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Luck and rhyming words

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What role does luck play in the success of an NBA franchise, and have the Nuggets made any of their own luck?

Emmanuel Mudiay fell to the Denver Nuggets. Lucky?
Emmanuel Mudiay fell to the Denver Nuggets. Lucky?
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

"Any fool can have bad luck; the art consists in knowing how to exploit it."

-Frank Wedekind

Luck

Happy Friday the 13th, everybody. We're back at that point in the year in which your Denver Nuggets fortunes are a hot topic. Will they be lucky in the draft lottery? Will they better escape the injury bug? Will Fortuna finally smile upon your boys in blue? Does luck even exist? Turns out it depends on what you mean by "luck". Here's the start of Luck's wiki:

The definition of luck (or chance) varies by the philosophical, religious, mystical, and emotional context of the one interpreting it.

There are ways in which the Nuggets can definitely use a little luck in the classical sense, and finally exceed their lottery odds for the first time in far too many other opportunities. With the lottery being a weighted game of chance, the Nuggets have fared poorly in their ability to enjoy luck, at least in improving upon their expected draft position.*** How rare is it? Denver has some of the worst luck in the league when it comes to lottery position, and when they've bombed their way to a decent spot, they've been hit and miss in their choice-making. There are a lot of Carmelo Anthonys and LaPhonso Ellises on the books, but there's also the odd Tony Battie and Nikoloz Tskitishvili in the mix as well. And that's where luck morphs on you a little bit and relies on your ability to turn something into nothing...

Diligence is the mother of good luck

- Benjamin Franklin

You can find this quote spun out a hundred different ways, from Oprah Winfrey's "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity" to Jack Canfield's belief that "people make their own luck by preparation and good strategy", but I always liked old Ben's simplicity. The gist being that being prepared and flexible for the opportunities, curveballs, and random situations life throws at you allows you to bend those situations to your advantage and "make your own luck".

To that end, the Nuggets current administration, led by GM Tim Connelly, has shown a lot of diligence, flexibility, and preparation in making the most of their draft selections thus far. Sadly, this year's pool is generally agreed to be thin. Even with a good track record, there will need to be a little luck in improving Denver's draft position this year for their choice to be of immediate impact. Maybe you just improve by keeping the talent on the court more often. What about those injuries?

Duck!

As in, don't let that thing hit you in the head. Denver ended last season amongst the NBA's most-injured, in terms of minutes lost. The strength of their roster going into the season was at small forward with Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler to be the bedrock for the youth movement coming in around them. The youngsters had to grow more quickly without a lot of that support due to injury. Meshing that growth with the mature players already returning will be a key component in next year's success rate.

Back to those small forwards... Ill Will and Gallo's injury troubles last season are old news at this point, but they also both have a history of returning from injury to better things. Hopefully last year was the far side of a parabola for the Nuggets going into this next season.

Even if last year's persistent bite from the injury bug was "bad luck", some of the Nuggets long-tail injury history may also boil down to preparation. Former Nugget Kenyon Martin was on the Wojcast this week, as covered by Stiffs' own Adam Mares. K-Mart cast a few aspersions on the medical staff of teams past (specifically excepting super trainer Steve Hess), but also mentioned that things had improved in the years since. If true, it's statistically possible that some of those poor injury rates of the past were inflated by level of care. Whole lotta "if's" in that paragraph, making it a possibility, not a probablility.

Pluck

Denver showed some grit along the way this year, making huge strides in cohesion and growth, outpacing the win total expected of a more experienced crew. There's not much luck involved in keeping that pattern going, as there are still large strides to be made. Effort and resilience will be king in keeping forward momentum moving into next season, where our conference and division still seem to be improving every year.

Fortunately for the Nuggets, there seem to be a cast of characters in place who do not shy from the harsh realities of their current stature in the Western Conference, nor the big moments they'll need to conquer to improve it. That pluck bodes well for how far this team may be able to lift itself over the long haul.

Muck

Trying to stay out of it. At least I didn't say F... riday. The 13th. What a lucky day.

What say you, Nuggets Nation? Does luck actually exist, and if so, is it the Nuggets turn to enjoy a little? Where does the line fall between luck and preparedness in today's NBA?

*** I was actually lucky myself in that a comment kicked off this idea in the first place. New Stiff Ryan Blackburn posted a stat I now cannot find for the life of me about the Nuggets being one of five teams who had never actually improved upon their anticipated lottery position, and most of the others had still fared better in their history than the Nuggets. Thanks for the idea, Ryan, and sorry I couldn't find the actual stat. Oh, and speaking of the Stiffs and the luck of the draft, isn't it about time we all had a Night Out?

***** Stiffs Night Out *****

Jake's Sports and Spirits | 3800 Walnut Street, Denver CO | Tuesday, May 17th 5:30 PM

Come join fellow Nuggets fans for our annual Stiffs Night Out NBA draft lottery party. We'll be watching live as we find out if the Nuggets won a top pick in June's NBA draft. The lottery begins at 6pm so we'll be meeting a half hour before. Stay for the Eastern conference finals and to bask in the glory of winning the lottery (or sulk in the misery of another year without moving up). Jake's Sports and Spirits will have food and drink deals and the Stiffs will have prizes and more.  If you are a Nuggets fan, come on out and meet fellow Stiffs and Nuggets fans.