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Roundtable: What a January stretch Denver is having

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Find a song to describe the last three weeks for the Nuggets and please share it with us.

Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): I thought about Mad World, but I’ll go with Bohemian Rhapsody. Lots of plans gone wrong these last three weeks, filled as they have been with both boasting and fear. And if this year doesn’t matter to the Nuggets, it’s hard for me to hold tight to the idea that it should matter more to me.

Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): I’ll go with Say Something. It sort of feels like we’re at the tipping point of this season right now. I’ve been a staunch believer that the Plumkic lineup is made into too big of a deal because it goes away (for the most part) when Paul Millsap returns, but now I’m not sure that’s soon enough. We probably should change the words from “say something I’m giving up on you” to “change something I’m giving up on you.”

Jeremy Poley (@JeremyPoley): Let’s keep the music local. By my proxy, Nathaniel Rateliff dedicates his track S.O.B. to the last three weeks of Plumkic. “Son of a b****. Give me a drink. One more night. This can’t be me. Son of a b****. If I can’t get clean. I’m gonna drink my life away.” His chorus translates to the Nuggets as: If the Plumkic lineup isn’t working, we’re just gonna keep doing it.

Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): I’ll go back to high school for this one, “I Miss You,” by Blink 182. I watch the Nuggets lately and I ask, “Will you (the Jokic offense) come home and stop the pain tonight?” I listen to Malone talk with his voice of treason, lying about his rotations and what ails the Nuggets. It’s all just very frustrating and I wish it was over - kind of like high school! Shout out to Conifer High!

What has been the biggest issue for the Nuggets since Christmas? Is it correctable?

Gross: Jerking Nikola Jokic around. He’s not a true stretch anything, not like Kristaps Porzingis. Pulling him out of the paint reduces many of his contributions, either on the boards or in setting up the offense, and creates inefficiencies in his scoring contributions that don’t need to be there. He can hit threes in rhythm as a bonus, but leaving him on the perimeter or stuffed in a corner to let Will Barton drive or Mason Plumlee heave hook shots is not what will make the Nuggets great again.

Mikash: The same issue they’ve faced all season long. They have no true point guard. Jamal Murray is progressing, make no mistake, but he’s still not a true PG and he may never be. The Nuggets need to figure this out. You can start Jamal still but you can’t play an entire season without a true point guard. I think that has so much to do with the struggles on offense. Denver is basically trying to rely on Jokic to be their only playmaker when Will Barton isn’t on the court and that just strikes me as a poor approach considering they have Jokic out of position as well, as Gordon noted.

Poley: After losing Millsap, we lost our consistency on defense. We’ve seen flashes of defense from different players and different lineups. As a silver-lining to losing our defense, we’ve also seen flashes of an unstoppable offense. And we stole some tough December match-ups as a result. Any Nugget could be our random hero of any game. But over the past three weeks the rotation has tightened. And it’s tightened around a defensive strategy that is not only stunting our offense, but stunting our players’ growth. If we have a championship contender a few years from now, I guarantee they won’t be playing this style of basketball. So I question why we’re forcing them into it now. It’s not putting wins up in the present or the future. Correct it by playing Jokic at the 5 and let’s work on having our backcourt get him the ball in a scoring position.

Lewis: In my opinion the coaching staff hasn’t been able to identify the team’s strengths and play to them. With Millsap, the Nuggets could work on becoming a better defensive team while also having a top-10 offense. Without him, they tried to focus on being a defensive team still but they didn’t have the horses for that race. It’s like they didn’t remember that the goal is to have more points than the other team, and it doesn’t matter if that happens because you out-score the other team or you hold them to fewer points than you score. If the Nuggets can get Mason Plumlee out of the starting lineup and back to 15 minutes a game, I think a lot of their problems would be corrected. Play Richard Jefferson more, get Juancho Hernangomez back out there, and trust your offense. If you can’t scheme a successful offense, the front office can find someone to do that next year.

What’s keeping you watching games? What do you find entertaining about the Nuggets?

Gross: I’m here for the next iteration of the team, so I enjoy watching Trey Lyles and Malik Beasley figure things out, and the two-shooting-guard lineup of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris get more confident and comfortable with each other. And yes, I’m obviously here for Jokic. Players used incorrectly can still be fun players. Nobody quits watching Giannis Antetokounmpo, do they?

Mikash: To be honest, my love for sports has waned considerably over the past year. I watched very little of the Denver Broncos this year and I don’t feel that I will watch them much more. Maybe its just a getting old thing but being so invested in games that in the grand scheme of things are meaningless seems so much more futile to me this past year. Still, the Nuggets are my team, and Stiffs is my home. I understand the obligation I have to our readers to be informed and this site has been a part of my life for almost a decade. If for nothing else, that alone keeps me watching. What do I find entertaining about this whole charade right now? Not too much. Jokic dimes are still fun though.

