“I am practicing being kind over being right” – Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook I was on a trip to visit friends in Northern California two years ago and was walking along a river near their house when a 20-pound rat crawled out of the water in front of me. I quickly ran through the following options: Am I on…...
Harrison Wind: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.
How do you define a team's core? It's a tough question, but for me it's the basis of your championship DNA. If you're the Nuggets, your core includes the most instrumental pieces on your roster that can seemingly take you to the top and can do so for years to come. That's Jokic, Murray and Porter with an honorable mention to Will Barton simply due to the number of boxes that he checks for this team.
Building around Jokic, Murray and Porter requires plugging a number of holes, mainly ones on the defensive end of the floor. Denver currently has Paul Millsap and Gary Harris doing so while Jerami Grant, Monte Morris, Torrey Craig and Mason Plumlee provide needed depth that any team with championship aspirations requires. But those parts can be interchanged.
There's a path forward for Denver that involves moving on from one of its core pieces not named Jokic if a trade for another All-NBA caliber talent develops, but Jokic, Murray and Porter have the respective ceilings to be the three best players on a Nuggets championship team.
Altitude’s Vic Lombardi, Scott Hastings and Chris Marlowe share their experiences from the night the NBA suspended the season.
Which current Nuggets players will not be on the roster to start next season?
Adam Mares: Paul Millsap
There are plenty of reasons to believe Paul Millsap could stick around beyond this year. Last summer, Millsap talked about wanting to be in Denver for much longer and having a "story" that he wanted to tell his way. Back then, it sure sounded like that story meant finishing his career in Denver.
But do the Denver Nuggets need him? Jerami Grant was beginning to blossom as a front court running mate to Nikola Jokic and is only entering his prime. Millsap, on the other hand, was in and out of the lineup for the 3rd season in a row and starting to show signs of slowing down. 250 lb athletes don't always age slowly and gracefully. Often times, the decline is sudden and steep.
The Nuggets could re-sign Millsap with the assumption that he'd segue into a sort of end-of-bench veteran who is only sparsely called upon to play real minutes but Millsap likely sees himself as something more than that. Then there is the question of continuity vs. bringing in new voices, new talents, and new personalities. The Nuggets are in need of an edge. Millsap is smart, unselfish, and hard working, but he isn't exactly an intimidating force. If the Nuggets believe that they need some new blood in the lockerroom, Millsap might be one of the guys out the door.
Brendan Vogt: Mason Plumlee, Troy Daniels
The Nuggets were nearing a postseason in which Plumlee's ideal role is a limited one. Dever has already overpaid him, and he might desire a more significant role on another team, especially should one feel inclined to pay him like a starter. Three bigs are enough in the postseason, and if you have confidence in both Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant returning, as I do, then it makes a lot of sense for the two parties to move on.
Grant found a groove with the starters and proved so many who thought he'd be a great fit in Denver to be right. The front office has likely identified him as a candidate, if not the preferred power forward to slot alongside their young core. Millsap is entering the final phase of his career, and winning his first championship is, of course, vital to him.
He's on the record as wanting to finish what he's started here and doesn't hold back when speaking on this team's talent and capabilities. My read is he's identified this group as the one to help him get to the promised-land finally.
Troy Daniels shouldn't require much of an explanation. He's unlikely to see much time in a Nuggets uniform, if any at all, and entering unrestricted free agency.
In today’s episode of What Makes This Play Great, I look at a play that George Karl and the Denver Nuggets used back in 2009 to get Carmelo Anthony the ball in his favorite spot, the right elbow. I also show how the Nuggets have used this play for Michael Porter Jr. and provide several examples of LeBron James, Harrison…...
Each weekday, our DNVR Nuggets crew will be tackling one question about the Nuggets season in a round table format. Members, leave the questions that you’d like to see our writers answer in the comments section below and Harrison, Adam and Brendan will address them on an upcoming episode of the DNVR Nuggets Podcast. Brendan Vogt: all the stuff I…...
Adam Mares: Michael Porter Jr.
