="alignright" width="210" caption="Arron Afflalo has been on a surge in the absence of Danilo Gallinari. Photo courtesy of Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images "][/caption]

Arron Afflalo: C

A couple weeks ago, Afflalo's grade was looking much worse. The fifth year guard wasn't showing confidence in his jump shot and wasn't being his usual self on the defensive end of the floor. However, when Gallinari went down, Afflalo among other stepped up in a big way. Afflalo is now starting to look like the player that Denver signed to a five-year, $43 million extension.

Afflalo is averaging almost 18 points per game in his last 10 games. Afflalo won't likely need to produce that much when Gallo and company come back from injury, but he will likely see more open looks once they do return. If Afflalo can show the same confidence in the second half of the season, Denver could turn into a lethal team.

Rudy Fernandez: B-

Like many Nuggets, Fernandez had injury issues as he missed eight games in the first half of the season. Fernandez has been known for mostly his outside shooting ability, but the fourth year man out of Spain has shown a sense of versatility off the bench for the Nuggets this year and if healthy, can cause a lot of problems for opponents' second lines.

Fernandez has proven to be a pesky defender, especially for smaller opponents. Fernandez has also proven to be a capable and creative passer. After seeing his field goal percentage consistently decrease in his second and third year, Fernandez is shooting a career high 45% from the field this year. Fernandez struggled from 3-point land in December, picked things up in January but then struggled again in February. Hopefully a healthy Fernandez will add some consistency to his shot.

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