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The Best of Denver Stiffs in 2018

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Thank you Nuggets Nation for an excellent year!

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As the sun sets on the year 2018, it’s as great a time as ever to look back and be proud of the accomplishments we have had at Denver Stiffs. While the Denver Nuggets have had a tumultuous year, the Denver Stiffs have covered all of it. From exciting wins, to painful losses, to news that needs explanation, Stiffs writers have wrote about every angle, providing the most in-depth coverage of the Nuggets possible. We are proud of our excellent work in 2018 and would love to share it with Nuggets fans once again.

Here’s a writer-by-writer breakdown of 2018:

Zach Mikash

Zach is second-in-command here at Denver Stiffs, and he showed a true penchant for Nuggets coverage throughout the season, starting with excellent analysis on Emmanuel Mudiay’s tenure in Denver. Mudiay was moved at the NBA Trade Deadline on February 8th, and Zach put together a sublime piece highlighting the ups and downs of his career in a Nuggets uniform, including perhaps an unfair expectation and Denver’s willingness to give him chances until the bitter end.

Emmanuel Mudiay’s career has been a roller coaster, and the Denver Nuggets decided it was time to get off

Prior to Mudiay’s trade, Zach also correctly predicted the Nuggets would consider moving the young point guard for a veteran presence at the position, and he even pinpointed the correct player. Here’s his piece detailing Denver’s need for a minor upgrade at point guard and positing that then Dallas Mavericks veteran Devin Harris would be acquired by the Trade Deadline.

2018 NBA Trade Deadline: When a minor move might be a major one for the Denver Nuggets

Gordon Gross

Gordon’s best writing this year came in the form of his ability to emotionally connect the reader to the Denver Nuggets. With an innate ability to describe the Nuggets season in an abstract context, Gordon highlighted some of Denver’s most pivotal moments with fantastic writing. His piece on the winning streak at the end of the 2017-18 season provided the best descriptive Nuggets quote of the year:

“Sometimes growth can masquerade as losses. Sometimes growth is a delayed-gratification reward, as responsibilities are re-tasked and the newly-empowered parts ramp up toward competency.”

Plasticity and the Denver Nuggets: this is what growth looks like

In addition, Gordon captured what it’s like to put together a team around a unique star in Nikola Jokic, citing the need for basketball intelligence over physical gifts. Much like the San Antonio Spurs of the Tim Duncan era, the Nuggets have learned to out-think their opponents to mask the physical limitations of their star player.

Intelligence - an experiment in dodging NBA norms

Also included in the piece was the best Nuggets gif of 2018.

Ashley Douglas

Ashley’s primary focus this calendar year was to provide the weekly update on all Nuggets news and notes throughout the season. Perhaps most representative of her Weekly Updates was the Week of November 17th, in which she helped calm the nerves of Nuggets fans and reassure them that this team was special.

Nuggets Weekly Digest - November 17

When she did write a feature though, it turned out to be extremely important for the expectations of the 2018-19 season. After a disappointing finish to 2017-18 filled with potential, Ashley urged readers, aided by an anecdote from her working career, to hold the Nuggets accountable by turning that potential into wins. The Nuggets, by and large, have satisfied that plea, as they currently sit in first place in the Western Conference.

Denver Nuggets: From hope to expectation

Brendan Vogt

The Denver Stiffs welcomed Brendan into the writing family in April of 2018, and Brendan responded with one of my favorite articles of the year, capturing what it’s like to be a Denver Nuggets transplant. Moving from Los Angeles, California to Denver Colorado, Brendan writes an ode to NuggLife and how he personally dealt with its trials and musings.

I’m New Here: naive optimism, the veil of ignorance and the unique trials of living the NuggLife

Brendan also wrote one of the best pieces about Nikola Jokic, the most unique star in the NBA, and how he is the perfect player for the city of Denver. Brendan’s unique perspective as a transplant comes in handy here, and he captures the essence of why the city and player are so perfect for each other based on Jokic’s authenticity and unique personality.

Nikola Jokic is the perfect star for the Denver Nuggets

Finally, Brendan started his own podcast this year, Full Court Press, delving into the world of sports media to pull back the veil covering the Denver Nuggets. Among a star cast of guests, Brendan’s episode with Matt Moore, formerly of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBS Sports and currently at The Action Network, was terrific. The two discussed Matt’s journey, real world problems of becoming a sports media member, and advice for those looking to pursue that dream.

Full Court Press: Matt Moore

Evan Fiala

Evan was a great utility guy for the staff this year, helping compile highlight packages and accomplish whatever the group needed on short notice. When he did do his features, they were excellent, starting with a timely piece on the Nuggets turning a corner in February. Widely considered the month when Jokic-ball was truly adopted, Evan noted that Denver called less plays to get things done offensively.

Have the Denver Nuggets finally turned a corner?

In addition, Evan wrote a farewell letter to The Manimal, Kenneth Faried, after his seven years in the Mile High City.

“Thank you, Manimal, for the fun memories, the highlight reel dunks, the insane blocks, the attitude you brought every night. Thank you for giving Nuggets fans a reason to hope for a better future and more reasons to get up and cheer. And thank you for all you have done in the Denver community.”

