Jordan Davis of the University of Northern Colorado worked out in front of the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday morning
The Denver Nuggets do not yet own a pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but buying or trading their way back into the action is still on the table, and so the team did its due diligence Tuesday morning by conducting a round of pre-draft workouts.
Among the six players that worked out in front of players, coaches, and front office personnel in the Nuggets practice facility was Jordan Davis, a 6’2” 185 lb. guard out of the University of Northern Colorado.
Davis averaged just under 24 points per game during his senior season when he was named the 2019 Big Sky MVP. He led his team in points, assists, and steals per game that season while leading the conference in scoring as well.
Davis is undersized, played for a small school, and grew up in North Las Vegas, where people don’t always succeed in the areas he is seeking to. He wore those things on his sleeve as he spoke to the media, citing his underdog nature and a desire to support his two-year-old daughter as his motivators while he pursues his ultimate dream of playing in the NBA.
“Coming from a situation where I was at a smaller school, I have to be the biggest dog in the room,” Davis told the media when asked about his approach to these workouts. “It is another day in the gym. Whether it is with my trainer or back home with my dad, it makes no sense to feed into the pressure or the hype. I’ve been playing basketball for 15 years now so, it is another day in the gym.”
Davis has a relationship with his father that Nuggets fans might find familiar. Much like Jamal Murray, Davis is pushed by a man who is determined to help his son live his dreams. Among the many daily habits he instilled in Jordan, Davis’ father made his son do 1000 calf raises before falling asleep each night while growing up—a ritual that helped the undersized guard increase his vertical leap. That vertical was on full display during the 3-v-3 scrimmage that closed Tuesday’s workout.
On the first possession of the scrimmage, Davis stripped the ball and finished the fast break with a vicious one-handed slam on the other end.
Watch Davis’ interview here:
Jordan Davis - NBA Draft workout interview - Denver Nuggets [June 4, 2019] - YouTube
How many NBA teams would you trade places with right now?
Where do the Denver Nuggets rank in the NBA in terms of 5-year outlook?
Adam Mares: If we were just talking about the future talent of the roster, the Nuggets would be top 4 alongside the 76ers, Bucks, and Warriors. But when you factor in market and organizational reputation/structure, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers both enter the mix. The Lakers haven’t done anything right other since Dr. Jerry Buss passed away and six years ago yet they still landed LeBron James and have a great chance of adding at least one free agent this summer. That’s just the way the NBA (and the world) works. So I’d rank Denver 6th behind the two L.A. teams and the three I mentioned above. The Mavericks and Jazz are also in the mix.
Ryan Blackburn: I would be hard pressed to rank the Nuggets anywhere other than the top spot overall in a ranking like this. There could be other teams that pass Denver over the next five years, but those teams possess uncertainty and a lot of faith to actualize that. The Lakers and Clippers actually need to sign and/or trade for these mystery stars to play with LeBron and whoever the Clippers have in three years. The 76ers, Bucks, and Warriors all have major free agents that could change the direction of the organization. Denver’s core is positioned well and locked in for the next several years. They have various avenues to improve the team. Nikola Jokic is a legitimate superstar. Why shouldn’t they sit in the top spot?
Gordon Gross: Denver has Jokic, which puts them in a favorable Top-5 position overall. They can rearrange the rest of the players around him or run out there with a very similar iteration and see what happens. I’d go Philly, Golden State (still) Milwaukee, then Denver over Dallas, so much like Adam. I agree with Adam on this as well - the Nuggets are not a FA destination and never have been. Jokic is not exactly a recruiter either, though he may prove to be a draw who knows. Other teams can change their fortunes in an instant because of where they are located. New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Miami will always be able to alter their fate in one casual superstar signing. Denver will have to do it the harder way, which is why I can’t put them at the top of the heap - but being in the top tier is a lovely and new position for them.
What is one fake Nuggets trade that you actually kind of like?
