1980-81 Denver Nuggets Games Played/Started & Transactions

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1980-81 Denver Nuggets Games Played/Started & Transactions

Postby MCT » Fri May 13, 2016 1:44 pm

This is the 19th of a series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

DENVER NUGGETS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Nuggets had a 37-45 record. They finished fourth out of six teams in the Midwest Division, and eighth out of twelve teams in the Western Conference overall. The Nuggets did not make the playoffs. They were the second team not to make the cut, three games behind the last two playoff qualifiers.

The Nuggets used 16 different players for the season, five above the minimum.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

T.R. Dunn
Glen Gondrezick
Alex English
Ken Higgs
Cedrick Hordges
Kim Hughes
Dan Issel
Jawann Oldham
Carl Nicks
*James Ray
John Roche
David Thompson

*placed on injured list 10/8/80

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

10/21/80 – Activated James Ray from the injured list; waived Jawann Oldham.

10/31/80 – Traded Kim Hughes, two draft picks (1981 3rd round and 1982 2nd round) and future considerations to the Cavaliers for Dave Robsich.

12/2/80 – Waived Ken Higgs; signed Ron Valentine as a free agent.

12/10/80 – Traded two 1st round picks to the Nuggets (1981 and 1985) for the draft rights to Kiki Vandeweghe and a 1986 1st round pick; signed Vandeweghe and placed him on the active roster; placed James Ray and John Roche on the injured list; signed Ken Higgs to a 10-day contract.

12/20/80 – Signed Ken Higgs to a second 10-day contract.

12/22/80 – Traded Carl Nicks to the Jazz for Billy McKinney.

12/30/80 – Signed Ken Higgs to a contract for the remainder of the season.

3/17/81 – Placed Cedrick Hordges on the injured list; activated James Ray from the injured list.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Injured list transactions:

10/8/80: Ray placed on the IL, two days before the start of the regular season. This was in the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and is also in a couple of other newspapers in the Google News Archive.

10/21/80: Ray activated. This was in the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and is also in several other newspapers in the Google News Archive. To make room for Ray on the active roster, rookie center Jawann Oldham was waived. For several weeks after this, the Nuggets had no players on the injured list.

12/10/80: Ray and Roche placed on IL. This was in the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and at least one of the two moves are also in several other newspapers in the Google News Archive. For the remainder of the season, the Nuggets would have two players on the injured list.

3/17/81: Ray activated, Hordges placed on IL. pst.com has both of these moves, at least one of which are also in several 3/18 newspapers in the Google News Archive. The transactions column in the 3/18 Globe reported Ray being activated, but did not mention Hordges being placed on the IL.

Hughes-Robisch trade:

The NBA Register, pst.com, and both teams’ media guides state that the Cavaliers received Hughes, two draft picks (1981 3rd round, 1982 2nd round) and future considerations as part of the trade. b-r.com mentions Hughes and the picks, but not the future considerations.

The transactions column in the following day’s Globe (11/1/80) shows Hughes and “three future draft choices”, rather than two draft picks and future considerations. A search of the Google News Archive turns up an AP wire service article in several newspapers stating the same thing that the Globe did. The most complete version of this article that I found, in the 11/1/80 Lawrence (Kans.) Journal-World, identifies the three picks as “two second round and one third-round draft choice”.

It’s possible that the trade was originally supposed to involve three picks, but was later modified to turn one of the 2nd round picks into “future considerations”. Or perhaps there were conditions on some or all of the picks, and the conditions weren’t met with regard to one of the 2nd round picks. The 1981-82 NBA Register, published just a few months after the 1980-81 season ended, was already showing two picks and future considerations, so whatever happened to change things must have happened not long after the trade.

Transactions on 12/2/80:

On 12/2/80, which I believe was the date of the contract guarantee deadline, the Nuggets waived Ken Higgs, and replaced him by signing Ron Valentine. (Higgs would soon be back.) Valentine had been the Nuggets’ 3rd round pick in the 1980 draft, and had made it to the later stages of training camp, but had been waived just before the start of the regular season.

These transactions are documented in numerous sources, but I want to make note of one source they don’t appear in, even though you would expect them to: b-r.com. b-r.com is missing both Valentine’s waiving in October and his signing on 12/2. b-r.com is similarly missing both Higgs’ waiving on 12/2 and his subsequent signing(s) later in the month. This makes it look like both players were with the Nuggets for the entire regular season, which wasn’t actually the case.

Kiki Vandeweghe trade:

On 12/10/80, the Nuggets swung a deal with the Mavericks to acquire the rights to unsigned first round pick Kiki Vandeweghe. The 12/10 date is confirmed by numerous media reports (including the transactions column in the following days Globe, and reports in a number of papers in the Google News Archive), both teams’ media guides, and pst.com. The NBA Guide reports the date as 12/3, however. This date also appears in b-r.com, which likely used the Register as its source.

It seems pretty clear to me that the 12/3 date is wrong. Where did it come from? “3” isn’t a logical typo for “10”. A Google News Archive search turns up a possible answer. Two different versions of an AP wire service story in 12/4/80 papers – the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News and the Spokane (Wash.) Daily Chronicle – reported that the Mavericks had given the Nuggets permission to talk to Vandeweghe, in hopes of working out a deal. This presumably happened the previous day, on 12/3. The article is clear that “no trade has been consummated”, but maybe someone researching transactions for the NBA Register got this story got mixed up with reports of the later trade, leading to the date of the trade being shown as 12/3.

