With the Nuggets losing three straight games without Carmelo Anthony, it got me to thinking...
The Denver Nuggets NEED special. Not just one special player, but two...or three...or...
I've been doing some serious thinking (I've had alot of time on my hands the last half-week) and it occurred to me the Nuggets have alot more options on the table than simply a "fire sale" trade.
When the Nuggets trade Melo, it's assumed they will go after Derrick Favors and a bunch of picks and blah blah blah. Basically a forward with potential (by potential I mean...we will see something in three to five years) and a wing and a prayer from New Jersey. While I see the validity in that, investing so much in the NBA draft scares the living crap out of me. Seriously. Since there's no minor league (or one that's treated as such) and the NBA relies of players who are very young it sometimes takes YEARS to develop players while they are playing. Anyone who knows the Nuggets draft history since 1991 can tell you this team's history of drafting isn't pretty.
That's not to say I don't advocate the Nuggets acquire picks. I'm merely saying there may be an alternate use for these picks. Say for instance in combination with various "expiring" contracts the Nuggets use the high picks as leverage to get proven younger talent. Say the Nuggets end up trading with NJ (which is still clearly up in the air) the Nuggets keep the 2012 draft pick (the 2011 draft is looking to be sketchy) and package the other picks along with one of their expiring contracts (Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Arron Afflalo) to get proven, or at the very least "tested", younger talent. A name that comes to mind is Marc Gasol. That's purely speculation on my part, but I'm figuring a trade with the Nuggets would get quite a bit more appealing if they consummated the deal with an attractive first round pick.
That's one scenario. Let me throw this one out there. Say Melo sticks with what's been speculated and refuses to sign the extension with New Jersey? What then? The New York Knicks seem like the next most likely scenario. What would the Nuggets do then? While what the Knicks have isn't exactly appealing, it's not garbage either. Obtaining Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields from the Knicks wouldn't be horrible and at the very least the Nuggets would be getting two young cheap players who have some upside.
Yet I'm left wondering...where's the "special"?
Yes it's clear that I'm not as high on Favors as some others. I think he will be a good, but not great power forward in this league. The Nuggets need a couple "special" players to compete in this league at a championship level. One of the issues we've had since Melo has been here is we have tried to combine him with aging stars (Allen Iverson) an injury prone power forward with limited offensive skills (Kenyon Martin) and a point guard who's best was 6 seasons ago (Chauncey Billups). While the Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2009, it's been understood that they needed something more. Another special player to combine with Carmelo. This hasn't happened, and with the Nuggets most likely trading Carmelo soon...it's not going to.
I'm left to wonder what the possibilities would have been if the Nuggets were able to get effective and star caliber players after the WCF run of two seasons ago? Unfortunately we will never know. I understand they were handcuffed by Kmart's contract, but it's still frustrating. Going forward, the Nuggets need to understand that, to compete, you can't have a team filled completely with competent "try hards" any more than you can fill your team with thugs and talented knuckleheads. You NEED at the very least two players who have "it". Something special in them that changes the game and makes you stand in awe.
The Nuggets recent three game slide has proven something, at least to me. It's proven that Melo is a special player even though we don't always acknowledge it. Melo is special even though we wish he played like other superstars. Melo is special and took this franchise to greater success than it's ever seen. For THAT I'm appreciative. Something tells me we will appreciate that more and more after Melo is gone.
To Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri please remember some things. Nuggets fans have been through a lot in this town. From having to fight through the Broncos to get ANY coverage, to having the team sold three times in ten years and challenging for the worst record in the history of the NBA (all in the 90's). We understand you must do what you have to do...but remember, don't toy with us. Give us a plan. Let us know that you want the Nuggets to compete for championships, not just protect the bottom line. Tell us you understand that losing Melo is bad BUT you have a plan for something even greater. Tell us you want to bring a championship to the ONLY city from the ABA merger to NOT make an appearance in the finals, Tell us you want to win...and be sincere. What scares me more than anything is over reliance on hope. On "potential". As far as I can tell, there's only one team to build completely through the draft (well, almost completely) and become competitive. That was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even then they were fortunate Kevin Durant turned out to be a better pro than Greg Oden.
We need "special" again Masai and Josh. Not swings and misses.
And now for some comic relief, here's scenes from the movie Black Dynamite
Best Scenes Of Black Dynamite (via RamonMartinezGion)