This is our fourth round table and the fourth time my answer has centered around Michael Porter Jr. but think for a second about the string of bad luck this young man has endured. First, after spending most of his teenage years as the top prospect in the country, he suffers a back injury just minutes into his freshmen season in college. He has back surgery and misses almost all of that season, then misses his first season in the NBA as he recovered from a second back surgery. Now, in his first season back after two years off, the NBA cancels the season just as he was getting going.
Players develop the most between the ages of 18 and 25 so for Porter to basically miss a majority of the first 3 years of that range is really disheartening. People often say that what Porter need is time but time alone what allow him to reach his potential. What he really needs are repetitions. Live game, practice, workout, training. All of the things that help a player become the best version of themselves on the basketball court. For the third season in a row, Porter's development appears stunted by something completely out of his control.
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Harrison Wind: Nikola Jokic's 30-point, 21-rebound, 10-assist night against the Jazz
With only seven players available in Utah following the trade deadline against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, the Nuggets were going to need an all-time performance from Nikola Jokic in order to get a win. That's what Denver got.
Jokic became just the third player since the NBA-ABA merger (DeMarcus Cousins, David Lee) to post at least a 30-20-10 stat line and according to ESPN Stats and Info, Jokic joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in NBA history (including playoffs) to tally 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists on the road before turning 25 years old.
Here's Denver's box score from that night. The Nuggets had just five of their top-10 rotation players available.
The Nuggets won 98-95 as Jokic toppled Gobert and the Jazz for the second time in less than a week. Thirteen of Jokic's 14 field goals came with Gobert as his primary defender and down the stretch, Jokic was incredible, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter, six of which came over the final five minutes of play. Jokic sunk the game-winner that night -- a fall-away 18-footer with Gobert draped all over him -- with just under a minute to go in regulation courtesy of his signature Sombor Shuffle.
It was the best game I've seen Jokic play across his five-year career.
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The Nuggets announced Thursday that a member of their organization has tested positive for COVID-19.
What was the most memorable moment of the Nuggets' season?
Adam Mares: Michael Porter Jr. against the Indiana Pacers
The most accurate answers to this question are either the night Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash or the night the NBA season was canceled. The Nuggets were at the forefront of both. When the Kobe news broke, word spread throughout Pepsi Center and the Denver Nuggets locker room for us all to see. When the season was canceled, the Nuggets were in the middle of a game against the Dallas Mavericks. Both nights will be nights I'll never forget.
But for a more Nuggets specific moment, it has to be the night Michael Porter Jr. broke out. To me, that night was January 2nd, 2020. Porter was fresh off of his first start four nights earlier but it wasn't until the game at Banker's Life Fieldhouse that I was sold on Porter becoming a star. The 25 points on 11 of 12 shooting tell most of the story but it was the variety of ways that Porter scored that stood out. Offensive rebounds, transition buckets, spot-up three-pointers, dribble drives to beat the shot clock, and what has become his patented step back three. From that point forward, Denver's long-term trajectory changed. They had a second (maybe third?) superstar in the making.
“What makes this play great” is a series at DNVR in which I break down in detail a single play, moment, or sequence from a Denver Nuggets game and explain all of the subtle details that you might’ve missed the first time around.
In this episode, I look at the main ways that Paul Millsap is able to play isolation basketball out of a post-up. The Nuggets went away from Millsap in the post a bit this season compared to the previous two but there are still a couple of plays and situations where the Nuggets try to get Millsap the ball on the block and clear out for him to go to work.
Each weekday, our DNVR Nuggets crew will be tackling one question about the Nuggets season in a round table format. Members, leave the questions that you’d like to see our writers answer in the comments section below and Harrison, Adam and Brendan will address them on an upcoming episode of the DNVR Nuggets Podcast.
What is the most encouraging development from the incomplete regular season?
Brendan: Jokić embracing reality
Before the regular season started, Nikola Jokić told Altitude TV's Vic Lombardi that he "can be the Tim Duncan of Denver Nuggets," igniting the embers of nascent fantasies throughout the city. It's not just the idea of Jokić spending his entire career in a Nuggets jersey that's so enticing. In essence, it's the idea that, like Tim Duncan, he might commit to a healthy basketball culture and a willingness to lead by example. Jokić isn't particularly vocal or overstated, but he still has time to settle into his style of leadership. I believe something sunk in for him this season. If cared to attentively, the seeds planted might bud in the years to come.