From media reports of the trade on 12/10, it is clear that Vandeweghe did not sign a contract until after the trade had been completed. His draft rights were traded, and he then signed a contract with the Nuggets.

Ken Higgs:

As discussed earlier, Higgs started the season with the Nuggets, but was waived on 12/2/80, at the contract guarantee deadline. The Nuggets would soon re-sign Higgs, however, after an injury to John Roche opened up a roster spot for a point guard.

According to the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and in several papers in the Google News Archive, the Nuggets signed Higgs to a 10-day contract on 12/10/80. This was one of several moves the Nuggets made on that date, including trading for Kiki Vandeweghe’s draft rights, signing Vandeweghe, and placing James Ray and John Roche on the injured list.

While I can find no documentation of it, Higgs must have signed a second 10-day deal about ten days after the first one, because he continues to appear in box scores beyond the point where the first 10-day deal would have expired. This would also fit in with reports that he signed a contract for the remainder of the season about ten days later (see the next paragraph).

According to the transactions column in the following day’s Globe, and in several papers in the Google News Archive, the Nuggets signed Higgs to a contract for the remainder of the season on 12/30/80.

The NBA Register, Nuggets Media Guide, and pst.com all report that Higgs signed on 12/8/80 rather than 12/10/80. It’s very possible that the NBA Register is the original source here, and the others got the date from the Register. It seems pretty clear to me that this date is wrong, and 12/10 is the correct date. The Nuggets would not have been able to sign anyone to a 10-day contract until they put someone on the injured list, and we have no indication that happened any earlier than 12/10.

The NBA Guide and Nuggets Media Guide show Higgs signing outright with the Nuggets on the apparently incorrect date of 12/8/80, with no mention of it being a 10-day deal or of any subsequent contracts. As we’ve discussed in previous installments in this series, the Register typically wrote things up that way whenever a player who initially joined a team on a 10-day deal stuck around for longer than that, and shouldn’t be read as inconsistent with what other sources show. The Nuggets Media Guide likely got its information from the NBA Register. pst.com does show the signing as a 10-day contract, but it doesn’t have either of Higgs’ subsequent contract signings.

As with the earlier transaction involving Higgs on 12/2, the transactions discussed in this section are completely missing from b-r.com. This leaves the reader with the impression that Higgs was simply with the team all season, uninterrupted, on the same contract he started the season under.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

The 2015-16 Nuggets Media Guide has regular season games started stats going back to the 1976-77 season, the club’s first year in the NBA. For 1980-81, it shows the following:

English 81
Issel 80
Thompson 76
Higgs 56
Hordges 46
Vandeweghe 18
Nicks 17
Dunn 13
Robisch 11
Hughes 6
Gondrezick 4
McKinney 1
Roche 1

TSN BOX SCORES

All but one of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Nuggets appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The one exception was the game on 2/15/81. In the 2/15/81 box score, the first five players listed look like the regular starters, but with a couple out of order (Higgs is shown in the C slot, Issel in a G slot). If we assume the first five players listed in this box score were in fact the starters, at their usual positions, the games started totals for all players are in agreement with those in the Nuggets Media Guide, except for the discrepancies noted below.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

There are six players whose games started totals are off by one game between the Nuggets Media Guide and the TSN box scores. The TSN boxes suggest that three players started one more game than indicated in the Nuggets Media Guide (Kiki Vandeweghe, Glen Gondrezick and Billy McKinney). Conversely, the TSN boxes suggest that three players started one fewer game than indicated in the Nuggets Media Guide (Ken Higgs, Cedrick Hordges and T.R. Dunn).

Identifying specific games as the sources of these discrepancies is difficult due to the number of players involved, and to the positional imbalance between the two groups. Two of the three players shown with one more game started in the TSN box scores were primarily forwards, but two of the three players shown with one fewer game started in the TSN box scores were primarily guards. For the same reasons, it is also difficult to say whether one source intuitively makes more sense than the other. Here are my best guesses:

Ken Higgs & Billy McKinney:

The easiest one to guess is between Ken Higgs and Billy McKinney. McKinney was only with the Nuggets from late December onward, and the TSN box scores show McKinney starting only two games. McKinney played the same position as Higgs, and the two games McKinney is shown starting are the only two games after McKinney was acquired that Higgs isn’t shown starting. Those two games were on 12/23/80 and 3/20/81. The source of the discrepancy on McKinney’s side has to be one of these two games, and it seems very likely that whichever game is the source of McKinney’s discrepancy is also the source of Higgs’. Of the two games, Higgs didn’t play in one of them (3/20/81), so he can’t have started that game. By process of elimination, the game on 12/23/80 is the likely culprit.

The game on 12/23/80 was the first game after the trade in which McKinney was acquired. The player he was traded for, Carl Nicks, had been starting, so the Nuggets had to find a new starter. There would some logic to the Nuggets plugging McKinney in to what had been Nicks’ role. It would also be plausible that Higgs was moved into the starting lineup for that game, since he started almost every other game for the remainder of the season. It’s hard to say which intuitively seems more “right”. If Higgs really started, perhaps whoever made up the box score was using a template with the starters' names filled in, and didn’t have time to re-do the template for that game, simply putting McKinney where Nicks had been.

