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Best of the Stiffs: your end of season mixtape of the top hits of the year

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Be honest, you still have that old high school summer jams cd...

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Nuggets celebrate success of Nikola Jokic.

The Nuggets have had their ups and downs this year, and the Denver Stiffs have been court side to cover the action every step of the way.

Grab your popcorn as our contributors take a stroll down memory lane reliving some of their favorite pieces of the 2016-2017 Nuggets season.

Ashley Douglas @AshleyNBAHoops

Trail Blazers Among Top Threats to Nuggets’ Playoff Position. Back when the Nuggets still held the 8th seed in the West, I broke down what teams might be the biggest threat to their position. If only we had known what would transpire in the short weeks that followed.

As playoffs approach, Danilo Gallinari is playing the best basketball of his career. In this article I broke some of Gallinari’s career stats to more fully understand the contribution he has made to the Nuggets. However, it’s possible that Danilo Gallinari has played his last games as a Denver Nugget. I personally hope he chooses to stick around, and I hope the Nuggets make an effort to keep him because he has been a huge contributor to the organization.

A growing season for the Denver Nuggets? I can relate. After a long wait, we are finally starting to see some buds of growth forming for the young Nuggets. It’s tough to be patient, but I understand how challenging it is to be new, and the tremendous learning curve that takes place in the first few years on the job. I share some advice for the Nuggets rookies (and anyone who is new at something for that matter) as they learn to navigate being new to the NBA.

Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash)

Without a doubt the thing that I was most excited about was bringing back the Pickaxe Podcast. Jeff and Adam do a great job on the CSG and Locked On Nuggets podcasts respectively but I wanted to make sure everyone at the Stiffs was getting a chance to get their voice on the airwaves. We set out to create a weekly podcast solely featuring the Stiffs staff and dedicated to providing the most comprehensive Nuggets show every week. We get a bit verbose at times, but I’d say mission accomplished and while all of the episodes have been great, the first one of the reboot will always have a special spot in my heart.

From the writing side, perhaps one of the most polarizing subjects...well, not really, but very polarizing for a few...midseason was whether or not Nikola Jokic was the real deal. As fascinating as the subject itself was, the extreme hot takes on both sides were even better. I had debates with two major sports personalities in the Denver market regarding the subject of Nikola’s stardom and the opposing viewpoints couldn’t be more different. One claimed he was the greatest Nugget ever, the other said it was far too early to even expect Jokic to be a star player. Ultimately, my conclusion was that Jokic was having one of the greatest seasons we’ve ever seen from a Nugget, but longevity will determine his rank among the all time Nugget greats.

Finally, the Nuggets were a team that in the beginning of the year had to lean on their depth to a great extent as players like Gary Harris, Will Barton and Darrell Arthur recovered from injuries. However, at the end of the year the plethora of depth caused for inconsistent rotations and playing time which ruffled the feathers of more than one veteran. Hat tip to the Stiffs for recognizing early on that it was going to become an issue.

Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs):

I’m a synthetic/systemic thinker rather than an analytical one, so most of my better posts are probably the ones that examine the system rather than the parts.

I wrote several articles about Denver’s backcourt and more than one defending Mudiay, but as a former minor league baseball prospect writer I like this one singing the praises of Malik Beasley from back when he was only getting D-League minutes. I was glad to see him get into real games at the end of the season and show off a lot of the positives I’ve been admiring in his game since college. It’s a rosy-homer puff piece, and has a long way to go, but I’m still optimistic that he’ll be a contributing factor for the Nuggets for years to come.

Then there’s my warning about the dangers of chasing the 8th seed and paralyzing the roster (or worse, trading away future talent to make that 8th spot). Denver avoided doing anything seriously detrimental (except of course handing Nurkic to a division rival for peanuts) so hopefully the Nuggets dodged a bullet there. We’ll see what happens with Plumlee and any offseason trades.

I liked my Gallinari piece about his potentially altered role, despite the Nuggets adding another passing center instead. But mostly I’m looking forward to finding out what articles make this list from the other writers.

Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares):

Kenneth Faried is the king of short corner gravity. For the last few seasons, Kenneth Faried has been a polarizing figure here in Denver. He’s really talented at certain things like jumping really high, playing really hard, rebounding, fast breaking, and of course, dunking. But he’s also been really weak at a lot of things, like posting up, and basically everything on defense.

After point-god Jokic took over quarterback duties on the offensive end, Faried’s value skyrocketed. Jokic and Faried, created one of the team’s best pairings thanks to Jokic’s playmaking and Faried’s short-corner gravity. Gravity has long been my favorite basketball concept and watching the way Faried opened up the paint despite not being able to shoot the ball from beyond five feet was nothing short of amazing. It’s also why I think Faried should remain in Denver for the foreseeable future.

