After a late night on the keyboard with my fellow Stiffs, I woke up this morning feeling like I had been to a bad party with the bewilderment of last night’s draft still lingering.
I’m a big fan of Tim Connelly and the decisions he has made (pre-2017 draft), and as the draft unfolded I held out hope that there was a much bigger plan in place that would come into focus as the weeks go by. That is, until I heard his post-draft reflection where he stated that, “It was a bizarre night.” This sense of confusion and uncertainty was echoed by newly promoted General Manager Arturas Karnisovas who said, “We had a lot of things going...Some of them didn’t pan out. We have to move on.”
In what I see as a series of plan-B moves, the Nuggets acquired forward after forward crowding the already crowded roster of similar talent. My mental picture of this situation is best described in the sketch below.
Denver’s front office hasn’t addressed any of the Nuggets’ urgent defensive needs leaving the roster unbalanced. It appears that the overall defensive plan is to abandon defense altogether, and simply try to outscore the other team. So, how will last night’s events impact the Nuggets’ scarce fan base?
If you followed Twitter at all during the draft, it’s evident from the reactions that Nuggets fans are upset and disillusioned with the Nuggets’ decisions in the draft. After a season spent building momentum around the team’s new found identity, fans were excited to see decisive action taken toward the goal of building a team around Nikola Jokic.
However, comments like, “bizarre,” and, “didn’t pan out,” from the leadership of the organization brings all that excitement to a screeching halt. In order to buy in, Nuggets fans need to be able to have confidence in the direction of the team. But, it appears that even the front office isn’t entirely confident with the direction they took last night, and that will likely have a huge impact on the Nuggets’ dwindling game attendance.
Trying to stay positive after the Nuggets' draft picks like... pic.twitter.com/3gxWjxxUcF— Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBAHoops) June 23, 2017
My hope is that Connelly and Karnisovas will be able to negotiate some brilliant trades to bring defense into the mix. Unfortunately, by acquiring so many similar players the Nuggets won’t be in a position to leverage their assets. They need to find a place to offload their baggage which gives other teams the upper hand in trade discussions.
The bottom line is that the Nuggets chose to focus on quantity over quality last night making a series of lateral moves that didn’t make them better overall. While I don’t think they’re in a worse position offensively, they’ll have to sort out who gets minutes while balancing the need for player development and winning games. They remain weak on defense, and ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.
I’m still hopeful that the Nuggets will make the playoffs next season, but I’m highly skeptical about their stamina to make it past the first round if they neglect their defensive needs.
Robert F. Kennedy once quoted a Chinese curse that says, “may he live in interesting times.” While it’s not the end of the world by any means, we are certainly living in interesting times as Nuggets fans. Thus continues the plight of #NuggLife.