T.R. Dunn & Glen Gondrezick:

Earlier, I had noted the positional imbalance between the two groups of players. Having crossed Higgs and McKinney off the list, the only remaining player who was primarily a guard is T.R. Dunn. There is however one player in the other group who was primarily a forward, but is shown starting one game at guard. That player is Glen Gondrezick. Four of the five box scores that have him in a starter’s position indicate that he started at forward, but one, on 3/8/81, has him in a guard’s slot. If we are correct about Higgs and McKinney being the source of each other’s discrepancies, it would make sense for Dunn and Gondrezick to be the source of each other’s, and the game on 3/8 is the most likely source.

(Note that Gondrezick is the fifth name in the 3/8 box score and regular starter David Thompson the sixth. There’s no obvious reason why Thompson wouldn’t have started this game, which may give rise to suspicions that the two are simply listed out of order, and Thompson was actually the starter, making all this discussion about Dunn and Gondrezick moot. But Thompson being shown as a reserve appears to be correct, as his games started totals match between the TSN box scores and Nuggets Media Guide. The numbers indicate that Thompson played in one game he didn’t start, and this seems to be the game.)

Which of the two makes more sense as the starter in this game? At first glance, one might say that Gondreizck would have been out of position at guard, so showing him as the starter must be wrong. In addition, Dunn usually filled in when Thompson wasn’t available to start, so it would make sense for Dunn to have started this game. On the other hand, Gondrezick’s old b-r.com header lists him as “Forward-Guard”, suggesting he may have played some guard at some point in his NBA career. And if Dunn really did start, I can offer no theory as to how Gondrezick’s name got into a starter’s position in the TSN box score.

Cedrick Hordges & Kiki Vandeweghe:

If we are correct about Higgs and McKinney being the source of each other’s discrepancies, and Dunn and Gondrezick being the source of each other’s, we are left with Cedrick Hordges and Kiki Vandeweghe. It would make sense for them to be the source of each other’s discrepancy, as they both played the same position, and both served as the starter for lengthy periods. Hordges started almost every game from late October to mid-December. A few games later, Vandeweghe took over, and would start until late January. Hordges then became the starter again.

No one game jumps out to me as the obvious candidate. There is no game that Vandeweghe is shown starting during a period when Hordges was the usual starter, or vice versa. My best guess would be a game at a point when the starting role was transitioning from one to the other. Vandeweghe took over the role at a point where Hordges was absent from the lineup for a few games; Hordges can’t have started the first game Vandeweghe is shown starting, because he didn’t play in that game. The most likely candidate would then be the last game Vandeweghe is shown starting before Hordges re-took the role, which was 1/24/81. Similar to what I had said earlier about Higgs and McKinney, if Hordges really started on 1/24, perhaps whoever made up the box score was using a template with the starter’s names filled in, and it took them a game to adjust to the fact that Vandeweghe was no longer starting.

Additional notes:

The TSN box scores show Gondrezick starting a game at forward on 12/5 in place of Hordges, for no obvious reason. At first, I thought this game was probably the source of the discrepancies for those two players. But if it is, Vandeweghe’s discrepancy has to be shared with either McKinney or Dunn, which seems harder to explain, as Vandeweghe was a forward and the other two were guards. It makes more sense that the source of Gondrezick’s discrepancy would be the game on 3/8 that the TSN boxes show him starting at guard, and that the discrepancies for Vandeweghe and Hordges would stem from the same game.

As noted earlier, there is one TSN box score that does not appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order, which was 2/15/81. Note that none of the discrepancies were created by my assumptions as to who started that game, and making changes in those assumptions would not eliminate the discrepancies. None of the three players with more games started in the TSN boxes (Vandeweghe, Gondrezick, McKinney) are assumed to have started the game on 2/15, so making changes to those assumptions would not result in any of these players having fewer games started. Conversely, two of the three players with fewer games started in the TSN boxes (Higgs, Hordges) are already assumed to have started the game on 2/15, so making changes to those assumptions would not result in either of those players having more games started. For the remaining player (Dunn), there is no way to assume he started the game on 2/15 without taking a game started away from another player, which would either create a new discrepancy or exacerbate an existing one.

In this series of articles, I am assuming that the games started numbers in team media guides are correct, and I have used the numbers from the Nuggets Media Guide in Part II below.
Last edited by MCT on Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Denver Nuggets Games Played/Started & Transactio

Postby MCT » Fri May 13, 2016 1:51 pm

DENVER NUGGETS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

Players are listed based on a snapshot as of late February.

ALEX ENGLISH

History: 2nd round pick of Bucks in 1976. Acquired in trade with Pacers, February 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 38.2 MPG): The only game in which English did not appear was on 11/23/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 81): English started every game he played in.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

DAVID THOMPSON

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1975. Entered NBA with Nuggets via NBA-ABA merger, 1976.

Games Played (Regular Season 77 G, 34.0 MPG): The five games in which Thompson did not appear were on 10/18/80, 1/14/81, 2/24/81, and two consecutive games on 3/17/81 & 3/18/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 76): The only game Thompson played in but did not start was on 3/8/81.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career, including 1980-81, except for one (his rookie season of 1975-76, in the ABA, which is shown as SF).

DAN ISSEL

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1970. Entered NBA with Nuggets via NBA-ABA merger, 1976.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 33.0 MPG): The two games in which Issel did not appear were two consecutive games on 2/21/81 & 2/22/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 80): Issel started every game he played in.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for most seasons of career, including 1980-81; the exceptions are the four seasons Issel spent playing for the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels alongside Artis Gimore (1971-72 through 1974-75), which are shown as PF.

