Beginning this season, the Denver Stiffs Roundtable is a new weekly series where members of our staff share their thoughts on the latest Nuggets buzz.
As the 2015-16 NBA season begins next week with media day and training camp, the Stiffs staff has been busy at work to improve our site and find new ways to bring you the best Nuggets content on the web. In a meeting at Stiffs headquarters last Sunday, the Stiffs crew created a blueprint for more content, more diversity, and some other exciting new directions that we plan to take this site, many of which will be unveiled over the coming weeks and months.
Among the many changes coming, we have decided that it is time to bolster our staff with some fresh new faces that are ready and eager to bring a very new and unique perspective to our team. Our new writers and contributors come with a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences and I am truly excited to see the way that they will help take this site to new heights. We are also introducing a new weekly series called The Stiffs Roundtable, in which members of our staff will answer a series of questions regarding the state of the team and the latest team news.
So without further adieu, please welcome our newest staff members! And don't forget to follow them on twitter!
1. What unique skill, perspective, or style will you bring to Denver Stiffs?
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash) Formerly Zachm219: I hope to maintain the quality of writing that has been the staple of Denver Stiffs since its inception. Additionally, I want to utilize my background in finance and business to bring a different "flavor" to some of the stories on the site. I want to look at the business side of the NBA and how that molds the decision making process of front offices, especially when it comes to free agency and trades.
Gibson Pyper (@HalfCourtHoops) Contributor at BBallbreakdown.com, Fastmodelsports.com and manager of Half Court Hoops Channel: My goal writing for the Stiffs will be to provide a coach's view on the X's & O's for the Nuggets this season. I have been studying film on the NBA for a few years now and to be able to shed some light on how sets and actions influence how the Nuggets score is something I am excited for.
Kayla Osby (@nuggetchica) Contributor at myfantasysportstalk.com: Being Denver Stiffs' sole female writer, I hope that this will bring a unique perspective to the site. There are many women that are knowledgeable and avid fans of professional sports teams, but you may not know it by comparing the number of men with the number of women that write about sports. However, considering the NBA is trying more and more to incorporate women (in coaching roles, etc.), I hope to be one more (much smaller) example that shows we are just as passionate about basketball and other sports as our male counterparts.
Dan Lewis (@minutemandan) Writer for HardwoodParoxysm.com:: Good question - some of the new writers are comfortable with salary cap issues, or breaking down plays. I want to bring my passion for basketball to Denver Stiffs. I'm not a salary cap expert, I didn't play competitive basketball, I don't have any sources within the Nuggets organization that provide me breaking news. I do have a love for basketball, and the Denver Nuggets are my team. I do have four years of experience covering collegiate and professional basketball, and I have a degree in journalism that I like to think I'm putting to good use.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs) Formerly G_Moneyball: I'm just here for the buffet. What's that... they've closed the buffet? Man, that means I'm gonna have to write. I love writing and conversing about the Nuggets, and am thrilled to have been invited to do so for Denver Stiffs. I found this community a few years ago and lurked for a year or so, just soaking in the Nuggets knowledge. This is by far the best Nuggets site around, and I hope to help it get the recognition it deserves for that (and not mess it up in the process). Plenty of talented folks here know more about basketball and the Nuggets than I do, but I enjoy the communal aspect of knowledge at this site. Everybody shares, nobody hordes - so I'll just try to add what I have to the top of the pile, hopefully in an interesting way.
2. Who is your all-time favorite Denver Nuggets player, coach, or personality?
Mikash: Laphonso Ellis, the Phonz, is my guy. Mostly that is because of the fact that I was a young impressionable boy around the time Ellis was breaking out in the league for the local team. I also had the chance to meet Ellis not long after he had injured his knee. It was at training camp and granted he was unable to do any physical activity, but Ellis took the time to sit and talk with me for about 15 minutes. That same day as the fans were all leaving, many had crowded around the player's exit seeking autographs. The largest crowd was for Ellis and while some players dashed to their cars and hit the road, Ellis stayed and signed for everyone who was there. Class act and an amazing player whose career was cut far too short.
Pyper: Well since I only lived in Denver for 3 months last year, I would have to say my favorite player would be Kenneth Faried. The short time I was able to watch every game I absolutely loved his energy and passion he plays with.
Osby: My all-time favorite Nuggets player is Chauncey Billups. The fact that he is from Denver and played high school, college, and professional basketball here is one of the main reasons. He has always considered Denver home, and for this reason, he will always hold a special place in my heart. Furthermore, what he was able to do for the Nuggets in his second stint here is incredible. He's been the best leader I've seen on the team in my 12 years as a fan, and that 2008-09 conference finals run was the most fun I've had watching the Nuggets.