Mares: I’m still kicking around the idea of Ben Simmons playing alongside Nikola Jokic. As much as I love Jamal Murray, Simmons has a higher upside and could be a great fit alongside Jokic and three shooters. It would feel awfully weird to move on from the team’s 2nd most important player but I think shooting guards are much easier to find than two-way wings with Simmons’s measurables and skill set. Sure, his shooting provides an obstacle but that weakness is mitigated by Jokic’s ability to draw the rim protector out of the paint.
Blackburn: The Nuggets have their primary core of Jokic, Murray, and Harris locked in, but they need two-way forwards with athleticism to cover for various weaknesses. One player that I have always loved for Denver is Jonathan Isaac, whose skills and shot are developing to complement potentially elite defense. The Magic have both Isaac and Aaron Gordon at the forward spots, and the Nuggets have an excellent backup in Malik Beasley who attended Florida State for a season. In a Beasley-for-Isaac swap, both players would have opportunities long term to be valuable starters, as the Magic need more athleticism and shooting in the back court. With Isaac in the fold, the Nuggets could bring back Paul Millsap and slide Isaac to small forward temporarily, or Denver could decline Millsap’s option, search for a true small forward in free agency this year, and slide Isaac to power forward.
Gross: Anthony Davis is still available right? Give me that one. It would cost picks, salary filler and one of Harris or Murray as well as Michael Porter Jr, most likely. If they won’t cough up AD then I’d still like Jrue Holiday. On-ball defense matters in the Finals, as does the ability to stick with your man off-ball, and Denver is missing that piece still, but it would probably have to be Harris going back along with potentially Plumlee and Monte Morris, which would be a steep price. Denver’s history of deal-making has me believing there won’t be any kind of major trade, but if there were to be one this is probably the year.
Mares: I often don’t realize who I am rooting for until the game is on the line and I feel a seemingly uncontrollable wave of emotions rush over me. Last night, I was pulling for the Warriors. It’s weird because my default position is to root for the underdog, especially when it involves a tortured fanbase like Toronto’s yet here I am hoping that the Kevin Durant-less Warriors can pull this off. In my head, a Durant-less title for the Warriors would once again invalidate KD’s decision to join a 73-win team and maybe...just maybe...prevent future stars from stacking the deck the way that he did.
Blackburn: I’m rooting for Toronto. It’s time for a changing of the guard. The Kobe-Shaq Lakers broke apart after losing the 2004 NBA Finals. The LeBron-Wade Heatles broke apart after losing the 2014 NBA Finals. Five years later, the best way to cause strife in Golden State would be to add the pressure of losing to the impending free agency decisions. Durant has endured an enormous amount of criticism for his decision, but in three years with Golden State, it has been validated with at least two shiny championship rings. If he wins a third, what’s stopping him from re-upping with the Warriors and going for more? I’m rooting for Toronto to pull this off and to cause chaos, potentially disbanding the juggernaut that has dominated the Western Conference for the last five years.
Gross: I’m of the opinion that if Toronto wins then Kawhi Leonard comes West again, which I don’t want - unless he comes to Denver of course. If Golden State wins it’s another feather in the dynasty and cuts Durant’s legacy off at the knees as Adam says, and that latter part would amuse me. I always root for the underdog in a matchup of two teams I’m not partial too, though, and that means Toronto. My brain wants Golden State to win, but my heart says Toronto. I want to see them build all the statues, from Kawhi-at-a-press-conference to Drake-massaging-Nick-Nurse. All of em.
Can Malik Beasley ever be a starter on the Denver Nuggets? Should he?
Malik Beasley has had to work for everything he has earned thus far.
During his freshman season at Florida State, the talented shooting guard sustained a leg injury that dropped his stock in the 2016 NBA Draft. He fell out of the lottery, much to the benefit of the Denver Nuggets, who selected him 19th overall behind a slew of busts in the teens of that draft class.
His rookie year, Beasley played just 165 minutes across 22 games, 72 of which came in the final two games of the season after the Nuggets were eliminated from playoff contention. His second year, Beasley’s role increased minimally, appearing in 62 contests but averaging just 9.2 minutes per game. He was the victory cigar for the Nuggets, putting on a dunk show after games were already decided.
And then, it all clicked this year.