CEDRICK HORDGES

History: 3rd round pick of Bulls in 1979, as a junior eligible; returned to college for 1979-80 season; rights traded to Nuggets and signed with Nuggets rather than re-enter that year’s draft, June 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 68 G, 23.5 MPG): The 14 games in which Hordges did not appear were three consecutive games from 12/16/80 through 12/20/80, two games in a three-game stretch from 1/7/81 through 1/10/81 (did not play on 1/7, played on 1/8, did not play on 1/10), and the last nine games of the season. Hordges’ last appearance of the season was on 3/13. He was placed on the injured list on 3/17/81, and would finish out the season there.

Games Started (Regular Season: 46): As noted earlier, there is a discrepancy in Hordges’ games started between the Nuggets Media Guide and the TSN box scores. The media guide indicates that Hordges started 46 games. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that he started 45 games.

The TSN box scores show Hordges starting 22 out of the 23 games from 10/25/80 through 12/13/80 (all except the game on 12/5/80), and 23 consecutive games from 1/27/80 (the second-to-last game before the All Star break) through 3/13/81. This starting slot was originally occupied by Kim Hughes, but Hordges took it over with the eighth game of the season. Hordges’ first stretch of starts was ended by the games he was absent from starting on 12/16, as Kiki Vandeweghe took over the starting role. Vandeweghe continued to start until late January, when Hordges re-took the starting job. Hordges’ final start on 3/13 was also the last game he appeared in this season, as he apparently got injured. Dave Robsich started the final nine games of the season.

As discussed earlier, it is difficult to identify the specific games that are the source of the discrepancies in the games started totals of Nuggets players. My best guess is that when Hordges returned to the starting lineup in January, he may have displaced Vandeweghe a game earlier than is shown in the TSN box scores, on 1/24/81. This would resolve the discrepancies for both Hordges (one game under in the TSN box scores) and Vandeweghe (one game over in the TSN box scores).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

KEN HIGGS

History: 3rd round pick of Cavaliers in 1978. Signed by the Nuggets on multiple occasions before and during the 1980-81 season; with team continuously after signing 10-day contract in December 1980.

Higgs started the season with the Nuggets, but was waived at the contract guarantee deadline on 12/2/80. The Nuggets signed Ron Valentine to fill the roster spot. After John Roche got injured, however, the Nuggets subsequently brought Higgs back on a 10-day contract on 12/10/80. That was apparently followed by a second 10-day deal, then a contract for the remainder of the season on 12/30/80.

Games Played (Regular Season 72 G, 23.5 MPG): The ten games in which Higgs did not appear were on 11/8/80, 11/15/80, seven consecutive games from 11/26/80 through 12/6/80, and 3/20/81. Four of these games (the last four games of the seven-game stretch, in early December) were during the period when Higgs had been waived and was not on the Nuggets’ roster.

Games Started (Regular Season: 56): As noted earlier, there is a discrepancy in Higgs’ games started between the Nuggets Media Guide and the TSN box scores. The media guide indicates that Higgs started 56 games. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that he started 55 games.

The TSN box scores show Higgs starting the first eight games of the season (through 10/25/80), then 47 of the last 48 games of the season (every game from 12/26/80 on, except for the one he didn’t play in on 3/20/81). After Higgs initially lost the starting job, this slot was occupied by T.R. Dunn, then Carl Nicks. Higgs returned to starting in late December after Nicks had been traded to the Jazz for Billy McKinney.

As discussed earlier, it is difficult to definitively nail down the specific games that are the source of the discrepancies in the games started totals of Nuggets players. My best guess is that the game on 12/23/80 – the first game after Nicks was traded – is the source of the discrepancies for both Higgs (one game under in the TSN box scores) and McKinney (one game over in the TSN box scores). The TSN box scores show McKinney as the starter, but if Higgs actually started this game, that would resolve the discrepancies for both players.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

KIKI VANDEWEGHE

History: 1st round pick of Mavericks in 1980. Draft rights acquired in trade with Mavericks, December 1980.

Vandeweghe was the Mavericks’ 1st round pick in the 1980 draft, but began the regular season unsigned. On 12/10/80, the Mavericks traded Vandeweghe’s draft rights and a future 1st round pick to the Nuggets in exchange for two future 1st round picks. Vandeweghe signed with the Nuggets and made his NBA debut on the same day as the trade.

Games Played (Regular Season 51 G, 27.0 MPG): Vandeweghe made his debut with the Nuggets on the day they acquired him. At that point, the Nuggets had 54 regular season games remaining, and Vandeweghe played in all but three of them. The three games in which he did not appear were three consecutive games from 3/6/81 through 3/8/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 18): As noted earlier, there is a discrepancy in Vandeweghe’s games started between the Nuggets Media Guide and the TSN box scores. The media guide indicates that Vandeweghe started 18 games. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that he started 19 games.

The TSN box scores show Vandeweghe starting 19 consecutive games from 12/18/80 through 1/24/81. This starting slot had previously been occupied by Cedrick Hordges – Vandeweghe began starting during a period when Hordges was absent from a few games, presumably due to some minor injury – and Hordges would eventually re-take the starting job from Vandeweghe.

As discussed earlier, it is difficult to identify the specific games that are the source of the discrepancies in the games started totals of Nuggets players. My best guess is that when Hordges returned to the starting lineup in January, he may have displaced Vandeweghe a game earlier than is shown in the TSN box scores, on 1/24/81. This would resolve the discrepancies for both Hordges (one game under in the TSN box scores) and Vandeweghe (one game over in the TSN box scores).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position switches back and forth between PF and SF, with PF predominant in the early part of his career and SF predominant in the middle and later parts. 1980-81 is shown as SF, the only one of the four seasons Vandeweghe played with the Nuggets that is not shown as PF.

