|Game 73: 2014-15 NBA Season|
|March 27th, 2015|
|Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
|7:00 PM MT|
|Altitude / 104.3 FM
|SLC Dunk||Blogs||Denver Stiffs|
Rodney Hood - Probable (Illness, day-to-day)
Gordon Hayward - Probable (Shoulder, day-to-day)
Alec Burks - Out (Shoulder, out for season)
Carrick Felix - Out (Knee, out for season)
|Rudy Gobert is the NBA's leading shot blocker since 1/1/15 with 108 total blocks (!)
||Etc...||Ty Lawson (399) is 11 made three point shots away from passing Carmelo Anthony (410) on the Nuggets' all-time 3 point leaders and moving into 6th place
Mercifully, the 2014-2015 NBA season is beginning to draw to a close for the Denver Nuggets.
While I'm never one to eagerly embrace the long, boring summer that featuring professional sports' longest and most boring game, baseball - aside from a cricket test match, I suppose - it'll be a relief to know that we're finally concluding one of the most disappointing and drama-filled stretches in Nuggets history. From injuries to infighting, Mozgov trades to books on millenials, never before have I wished for a quick end to an NBA season the way that I do this one.
As an organization, the Nuggets will once again be confronted with significant, franchise-altering decisions this summer. Josh Kroenke, Tim Connelly and the rest of the Nuggets brain trust will have to answer questions like:
1. Do they roll the dice - again - on another (relatively) unproven head coach in Melvin Hunt?
2. What player will the team target with their forecasted 6-9 lottery pick in the draft?
3. What members of the core make it to the start of the 2015-2016 season?
4. Will this be the troubled Ty Lawson's last season in a Nuggets uniform?
5. How will the team's identity and playstyle be shaped going forward?
Getting even one of these decisions right would be a tough call, let alone all five; yet those are just a few questions of what the front office finds themselves faced with over the coming months. Although Shaw has been the most visible mistake of the regime since Connelly took over, most of the rest of their decisions have been positive or neutral (except for the acquisition of J.J. Hickson), particularly in their draft and trade decisions. The Nuggets have accumulated assets and positioned themselves well to either completely blow up the roster this offseason, or continue with a "reload" and try to build around a strengthening Gallinari, Faried, Jusuf Nurkic and Lawson core.
On the western slope of the Rockies, the Jazz have also struggled since they underwent major organizational changes with the departure of Jerry Sloan in the 2010-2011 season. Since bringing in Tyrone Corbin, the Jazz did actually manage to make the playoffs in lockout shortened 2011-2012 season (losing to the Spurs in the first round 0-4), but have been mired in the NBA's dreaded "middle ground" ever since, winning too many games to secure a high lottery pick in the draft but too bereft of talent to be a real threat to make the playoffs in the absurdly tough Western Conference. If anything, the Jazz and the Nuggets have been walking very similar paths for years - significant roster shakeups (trading Deron Williams, the departure of Paul Millsap in free agency) followed by a long time head coach's departure (Jerry Sloan) and bringing in a coach out of his depth (Tyrone Corbin). Like the Nuggets, they've got some bright spots on their roster (Hayward, Gobert, Burks, Favors) but are still far from returning to their formerly feared status and continue their exodus in the wilderness of the NBA.
Clearly, the Jazz experience and the Nuggets experience in recent years have some scary parallels. If the Nuggets hope to return to relevance anytime soon, they would do well to take a long took at the team on the other end of the court and make their decisions in the offseason wisely.