We’ve almost made it, folks! We’re nearly halfway into September and with each passing day the NBA season gets a bit closer. Football has started and the World Champion Denver Broncos look good, but this is a Nuggets blog so instead we can get excited that training camp is just weeks away. Ahhhh!!!
The big news this week was the enshrinement of ex-Nugget Allen Iverson into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Much has already been written about Iverson’s tenure with the Nuggets; I’m just glad to say such a transcendent player has been a part of this franchise. His speech was extraordinary (you can watch it here) and includes a shout out to Steve Hess. Amazing.
Elsewhere around the web, the major news continues to be offseason report cards and reviews, and some good social media from Nuggets’ players as they are away for the last bit of summer.
Jamal Murray is already proving to be a class act off the court and wants to be a good role model for children back home in Canada. Earlier this week, Murray made a special appearance to support a local community which suffered the tragic loss of an 18 month-old boy in an accident earlier this year. According to the Waterloo Chronicle, Murray signed autographs for 250 young fans and donated 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to children in the community.
Gary Harris wrote a really interesting and cool article about his relationship with Tom Izzo in honor of Izzo’s induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Not only does it provide valuable insight into what has made Izzo such a successful coach on and off the court, but hearing it from firsthand from Harris makes it pretty cool as well. Definitely a must-read.
To get things started with the offseason analysis, Bobby Marks of The Vertical put together a nice summary of the Nuggets offseason moves, including a breakdown of the salary cap situation. Also on this link is a video clip of Michael Malone speaking with Woj from Summer League on the future of the Nuggets.
HoopsHype put out a season preview for the Nuggets, projecting Denver to not only finish last in the Northwest Division, but to take last in the entire Western Conference as well. Everyone is entitled to their opinion which is fine, but what bugs me is the lack of justification for having a team that won 33 games last year to have such a dramatic setback. Overall the Nuggets will have a better, healthier roster than last season and are certainly poised to beat the 33 win total, not fall far beneath it.
NBA.com also put out a (much more realistic) preview of Denver for this season and the coming years with a focus on the younger players:
Although the Nuggets are clearly leaning toward youth, they still have solid veterans who'll command much of the minutes and responsibility. Do the Nuggets plan to keep the likes of Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari all season? Or will they dangle someone as trade bait by midseason? It all depends if those players and others are being pushed by the younger players, and what the Nuggets can reasonably expect to get in return.
Overall, the Nuggets are in decent shape. The salary cap is free of dead weight, the young players seem ready to develop and fan expectation is mild. There's no urgency or pressure. And the team is in good hands with coach Mike Malone, who has a good command of the locker room and connects well with the young players.
Kelly Scaletta of Today’s Fastbreak is ranking his top 100 NBA players heading into the season. At number 46, he places Nikola Jokic:
Jokic was a pretty astounding player last year, and a lot of that was lost because he was playing for a losing team in a small market. That’s a bad combination for getting much publicity. He also didn’t begin the season as a starter. But when you consider his numbers compared with fellow rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Karl Anthony-Towns — both considered franchise players — it’s eye opening.
Scaletta goes on to talk about Jokic’s skills on offense and defense and his role on this year’s team. Let us know in the comments where you think Jokic belongs on the list of top NBA players!
Speaking of Jokic, it seems like he’s settled on his own nickname. Of course, he is known to fellow teammates as “Big Honey” but according to his latest Instagram post it looks like he has chosen a different name:
Finally, Bleacher Report had a few articles related to the Nuggets. First, they listed the Nuggets as an honorable mention for the next wave of NBA contenders which includes fellow Northwest Division teams Utah and Minnesota. Second, Emmanuel Mudiay is listed as the Nugget’s “X-factor” heading into the 2016-17 season:
He survived one of the worst first halves imaginable and recovered to shoot the ball at a respectable rate in his final 28 games after the All-Star break. During that stretch, he hit 36.4 percent of his threes and 39.3 percent of his shots overall—a significant improvement from his pre-break rates of 27.2 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
With size, athleticism and a trial-filled first season in the rearview, Mudiay could emerge as a net-neutral force in his age-20 campaign. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but a break-even 20-year-old is a big deal. If that's what he gives the Nuggets, everyone benefits.
Have a great week, everyone!