DAVE ROBISCH

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1971. Acquired in trade with Cavaliers, October 1980.

Robisch started the season with the Cavaliers, but was traded to the Nuggets on 10/31/80 for Kim Hughes, two draft picks, and future considerations.

Games Played (Regular Season 73 G, 23.9 MPG): When Robisch was traded to the Nuggets, they had 73 games remaining. Robisch played in all of them, making his debut the day after the trade, on 11/1. Robisch had played in 11 games for the Cavaliers prior to the trade, giving him a total of 84 regular-season games played for the year. Because the Cavaliers had played two more games than the Nuggets at the time of the trade, and Robisch never missed a game for either team, he played in more than the standard 82 games.

Games Started (Regular Season: 11): The 11 games Robisch started were two consecutive games on 2/21/81 & 2/22/81, which were at center (regular starting center Dan Issel did not play in these games), and the last nine games of the season, from 3/15/81 on, which were at power forward (Cedrick Hordges, who had been starting at PF, did not play in any of these games).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career (including 1980-81) except for the portion of the 1975-76 season that he spent with the San Diego Sails of the ABA, which is shown as PF.

BILLY McKINNEY

History: 6th round pick of Suns in 1977. Acquired in trade with Jazz, December 1980.

McKinney started the season with the Jazz, but was traded to the Nuggets on 12/22/80 for Carl Nicks.

Games Played (Regular Season 49 G, 23.1 MPG): When McKinney was acquired by the Nuggets, they had 49 games remaining. McKinney played in all of them, making his Nuggets debut the day after the trade, on 12/23. McKinney had played in 35 games for the Jazz prior to the trade, giving him a total of 84 regular-season games played for the year. Because the Jazz had played two more games than the Nuggets at the time of the trade, and McKinney never missed a game for either team, he played in more than the standard 82 games.

Games Started (Regular Season: 1): As noted earlier, there is a discrepancy in McKinney’s games started between the Nuggets Media Guide and the TSN box scores. The media guide indicates that McKinney started 1 game. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that he started 2 games.

The TSN box scores show McKinney starting on 12/23/80 (the first game after he was acquired by the Nuggets; the player McKinney was traded for, Carl Nicks, had been starting), and 3/20/81. It would make perfect sense that McKinney started on 3/20, as regular starting point guard Ken Higgs did not play in that game. Higgs otherwise started every other game from 12/26/80 (the second game after McKinney was acquired) on. My best guess is that the game on 12/23/80 is the source of the discrepancies for both Higgs (one game under in the TSN box scores) and McKinney (one game over in the TSN box scores). If Higgs actually started that game, this would resolve the discrepancies for both players.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

T.R. DUNN

History: 2nd round pick of Blazers in 1977. Acquired in trade with Blazers, August 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 17.4 MPG): Dunn appeared in every game the Nuggets played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 13): As noted earlier, there is a discrepancy in Dunn’s games started between the Nuggets Media Guide and the TSN box scores. The media guide indicates that Dunn started 13 games. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that he started 12 games.

The TSN box scores show Dunn starting on 10/18/80, seven consecutive games from 10/29/80 through 11/11/80, 1/14/81, 2/24/81, and two consecutive games on 3/17/81 & 3/18/81. The seven-game stretch in late October and early November represents a period when Dunn was inserted into the starting lineup, replacing Ken Higgs. After seven games, the Nuggets instead turned to John Roche (for one game), then Carl Nicks; after Nicks was traded in December, Higgs re-took the job. All of the games Dunn is shown starting outside of that seven-game stretch were games in which regular starting guard David Thompson did not play.

As discussed earlier, it is difficult to definitively nail down the specific games that are the source of the discrepancies in the games started totals of Nuggets players. My best guess is that the game on 3/8/81 is the source of the discrepancies for both Dunn (one game under in the TSN box scores) and Glen Gondrezick (one game over in the TSN box scores). Thompson did not start that game, but the TSN box scores show Gondrezick starting at guard in his place, somewhat anomalously. If Dunn actually started this game, that would resolve the discrepancies for both players.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career, including 1980-81, except for one (1989-90, which is shown as SF).

GLEN GONDREZICK

History: 2nd round pick of Knicks in 1977. Signed as a free agent, November 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 73 G, 14.8 MPG): The nine games in which Gondrezick did not appear were on 11/29/80, 1/13/81, six games in a seven-game stretch from 1/21/81 through 2/4/81 (the last five games before the All-Star break, and the first two games after; the only game in this stretch in which Gondrezick appeared was on 1/27/81), and 2/10/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 4): As noted earlier, there is a discrepancy in Gondrezick’s games started between the Nuggets Media Guide and the TSN box scores. The media guide indicates that Gondrezick started 4 games. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that he started 5 games.

The TSN box scores show Gondrezick starting at forward on 10/18/80 (regular starter Kim Hughes did not play), 11/23/80 (regular starter Alex English did not play), 12/5/80 (in place of regular starter Cedrick Hordges, although Hordges did play in this game), and 12/16/80 (Hordges did not play); and at guard on 3/8/81 (in place of regular starter David Thompson, although Thompson did play in this game).