One of the ramifications of trading Wilson Chandler last summer and planning to start Will Barton during the 2018-19 season involved penciling Malik Beasley into a permanent bench role. He wasn’t going to get the quick hook he had in previous years, and head coach Michael Malone allowed him to play through mistakes that come from being young and figure out how to contribute to winning basketball. The result was an excellent season for the 22-year-old that will put a lot of positive pressure on the Nuggets front office going forward.
Simplicity allowed Beasley to grow offensively
By limiting the types of plays Beasley tried to make for himself, the sharpshooter saw his role expand as the season wore on. This may seem counterintuitive, but Beasley focusing on impacting the game as a role player helped the Nuggets throughout the season. More often than not, the Nuggets needed a functional player on the wing with the athleticism to run and the shooting to space the floor. Beasley checked both boxes in a big way.
Beasley’s penchant for fast break points proved useful in the regular season. With Nikola Jokic being maybe the best outlet passer in the NBA and the rest of the team able to bring the ball up the floor, Beasley often leaked out in transition and had some excellent dunks and layups. He averaging 1.33 points per possession as a scorer on transition plays, 87th percentile in the entire NBA and 1st among all players to log at least 200 transition possessions.
Jokic definitely aided him on these plays, but the chemistry those two shared was two-fold. Jokic had to trust that Beasley would take off at a full sprint most of the time, and Beasley had to trust Jokic to throw the pass, no matter the window.
The next step in Beasley’s evolution was becoming a knockdown spot up shooter. Beasley would often find himself in position to make wide open shots during the 2017-18 season, but afraid to make mistakes, he sometimes refused to pull the trigger. When he did, he posted average efficiency at 34%. The Nuggets knew he could do better though, as did Beasley and Malone, who continued to encourage him to let the shots fly. Beasley let them fly this year, and he didn’t disappoint, shooting over 40% from behind the arc and making 163 total threes.
The variety of shots Beasley attempted was not high this year, but that played to his strengths. Over half of his shots attempted were threes, and that boosted his efficiency, having averaged a sterling 1.207 points per attempted three. The next highest shot location frequency occurred right at the rim where Beasley shot an even more impressive 73.2%, highest among all guards to attempt as many shots at the rim. The primary reason, over 82% of Beasley’s field goals at the rim were assisted.
The biggest reasons Beasley struggled to see the floor for his first two years were defensive. Not much changed in Beasley’s third season outside of Denver’s desperate need for bench spacing and offense, and in more time on the floor, Beasley’s biggest defensive struggles were highlighted.
During the regular season and postseason, Beasley struggled to keep track of his man and the ball at the same time. On 162 possessions defending spot up scorers, Beasley allowed 1.15 points per possession, translating to just the 15th percentile around the NBA and equivalent to a Kawhi Leonard or Khris Middleton spot up jumper. Considering Beasley primarily defended bench wings, this is was poor form. When tasked with defending players that were tougher to guard in the playoffs, he didn’t stick tightly to them either.
That’s CJ McCollum Beasley just lost off ball. Not a great look.
In addition, Beasley was poor defending opposing players coming off screens, allowing an absurd 1.31 points per possession during the regular season. That was the worst mark among players to defend as many off-ball screen possessions as Beasley, and it’s easy to see why he struggled.
Beasley tends to struggle in his off-ball recognition, falling a step behind the shooter regardless of which way they decide to go. When he does give chase, he often gets caught up by the screener, something that can’t happen in today’s NBA. The shooters are too quick off the catch, especially an elite sniper like Klay Thompson, who attempted 500 field goals immediately following an off-ball screen this year and was still 72nd percentile after a slow start to the season.
So, Beasley CAN be hidden defensively due to his offensive talent, but it would be easier for everyone involved if he improved on the less glamorous end.
Should Beasley assume a larger role in Denver?
Beasley clearly has the makings of an elite 3-and-D player down the road. The three-pointer is nearly there already, and I expect Beasley to continue improving defensively as he gains more experience and realizes how important that end of the floor is to a player of his size.
The question is: has Beasley earned the opportunity to be more than just a 3-and-D guard?