A special thank you to the Manimal

Kayla Osby

Kayla generally contributes the Tweet of the Week every single weekend, and one of the best involved Isaiah Thomas, who weighed in on how fights around locker rooms in the NBA should include just one thing: boxing gloves.

Denver Nuggets Tweet of the Week: Isaiah Thomas has a solution for teammate scuffles

Kayla also contributes the Monthly Report on the Nuggets, exceptionally titled “Mile Highs and Lows,” and her first edition in October truly struck a chord for where the Nuggets were as a franchise.

Mile Highs and Lows: A Recap of the Denver Nuggets in October

Finally, Kayla’s most important feature of the year came in essay format. Her thesis described Denver’s chemistry this season as the key to reaching a new level of success, and she turned out to be so right, I’m worried she bugged Denver’s locker room before the piece.

The Denver Nuggets’ team chemistry should finally allow the team to tap into their full potential

Daniel Lewis

As our resident draft expert at Denver Stiffs, Dan does an excellent job of covering the NBA Draft from a Nuggets perspective. In addition, Dan is simply really good at evaluating prospects. Back in April, his second Big Board featured Luka Doncic, DeAndre Ayton, and Jaren Jackson Jr. as the top three prospects this year. Boy was he right.

2018 Stiffs Prospect Watch: Big Board 2.0

Next, Dan wrote an excellent piece on the Nuggets being Tim Connelly’s team now. After the last of the holdovers from a previous era were moved, Connelly has accounted for all of Denver’s current players through the draft, free agency, or trades. He has remade the Nuggets, and they are pretty good.

The Nuggets are finally Tim Connelly’s team

Jeremy Poley

As our Social Media Coordinator, Jeremy worked very hard making sure every single written piece was showcased effectively, while also interacting with Nuggets fans in the community over Social Media. He also worked very hard contributing to #JokicWeek with fun graphics and highlight packages for the Joker. In addition, Jeremy started his own podcast with Nick Hertzog titled The Dig, and their favorite episode asked the tough questions about Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and the Nuggets as a long term contender.

The Dig Podcast: Are the Nuggets Gold or Fool’s Gold?

Mike Olson

The most consistent and creative writer on staff for several years, Mike’s Thursday column comes even when death and taxes do not. He has a number of features I could include, but the most important is his article on women and the NBA culture. This includes an anecdote on marrying a power forward that kicks his butt on the court and a comprehensive breakdown of the women taking part in all aspects of the NBA, from those leading the charge as coaches to those leading the charge in the media.

You play ball like a girl

Next, his YAHTZEE! article was a creative way to illustrate the chances Denver was taking this past offseason. From the drafting of Michael Porter Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt to the signing of Isaiah Thomas, the Nuggets delved into the unknown with the intention of hitting a Yahtzee at some point.

Denver Nuggets: YAHTZEE!

His best work also comes in the form of interviews, as he was able to pick the brain of Nuggets color commentator Scott Hastings this summer. The series is three parts, so here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 all in one!

Ryan Blackburn

My year was filled with a variety of features, mostly surrounding statistical analysis of this Nuggets team. My most important statistical piece came in March of last season. The Nuggets were coming to terms with the fact that their defense was awful, and the illustrations describe why Denver installed a new defensive scheme this year.

Stat of the Week: the Nuggets can’t guard anyone

Next up were my offseason player rankings. With nearly 100 total hours spent compiling data, configuring formulas, and writing about each player, I used that data to craft a top 100 player ranking. Nikola Jokic sits in the star range, while Paul Millsap and Gary Harris sit in the top 50.

Part I: 100-51, and Part II: 50-1

Finally, I started my own podcast this year, Nuggets Numbers, and it’s something I’m proud of as a numbers guy. So far, my favorite episode included special guest Adam Fromal, who talked about Nikola Jokic, Advanced Metrics, and his website, NBA Math, at length.

Nuggets Numbers Podcast - Adam Fromal on Nikola Jokic, Defense, and Analytics

Adam Mares

Finally, the head honcho himself. Adam was an All-Star for the site this year, leading the charge on Nuggets coverage in the city of Denver with many creative projects and articles. His newest exploit was the audio documentary about Will Barton. “Thrill” delves deep into Barton’s world, from growing up in Baltimore, to his high school and college days, to his time in the NBA on the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets rosters. This truly was excellent and something Nuggets fans should listen to immediately if they want to get to know Will the Thrill.

Thrill: Will Barton’s life in basketball

Adam also penned an excellent piece about Michael Porter Jr. and the Nuggets identity as a whole. With so many underappreciated players on the Denver roster, the Nuggets had been forced to adopt an underdog mentality. If Porter was to return from injury and succeed in his time as a Nugget, he would have to adopt that mentality as well.

The Underdog

Lastly, Adam wrote a farewell letter to Bret Bearup, a man Adam had gotten to know while covering the Denver Nuggets. Bear was Stan Kroenke’s right hand man and had a lifelong career around the NBA and the game of basketball. He was also one of the funniest, nicest, most connected, and most interesting people you could ever meet. Bear passed away suddenly last May. Adam shares a few stories about his friend and says his goodbye.

The basketball community says goodbye to “one-of-a-kind” Bret Bearup


To the readers of Denver Stiffs, thank you so much for a great 2018. None of this is possible without your interest, and we always appreciate your contribution to make the site what it is today. Let’s make 2019 the best year Denver Stiffs has ever had!