Treading Water #nuggets #rotoden

My main focus is on the US Open and I plan on sitting on my couch for 12 hours in the next two days, but since I had to write an NBA article for my other site, Rotoden (opening tomorrow), I thought I would post  it.  Funny pics got nixed on copying for site, but I don’t care on MY site.  I had a great time playing nine holes at 630am today, which is my new procession on every moving dayon a Major moving forward.  Go, Rickie.

(uncut version, as the other site has rules with no pics)

TREADING WATER

Something happens once.  You accept it and move on.  Something happens twice.  You raise your eyebrow as it has come back.  Something happens three times.  It is now a pattern.

The pattern discussed today is an accidental path towards mediocrity.  With LeBron forming a SuperTeam in Miami years ago, and with KD joining forces with the Warriors this year, time is limited on the mediocrity front.  The Broncos have won.  The Avs have won.  The Rockies have…almost won.  The DU hockey team has won.  The Rapids have won.  The Mammoth have won.  The Buffs football team has won.  The Buffs bball team?  Let’s just say CU, CSU, and DU are…on the upswing.   I digress.  We could go on.  We need the Nuggets to maybe not win it all, but at least TEASE us.  THAT is what we need.  So…how has this mediocrity happened?

Let’s take a look at a limited time window.  Let’s look at the last ten years or so.

Let’s look at eight parts of the equation.  Executives, coaches, roster, draft, location, altitude, free agency, and trades.

I might not overload you with stats today.  Rub it in my face.  Meet me for a beer.  Maybe you can outdo me.  Maybe.  But, today, I will overwhelm you with simple common sense and me thinking a little too long at a red light on my short ride home from work today.

EXECUTIVES: 

I personally think Kiki should still be running the team.  He is long gone though, and was there a phone call for Jerry West this week?  Am I spontaneously just spouting out random names?  NO.  Listen.  If you can’t get players here because of any location issues or lack of South Beach clubs or Hollywood, get a big name here who CAN provide some motivation.  Fire back at me that the Warriors GM is not a big name.  Got it.  Understand.  But Oakland does not suck.  CA.  Beach is close.  Some people don’t like mountains.  Get someone BIG here.  Get a big name even if it necessitates some wise guy Moneyball nerd chirping in his ear that we have no idea about.  Tim Connelly and Herb Livsey are great basketball minds and good Nuggets guys.  I also like that Arturas Karnisovas spent his entire career overseas, so his handle on the up and coming international talent is beyond most other teams.

COACHES: 

Well, George Karl was the biggest name recently and he pretty much had the hardest job, didn’t he?  Hmmmm.  Coach Ballhog Melo and also Ballhog Iverson.  Sounds like a cakewalk (he must have NIGHTMARES that he went to Sac-Town afterwards-what a back to back THAT was.).  Anyway, same thing as above.  Coaches don’t worry about location.  They think about their family and if the team cares about winning.  We are NOT Milwaukee, Sacramento, or, God forbid, anywhere in New Jersey.  We have mountains, are warmer than people think we are, have altitude as an advantage, and have legalized…you know.  We don’t suck.  How much effort really has been made to get a big name in here?  I liked Shaw and I like Malone.  Up and comers, sure, but not sure the years before that were well thought out.  We need a BRAND.  We don’t have a big name GM.  We don’t have a big name coach.  We don’t have a big name player.  Pretty mountains are not enough to lure the big guys here.  It is unfortunate that trusting young talent is not enough, but ON these mountaintops, we need a big NAME to be yelling at free agent players.

ROSTER:

Melo.  Iverson.  And a bunch of really, really good players.  Listen, FSU multiple times has not made the Final Four when their players ALL are so good that they average double figures.  It didn’t work.  You need a STAR in bball (or FOUR if you are the Warriors).  You also need two stars who don’t NEED the ball.  I hate Melo, and love Iverson.  Just had to get that out there.  I feel better.  ANYWAY, make a move.  You think the Vikings don’t still tell jokes about Herschel Walker?  Sure they do.  They made a move.  Acknowledge that there are five guys on the court, and having five decent dudes on the floor doesn’t cut it in the NBA.  You need a system guy, sure, but a guy who Gatorade MIGHT leave voicemails for.  Come on.

