Any win over the Atlanta Hawks must be taken with a grain of salt, but any 45 point win has the potential to build some momentum. The Denver Nuggets will need it as they embark on a brutal three game road trip stopping in New Orleans, Milwaukee and Minnesota.
The Stiffs have gathered round the table to take a temperature check, offer their predictions, and discuss the latest news to break in Nuggets nation: a team without a championship is adding one of the most decorated champions to ever play the game.
By now it comes as no surprise, but the Seattle Storm has released a statement on the legendary Sue Bird and the Denver Nuggets agreeing to terms on an apprenticeship in the front office. How excited are you about this addition?
Brendan Vogt (@BVogt422): 11/10. Important preface: Bird is still an active player, which means this will be a somewhat limited role for her. And it should be noted that she’s joining the front office, not the coaching staff, so it’s hard to envision any immediate impact on the organization. But this is one of the legends of the game and one of the most decorated champions of all time. Success follows her wherever she goes, and her decision to plant the seeds of her next career here in Denver speaks to the job Tim Connelly has done and the reputation he’s beginning to build for himself.
Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): It’s great! Sue Bird is a phenomenal basketball player and basketball mind. She also brings a new voice, a new perspective, and a new network of resources for the team. I’m very excited to see what her role will be and to hear her perspective on this team.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): Love it. Sue Bird is an accomplished champion, an incredibly smart player, and might have a different perspective from some of the other members of Denver’s front office. Women in the industry are an untapped resource, and Sue Bird has the credentials and basketball mind to rival anyone. Denver has been making its mark with European basketball and scouting, and now we’ll see what other pieces Bird can bring to the table over the next few years as she learns on the job.
Sure, it’s the Atlanta Hawks, but the Nuggets ended their losing streak with a 45-point victory and a season high in points on Thursday night. How encouraged are you by what you saw in that game? Have the Nuggets swung momentum back in their favor?
Vogt: Another important preface here: the Hawks are really, really bad. But what was so encouraging about that performance last night wasn’t necessarily the final score, it was the way the half court offense looked. For perhaps the first time all season, the starting unit moved with purpose, played with joy, and whipped the ball around they we expect them to. It was also the first time that all five starters had something to offer in the same game. This road trip looks nasty, but the Nuggets look like a team that’s itching to explode offensively. I feel good about this team again.
Mares: I’m extremely encouraged. I know it was a really bad Hawks team that Denver faced, arguably the worst collection of players the Nuggets will face all season. Nonetheless, the team LOOKED like their old self and the way that they were able to score was meaningful. The ball was poppin all night. And on rewatch, there was actually a lot of room for improvement in terms of cuts, passes, and reads. Denver can have the #1 offense in the NBA. Last night was a big step in moving them in that direction.
Gross: Other than learning the Hawks are all in on a top-3 pick this year, it was still edifying to see Denver demolish a team that they should throttle, and play offense the way we expect them to - and they way they themselves expect. Before the game Paul Millsap said defense was the key rather than offense, but as Adam has said for years their offense keys their defense in major ways. This looked like a great step toward remembering that - and they’ll need it with their upcoming schedule.
After spending what felt like an eternity here in Denver, the Nuggets will take this show on the road. A three game road trip will bring them to New Orleans, Milwaukee and Minnesota—what are your expectations for this road trip?
Vogt: With the way the Nuggets looked during that losing streak, it’s hard to imagine that Denver will take more than one of these games, especially considering their struggles on the road going back to last season. But the Nuggets aren’t just the team that went 1-4 in their last five. That 9-1 start wasn’t a fluke. This team has the talent to string wins together against any combination of opponents and we just saw the offense click for the first time all season. I’ll stay optimistic here, and say they they have a shot at taking two of three. I like their chances in Minnesota, and I’ll cross my fingers that the Bucks don’t shoot 3000% from the field this time. I did also predict that they’d win each of those four consecutive losses though, so. Shaker of salt.
Mares: There’s no middle ground on this three-game block. 2-1 would be incredible. 1-2 would be bad. My gut tells me Denver goes 1-2 which will be a bit of a disappointment but I’m as focused on what the team looks like as I am on the final score. If Denver’s offense looks like it did against Atlanta while maintaining their best effort on defense, then I’ll be encouraged.
Gross: I expect to see Denver’s offense resurrected and a 2-1 record, which they sorely need to right the ship. The Nuggets need to get back to Nuggets Basketball on November 15th this year instead of December 15th - this block of games matters too much over the next 30 days. If the losing streak and the Hawks game were a wakeup call then everything will be fine. If they were not, then Denver is flirting with trouble in the early season. Slam the door in trouble’s face already, ain’t nobody got time for that.