Lewis: My all-time favorite Denver Nuggets is Kenyon Martin. K-Mart played with so much intensity, and I loved watching him play for Denver. I loved how he would attack the rim, his physicality, the joy that the game brought him. He was an underrated leader for the team, and someone you always knew would be there for his teammates. He helped bring such an edge to the organization, something that I miss seeing with the current team. He was a fighter, a brawler, and I loved watching him night in and night out.
Gross: Last names huh? See, this is why I shorten everything to G: it works for both halves of my name. My all-time favorite Nugget is Doug Moe. I was in elementary school when I caught my early Nuggets games, but I loved watching Doug even if I didn't really understand basketball. I tried to zen it just by watching his face. I loved the way we played, and the older I've gotten the more I appreciate what he did for this team. I think that's why I was a Karl supporter for so long: I firmly believe that Nuggets basketball is a unique thing in the NBA landscape, and I liked that we were standing out from the crowd with our play. I'm sure it's an impression from my youth, but it's not one I'm trying to shake. There HAS to be a way to transform what Jon Barry would call our "cute" method of basketball into winning, championship basketball. Moe was on the verge until injuries cut short some of our best runs. Karl too seemed on the verge until Gallo blew his knee out. It feels like it's right there, and the ghosts of Moe's and Karl's coaching runs are hopefully whispering the solutions into Mike Malone's ears, like fallen jedi masters.
3. Who is your favorite current Nuggets player, coach, or personality?
Mikash: Well up until late last season it was Brian Shaw...I kid, I kid. I'm a huge fan of Danilo Gallinari and what he brings to the table. I think his versatility is so underrated. He can shoot, he can screen, he can drive, he can post, he can defend, honestly there is not much he can't do. I often say he is the Jimmy Chitwood of the Nuggets (Hoosiers reference for those who are unawares...and by the way if you are unawares, seriously go watch that movie right now). When Gallinari is going, all the other pieces fall into place and work with one another.
Pyper: This is an easy answer for me, Mike Malone! I loved what he ran and his coaching style in Sacramento and I am really excited for this upcoming season. He runs excellent half court sets and his ability to morph his coaching style to his roster is what won me over. I am hoping it will allow players like Gallinari and Faried to flourish and excel this season.
Osby: My favorite current Nuggets player is Danilo Gallinari. I love the confidence and the charm he inserts into the game. He seems to have a true passion for basketball and for his team, which is just amazing to see. Also, who doesn't love his Italian celebrations after a big three-pointer? I hope he retires as a Nugget and we can see him reach his highest potential in the blue and yellow.
Lewis: I really like watching Jusuf Nurkic. I remember watching the NBA Draft when the Nuggets drafted Doug McDermott, and just thinking, "Great, some dopey tweener that can't play defense." That plunge into despair was righted with the news that Denver had traded McDermott to Chicago, and then we were able to get Nurkic and Gary Harris, players I thought would have been good fits at the No. 11 pick. Nurkic plays with swagger, an attitude, an arrogance that is infectious. I really hope that Nurkic is able to find a place on the Nuggets this year, and that Michael Malone is able to craft him into a talented center in the league. I really like watching Gallinari play, and I'm ready to fall in love with Emmanuel Mudiay, but for now, Jusuf Nurkic gets my rose.
Gross: My favorite current Nugget is Danilo Gallinari. I can't help it, I just love outliers and underdogs. As Jeff's great article states, there's a certain je ne sais quoi about the way he plays at his best that I can't help but admire. I'm still waiting for him to go Full Dirk and blow up into an All Star. Maybe this is the year. I look forward to Mudiay pushing him for this spot in my heart in future seasons.
4. What are you most excited about for the upcoming Nuggets season?
Mikash: Emmanuel Mudiay certainly is exciting, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Coach Malone does with this organization the most. From the interviews I've read or listened to, Coach Malone seems to really understand the necessity to create a positive culture. It doesn't matter if it is a basketball team, a bank, a walmart etc., corporate culture is crucial to organizational success and I think we can all agree it was a major issue with the Nuggets last season.
Pyper: I am definitely most excited for the coaching impact of the new Nuggets staff. Whether it is the new Offense and X's & O's or defensive adjustments, the Nuggets could be an exciting team to watch in the west. Malone has stated he wants to play at a faster pace and this roster could be very effective playing an up tempo style.
Osby: I'm most looking forward to seeing what Emmanuel Mudiay can do this season. There's been a significant amount of hype around him for some time, and I can't wait to see how he lives up to the expectations. I think he will be a (maybe the) face of the franchise for many years, and one of my biggest hopes for this season is for him to win Rookie of the Year.
