Just two games into the new NBA season, it's already clear that the old veteran teams will struggle while younger, deeper teams like our Nuggets will thrive.
It's never too early to admit when you're wrong. And I think I was dead wrong in predicting that the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs will finish among the Western Conference's top-five seeds by the time the onerous, 66-game 2011-12 NBA season comes to a close. And looking Eastbound, the Boston Celtics appear to be in deep trouble, as well.
What was I thinking?
In the last two days, the Mavericks couldn't put on a respectable performance in back-to-back home games. The Lakers lost at home to a feisty Chicago Bulls team (that got trounced in Oakland by a young Golden State Warriors team last night) and followed that up by getting crushed in Sacramento to a young, deep Kings team. The Celtics ran out of gas to open the door for a big Carmelo Anthony push on Sunday. And with the Spurs, it's just a matter of time before they start wearing down. Just watch.
Could this be the season that young-ish Western Conference teams like the Nuggets, Thunder, Kings, Warriors, Timberwolves (yes, Timberwolves), Grizzlies and Clippers give the rest of the NBA fits? Imagine those west coast road trips when you have to play several of those dynamic, young squads for a fourth game in five nights?
A generational shift was probably coming to the NBA anyway with the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs fading into oblivion during the last post-season and the Heat, Thunder and Bulls smoking their way through the regular and post-season. It's as if the aging Mavericks represented the last stand of the old guard, amazingly delivering the great Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd much-deserved championship rings against those Heat.
But with the NBA lockout forcing a truncated 66-game season upon the league's 30 teams with little time for preparation and no time for rest, the generational shift appears to be exacerbated. From the looks of things early, the era of Dirk, Kobe, J-Kidd, Duncan, KG, Pierce, Ray, Nash, Chauncey, Ginobili and so on may soon be giving away much valued ground to the likes of Durant, LeBron, D-Wade, Melo, CP3, Blake, Love, Rubio, Rose, Curry, Evans, Westbrook and the others stars of tomorrow who will quickly become the stars of today.
All of this, of course, greatly benefits our young, deep and energetic Denver Nuggets squad. It's dangerous to get too excited after just one game, but to say that the Nuggets destroyed the Mavericks at Dallas last night would be an understatement. The contest was never in doubt.
My Denver Stiffs colleague Jeff Morton sent me a text during the game that sums this all up: "Wow. Either Dallas blows or the Nuggets are amazing."
I'm thinking it could be both.
On to the links...
Dirk: Champs look old and out of shape
Nowitzki is already questioning the readiness of his Mavericks.
Nuggets rout defending champion Mavericks in season opener - The Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman's recap of the game.
Vets Andersen, Harrington keep Faried on bench - The Denver Post
It's hard to argue with Coach Karl's rotation from last night.
Lakers' 100-91 loss to Sacramento Kings prompts concerns - latimes.com
Sportswriters and commentators look at the Lakers' 100-91 loss to the Sacramento Kings.
Fisher facing physical, team challenges in return to floor | NBA.com
Derek Fisher will face many challenges this season, including Father Time.
Sean Williams Shines in Dallas Loss to Denver, 115-93 - Mavs Moneyball
Our colleague Lisa Rotter recaps the Mavericks/Nuggets game.