Though his possessions were limited in the regular season, Beasley was a solid pick and roll scorer. Averaging 0.92 points per possession, he was in the 72nd percentile around the NBA, slightly higher than Jamal Murray and way higher than (an injured) Will Barton. He also operated the Dribble Hand Off game reasonably well with Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee, and while he finished in just the 45th percentile for efficiency, the tools were clearly there to improve beyond that.
When afforded a larger role in 18 starts this season, Beasley was up to the task, averaging 15.6 points per game on an absurd 70% True Shooting. This included a 35 point outing against the Houston Rockets, filling in for Gary Harris with an efficient 12 of 17 shooting from the field.
Malik Beasley Career-HiGH 2019.02.01 Nuggets vs Rockets - 35 Pts, 12-17 FGM! | FreeDawkins - YouTube
With a compilation of sweet jumpers, hard drives to the basket, and even a nice pass to Jokic in the pick and roll, Beasley showed exactly what his future could hold if given the right opportunity. Other teams know this too. With Beasley set to be a restricted free agent in a weak 2020 free agent class, teams around the NBA will be scoping out potential diamonds in the rough. Beasley is well thought of around the league, and some team is almost assured to offer him starter level money to take a chance on his potential going forward.
This means the Nuggets have a big choice to make. With over $33 million tied up between incumbent wing starters Gary Harris and Will Barton, and with Jamal Murray set to incur a major raise of his own, there just isn’t enough money to keep every capable guard/wing player around. Monte Morris possesses an affordable contract, but Paul Millsap does not. Might the Nuggets have to lose Millsap in order to keep Beasley around. Losing the starting power forward in order to pay a bench shooting guard doesn’t seem logical at all.
So, the Nuggets may have to decide whether Beasley can and should be in the long term plans. Malone, Tim Connelly, and the rest of the Nuggets staff would surely love to have him around, but finances complicate the matter, and his duplicative position on the wing puts the Nuggets at a major disadvantage when trying to defend the NBA’s best big wings and small forwards.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be Beasley that departs in this scenario, but he’s likely the player that potential suitors would most want between him, Harris, and Barton. It would be easiest to trade him for high value, while Harris and Barton wouldn’t generate nearly the same return due to contracts and nagging injury issues.
However, I believe Beasley should assume a larger role in Denver. In fact, I believe he should start at small forward next season, barring no significant changes to the roster. Michael Porter Jr. is on the way, but I expect Denver to start him off slowly, easing him into the pressures of the NBA to ensure he stays healthy. Barton struggled last year, and I doubt the Nuggets would like to see him defend small forwards consistently this coming year. Beasley has potential to operate there though, much in the same way that Eric Gordon plays next to the primary actions on the Houston Rockets. Gordon thickened up his body frame to defend small forwards more capably, and I believe Beasley should do the same. That’s the best avenue for him to start with the Nuggets seeing as Harris is currently entrenched in the starting job. While he may find more individual success trying to be a scoring shooting guard on a rebuilding team, he could be a great fourth or fifth option in Denver’s starting unit with the potential to develop into something more. It would be a move to continue highlighting the continuity of Denver’s roster while exploring new possibilities to improve on the margins.
Whatever the Nuggets decide to do though, Beasley will have earned it. He fought tooth and nail to get where he is today, overcoming major injuries, spotty playing time, and a small role to become an important piece for this Nuggets team. At just 22 years old, Beasley could still be almost whatever he wants to be. The most mature decision though would be to assume the role Denver needs him to fill. He excelled doing so last year. Now, it could be time for him to excel in a larger role.
In this episode, I am joined by Gordon Gross of the Denver Stiffs to provide an end of season evaluation for Paul Millsap. We discuss his offensive and defensive fit alongside Nikola Jokic, his age and expectations over the next couple of seasons, and his impact on the team’s defense and rebounding. We also talk about the type of contract the team is likely to target with him in the off season.
It appears as though Hernangomez and Lydon will be missing one another this offseason.
