As the Denver Nuggets face off against the Utah Jazz, it’s hard not to think about the Jazz being a glimpse into the future – and a fun house mirror look into the past. As the Nuggets played the New York Knicks and the then New Jersey Nets off one another in negotiating the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Jazz had their own disgruntled star in Deron Williams. Once Denver decided on the package of players and picks from the Knicks, the Jazz swooped in and took basically the same package the Nets had offered Denver in return for Williams. The main difference between the two deals is how those deals codified the path each team would take. By choosing the Knicks’ package, Denver chose the route of continuing to play for playoff appearances (it should be noted that the Knicks’ package didn’t provide any sort of clear path toward truly contending for a championship) as the strength of that offer revolved around the currently useful players received. For the Jazz, with a package more focused on picks, were quickly on a path for a rebuild through the draft.

Fast forward five years, and you have the Jazz widely viewed heading into this season as a lock for the playoffs, and most likely a top four seed. The Nuggets, on the other hand, were viewed as being a year or two (and, let's be honest, a piece or two) away from being once again a playoff threat. While I've never doubted the choice the Nuggets made when they did finally trade Anthony, one does have to wonder where each of these teams would be currently if Denver had chosen differently.

Three things I’m looking for:

Mudiay's continued early season renaissance.

The last two games for Emmanuel Mudiay have been revelatory. He has played much more under control, especially in regards to his crazy turnovers. And while his jump shot may not have been amazing, he is finishing almost 60% of his shots at the rim – a marked improvement over the 44% he’s shot there over the season. His assists are also up to almost eight per game. Keep this up, Emmanuel. This is how you should play.

Gotta drop that funk

Since the demise of Balkan buddy ball (RIP Jurkic 2016-2016), neither Nikola Jokic nor Jusuf Nurkic has played at anywhere near their potential. The thought was that once they were separated, Juka would continue his great start, and Niko would once again regress to his last season’s performance. For some reason, instead we’ve seen last season’s Juka and last summer league Niko. For Jokic especially, the Nuggets really need to have this trend reverse.

Self congratulation/flagellation

Rodney Hood is really, really good. As much as I'm now happy with the pick of Gary Harris, my choice during that draft would have been Hood (and still would be), and said as much numerous times leading up to the draft. I think that Hood is on the path to be a top 5 shooting guard in this league sooner rather than later. Man, I'd love him on the Nuggets – even though I love me some Garris.

One last thing – have fun in the thread, guys. Basketball is amazing. Enjoy it.