Denver Stiffs was founded by Andrew Feinstein eight years ago and later merged with Nate Timmons' site, Pickaxe and Roll to form the SB Nation blog that you read today. The two of them ran and managed the site for years, slowly adding talented writers like Jeff Morton and Mike Olson. Last year, our site grew to the largest size in the site's history with 10 writers, each with unique voices spanning four different states.
Today, our staff is growing even larger and more diverse. We are very excited to introduce four new writers to our Denver Stiffs team. Our new writers come from a very wide variety of backgrounds. Evan Fiala and Tim D'Elia are joining us from Nugg Love. Ryan Blackburn is joining us from Hoops Habit. And Thomas Rowberry is joining us from EuroStep NBA. Additionally, our site will gain new international perspectives as Tim will be writing from Melbourne, Australia and Thomas will be providing insight on European prospects as he'll be writing to us from the U.K. Please welcome them to the team and be sure to support them by following them on twitter.
What unique skill, style, or perspective will you bring to the Stiffs?
Evan Fiala (@eefiala): I love drinking powder blue and gold Kool-Aid as much as anyone, but I really hope to bring unbiased analysis in my writing that will provoke thoughtful and intellectual discussion in the comments. I love that aspect of the Stiffs community and think we all can benefit from the sharing of ideas and opinions however different they may be. That said, I try not to take myself too seriously and hope to bond with all of you over our love for this team!
Thomas Rowberry (@Rowberry_): I've been a fan of the Stiffs site/community for a while. I tend to try neutral in my writing, particularly when it comes to the Nuggets. As someone who has watched the Nuggets & the NBA from afar I focus on different aspects of the game - particularly the European influences. I'll be bringing a new look at European draft prospects, particularly those who the Nuggets may target in upcoming drafts. I try not to take myself too seriously though.
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): I will admit to not having much experience age wise, but I pride myself on my use of analytics and advanced statistics. My knowledge of the material is still growing, but everything that I have learned will be thrown into analysis, hopefully provoking a different perspective than what the eye test can show. I am also famous for my roster experiments, but this is merely me playing out every scenario online for everyone to see, not necessarily me endorsing the idea. That being said, I will continue to play out as many situations as possible to mimic what Tim Connelly may be thinking or doing.
Tim D'Elia (@Tdelia96): I am always up for a discussion! I haven't been a fan of basketball for that long so by discussing the game, especially Nuggets games, I can grow my knowledge which will in turn help me to improve my writing. I'm pretty obsessed with the Nuggets and absolutely love talking to people about their points of view on anything Nuggets or basketball in general.
2. What is the Nuggets biggest objective this offseason?
Fiala: I think the biggest objective the Nuggets have is to simply define where they want to go as a franchise. There have been a few miserable years of rebuild but through it all Denver has emerged with several talented young players and three first round draft picks. With the flexibility they have this offseason they're at a bit of a crossroads: do they keep the young core in tact and let them develop at the risk of not making the playoffs again, or do they try and make a big move via trade/free agency for a player that might disrupt what's already been built? Whatever the answer may be, the Nuggets need to be all in on it. They can't afford to have one foot in the door with whatever direction they choose to go.
Rowberry: For me the biggest objective for the Nuggets is to stay the course, don't make any rash decisions. This team has a lot of talented players, a couple who could develop into All-Stars in the near future, they cannot sacrifice that just for a run at the 8th seed. Connelly and company have nailed the draft since they came to town, if they hit again this year Denver should have something real special on their hands. If they do make a move, don't give up Jokic!
Blackburn: Like Evan pointed out, the biggest objective is to clearly define the direction that the franchise wants to go and make the next big move to get there. That big move will either be combining some of their veterans and prospects for a star piece, or it will be individually letting go the veterans to allow for the growth of the young core. We saw how much Emmanuel Mudiay grew when Danilo Gallinari went down. If Gallo is around to be the first option and isolate as much as he did, then the growth of the young players will stagnate a bit. Obviously, this changes if Gallo can assume a secondary, off ball role, but I'm not holding out hope.
D'Elia: The biggest objective right now is to develop the younger core, the Nuggets could possibly have most of the key pieces they need to contend for a championship. These young guys need time to develop and show their true potential so that the Nuggets organization can decide down the road what pieces need to be moved and what holes need to be filled whether through free agency or trade. Players like Mudiay and Jokic have already shown how much a season can do in terms of development, no one had Jokic penciled for a starter and it only took a couple of games to show how dominant he could be. The Nuggets could have another Jokic on their hands just ready to break out and all they need is to be given some time to develop and grow.
3. If there was one player on the current Nuggets roster that you could make un-tradeable, who would it be?
Fiala: Emmanuel Mudiay. The NBA is still a point guard's league and the Nuggets were blessed immensely last summer when he fell to them at seventh. Of course he struggled as a rookie, but he also gave us a small taste of what he can become and boy is it salivating. Mudiay is not just going to be really good, he is going to be a star sooner rather than later, and having such a high character guy as the face of the franchise will only help Denver in the long run.
Rowberry: Nikola Jokic. As much as I love some of the other young players on this team (Mudiay, Harris, Nurkic) Jokic has the most upside. I watched him a lot for Mega Leks but I wasn't expecting him to be this good this early. He doesn't shy away from taking the tough shots. Other rookies faded toward the latter portion of last season, Jokic didn't. Instead he stepped up in the absence of others.
Blackburn: I have to go with Mudiay here. Jokic might have the higher ceiling now, but the Nuggets tethered their hopes to Mudiay when they drafted what many considered the most raw prospect at the top of the draft...oh, and they started him almost every game he was healthy. Right now, the only two players to consider are Mudiay and Jokic, and Mudiay edges him out slightly.
D'Elia: It has to be Mudiay, the Nuggets made him un-tradeable in my eyes when the trade for Ty Lawson was announced, therefore handing the entire hopes of the organization in Mudiay's hands. It is a tough decision between Jokic and Mudiay and if I could make them both un-tradeable I would, but Mudiay has the talent and drive to lead the organization to a championship. That's what makes him un-tradeable.
Bonus Question: Who is your all time favorite Nuggets player and why?
Fiala: I have a love/hate relationship with him, but it's Carmelo Anthony. He's the reason as a young kid I even got into basketball and turned from a casual fan into a die-hard Nuggets fan. I don't agree with a lot of the things he did but I have very fond memories of watching him develop as a player and I have to give him credit for making the Nuggets relevant again. I may or may not have cried a little the day he was traded. Just a little though...
Rowberry: Gallo, no question! I can't quite tell you why though, I've just always been a fan of the way he plays and his commitment to bettering the Nuggets. Glad he re-upped with the Nuggets last season, that's for sure. The first piece of Nuggets memorabilia/apparel I bought myself was a gold Gallo jersey, which now hangs proudly on my ‘office' wall.
Blackburn: As my previous username would tell most folks, it was always Ty Lawson. Even though he's gone through his troubles and has many faults in his game, he was a big game hunter, and he usually played well when the lights were brightest. I remember the Golden State series that everyone tries to forget in 2013. When Gallinari went down and the rest of the team began to struggle, it was blatantly clear that Ty Lawson was the alpha dog, and he played like it for much of the series. I miss that version of Ty with the assertiveness he had, but hey, we are in a pretty good position with Mudiay and Jokic now, so it's hard to complain.
D'Elia: Dikembe Mutombo! The man was an absolute legend. I have literally watched highlight after highlight of him just swatting anything that went near the rim while he was there and then following it up with the good old finger wag! I've seen people try to recreate the finger wag but it's just not the same as big Dikembe doing it. How could anyone not love the big man!