As a fan, when your favorite team enters the offseason, there’s always a feeling of sadness when you realize you will not see your team play a game for at least five months. As a player, not only does the end of the season mean that they have to say goodbye to the competitiveness that every night in the NBA brings, but they are also forced to say goodbye to their teammates and other friends in the organization that they have become accustomed to seeing every day for eight months.
It’s no secret by now that the Denver Nuggets are an extremely tight-knit group and that there’s a multitude of friendships on the team that extend beyond the game of basketball. On Wednesday, Tyler Lydon proved this with a tweet he sent out directed to Juancho Hernangomez.
Juancho, in typical Juancho fashion, responded with a group of photos showing the two of them together. The tweet was accompanied by a couple of sad emoticon faces to bring home the point that Lydon’s feelings are reciprocated.
We’re counting down the 50 best moments of the Denver Nuggets’ 2018-19 season. So many great things happened with the Nuggets over the last 365 days so the Stiffs wanted to go back and re-live some of the very best shots, games, quotes, and memorable events along the way.
Mike Olson: It’s easy to see in retrospect what a glorious game Nikola Jokic had, but a lot of Nuggets Nation may have skipped this one as the season began. In their second game of the season, the Nuggets took on the lowly Phoenix Suns on a cool Saturday night in Denver. But nothing was cooler than the play of Jokic, who had 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists on a perfect shooting night, going 11 of 11 from the floor, including 3 of 3 beyond the arc. It would be the Joker’s first triple-double of many this season, and also put him in some rarified air. Jokic’s unimpeachable game is a feat matched only once before, by a player he’s often linked to in his accomplishments as he goes, Wilt Chamberlain. One of the great performances of Jokic’s career, and a precursor to the incredible run yet to come.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #5 - Jokic's perfect game - YouTube
Adam Mares: It can’t be over-stated just how close the Nuggets came to completely ruining their season. Late in the 3rd quarter of game two the Nuggets found themselves in a hole. They had already lost home court advantage by dropping game one and game two was headed in the same direction. The Nuggets looked out of sorts and Jamal Murray in particular was in a rut. Then...
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #4 - Jamal Murray scored 21 points in the 4th to save the season - YouTube
Mike Olson: It was over. No, seriously, just finished. In a chilly January night in Memphis, the Nuggets shooting had gone as cold as ice. They trailed the Grizzlies by 19 at the half, which Memphis expanded to a 24-point margin partway through the third quarter. Though Denver was able to close the gap to 17 by the end of that frame, there was little doubt this one was done. Only the hardiest of Nuggets Nation stuck around to see what was an inevitable demise.
Until it wasn’t. The Nuggets threw out a 35-15 whipping in the last frame, including a 23-7 run to end it all to take home a win in one of their greatest comebacks in team history. Those of us who had lost their voices cursing the Nuggets through the first three quarters found we still could squeak out a little joy to celebrate one of the team’s most thrilling victories of the year, and the win cemented the Nuggets never-say-die attitude they carried throughout the rest of the season.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #3 - The Nuggets rally back from 24 down to beat the Grizzlies - YouTube
2. Jamal Murray scored a career-high 48 points to bury the Boston Celtics
Murray had a handful of these scoring outbursts and most of them made it somewhere on this top 50 list but none was more special than his 48-point breakout game against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics. For starters, it was the first time Murray had gotten THAT hot for that long. Factor in that it was a big game against a big market team with a formidable star point guard and what you wind up with is one of the most memorable performances of the season.
Other players on the roster have had special moments but there’s something unique about the way it feels to cheer on Murray when he gets in his zone.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #2 - Jamal Murray laid a career-high 48 points on the Celtics - YouTube
1. Take that L on the way out
Adam Mares: I’m not sure that Nuggets head coach Michael Malone knew what he had done when he uttered those famous words. I’m actually certain that he did not since he immediately began to panic as the clip of him telling Lakers fans to “take that L on the way out” began to go viral. Coach was worried that the comment could be taken out of context and mistaken to being directed at the Lakers players. Fortunately, he didn’t have to worry. Everyone knew what he meant, especially the die-hard Nuggets fans who had waited years for someone to say exactly what he said, at exactly the moment that he said it.
