The Case for a Big
Looking at the Nuggets going forward I had a couple thoughts. First item to deal with is the components of a championship team. Things needed are a good coach, good bench, either two or three stars and lots of good role players or five guys who are top ten at their position (Pistons). Also necessary is management that is willing to spend money, a savvy intelligent GM who knows the business and of course, most importantly, a dominant big man. Previous champions for the past several years have these pieces.
The Nuggets have a hard choice going forward. Carmelo has made a decision to leave and is forcing the Nuggets to try to rebuild on the fly or tear it down and build through the draft. To answer this I think we should look at the team that has done the most with the same attributes the Denver has. In this scenario I am leaving out LA, NY and Miami specifically because they are regarded as top free agent destinations and are located on the coast. In other words not a good comparison.
In January of 2000 a new owner purchased a NBA team. He choose to get actively involved with his team and decided that his team wasn’t going to rebuild through the draft but go the free agent, good trades route to build a contender. He spent plenty of money building a good scouting system and did all the little things that needed to be done.
This team also had a nine-time all-star who won the MVP in 06-07. Management had no problem spending big money to surround this all-star with great players, always willing to overpay to bring in talent. Management worked hard to bring in a dominant big man but never quite succeeded. A couple times they brought in decent centers but never good enough to dominate a playoff series.
The team of course is the Mavs. I believe every team in the league would like to add a 9x all star power forward and MVP. I believe most fans would trade owners in a heart-beat with Cuban, an unconventional thinker who cares and is willing to spend big money. The question, after all this team has done right, is how have they not won a championship? Those who follow the NBA closely know the answer, a dominant big man. Not just serviceable, not a Stiff, an honest to goodness dominant big who plays close to the rim. Dirk doesn’t count.
I don’t really care if we rebuild through the draft or on the fly. What is absolutely necessary is that we have to acquire a dominant big. However that happens so be it but it’s the only thing I care about. Until that happens we are wasting our time if a championship is the goal.
Those of you interested in what exactly a dominant big makes please read on. Right now Nene ranks in the top five of NBA centers in PER. Is he dominant? No. Is Marc Gasol dominant? No. Dominance has to include defense and the ability to intimidate opposing teams at the rim. It includes the ability to play man to man D on the other teams center so they don’t have to double. Okur, Miller, (even in his prime) Dirk and Bargnani don’t count because they play away from the rim. Duncan and Shaq, although playing well right now, will not be able to keep up this level of play forever(I think). Gortat, Bogut, Gasol, Okafor, Nene, Noah, Lopez, Horford, Hibbert, Perkins and Chandler are all critically lacking in one or more of the following areas; strength (ability to hold position or move towards the basket), size, offensive ability, foot speed or leaping ability (shot-blocking).
The only centers that have the physical tools to be dominant who are in the league right now are Oden, Howard, Bynum, Yao. In my opinion McGee and DeAndre Jordan, have the potential and size to be dominant someday. The problem in acquiring these big men is that everyone else wants them and the teams that have them don’t want to give them up. Also injuries plague these guys and the final straw is that often times these big men don’t come with an appropriately sized attitude and don’t want to dominate. (Nene, Jordan)
My premise is simple. More than a good coach, more than draft picks, more than cap space, more than multiple stars the one thing the Nuggets have to start with is a dominant big man. Do whatever it takes and go get one.