Life and Basketball with Wilson Chandler. I haven’t kept it a secret that I am a fan of Wilson Chandler. I like his game a lot but I also think he is a fascinating and thoughtful person. Just before the season tipped off, I got to sit down with Wilson and discuss his summer, the Nuggets roster, and all kinds of good stuff.

A defense of the relevancy of the Denver Nuggets. My favorite thing I’ve done this year. In January, Mike Evans of 104.3 the fan took to twitter to bash the Nuggets as an “irrelevant” team that Denver sports fans shouldn’t care about. Sadly, that position seems to be the stance 104.3 takes as a station. I hate that perspective. So much so that I spent 30 minutes deconstructing those arguments and explaining why I am a fan of this team and why I enjoy being a fan of this team.

Kayla Osby (@nuggetchica):

My posts are definitely light-hearted and devoid of any analysis or brilliant thinking (I leave that to the other writers, but it does give me something to strive for in the future). However, I do appreciate when I can have fun with my posts, and by far the post that I had the most fun writing was my poem dedicated to the Denver Nuggets. I wrote this before the season tipped off, because it was around the time that I was starting to get excited for the season and I wanted to share just some of the reasons I love this team and its players.

I also should probably throw in my favorite Tweet of the Week, since those made up 99.9% of my posts this season. It was hard to pick, but I’ll go with the one that shows Malik Beasley throwing it down against the Lakers.

Evan Fiala (@eefiala):

Predicting the Denver Nuggets 2016-2017 record. Following the release of this year’s schedule, I went game by game and predicted the entire season... all 82 games. I admit, at the time it seemed very, very arbitrary and somewhat pointless. But now that the season is over, it’s been fun to look back and see how close I actually was. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but turns out I accurately predicted the Nuggets record, as well as their home and away record. NBD.

The authoritative ranking of the best Nikola Jokic passes. On December 15, balance was finally restored in the Nuggets universe when Nikola Jokic was inserted into the starting lineup. From there, he took the basketball scene by storm with his crazy passing ability. In the next seven games, he dished our 5.9 dimes per game and A LOT of them were pretty. So I ranked them, and it was glorious. Unfortunately, it appears that the host website for the video clips has changed so they are no longer there. In its heyday, though, this was my favorite article I’ve ever written.

Nuggets stay put at the trade deadline but long-term questions remain. Like many fans, I was certain that the Nuggets were going to at least do something at the deadline. Instead, Denver traded Nurkic to a division rival, picked up Roy Hibbert’s corpse, kept all the veterans and didn’t make the playoffs.

Mike Olson (@visiblemike):

I have a hard time evaluating my own stuff without being overly critical, but read through everyone else’s links above and thought, “Oh yeah! I loved that piece...” so will make an attempt...

Sorting through the static was a conversation about conversation, and how our newfound love for “hot takes” has led us down a perilous path for everyone talking about the Nuggets (and other things, to be sure), without a listening ear in sight.

Five Points for the Denver Nuggets talked about how little a difference was needed in the Denver Nuggets season to have been in a very different spot, record wise, and leaned on how close this team is to something special. That was in November, and the feeling of “on the cusp” is still tantalizingly and frustratingly true.

But my favorite part of this gig is getting a chance on occasion to interview the people and players that surround the team. A two-part interview with Nikola Jokic to kick off the season was a blast, but still not quite as fun as the three-part pre-season chat with coach Michael Malone. Those two were my personal highlights, just from a “get my geek on” perspective...

Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9):

When searching for some of the pieces I am most proud of, I will always start with one of the most polarizing articles: Ranking the top 30 starting point guards in the NBA. Not necessarily because of the writing quality or the accuracy of the rankings (though I think I got the Emmanuel Mudiay part right), but because it was a strong opinion of mine that I didn’t waver from. I received some hate, some praise, and even Michael Malone caught wind of it and gave Adam some lip about it. It was basically my initiation into the writing world, chalk full of the contrasting opinions so many writers face from their articles.

As for a couple of my favorite pieces for the quality and the message, I like to point to my “Morey Percentage” piece when identifying the value of the contributions Kenneth Faried and Juancho Hernangomez, while showing how Nikola Jokic completely breaks the metric. Surrounding Jokic with the players that have a high Morey percentage is what makes Denver’s offense so great, and the only reason Denver should deviate from such a plan is if that player is exceeding good in the midrange or if they are strong defensively.

Finally, I’m very proud of my work on various lists, most of which take an exceedingly long time to compile. From the offseason position rankings I did like the piece above, to detailing all of the starting lineups the Nuggets used through 80 games, to my most recent ranking of the 2017 free agent class, lots of time was spent compiling statistics and thoughts for rankings like those, making it as easy as possible to understand why certain statistics matter.