The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would tell you that getting an alignment helps you go faster, further, and more smoothly than your ride would ever go without things being lined up.
A fluid dynamics scientist would tell you that alignment can make your fountains do some pretty cool sh... stuff...
Your Denver Nuggets have shown some early alignment of their own, as they gather for the first time kicking off the 2018-2019 NBA season, kicking off a brilliantly covered Media Day here on Denver Stiffs. It’s one of the most insightful moments of each season, with entire rosters and staffs available for the media to talk to, and to hear what each individual is concerning themselves with for the upcoming year. It’s also some of the friendliest conversation of the year, as the world is all possibility.
This season is notable for the similarities in what the team is talking about stepping into this year’s spotlight, and for good reason. Denver Stiff’s Brendan Vogt captured the observations of coach Michael Malone regarding the amount of time this squad has spent together in the offseason:
“Our players are so invested in this season that they were in Denver all summer. They were in Vegas, they were in Atlanta, they were back in the last week of August, before labor day.” Malone said, “We’re ahead of the curve. We have hit the ground running. We are ahead of probably a lot of teams because of that continuity that we have, and I think that’s a great luxury.”
It’s no wonder the team already sounds on the same page, they’ve been together getting ready the entire time. The guys who wanted to get into better shape have put in the time.
Nikola Jokic comes into camp in the best shape he’s ever started camp, and the differences were noticeable even earlier in the summer. Here’s the Joker already trimmed down two and a half months ago:
Trey Lyles also comes to camp in markedly better shape, as covered by Gordon Gross. Lyles was looking for specific outcomes from his workouts:
“Stronger, quicker, my lateral quickness is a lot better.”
Altitude and Vogt have also remarked on Lyles’ change of frame, here’s more from Brendan:
One more thing on Lyles--he gave the best shape of his life cliche, but he actually might be. He really does look great. More muscle, more definition. He mentioned that it's already given him more confidence in his game.— Brendan Vogt (@Bvogt422) September 24, 2018
Add a little more piling on from Jamal Murray, talking about bulking up in the offseason, from Ryan Blackburn’s coverage:
“I’d say like 15. 15 lbs. It’s good weight, too. I’m going to try to play with this weight too, as long as I can. It makes a difference. When I drive, I can feel my body a little better, I can take more hits. My biggest thing is I can switch on bigger guys playing defense in the post. That’s my biggest priority right now, playing defense.”
Nice of Murray to also mention defense, as that has also been on the minds of others at camp. Coach Malone has already spoken clearly to the team on day one, as covered by Adam Mares:
As I told our team last night...it’s no secret we have to do better defensively. Last couple of years we have a unique offensive identity and we’ve become a premiere offensive team in the NBA. It’s not secret. But on the other end of the ball there has to be buy-in, there has to be commitment, there has to be improvement.
Not take away from the offense, but if our defense improves it will only strengthen our offense.
Which player does Jokic describe being “like a panther” on defense? Frontcourt mate Paul Millsap. Defense is also not surprisingly on Millsap’s mind as well, as Vogt captured on day two of training camp:
“I’ve always aimed high. I’m always looking to crack the top 5 in defense. I’ve been a part of some really good defensive teams. I would say it is hard to do, but it’s really not. You get guys locked in, on the same page, staying disciplined throughout the course of the year, you know, you can be a top 5 defensive team. That’s my goal, personally. I’m not sure what coach wants to do, personally, I want this team in the top five.”
These aren’t the only areas you can find thread after thread of similar topics amongst Gary Harris, Monté Morris, Will Barton, and more. Offense, leadership, responsibility, talked about by every person on this page. There’s a smart reason for that sort of alignment. See if you notice the similarities in these two paragraphs before I tell you who said them...
“And you can see it. I can say it, but I think you as a fan—when you watch us play—you can see it on the floor, that they are really invested in each other. We don’t play just with each other, we play for each other. And I think that’s a big difference.”
“One thing I said when I signed here is, the difference between this team, it seems like they don’t just play with each other they play for each other. They like playing together. And I’ve been a part of teams that love playing with each other, love being right next to the next guy in the locker room, and that’s half the battle.”
Coach Malone fired off the first version of that thought, with the newly-signed Isaiah Thomas bringing up the second half.
Guys who play for each other, who have the same direction and desire coming into the season. Who know their weaknesses and strengths, and are looking to improve one both. Alignment. Not just a smoother ride, but faster speeds and higher heights. Does this propel your Denver Nuggets to their desired goals, or are these simply the words coming out of every squad on media day?
A fast start to camp and media appearances. This means:
This poll is closed
Good things. These guys seem laser-focused, aligned, and ought to hit the ground running this season.
Something. Nice to see them in the same general direction.
A bit. Better than the drama a few other franchises are dealing with early.
Nothing. This is what every team is saying before the rubber meets the road.
None of the above.