As discussed earlier, it is difficult to definitively nail down the specific games that are the source of the discrepancies in the games started totals of Nuggets players. My best guess is that the game on 3/8/81 is the source of the discrepancies for both Dunn (one game under in the TSN box scores) and Glen Gondrezick (one game over in the TSN box scores). Dunn usually started when Thompson wasn’t available to, and Gondrezick starting at guard is somewhat anomalous. If Dunn actually started this game, that would resolve the discrepancies for both players.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position switches back and forth between PF and SF. 1980-81 is shown as PF.

RON VALENTINE

History: 3rd round pick of Nuggets in 1980 (waived in training camp and did not start 1980-81 season with team). Signed as a free agent, December 1980.

Valentine was cut in training camp, but was brought back as a free agent on 12/2/80, and spent the rest of the season with the Nuggets.

Games Played (Regular Season 24 G, 5.1 MPG): When the Nuggets signed Valentine on 12/2, they had 58 games remaining in the season. Valentine played in 24 of them. I’m not going to list out exactly which games Valentine appeared in and which he didn’t, but his appearances in the TSN box scores do add up to his official games played total. Valentine played more frequently in his first month and a half with the Nuggets than he would thereafter, appearing in the first eight games after he signed, and 15 of the first 21 overall, but just 9 of the remaining 37, with no appearances in the final 10 games of the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Valentine did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF; this is the only season that Valentine played in the NBA.

INJURED LIST:

JOHN ROCHE

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1971. Signed as a free agent, June 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 26 G, 23.5 MPG): Roche appeared in the first 26 games of the season (through 12/4/80), then apparently got injured. He was placed on the IL on 12/10/80, and remained there for the rest of the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 1): The game Roche started was on 11/12/80. This game fell in between stretches of games started by T.R. Dunn (the previous 7 games) and Carl Nicks (the next 17 games).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position switches back and forth between SG and PG, with SG predominant in the early part of his career and PG somewhat predominant in the later part. 1980-81 is shown as PG.

JAMES RAY

History: 1st round pick of Nuggets in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 18 G, 8.2 MPG): Ray was injured for much of the season, playing in only 18 games. The 18 games he appeared in were 16 games in an 18-game stretch from 10/21/80 through 11/23/80 (the only two games he didn’t play in during that stretch were on 11/2/80 and 11/7/80) and two additional games near the end of the season (3/25/81 and 3/29/81, which were the Nuggets’ third-to-last and last games of the season, respectively). Ray was on the injured list from the start of the season to 10/21/80 (covering the first five games of the season), and again from 12/10/80 to 3/17/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Ray did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

CARL NICKS

History: 1st round pick of Nuggets in 1980.

Nicks started the season with the Nuggets, but was traded to the Jazz on 12/22/80 for Billy McKinney.

Games Played (Regular Season 27 G, 18.3 MPG): At the time Nicks was traded, the Nuggets had played 33 games. Nicks had appeared in 27 of them. The six games he did not play in were on 10/12/80, 10/21/80, 10/25/80, 11/1/80, 11/5/80, and 11/12/80. After the trade, Nicks played in an additional 40 games for the Jazz, giving him a total of 67 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 17): Nicks started 17 consecutive games from 11/15/80 through 12/20/80. This starting slot had previously been occupied by Ken Higgs, T.R. Dunn, and (for one game) John Roche. These were the final 17 games Nicks played for the Nuggets; the streak was snapped when he was traded.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for 1980-81, SG for the two remaining seasons of his career.

KIM HUGHES

History: Signed first pro contract with ABA, 1974. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, July 1978 (compensation owed to Nets).

Hughes started the season with the Nuggets, but was traded to the Cavaliers on 10/31/80 as part of a package for Dave Robisch.

Games Played (Regular Season 8 G, 19.9 MPG): At the time Hughes was traded, the Nuggets had played nine games. Hughes had appeared in eight of them. The only game Hughes hadn’t played in was on 10/18/80. After the trade, Hughes played in an additional 45 games for the Cavaliers, giving him a total of 53 games played for the year.

Games Started (Regular Season: 6): Hughes started the first six games he appeared in at power forward (all games through 10/24/80, except for the one he didn’t play in on 10/18/80). Hughes’ final two appearances for the Nuggets, before he was traded, were off the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

JAWANN OLDHAM

History: 2nd round pick of Nuggets in 1980.

Oldham started the season on the Nuggets’ active roster, but was waived on 10/21/80. He was waived when James Ray, who had started the season on the injured list, was activated. The Nuggets played a game on the day Oldham was waived, but Ray appeared in that game, so it is apparent that the roster move was made before the game. Oldham’s last game on the roster was the Nuggets’ previous game on 10/18/80.

Games Played (Regular Season 4 G, 5.3 MPG): Oldham was waived following the Nuggets’ fifth game of the season. Oldham had played in four of those five games (played on 10/10, 10/12, & 10/15; did not play on 10/17; played on 10/18).

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Oldham did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.
Last edited by MCT on Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Denver Nuggets Games Played/Started & Transactio

Postby MCT » Fri May 13, 2016 1:52 pm

DENVER NUGGETS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

The Nuggets had a stable starting lineup throughout the season at three positions: Issel at center, English at one forward slot, and Thompson at one guard slot. The other two positions were less stable.

The second starting forward slot was originally occupied by Kim Hughes, who was benched and subsequently traded early in the season; then for a time by rookie Cedrick Hordges; then by rookie Kiki Vandeweghe; then by Hordges again; then, after Hordges apparently got injured late in the season, by Dave Robisch. For the season as a whole, Hordges started the most games of any of these players by far, and he was the starter during our February snapshot period.