With one off-of-the-cuff speech, Michael Malone defined the new-look Denver Nuggets and redefined what it meant to be a Nuggets fan. With that line, a new era of Mile High Basketball began and a fanbase that was tired of feeling like a guest in their own home finally had a battle cry. 2018-19 felt like a year of rebirth for the Denver Nuggets are here to stay. Pepsi Center is back to being one of the best home court advantages in all of sports and the Nuggets bandwagon is charging full speed ahead. The fanbase has been galvanized and this city has been reclaimed.
So all of the transplants from Barstow, California or from Southie who haven’t converted and who still claim whatever town they so clearly felt wasn’t as great as Denver, keep coming to Pepsi Center all you want wearing your soulless Lakers gold or your pedantic Celtics green.
But just know you’re gonna take that L on the way out.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #1 - Take that L on the way out - YouTube
We’re counting down the 50 best moments of the Denver Nuggets’ 2018-19 season. So many great things happened with the Nuggets over the last 365 days so the Stiffs wanted to go back and re-live some of the very best shots, games, quotes, and memorable events along the way. Catch up on all 50: 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 36-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11
This was one of those moments that got everyone at Pepsi Center up off of their feet. The Nuggets were struggling deep into the 3rd quarter when Mason Plumlee and the reserves checked in. They immediately stormed back to end the 3rd quarter and opened up the 4th quarter on a run that was capped off by this three-pointer. The shot, the bench, the dance. Perfection.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #9 - Mason Plumlee from downtown - YouTube
I dare you to watch this clip and not smile. Just listen to the crowd. Just look at the bench mob Jokic for his first ever walk-off, buzzer beating game winner. What a moment for him and what a moment for all of us.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #8 - Jokic hits the game-winner against the Mavericks - YouTube
Speaking of game-winners...Juancho was the unlikely defensive hero in the 3rd game of the season, flying in from behind to block the shot and give the Nuggets the victory. Once again, the bench was going crazy. I think it was this moment that Nuggets fans started to realize that there was something special about this season in the works.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #7 - Juancho gets the game-saving block to beat the Warriors - YouTube
A few years from now when an entire season gets whittled down to ust 3 or 4 memories and a few short sentences that will form an over-arching description of the season, this game will fill up one of those lines. The Nuggets won game 7 against the Spurs and advanced the 2nd round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade. This game made the season a success. A loss would’ve completely changed the narrative. A win gave the Nuggets the confidence and momentum they needed heading into their 2019-20 season.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #6 - The Nuggets win game 7 against the Spurs - YouTube
We’re counting down the 50 best moments of the Denver Nuggets’ 2018-19 season. So many great things happened with the Nuggets over the last 365 days so the Stiffs wanted to go back and re-live some of the very best shots, games, quotes, and memorable events along the way. Catch up on all 50: 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 36-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16
This was one of those moments that happened completely randomly and organically. Plumlee and Jokic found themselves near the right elbow with the clock winding down and just went for it - a pick and roll between two centers. Equal parts funny and awesome, Jokic naturally goes into a handoff and rescreen action before floating toward the rim for the lob. A true masterpiece between the most unlikely front court (or is it back court?) duo in the league.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #15 - Jokic and Plumlee with the 5-5 Pick n Roll - YouTube
The Jokic-Nurkic rivalry has been a fun one, even if Jokic himself has never really leaned into the animosity that the fanbase feels for the former Nuggets center. Nurkic owned that matchup early on but over the last two seasons, Jokic seems to have figured out how to attack his old friend. This season, Jokic straight up took Nurk to school, dropping 40 points on him and leaving poor Nurk flustered and lost.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #14 - Nikola Jokic dominates Just Nurkic, scores 40 - YouTube
13. Jokic channels his inner Jackie Moon
One of the funnier moments of the season. Jokic didn’t like something about his post position so he kicked it out to Gary Harris. Then Harris gave it back. Then Jokic kicked it back out. Back in. Back out. “He was like Will Ferrell in the Flint Tropics,” Michael Malone said. Thanks to the very talented Ryan Greene of CBS Denver we got the mashup of the year.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #13 - Jokic goes full Jackie Moon - YouTube
