You know the drill. This is the time when I ask Nuggets fans on Twitter for their best hot takes, and I reply with a rating from 1 to 10. Is it truly a hot take? Is it believable? Let’s find out.
Nuggets are the fourth best team in the west, and fifth overall.— Derrick Valdez (@derrickvaldez67) January 18, 2019
Hot Take Rating: 6 out of 10
Analysis: Starting out with a fun one! Fans all around the NBA may question this take’s validity, NBA fans for ranking the Nuggets highly and Nuggets fans for ranking the Nuggets lowly. So, let’s go through it.
Starting in the West, it’s clear that the Golden State Warriors are better, but I’m not sure abut anyone else in the conference. The Houston Rockets match up extremely well against the Nuggets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a better overall team. Houston struggles against teams that have multiple defenders who can switch onto James Harden paired with an elite shot blocker to wall off Clint Capela. The Oklahoma City Thunder are great against lower level competition, but that’s most of what they have faced this season. Against teams currently above .500, the Thunder are posting a pedestrian 11-10 record (the Nuggets are 16-9 by comparison). The Los Angeles Lakers are an above average team when LeBron James plays, but they’re not a better team than Denver. The Portland Trail Blazers were demolished in the first round last year and weren’t a better team than the Nuggets even then. The San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers are above average teams, but I wouldn’t take either of them over a healthy Nuggets squad.
So, I’d actually argue that the Nuggets are the second or third best team in the West, depending about how one feels when the Rockets hit playoff time. In the East, I’d argue that Denver is behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors and in the same tier as the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
Tell me if you agree with me. The #Nuggets are a much better team when Jokic isn’t harping on each play at the official. IMO that’s the reason that he trails Steven Adams in All Star voting!— Mikey Robert (@MikeyRobert1) January 18, 2019
Hot Take Rating: 3 out of 10
Analysis: This one gets a low rating, and the primary reason is your second point. Let’s understand the first point though with a great example from last night’s game. Jokic wasn’t getting the calls he thought he deserved, so he took an intentional foul to let the ref know about his disdain for the officiating. The very next possession down, Jokic gets an And-1 on a borderline foul by either Lauri Markkanen or Zach LaVine. That’s how unassuming it was. Stars get calls. Jokic is a star, and while him demanding to be refereed like a star hurts Denver in some occasions, it helps them in others.
As for the second point, I doubt that Steven Adams is leading Nikola Jokic in All-Star Voting because of Jokic’s complaints to the refs. The primary reason is because the Thunder fan base is extremely loyal to their fans. Here’s a snapshot of the latest All-Star voting. See if you can find the Thunder players:
The latest NBA All-Star vote totals ... pic.twitter.com/9pkNeJmjsu— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 17, 2019
Thunder fans have done a great job of supporting their top three players. Contrast that with Nuggets fans, who support a team that’s better than OKC, includes their prized star, yet they can’t get Nikola Jokic as many votes as Steven Adams? Jamal Murray doesn’t even make the list?
Denver’s fan base is growing, but the group has to take an L on this one. It doesn’t help that Denver hasn’t been on National TV since beating the Thunder on December 14th though. That’s on the NBA.
Jamal Murray will lead the Nuggets in scoring the rest of the season— Corey (@C_Blake05) January 18, 2019
Hot Take Rating: 9 out of 10
Analysis: This is certainly a hot take, and while it’s not entirely out of the question, I doubt it happens. Nikola Jokic has been on a roll for a long time, and the way Denver’s offense is designed, I still see him absorbing most of the scoring opportunities. Despite that, how cool would it be if Murray averaged some absurd amount of points from here on out? 22 points per game for Murray isn’t out of the question, though I don’t expect it with the return of Gary Harris and Will Barton to the starting lineup looming.
Still, this is a great hot take, one that the Nuggets should be hoping for as long as Murray remains efficient in his bucket-getting quest.
Garry is back, thank lord. Defense is better as well with him and its noticeable big time.— Skočimiš (@Nemanja_007) January 18, 2019
Hot Take Rating: 3 out of 10 (8 out of 10 on the GOOD take scale)
Analysis: It’s hard to hate what is simply THE take Nuggets fans should have. Without Gary Harris on the floor, the Nuggets have struggled. While Harris isn’t an elite defender, simply having another competent defender on the floor that’s also a threat offensively makes things easier for everyone else.