The second guard slot was originally occupied by Ken Higgs; then T.R. Dunn; then Carl Nicks; then, after Nicks was traded in late December, Higgs again. For the season as a whole, Higgs started the most games of any of these players by far, and he was the starter during our February snapshot period.

At forward, b-r.com has English as an SF, and all of the other players listed above as either PFs or as Cs (presumably filling a PF role while they were starting at forward). At guard, b-r.com has Thompson as an SG, and all of the other players listed above as PGs, except for Dunn (who is shown as an SG). The period when Dunn was starting aside, the rest seems pretty clear cut. I’m really struck by the contrast between players who were stars of some magnitude starting at three positions and a revolving door of mostly minor role players starting at the other two.

Not surprisingly, the big three all averaged at least 33 minutes per game, but only one other player on the team averaged as many as 24 (Vandeweghe, 27.0), with Hordges and Higgs both at 23.5. At the latter two positions, the Nuggets may have had more of a platoon arrangement than a traditional starter/backup setup, even during the periods when Hordges and Higgs were established as the starters.

RESERVES

The reserve who played the most minutes per game, by a sizable margin, was Kiki Vandeweghe (27.0 mpg). His mpg numbers are probably inflated a little due to spending a portion of the season as a starter, but he probably would have been the most heavily used reserve no matter what. Despite starting fewer than 20 games, Vandeweghe was actually fourth on the team in minutes per game, behind only English, Thompson and Issel. Vandeweghe averaged more minutes per game than Cedrick Hordges, even though Hordges started significantly more often; Vandeweghe may have been actually playing more minutes than Hordges even during portions of the season when Hordges was starting. A forward, Vandeweghe’s primary position is shown as SF this year, although it is shown as PF for the rest of his tenure with the Nuggets. Given that he played far more minutes per game than any other reserve forward, Vandeweghe likely saw some time in both roles. More succinctly, I think Vandweghe may be what you might call a “combo forward”, not really a true PF, but more of an SF with some ability to “play big”.

The next rung of reserves include Dave Robisch (23.9 mpg) and Billy McKinney (23.1 mpg). Robisch was the backup at C but also saw some time at PF. McKinney was the backup at PG. McKinney’s minutes per game were only 0.4 less than Higgs’, suggesting more of a platoon arrangement than a traditional starter/backup setup.

Rounding out the rotation are T.R. Dunn (17.4 mpg) and Glen Gondrezick (14.8 mpg). Dunn was an SG. Gondrezick is shown as a PF, but is shown as an SF for some of his other seasons, and is actually listed as a “Forward-Guard”. As with Vandeweghe, Gondrezick may have seen time in both forward roles, or may have just plain been kind of a “combo forward”.

The last player on the bench was clearly Ron Valentine, who is shown as an SF. From the time he was signed in early December, Valentine appeared in just 24 out of 58 games, averaging 5.1 minutes per game.

POSITION NOTES

Center-Forwards

The Nuggets had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both center and forward: Dan Issel, Dave Robisch and Cedrick Hordges. Issel and Robisch are shown with a primary position of C most seasons of their careers, but are listed as C-F in their old b-r.com header. Hordges is shown with a primary position of PF for every season of his career, but is listed as an F-C in his old b-r.com header. Note that while Kim Hughes is designated exclusively as a center, the TSN box scores indicate that he started six games at PF.

The four players on the Nuggets whose primary position is shown as center (Issel, Robisch, Hughes and Oldham) played 574 more minutes than would have been available at center. This suggests that one or more of these players saw some playing time at forward. 574 minutes works out to 7.0 minutes a game. Robisch is the most likely candidate, and actually started several games at power forward late in the season after Hordges got injured. Robisch wasn’t with the Nuggets all season, but Hughes (who was traded for Robisch) clearly spent at least a little time at forward as well, since he also started several games there.

Due to the overage in minutes at center, I don’t see why the Nuggets would have had much need to use Hordges at center. He may have been an emergency backup if Issel or Robisch wasn’t available, but that doesn’t look like it happened very often.

Forwards-Guards

The Nuggets had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both forward and guard: David Thompson, T.R. Dunn and Glen Gondrezick. Thompson and Dunn are listed as Guard-Forward in their old b-r.com headers, and are shown with a primary position of SG for most seasons of their careers. Gondrezick is listed as a Forward-Guard. His primary position for every season of his career is either SF or PF.

If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Nuggets whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Nuggets whose primary position was in the backcourt, there is a shortage of 115 minutes in the frontcourt, and an overage of 115 minutes in the backcourt. This suggests that Thompson or Dunn may have occasionally swung to SF for a few minutes, but it doesn’t look like they were seeing much playing time there. 115 minutes works out to less than a minute and a half per game. This is especially interesting in Thompson’s case because b-r.com shows him playing SF as a pro rookie in 1975-76. By 1980-81, he had apparently transitioned to playing guard more-or-less exclusively, seeing little or no playing time at SF.

Since the backcourt has an overage and the frontcourt a shortage, I don’t see why the Nuggets would have a need to use Gondrezick significantly at guard.