Poley: I’m watching now so that: I have street cred against everyone moving here from Brooklyn when the Nuggets steal the throne from the Warriors down the line.

Lewis: That’s what being a fan is, supporting your team through bad and more bad. It’s fun to be part of a community, and the Nuggets are Denver’s team. I like some of the players, and it’s nice to see them gradually improve when given that opportunity.

Who makes the All-Star Game for the Western Conference?

Gross: The whole squad? This is an excessive question. You can have my starters: Harden, Steph, Durant, Anthony Davis, and then they should make Draymond and Boogie have a Ro-Sham-Bo contest to determine the last starter.

Mikash: Starters will probably be something like Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green, at least that’s where the voting is at right now. As for the reserves, my picks would be Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, Lou Williams, Karl-Anthony Towns, DeMarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge and then honestly there’s about five or so guys you could choose for that last spot.

Poley: The Warriors.

Lewis: James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Anthony Davis as starters. I’ll go with Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, and DeMarcus Cousins. I don’t think Klay Thompson should make it over Towns, Paul, or George, and Lillard gets snubbed again. I’m leaving Jokic out because he hasn’t been as good as the other players, and the Nuggets aren’t a playoff team.

Who makes the All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference?

Gross: Daniel out here trying to make me work for the roundtable. Irving, LBJ, DeRozan, Giannis, Embiid are probably my starters. Oladipo making this squad and possibly starting warms my heart though.

Mikash: Starters - Kyrie Irving, Victor Oladipo, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid. Reserves - DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal, Kyle Lowry (I guess?), Andre Drummond, Al Horford, Kristaps Porzingis...I’m on fumes at this point. There seems to be a major drop off after the top 10 or so guys in the East and I’m probably egregiously overlooking someone so...don’t @ me.

Poley: A bunch of bench players from the Western Conference that got traded to the East.

Lewis: For the starters, I think you have to have Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and Al Horford. For the reserves, go with Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, and Andre Drummond. I’m going with Drummond over Tobias Harris, but both have a strong case to get an invite.

Give us your craziest, earth-shattering fake trade proposal.

Gross: Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon for OG Anunoby. (Editor’s note - damn it)

Mikash: Kristaps Porzingis for Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma

Poley: I think I’ll shatter more earths by claiming that Mudiay won’t be traded this season. I believe the front office is still hoping for more substantial growth from him.

Lewis: This should make people mad, but a Jokic for DeAndre Jordan swap. Nuggets would get Jordan, Austin Rivers and Sam Dekker for Jokic, Faried, Chandler, and Darrell Arthur. At least Malone would have the defensive center he longs for.

A meteor flew over southeast Michigan earlier this week - what’s the craziest natural disaster you’ve experienced? Was it worse than watching Plumlee and Jokic in the starting lineup together?

Gross: I was in Seattle for an earthquake that threw parts of buildings into the street because nothing in Seattle is earthquake-proofed. I’ve been evacuated in Colorado for wildfires that nearly burned down my work, and enjoyed floods and blizzards. I’m not sure if Plumlee and Jokic can be topped by anything except the disaster that was Nurkic and Jokic.

Mikash: I am pretty lucky on the natural disaster front, none to speak of that I’ve experienced (I got out of New Zealand while the getting was still good). The craziest weather I’ve ever seen was on the top of Mt. Shavano where it was a combination blizzard/lightning storm. Kind of piggy backing on my comment earlier about taking meaningless games way too seriously, yes, being on top of a mountain worrying about my life was infinitely worse than anything to do with a basketball game.

Poley: Let’s see, I drove into my parents’ neighborhood in Mountain Shadows while 350 houses were burning to help them get out. A worse disaster than that was the comments section in a Guardian article about my parents losing their home with someone rationalizing that my parents deserved it. But no, the Plumkic is not worse. Still, I’ll be happiest leaving all of these disasters in the past. So: Son of b****. Give me a drink.

Lewis: I got to ride out a tornado when I was living out east of Oklahoma City, that was something else. A year later, basically in the same neighborhood, some idiotic teenagers thought it would be funny to start a fire in a field while there were some 40 MPH winds, and it started a huge brush fire that started chucking fireballs through town. I had my things in my car ready to get out of town, but thankfully, the raining fire missed the apartment complex I was living in. The Hayman Fire got pretty close to the house I was living in at the time, that was a stressful time. Can’t believe that woman is out on probation, such a joke. To finish answering the question, those were not worse than watching the Plumkic lineup, but at least those didn’t last as long.