Lewis: I am excited to see what Michael Malone brings to the Nuggets. I was on board with the decision to get rid of George Karl - I thought it was the best decision for the Nuggets to make if they wanted to have a team that could have postseason success. Obviously Brian Shaw didn't work out for Denver, but that's in the past, and without Shaw, Denver wouldn't have been able to draft Emmanuel Mudiay. Now Denver has a coach that I believe can help make them great again, a team that will be dominant at home and a threat to win every night on the road. Malone is, unfairly, labeled as a post-up coach in a league that has moved away from that style of play. How ignorant to assume that a coach is too stupid to make adjustments and improve. George Karl wasn't known for implementing an up-tempo style before he came to Denver, but once he arrived, Denver became one of the best teams in the league in transition. Malone has shown that he can identify a team's strengths and achieve success - I choose to believe that he'll do the same in Denver. Fans may need to be patient, as the players and coaches iron out the wrinkles, but I want to believe he's going to be the coach that helps Denver win their first NBA championship.
Gross: What am I NOT excited about? New players, new staff, new philosophies of basketball... it's all good. What I am most looking forward to is growth. Tangible, visible growth on the court. Brian Shaw gutted my enthusiasm for this team with his anti-coaching, and watching the players regress on the court in front of my eyes was heartbreaking. I want to see Malone and his staff take all these young men and mold them into their best selves on the court (and hopefully off it as well - no more Ty scenarios, thank you). I like what I've seen of our talent base, I like the coaching staff, I like the philosophies. Start laying the bricks for our championship contender before my eyes this year. That's what I want to see, and what I'll be looking for in every game this season.
5. What is one basketball related thing that you would never get tired of talking about?
Mikash: This is going to make me sound like the dullest basketball fan ever but...I really enjoy talking about the salary cap and its implications. The NBA salary cap is a unique monster. It lacks the free spending, cap-free life of the MLB but also carries the guaranteed contracts that are virtually non-existent in the NFL. I won't lie, I've been the snarky guy in the comments throwing out your trade suggestions because they don't work financially. I love Larry Coon's FAQ which is an excellent resource for all things cap related and with the new TV deal it's exciting times for the five nerds like me out in the world who get their thrills from this sort of stuff.
Pyper: Honestly, there is not much that I do not like talking about when it comes to basketball. Player debates, coaching debates and anything that is happening in the game of basketball is up for discussion with me. My favorite thing to talk about is coaching X's & O's and adjustments from game to game. The best time of the year is the NBA Playoffs, specifically the NBA Finals. The Finals are literally a chess match between the two coaches and teams and the adjustments made from game to game are so much fun to watch.
Osby: The shortest answer to this question would be simply the Nuggets team in general. But, specifically, one thing I can never seem to get tired of talking about is a close, competitive game. I'm one of those fans that, after a thrilling overtime defeat of a team that I can't stand, will watch the highlights of the game over and over. I have a pretty good memory of many of the closest and most exciting games that have happened in my time watching the team. I can still go back to those moments in time pretty easily, and recall the game-changing plays and how they felt to watch.
Lewis: When players correctly execute plays. I loved watching Tom Thibodeau's Bulls teams expertly run their defensive scheme, trapping guards to the baseline and rotating in harmony. I hate watching the Warriors, but I can't deny that watching them run plays implemented by Steve Kerr brought the faintest hint of a smile to my face. My excitement for the upcoming season started in Summer League, watching Emmanuel Mudiay throw pinpoint passes across the court to shooters on the wing for wide-open 3-point attempts. I'm not one to be impressed by classic works of art, but watching a point guard and power forward perfectly execute a pick and roll is the closest thing I can think of to the classics. To quote the great Hannibal Smith, "I love it when a plan comes together."
Gross: Winning. I definitely love talking about winning. Let's do lots of that this season, okay? I'm a future-oriented guy. I like seeing the story unfold across multiple seasons, watching young rookies who are wet behind the ears grow into seasoned pros who can carry a team. I never get tired of talking about the pieces we have and what they could be, and also what we need to do in order to get ourselves back to prominence in this league. I'm an optimist, and I'm glad that the joy seems to be back in the Nuggets organization. I look forward to seeing that play out on the court and will never tire of discussing that road to winning basketball and how we can take the next step.
If you would like to submit a question for our next Stiffs Roundtable please email DenverStiffs@gmail.com. Stiffs Roundtable will be a weekly feature that runs every Thursday. Get your questions in no later than Tuesday in order to be eligible to be featured in the roundtable.