PFs and SFs

In looking at the Nuggets’ forward corps, I’m struck that Cedrick Hordges may have been the only “true” power forward to play a significant number of minutes. b-r.com shows Glen Gondrezick as the backup PF, but he has other seasons where he’s shown as an SF, and his old b-r.com header designates him as a Forward-Guard. Kiki Vandeweghe is shown as an SF this year, but as a PF in his three remaining seasons with the Nuggets. It’s not clear to me how these two were used in relation to one another, or what made one the PF and one the SF; Vandeweghe started for a time in the slot otherwise occupied by Hordges. As discussed earlier, I think both of these guys may have been what you might call a “combo forward”, not really true PFs, but more SFs with some ability to “play big”, allowing them to fill somewhat of a PF-like role. One might put Alex English in that category as well (English pulled down 646 rebounds this season, just thirty fewer than team leader Dan Issel). I suspect that the Nuggets played a fair number of minutes with two such players on the floor together, with the SF and PF roles perhaps becoming a bit blurred.

As always, I would be interested in any information anyone has about how these players were used, this season or elsewhere in their careers.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Dan Issel, born 10/25/48 (turned 32 a few weeks into the season).

Played in ABA: David Thompson, Dan Issel, Dave Robisch, John Roche, Kim Hughes.

Longest continuous service with team: the Nuggets still had two players who had entered the NBA with the team at the time of the NBA-ABA merger, and had stayed continuously ever since: David Thompson and Dan Issel. Both had joined the team for its final season in the ABA, 1975-76, but between the two, Thompson had been with the team slightly longer. The Nuggets acquired his draft rights in a trade and signed him to a contract in July 1975, while Issel was acquired in a trade a few months later in September 1975. Note that Dave Robisch had also played for the Rockets/Nuggets when they were in the ABA, but had not been with the team continuously since its ABA days. Robsich was traded away in the same deal that brought Issel to the team in 1975, then returned early in the 1980-81 season.

Highest original draft position*: #1 overall – David Thompson.

Lowest original draft position*: 8th round, #122 overall – Dan Issel. Another low pick was Billy McKinney (6th round, #115 overall).

Youngest Player: Carl Nicks, born 10/6/58 (turned 22 a few days before the start of the regular season). After Nicks was traded, Kiki Vandeweghe (born 8/1/58, age 22) was the youngest player on the team.

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away, player was already under contract to ABA).
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Re: 1980-81 Denver Nuggets Games Played/Started & Transactio

Postby MCT » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:55 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Nuggets:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm     player         pos   Min     
Den   Alex English     F   3093         
Den   Dan Issel        C   2641         
Den   David Thompson   G   2620         
Den   Dave Robisch    cf   1744         
Den   Kenny Higgs      G   1689         
Den   Cedric Hordges   f   1599         
Den   T.R. Dunn        g   1427         
Den   Kiki Vandeweghe  F   1376         
Den   Billy McKinney   g   1134         
Den   Glen Gondrezick  f   1077         
Den   Johnny Roche     g    611         
Den   Carl Nicks       g    493         
Den   Kim Hughes       c    159         
Den   James Ray        f    148         
Den   Ron Valentine    f    123         
Den   Jawann Oldham    c     21           


MCT wrote:The Nuggets had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both center and forward: Dan Issel, Dave Robisch and Cedrick Hordges. Issel and Robisch are shown with a primary position of C most seasons of their careers, but are listed as C-F in their old b-r.com header. Hordges is shown with a primary position of PF for every season of his career, but is listed as an F-C in his old b-r.com header. Note that while Kim Hughes is designated exclusively as a center, the TSN box scores indicate that he started six games at PF.

The four players on the Nuggets whose primary position is shown as center (Issel, Robisch, Hughes and Oldham) played 574 more minutes than would have been available at center. This suggests that one or more of these players saw some playing time at forward. 574 minutes works out to 7.0 minutes a game. Robisch is the most likely candidate, and actually started several games at power forward late in the season after Hordges got injured. Robisch wasn’t with the Nuggets all season, but Hughes (who was traded for Robisch) clearly spent at least a little time at forward as well, since he also started several games there.

Consistent with the above, Neft & Cohen have Robisch as “cf”, although they have Hughes as exclusively a center. They also have Issel as exclusively a center.

MCT wrote:Due to the overage in minutes at center, I don’t see why the Nuggets would have had much need to use Hordges at center. He may have been an emergency backup if Issel or Robisch wasn’t available, but that doesn’t look like it happened very often.

Neft & Cohen have Hordges as exclusively a forward.

MCT wrote: The Nuggets had three players listed in their old b-r.com headers as playing both forward and guard: David Thompson, T.R. Dunn and Glen Gondrezick. Thompson and Dunn are listed as Guard-Forward in their old b-r.com headers, and are shown with a primary position of SG for most seasons of their careers. Gondrezick is listed as a Forward-Guard. His primary position for every season of his career is either SF or PF.

If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Nuggets whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Nuggets whose primary position was in the backcourt, there is a shortage of 115 minutes in the frontcourt, and an overage of 115 minutes in the backcourt. This suggests that Thompson or Dunn may have occasionally swung to SF for a few minutes, but it doesn’t look like they were seeing much playing time there. 115 minutes works out to less than a minute and a half per game. This is especially interesting in Thompson’s case because b-r.com shows him playing SF as a pro rookie in 1975-76. By 1980-81, he had apparently transitioned to playing guard more-or-less exclusively, seeing little or no playing time at SF.

Neft & Cohen have Thompson and Dunn as exclusively guards.

MCT wrote:Since the backcourt has an overage and the frontcourt a shortage, I don’t see why the Nuggets would have a need to use Gondrezick significantly at guard.

Neft & Cohen have Gondrezick as exclusively a forward.
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