Here are the numbers behind Harris’ defensive importance:
What stands out here is how few minutes Harris has played this season in contrast with Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, and Torrey Craig. While Craig is clearly a good defender, the Nuggets haven’t been as strong defensively with him on the floor. As Harris (and Will Barton) gets back on the floor with the starters, I expect every player to trend back in the right direction in terms of defensive impact. It’s easier to play team defense every night when focusing intently on the role one has to play in the grand scheme. With Beasley, Craig, and Juancho (and Lyles) all fighting for playing time off the bench, each guy should continue to put in the effort on that end of the floor in order to avoid Malone benching them. It’s simply the natural order of team dynamics. Harris provides an upgrade in the starting unit defensively, while the rest of the players are forced to raise their game defensively in order to avoid eradication from Denver’s rotation.
Nikola Jokic will be the Nuggets first All-NBA player since Melo in 2010.— Peter Martin (@Bucketsince88) January 18, 2019
Hot Take Rating: 2 out of 10 (9 out of 10 good take)
Analysis: Again, I love the take, but these are luke warm takes. I’m looking for flames!
In all honesty, Jokic is closer to being First Team All-NBA than being left off the ballot altogether. With the injuries Denver has sustained and the increasing likelihood that Denver will finish with home court advantage in the playoffs, voters tend to reward the primary players in those situations. Right now, the All-NBA center debate surrounds six players: Jokic, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Vucevic.
I will get into this debate as the season wears on, but Jokic’s case is as good as any other center when factoring in the narrative. His team is winning. He’s shouldering the load offensively. He’s better defensively than the last two guys. He’s the best passing center of all-time. All of those hold merit.
Nuggets will get the 2 seed and take the warriors to 6 games.— Ray Martinelli (@rxmart2) January 18, 2019
Hot Take Rating: 9 out of 10
Analysis: Now, this is more like it.
The great thing about this take is it provides some narrative. Assuming the Warriors get the 1 seed, that mens that Denver, as the 2 seed above, has to make it through the first round and the Conference Semis in order to face off against Golden State. Of all of the things mentioned though, taking Golden State to 6 games is the most far fetched, which is why the take is so spicy. As long as the Nuggets don’t face the Rockets or LeBron’s in the first round, I see them advancing to the Semis. At that point, the Nuggets better hope for a good matchup. The best possible scenario for them is to face OKC or to have somebody upset a team like the Rockets or the LeBron’s, somebody being the Spurs, Clippers, or Blazers. I like Denver’s chances against all of those teams.
In the end though, all paths lead to, and likely end, in the Bay.
Before the end of next season, the Nuggets will move Gary Harris to make room for Malik Beasley in the starting line up.— Russell Hamilton (@rscotham) January 18, 2019
(I don't believe this will happen, but it's as hot as I could get)
Hot Take Rating: 10 out of 10
Analysis: Truly spicy.
I very much doubt that Denver makes any move that rattles Denver’s starting five until they have played more than what feels like just six minutes together. First, Barton goes out. Then, Millsap and Harris spend time on the pine. Now, Harris and Barton are alternating games out with injury. Denver’s going to want to see what this team looks like at full strength before making a true assessment of their championship mettle. I doubt that they will come to a conclusion before the trade deadline, but stranger things have happened. You do say by the end of NEXT season, so it’s possible it might go down, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Still, you broach a very good topic here. Malik Beasley, as I wrote about earlier this week, deserves more opportunities to hold down a permanent spot in the rotation. Over the past 15 games, Beasley is tied for 22nd in total three point attempts in the entire NBA, hitting an absurd 45.1 percent of his looks. That percentage ranks third among players with as many or more attempts, putting him in the range of Buddy Hield, JJ Redick, Danilo Gallinari, and Stephen Curry. Those are the cream of the crop shooters in today’s league. All four will probably be invited to the three-point contest during All-Star break. If Beasley continues to shoot with such confidence, Denver miiiight just keep him in the lineup.