The Big Man didn't have it in November. He came into camp significantly overweight, and he was in a historic shooting slump to start the regular season. He looked distant, irritable, and frankly, unwilling to climb out of whatever hole he fell. But something clicked after the Nuggets dropped their first meeting with the Lakers in Pepsi Center. He admitted to being in a slump for the first time, and acknowledged he wasn't thrilled with how things looked offensively. He took the blame, and then something clicked.
His mood began to change in the locker room and his media availabilities. His shot started to fall, first from around the rim, then the mid-range, and eventually from deep. He began lifting directly after every game and quickly shed the extra weight. We've heard head coach Micahel Malone speak about Jokić's growth as a leader and how he's learning how to talk to his teammates; how to share his knowledge of the game.
There's still plenty to be desired. Jokić is mercurial and slips in and out of levels of high engagement. He doesn't always seem willing or able to manufacture a sense of urgency across 82 games, and sometimes poor body-language supersedes a more healthy expression of frustration. But we saw and heard from a player that is embracing the myriad responsibilities that come with his talent.
What grade would you give the Nuggets this season...if the season is in fact over?
The right answer here is obviously 'Inc.' because whether or not this Nuggets season was going to be a success or failure was always going to be determined by what happened in the playoffs. And with no playoffs (yours truly believes this season is a wrap), we'll never be able to deliver this team a final grade. But looking back on what the Nuggets did accomplish, you find yourself examining a long list.
Denver could end the season with a 43-22 record, which was the Nuggets' exact mark through 55 games a season ago when they won 54 games. The Nuggets were also running away with the Northwest Division crown (Denver is 10-1 in-division while Oklahoma City boasts the second-best Northwest Division mark at 7-4.) The Nuggets also collected both of what will likely go down as the top-2 wins of the Michael Malone era, Jan. 30 in Utah when a seven-man skeleton crew beat the Jazz, and 24 hours later in Milwaukee when Denver toppled presumptive MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on the second-night of a back-to-back.
But there was an undeniable dullness to this Nuggets season, especially compared to last year's campaign where Denver came out of nowhere to take the West's No. 2 seed. Some of that had to do with the fact that this roster with a playoff run under its belt was so obviously looking ahead to the postseason, probably from the day training camp broke in October.
Nikola Jokic was elite, once he decided to be elite. Jamal Murray posted very similar numbers to a season ago. Gary Harris took another step back on the offensive end of the floor but was still very good defensively. Will Barton rightfully returned to form. The Nuggets found an option in Jerami Grant at power forward who can give them reliable minutes for years to come.
The biggest disappointment? Denver saw what rookie Michael Porter Jr. could give them -- brilliant offense and uncanny playmaking -- but the Nuggets couldn't carve out a consistent role for the rookie. The Nuggets were very good this season, but it didn't feel like they took a considerable step forward.
There’s help on the way for the hundreds of KSE employees affected by the NBA/NHL suspending their seasons due to the threat of COVID-19.
Many part-time and hourly Pepsi Center employees don’t know where their next paycheck will come from after both the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons due to COVID-19.
“Fear, left unchecked, can spread like a virus” – Lish McBride, Necromancing the Stone Turns out a virus can spread plenty of fear all by itself. After having spent the last few days at a long-planned and poorly attended conference, the only topic on anyone’s mind seemed to be avoiding contact at nearly all costs. Having already avoided flights to…...
Allie Monroy and Harrison Wind discuss the Nuggets upcoming road trip, the dunk of the season and more! https://youtu.be/RHPqQlVryl4
For those in search of a recap of the Denver Nuggets’ 109-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks’ JJV-team, there’s no better place to start than Jamal Murray’s banishment of D.J. Wilson late in the third quarter. To set the scene, Milwaukee sat their best players and trotted out an active roster that included several google-jobs and two misleading inclusions in…...
It’s hard to pinpoint just what exactly is going on with the Denver Nuggets since the all-star break two weeks ago. The Nuggets are just 4-4 since the break with blowout losses to two Western Conference playoff teams and two additional losses to two of the league’s five worst teams. Nikola Jokic has gone from looking like the best center…...