I spend too much time thinking about the NBA, and I don't have enough time to write out well-researched, deep thinkpieces on them. I've decided to lump some of those thoughts together into one post, and put together a post of things I do declare to be interesting. Hopefully you find them to be interesting too.
The Ty Lawson era for the Houston Rockets is a tragedy
It's sad to see the news that Lawson may be waived by the Rockets. He's played just over 50 games for the Rockets, having received a few DNP's while missing games due to suspension twice this season. He hasn't played over 30 minutes in a game in over a month, and he's having his worst season since his rookie year.
Lawson was a controversial figure in Denver when he left, but the sky seemed to be the limit for the fire-hydrant sized point guard when George Karl was in town. I loved watching Lawson attack the rim, jetting past perimeter defenders and hurling himself into the post for layups. When he hit 10 3-pointers in a row against Minnesota, I remember going crazy in my living room. I didn't even care that he was chucking up from outside with a 30 point lead.
I hope, whatever his next move, he is able to figure things out personally. Basketball is, at the end of the day, just a game played between human beings. Lawson seems to be a person where basketball might not be the best option for him.
The playoffs are no longer the end goal for the Nuggets
It has been admirable for Michael Malone and the team to pursue a playoff spot. This is a team that is starting three players 21 years old or younger - those kind of teams don't make the playoffs often.
Before the game on February 23, Coach Malone commented on the playoffs, and indicated that the team has a different goal for the end of the season.
This isn't a bad thing. Malone is an extremely competitive individual. In my opinion, he's an excellent coach, and the cultural transformation the Nuggets are undergoing can be credited in part to Malone.
But don't be surprised if Malone pulls veterans after a defensive mistake, or puts Mudiay back in the game during a competitive fourth quarter. Don't be surprised if Jameer Nelson takes a while to come back to game action, especially with D.J. Augustin healthy and available. Don't be surprised if Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari miss games with hamstring strains or illness.
The goal now is to keep the team together, playing the right way, buying into defense, and executing on offense. If the losing bothers you, go home and play with your dog.
The Nuggets win over the Warriors is the best win of the season
What other candidates are there? Sure, the Warriors weren't at full health, but they've had such a good season, they've already clinched a playoff spot. In February.
When the Nuggets look back on 2015-16, they can stand up tall and say that they were one of the teams to defeat one of the greatest teams in NBA history. That's not for nothing.
The Nuggets are working on becoming a great defensive team
It's an identity that reflects their head coach. Malone wants to win games on the defensive side of the court, suffocating teams into turnovers, missed shots, and mental mistakes due to fatigue.
In order for the Nuggets to get there, they'll need to improve their conditioning during the offseason. The Nuggets have good pieces for it in Mudiay, Harris, Jokic and Nurkic, but everyone will need to get better with the assistance of the coaching staff.
When the Nuggets figure out what their options are in the draft and free agency, adding defensive talent will likely be a priority. The offensive talent will continue to improve as the team's chemistry increases and players progress along their developmental curve.
Emmanuel Mudiay is going to be part of the next great Nuggets team
It's finally started to hit me how young Mudiay is, and how high his ceiling in the league can be. On March 5, Mudiay will leave behind his teenage years and celebrate his 20th birthday. Nine days after that, Steph Curry will celebrate his 28th birthday on March 14.
Let me try to explain it in another way. When Mudiay celebrates his 28th birthday, he'll be in the final year of his next contract with the Nuggets. He'll have two more seasons of experience when he is the same age as Steph Curry will be at the end of this season.
If Mudiay becomes a star, he'll be an grizzled veteran in terms of seasons played before he reaches 30. The Nuggets could see a lot of great basketball played by Mudiay, and a lot of that in his athletic prime. It's amazing to me that he's able to succeed now at times despite his age and experience. It's not something a lot of people can do.
I don't know how good Mudiay will be on defense, but it seems like he's already on the path to becoming an elite defender. He has a knack for ending up with the ball in his hands, with his length and quickness allowing him to be adept at swiping the ball from a ballhandler. As he continues to learn help defense, his ability to get steals and draw charges will make him an elite point guard.
I hope we get some more Gary Harris jams
It'd be a shame for the season to end without one or two more of these.
I love Mike Miller
It's so great to watch him interact with his teammates on the bench. JaKarr Sampson hasn't been on the team for a week, and Miller is already sitting next to him on the bench, making him smile, explaining things, all while cheering on the team. Miller doesn't have a long-term commitment to the Nuggets, but his impact will be felt long after he's gone.
I'm glad Tim Connelly was able to convince him to join the Nuggets this season. The Nuggets are making smart decisions rebuilding with veterans on the roster.
The Nuggets can be a great team soon
I'm not going to spend anymore time than necessary, especially when Stiffs head honcho Adam Mares does a better job explaining it. Read his latest feature on the Nuggets here.
Who the Nuggets should draft is anybody's guess
I've been trying to do a better job this season watching prospects because this is a big year for the Nuggets in the draft. With the possibility of having four draft picks (although I'm expecting the Nuggets to only have two), there is a lot of potential Nuggets out there. These are players that could be with the Nuggets for the next eight years - that's a big commitment.
I've noticed some of the draft sites have mock drafts that project Jakob Poeltl joining the Nuggets in the draft - I can sincerely say that I would be shocked if Poeltl is playing basketball for the Nuggets next year. With Nurkic and Jokic already here, the center position is well taken care of. If the mock draft says "considers team needs" and has Poeltl going to Denver, just stop reading.
I think the Nuggets will try to find players that can play at both guard positions and a power forward. Depending on how the Nuggets want to play Wilson Chandler next season, they could also take a small forward. With Chandler's health issues lately, I don't think it's wise to play him at power forward, but Will Barton also exists.
Here's my Big Board for the Nuggets, keeping in mind that I can change this as I want. I am also curious which ten prospects you think are best - you know where the comments are.
- Ben Simmons
- Jamal Murray
- Timothe Luwawu
- Ivan Rabb
- Denzel Valentine
- Demetrius Jackson
- Taurean Prince
- Grayson Allen
- Damian Jones
- Nigel Hayes
Look, if the Nuggets win the lottery, they should take Simmons. He's at least going to be better than Anthony Bennett. Murray has been finishing the season strong, and is a dynamic scorer. Luwawu is a lanky wing, and can defend three positions. Valentine reminds me of Mike Miller but with more playmaking ability.
Jackson and Allen are point guards in the NBA, but would be decent backups for Denver. Prince is an interesting player, and someone I think too many people are sleeping on. Baylor plays zone, but I think Prince can be a solid 3-and-D player in the NBA. He reminds me a lot of Gerald Wallace, who was a really good forward before his athleticism left him.
The last two guys, Damian Jones and Nigel Hayes, those are prospects that just bring size to Denver. Jones is a big kid who can really dunk the basketball. Hayes is an older player whose combination of playmaking, defense, and shooting could help him find a home in the NBA.
This has been an entertaining season
This has been my first year writing for Denver Stiffs, a site that I have been coming to for a long time. I'm glad that I've been able to contribute, and I look forward to contributing more in the future. We have a great community here, and I'm glad to be a part of it. All of you make it a rewarding experience, and for that, I thank you.
Now let's hope they get a few more wins next season.