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Why the Denver Nuggets need Garanimals

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What we have here is an orange hippo and a blue whale... This is all going to make sense in a second.

Michael Malone is looking for some answers
Michael Malone is looking for some answers
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Silly students sometimes still slip straddling sartorial sensibilities. That poor little bastard. Those of us born without a lick of fashion sense spent the better part of our early years in things like patchwork bell bottoms. Fortunately, some higher power begat Garanimals in 1972. The pic above shows my first Garanimals shirt from 1973. The upshot of the clothes was that the bottoms matched the tops, a real boon for those of us amongst the visually challenged. No more mismatching parts for yours truly. The only trouble with the early versions was that the icons to match the component pieces were prominently displayed on the outside, and when seen, gave way to unmerciful teasing. It was still totally worth it. Now my clothes were only embarrassing because some marketing shlub didn't think about where to station my orange hippo.

Everything old is new again, and smart investors realized that having your sh—together as a kid is of huge value, emotionally to kids and financially to parents. The brand re-launched in 2008, and are still selling strong at outlets like Wal Mart.

Seems the Denver Nuggets could use a little more of their bottoms matching their tops, as an observant Stiffs poster added this morning, noting that the Nuggets had a top-five offense to go with their bottom-five defense. The bottom(s) seem to be the sticking point, as the post was linked to ESPN's coverage of coach Michael Malone's very candid assessment of his team's defensive performance. To the poster whose post I lost, apologies for the lack of attribution here.

Denver's offensive successes are the byproduct of timing, health, and stumbling into the good fortune of Nikola Jokic's laser-sharp passing. To hope for such a fortuitous combination to occur on the defensive side of the ball seems naïve, at best. As the offense blossomed, the defense continued to slide, and the Nuggets are now the fourth-lowest-ranked defensive unit in the league, a drop of several notches from their status early in the season.

Part of that drop may be attributable to a shift in personnel, but the difference in communication and effort cannot be ignored. That it was raised as a topic of discussion by coaches, players, and eventually media is a telling moment in how this team is progressing, and the next several games will tell if Denver puts forth enough defensive effort to keep themselves in the low-tier playoff hunt, or if they'll find themselves back in the low-tier lottery once again. Ryan Blackburn had a very solid piece earlier in the week as to why that distinction is important.

But that effort probably only returns you to a defensive squad still ranked in the low teens and high twenties without more defensive talent, skill, and physical build than the current roster currently possesses. That, and several other incongruities, are a big part of the compelling fork-in-the-road conversation Gordon Gross started yesterday. The Nuggets find themselves at a crossroads a bit earlier than they'd hoped to.

To that end, shoring up the defense, how big a factor is effort and understanding versus physical gifts, Nuggets Nation? Many professional pundits feel that brains and training only get you so far without a defender's physique. If every Denver Nuggets player gave his best defensive effort in concert, what's the highest defensive ranking the Nuggets could hope to achieve with the current roster? If that ranking is not above 15, the middle of the pack, how does a defensive-minded coach build a system with players who are not wired or built to defend? It seems like getting our bottoms to match our tops may be a little more difficult than picking something off the rack in this case.