12. The Nuggets defensive improvement was the stuff Michael Malone “dreamed about.”
The Nuggets finished the year ranked inside the top 10 in defensive efficiency, up from 23rd last season, according to nba.com. They also ranked 1st in 4th quarter defensive efficiency by a WIDE margin. The year over year improvement was arguably the most impressive statistical achievement of the season for the Nuggets as a team.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #12 - Nuggets defense: top 10 overall, #1 in the 4th - YouTube
11. Paul Millsap cleaned up the glass and gave the Nuggets the win in Chicago
That first couple of weeks of the season were pretty fun. Big time wins, a 9-1 start, and of course, this Paul Millsap clutch rebound and putback to lift the Nuggets over the Chicaco Bulls. Did Millsap get away with a little shove? Sure, why not. But that’s just dad strength teaching the young Bulls how the vets play in this league.
Denver Nuggets top 50 of 2018-19: #11 - Paul Millsap saves the day in Chicago - YouTube
Seven-and-a-half months later, we’re about to get to the (theoretically) best part
I blinked my eyes, and in an instant, decades had passed
- John Mark Green
For Halloween this last year, what was your costume? I talked my wife into being half of a priest-and-pregnant-nun combo that was either loved or despised at every party we stopped at.
It was also two weeks into the current NBA season. Somehow, those 90-100 games and 227 days fairly flew by. Tonight, we start the series that decides it all. Though your Denver Nuggets will not be representing the Western Conference in this years Finals, they certainly finally made some inroads on a Finals series that Nuggets Nation hopes to witness in the next half-decade or so.
As it is, there is plenty of drama to go around for even the most casual of basketball fans. Representing the West is (shocker) the Golden State Warriors, appearing in their fifth Championship series in a row. They’ve won three of the last four, with the only blemish being their finest regular season of the bunch. Hell, being the finest regular season in history. Should the Warriors take this series as well and be winners of four of the last five titles, they’ll find themselves with only the storied Boston Celtics being able to claim anything historically superior.
Trying to keep them from such lofty heights is a team that has been chomping at the bit to reach this stage in the Toronto Raptors, owners of several regular season first-place finishes themselves, but always on the outside looking in until this season. After a calculated-but-risky trade during this past offseason, former Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri bought and brought former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard into the fold, and the risk has paid dividends, with Leonard and the Raptors finally knocking off the MVP in their way as they ascend to the last series.
Their chances may be better than many oddsmakers are giving them, with Toronto owning home court in the series, and two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant having missed the last five games the Warriors have played in. Contradicting that logic is that fact that Golden State has won all five of those games, including a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. It is safe to say that nearly anything could happen as an outcome in this last series, which is exactly what the NBA and any hoops fan not attached at the hip to either of these franchises could hope for. The world is simply pure possibility in terms of outcomes, and the stories of both franchises and many of their individual stars makes for compelling drama going into the series.
Will long-time Raptors guard Kyle Lowry finally get to bring a Championship North of the border? Will Toronto Center Marc Gasol finally get a ring he was pursuing for years in Memphis? Can semi-hobbled superstar Leonard pull a few more miracles out of wherever he’s been yanking them from? Or will Steph Curry simply have too many unstoppable moments? Will Klay Thompson take his All-NBA slight so personally that he simply destroys everything in front of him? Can Durant come back in time to give any meaningful minutes? What about DeMarcus Cousins, yet another All-Star who has been off the court the better part of these playoffs for the Warriors? Will Draymond Green keep being inexplicably quiet and dare I say, mature in these playoffs? There are more dramatic stories to follow in these Finals than there are in a typical daytime soap opera. This ending is nothing if not compelling.
The final chapter of the 2018-2019 NBA season begins tonight, Nuggets Nation. Whether it ends with a whimper or a bang, the league has seen another fascinating and addictive year fly by. Here’s hoping they can wrap it up with all the style and promise that has gotten them here. Get out the popcorn and your favorite beverage, this ought to be a Finale to remember. We made it to the Finals. Finally.