The window for winning in the NBA can be a very small one for smaller market teams. The Nuggets window opened with the re-tooling of the roster the season before Carmelo Anthony was drafted, and that window remains open as this current season approaches. But many believe the Nuggets window is closing, just as the Oklahoma City Thunder's window is sliding open.
If you didn't get a chance to read Zorgon's entire preview on the Oklahoma City Thunder you can do so by clicking here. The main takeaway for me is as follows:
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
Admittedly, this off-season has been much quieter than the last two, but it was still an important one in all accounts. As far as losses go, the three guys we're losing are of minimal importance. Ollie and Thomas are in the twilight of their careers and only played sparing minutes, while Kyle Weaver seemed to have hit his developmental peak, and he was constantly buried on the Depth Chart.
Oklahoma City's general manager Sam Presti has been doing a nice job keeping the young core intact and also keeping them as the main focus of the team. Presti has been careful not to bring in any players that might disrupt the three main focal points of the team (Durant, Green, and Westbrook). The funny thing about NBA windows is that even with the best-laid plans, see the Portland Trail Blazers, things can go awry.
There have been plenty of young teams with potential and lots of up-and-coming teams that come into a new season with high-expectations, but fulfilling all that promise is hard to do. We saw it here in Denver last year after the Nuggets run to the Western Conference Finals, the Blazers fans can also point to last season's disappointment, and New Orleans Hornets fans also know the sting after a promising season.
The Thunder arrive in Denver after beating the Spurs last night in San Antonio 111-102. The core players for the Thunder; Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden all played over 34 minutes individually last night (with Durant leading the way with 40 minutes), so one can't be sure how head coach Scott Brooks will work his rotation tonight. But don't expect to see Durant go for another 40 minutes tonight.
In Los Angeles, just two days ago, on Oct. 17th the Nuggets defeated the Clippers 108-104 despite resting Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, Nene, and Anthony Carter. Will George Karl give his regulars some tune up minutes? There are still two preseason games remaining in Portland (Oct. 21st) and Phoenix (Oct. 22nd), but tonight will be the last contest at the Pepsi Center before the regular season begins!
Update: From the Denver Nuggets Twitter page: Anthony Carter (hamstring) isn't expected to play tonight and Oklahoma City is expected to rest Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.