Let’s chat about these guys:

NIKOLA JOKIC:

All NBA teams will be terrified of this man next season.  He will be a triple double threat every time on the court.  6’10”.  22 years old.  What else is there to say?  Dude is presently across the pond flipping tires.  This is the workout my older brother did when not pulling tractor trailers years ago.  http://www.stack.com/a/denver-nuggets-star-nikola-jokics-intense-offseason-tire-workout

Teams picking 1 through 40 could have gotten this guy.  BIG oversight on their part, and they will feel that pain every time they play him.  Big man with skills, and a definitive keeper.

Oh, and a 26.4 PER is just dirty for a guy this big.

My brother is such a badass.

DANILO GALLINARI:

Those waiting for the superstar jump are probably out of luck.  Gallinari has averaged between 12.4 and 19.5 points every year since 2010.  It is what it is.  This is probably what he is.  And, at 28 years old, the Nuggets probably missed the trade window to get some team to be wide-eyed about him.  Now, it is an investment in a perennial teen scorer approaching 30 years old.  I still think you can package him with someone and get a return OR a higher draft pick.  Just please don’t re-sign him to anything.

KENNETH FARIED:

I feel like Denver executives were holding onto the hope that he would grow another two inches really late in life.  He hasn’t.  He is a 6’8” 12/8 guy and always will be.  Remember all the trade talk a couple years ago?  Probably, Denver was a little too greedy in what they were looking for in return.  Once again, he is another piece that could be packaged.  And, quietly, he is 27 years old.  Undersized guy with consistent stats closer to 30 than 20.  Not optimal.  This is another example of what I am talking about.  I am a big chess player.  If the Nuggets were a chess team, teams would be lining up against a boatload of knights and bishops, with no queen or rook in sight on the Nuggets side.  Frustrating.

Oddly, a 20.4 PER isn’t too shabby regardless of his lack of inches at the position.

EMMANUEL MUDIAY:

Denver actually got to pick in the top 8 with this one (#7).  And, I admit that I even thought it was a good pick.  He hasn’t come along like people have hoped.  And, honestly, the 5-6 players picked after him haven’t done much either, unless you count that ridiculous Devin Booker game point total.  I feel like Jamaal Tinsley’s spirit has somehow infected Emmanuel, but of course Jamaal would argue that he at least played in the playoffs.  Not anyone’s fault, and not much to trade at this point with a 11/4 line.  I really feel like we have had enough of drafting players too high when they can’t do the most obvious thing in basketball.  SHOOT.  He could be an add-in to a trade package for someone hopefully who doesn’t watch much tape.

JAMAL MURRAY:

It is early on this guy.  I liked the pick.  Still do.  Don’t do anything with him yet except wait.  He is shooting guard.  More to come on that in my debrief.

WILSON CHANDLER:

When the heck did Wilson turn 30?  Ouch.  We thank you for your 15/6 contribution, but you also fall into that “kind of good” category.  This is another guy where I think the Nuggets blew it on a trade window.  Maybe they just really, really wanted the pieces of that Melo trade to work out and gave them all extra proving time.  A lot of teams would have loved this guy as a role player in years past.  Now?  Now the return will be more minimal.

GARY HARRIS:

This was a decent pick.  This was a GREAT pick if you figure in that he went 19th.  He averaged more than 14 pts last year, and his PER was above 15.  He will improve more this year.  But, since you also are counting on Jamal Murray to break out, he becomes slightly redundant, but he has the second best shooting percentage among shooting guards, so don’t trade him.

WILL BARTON:

Another SG.  I suddenly like the Nuggets are at SG like the Sixers are at PF.  Somehow 13 a game last year with all of the personnel on this team.  He is only 26.  Keep it up, Will.  Keep that moving truck number on your Rolodex though.

JUAN HERNANGOMEZ:

The guy is only 21.  He barely has played in the league yet.  You made a decision to invest in a project, so let’s not make any rash decisions.  Keep hoping.  It will take some time anyway to learn how to pronounce his last name.

