Making The Case For Rob Kurz, Not Brian Cook, to the Denver Nuggets

On Tuesday, HoopsWorld reported that the Denver Nuggets would likely sign free agent forward Brian Cook in the coming days.

Upon hearing this news, I went on a Twitter tirade, telling everyone who would listen my disdain for the Nuggets choosing Brian Cook over a hungrier, and possibly more capable, player from the NBA Development League.

The most ringing endorsement for my plea was from the wonderful, always-loving-of-every-NBA-player-ever Holly Mackenzie:

@RUBasketball you know I'm all love. Even I can't love Cook's game. At all.

Boom. If Holly, who is one of my favorite NBA writers (The Score and SLAM, most notably), doesn't like him, then nobody likes him.

When ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin heard the news, he wasn't exactly positive about it either:

Cook is theoretically a "stretch four," and those are the hot new toy everybody wants. We say theoretically because he shot just 22.2 percent from three in 15 appearances for the Rockets this season and barely ever takes a long two.
[...]
And the reason the Lakers early on and Orlando next let him walk was the fact they like defense and rebounding. Cook does not (he is at best an average rebounder for a four, and because he likes the wings he rarely gets offensive boards).

Thankfully, Fanhouse's Chris Tomasson has been tweeting recently that the Nuggets aren't going to sign anybody until they can see what the team looks like without Kenyon Martin, who seems to be out until the playoffs.

Now that you know the back story and I've been able to confirm from a source with the Nuggets that if they add a player, he'll be a big that can shoot, I'd like to make the case for Fort Wayne's Rob Kurz instead of Cook.

First, let's prove that he's what the Nuggets are looking for:

  • Size: Kurz is 6-foot-9, 230 pounds; Brian Cook is 6-foot-9, 250 pounds.  Close enough.
  • Shooting abilities: Kurz is shooting 52% from the field and 46% from 3-point land. Yep, he can shoot.

Now, for the rest of my argument.

Last season, as a rookie with the Golden State Warriors, Kurz was primarily (read: only) a pick-and-pop shooter.

Unfortunately for him, however, being a one-trick point didn't fly this offseason, even though he was given ample opportunity.  Kurz played in the Orlando Summer League with the 76ers/Nets combined team, in the Vegas Summer League with the Timberwolves AND in the preseason with the Cavs.

Realizing he'd have to develop his game if he wanted to make it back to the NBA, Kurz joined the NBA Development League (fitting, isn't it?).  In his time in the D-League, he's worked on becoming a more complete player - and it's actually working. 

The biggest improvements (and things he can presumably do better than Cook) are:

  • He can score in the post!  Kurz is now scoring at one of the highest rates in the D-League when it comes to the low post, averaging 1.21 points per possession.  More telling, though, is that he spends 19% of his time in the post.  While that doesn't seem like a high percentage, the only thing he does more than doing work in the post is spot-up shooting (23%).
  • He can rebound!  Kurz is averaging 10.1 rebounds a game, third best in the D-League.
  • He can play defense!  According to Synergy, he's a "very good" post defender.  While it's a rather small sample size, I'm told Brian Cook ranks as a "poor" overall defender this season, though he didn't have enough playing time to be ranked in any individual category.
  • He can still shoot!  I know I mentioned it earlier, but it probably bears mentioning again.  Kurz has hit 46% of his shots from beyond the arc and 53% from inside the arc. 
  • Rob Kurz has sweet highlight videos from his time with Golden State.  Okay, so the highlights were pretty much just jump shots, but the music was sweet.  If anyone ever makes a highlight video of me, I prefer it to be set to a Macho Man Randy Savage diss track.
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