By Daniel Paiz
Don’t it’s too late. That’s it, that’s the article. Okay it’s really not and there are going to be a variety of ways in which you can join the bandwagon. However, what’s most important to take away from this article is that the 2019-2020 NBA season really could be the Larry O’Brien trophy arrives in the Mile High City. Here’s just a few reasons why Denver might have to plan a parade in June.
Big Honey deserves Big Praise
It’s quite possible that you are new to being a basketball fan and/or a Denver Nuggets fan; it happens, I get it. If that’s the case, welcome to Mile High Basketball. Now for the rest of you ball fans who have been your typical “ignore anything out West that isn’t LA or Golden State” selves: you can’t deny or ignore the impact Nikola Jokic has on this team and on the league.
There’s a reason NBA GMs considered him the best center in the league prior to the start of the season. It’s not that he is a vital part of the Nuggets offense (17.2 points a game, 9.0 rebounds a game, 5.8 assists a game), but it’s how he impacts his teammates. In his fourth season in the NBA, the biggest concern about Big Honey is that he’s not playing selfish enough. Imagine having a star player that you want to be less pass-first, get his teammates involved and more, look for the shot first, get your rhythm going kind of player? That’s almost unheard of in this day and age. With more touches and more games under his belt, Jokic will continue to present problems for opposing defenses. It is understandable though that he wants to get his teammates involved, look at who he’s playing with.
Match-Up problems for days against Denver
Jamal Murray can be streaky. Gary Harris can at times be an afterthought. Paul Millsap is past his prime. Who are Jerami Grant, Juan Hernangomez, Monte Morris…who are all of these guys? That’s likely what opposing fans and casual viewers might think when watching the Nuggets. That’s good, because there’s a level of underestimating what this team can do. There are plenty of stats I could throw at you to try and convince you, but I won’t go all out to do so.
The Nuggets are only the third best team in the NBA when it comes to points allowed by an opponent (102.3), and seventh best in offensive rebounding. Denver is also only one of three teams (Boston, Orlando) that have fewer than 13 turnovers a game. The things that people tend to gloss over, the Nuggets aren’t too bad at doing. When you get away from the numbers and start to look at team chemistry and momentum, a 10-3 start is very promising. There’s also one more box score that should be remembered when Spring begins to approach in a few months:
The Houston Rockets have been a thorn in the side of Denver for a number of years now. However, even facing James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Clint Capela, the Nuggets put together a total team effort. Shooting less than 50 percent from the field and a pedestrian 30 percent from downtown, this team pieced together a victory. That’s big against a team that has cast a shadow for too long.
This will ideally be the game that both players and fans see as that realization that this season is going to be different.