JAMEER NELSON:

Here we have a backup PG who just happened to start for a part of his career.  He is 35.  He is scrappy.  Him and Mike Miller probably go out for beers and reminisce about the old days.  More famous for his undefeated St. Joe’s team back in the day, he is a good bench player.

MIKE MILLER:

Dude is now 37.  Proof that if you can shoot you have a job.  Probably said the mountains sounded cool for his deep bench role.  Or maybe he didn’t feel like having marijuana regulations.  Whatever.  He is going to be a SERIOUS trivia question someday with his journey, but who cares?  He has two titles and a sixth man award, meaning he was the best bench player in the LEAGUE one year.  Yay.  Plus, he will always be #1 at crappy facial hair for a career.  Not sure you can package this guy unless you disguise him and give him a fake name.  You will need to shave for that to happen, Mike.

MALIK BEASLEY:

What?  Another shooting guard?  Sure.  This is not a hand me down though.  Denver drafted him.  This is a kid that would have benefited staying in school another year or two at FSU, but he wanted some cash.  Fine.  The Nuggets used a first round pick on him, so he is locked in and we probably need to be patient with this one.

MASON PLUMLEE:

The middle brother of the three Plumlee brothers.  And, he is probably the one you want on your team of the three, no offense to the Knicks or Hornets.  He could be packaged, but not a bad thing having a 6’11” smart Duke kid floating around your lineup.  Tell your friends.  He was 65th in the league last year in PER surprisingly.

ROY HIBBERT:

This poor guy.  The guy is 7’2” and was molded in the old school big man style of things, but the wheels fell off the train early on.  A) His skills never really blossomed.  He kind of just became a big guy in the middle. B) The NBA changed dramatically.  There are no more David Robinson’s, Hakeem’s, Ewing’s, or Kareem’s.  The game changed and this guy got stuck flat-footed in the lane.

DARRELL ARTHUR:

Darrell probably left school one year too early, and has only been on two teams really.  He amazingly has lived up to his 6/3 line for his career.  So odd being that consistent at that stat line.  He suddenly turned 29 and pretty much is a guy eternally stuck in between positions and skills, and this won’t change anytime soon.  He is a place filler, and perhaps could be thrown in a trade package.  Well, he could be thrown in a trade package if he could stay healthy long enough.

DRAFT: 

Every single draft is different.  Let’s not split the atom.  But let’s not ignore the similarity either of every draft.  The draft becomes random and lucky to a point after about pick 6 every single year.  This year is special because it will taper downward in a spiral at 9.  Deep draft (except you don’t want late first round picks this year-go get a dart board for your basement while you are at it).  Yes, you can find your Kobe’s later.  Sure.  You can find Brogdon’s in round two.  But, you can’t BANK on it.  When you land JUST outside of the playoffs every single year, you put yourself in that 10-15 range that is dangerous.  The Nuggets had the #3 pick in 2003, had a #7 with Mudiay, and then everything else is in nowhere land.  I totally respect you for playing it out and trying to make the playoffs, but trade down a few spots and set up that 1-6 pick for NEXT year (ummm…or trade up THIS year).  Listen.  I firmly believe that the Nuggets would be a 45-50 win team in the Eastern Conference.  They are like the poor man’s version of the Celtics (that is assuming Al Horford plays sub superstar moving forward and continues to just collect paychecks).  Make a move.  It might be the WRONG move, and try not to have 17,000 draft picks like the Celtics for 5 straight years with nothing to show for it, but at least you have a top 5 pick, right?  Listen.  There is only ONE guy who knows how to stock draft picks.  Hoodie.  There is only one guy who knows how to draft abroad.  Pop.  Know your strengths and weaknesses and move on.  Make a move, guys.

To my point, look at the past couple of years.  Severe drop off at similar points.  Except for you, Paul George and Klay Thompson.  But those years have big holes BEFORE them also.  And Andre Drummond and Steven Adams are just…big.


2015
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky Minnesota
2. D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State L.A. Lakers
3. Jahlil Okafor, Duke Philadelphia
4. Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia New York
5. Mario Hezonja, Croatia Orlando
6. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky Sacramento
7. Emmanuel Mudiay, Congo Denver
8. Stanley Johnson, Arizona Detroit
9. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin Charlotte
10. Justise Winslow, Miami Duke
11. Myles Turner, Texas Indiana
12. Trey Lyles, Kentucky Utah
13. Devin Booker, Kentucky Phoenix
14. Cameron Payne, Murray State Oklahoma City
2014
Pick Player, College/Team Team
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas Cleveland
2. Jabari Parker, Duke Milwaukee
3. Joel Embiid#, Kansas Philadelphia
4. Aaron Gordon, Arizona Orlando
5. Dante Exum, Australian Institute of Sport Utah
6. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State Boston
7. Julius Randle, Kentucky Los Angeles
8. Nik Stauskas, Michigan Sacramento
9. Noah Vonleh, Indiana Charlotte
10. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette Philadelphia
11. Doug McDermott, Creighton Denver
12. Dario Šari?, Cibona Zagreb Orlando
13. Zach LaVine, UCLA Minnesota
14. T. J. Warren, North Carolina State Phoenix
2013
Pick Player, College/Team Team
1. Anthony Bennett, UNLV Cleveland
2. Victor Oladipo, Indiana Orlando
3. Otto Porter, Georgetown Washington
4. Cody Zeller, Indiana Charlotte
5. Alex Len, Maryland Phoenix
6. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky New Orleans
7. Ben McLemore, Kansas Sacramento
8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Detroit
9. Trey Burke, Michigan Minnesota
10. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Portland
11. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Philadelphia
12. Steven Adams, Pittsburgh Toronto
13. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga Dallas
14. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA Utah
2012
Pick Player, College/Team Team
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky New Orleans
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky Charlotte
3. Bradley Beal, Florida Washington
4. Dion Waiters, Syracuse Cleveland
5. Thomas Robinson, Kansas Sacramento
6. Damian Lillard, Weber St. Portland Trail
7. Harrison Barnes, North Caroline Golden State
8. Terrence Ross, Washington Toronto
9. Andre Drummond, Connecticut Detroit
10. Austin Rivers, Duke New Orleans
11. Meyers Leonard, Illinois Portland Trail
12. Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut Houston
13. Kendall Marshall, North Carolina Phoenix
14. John Henson, North Carolina Milwaukee
2011
Pick Player, College/Team Team
1. Kyrie Irving Cleveland
2. Derrick Williams Minnesota
3. Enes Kanter Utah
4. Tristan Thompson Cleveland
5. Jonas Valanciunas Toronto
6. Jan Vesely Washington
7. Bismack Biyombo Sacramento
8. Brandon Knight Detroit
9. Kemba Walker Charlotte
10. Jimmer Fredette Milwaukee
11. Klay Thompson Golden State
12. Alec Burks Utah
13. Markieff Morris Phoenix
14. Marcus Morris Houston
2010
Pick Player, College/Team Team
1. John Wall, Kentucky Washington
2. Evan Turner, Ohio State Philadelphia
3. Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech New Jersey
4. Wesley Johnson, Syracuse Minnesota
5. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky Sacramento
6. Ekpe Udoh, Baylor Golden State
7. Greg Monroe, Georgetown Detroit
8. Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest L.A. Clippers
9. Gordon Hayward, Butler Utah
10. Paul George, Fresno State Indiana
11. Cole Aldrich, Kansas New Orleans
12. Xavier Henry, Kansas Memphis
13. Ed Davis, North Carolina Toronto
14. Patrick Patterson, Kentucky Houston

 

And although it is tough to judge last year’s class, the drop off is still evident, although Denzel might end up being ok and maybe Kris Dunn will finally play up to #5 worth.

1 1 Ben Simmons# PF/SF  Australia Philadelphia 76ers LSU (Fr.)
1 2 Brandon Ingram SF  United States Los Angeles Lakers Duke (Fr.)
1 3 Jaylen Brown SF  United States Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)[A] California (Fr.)
1 4 Dragan Bender PF/C  Croatia[n 2] Phoenix Suns Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (Israel)
1 5 Kris Dunn PG  United States Minnesota Timberwolves Providence (Jr.)
1 6 Buddy Hield SG  Bahamas New Orleans Pelicans Oklahoma (Sr.)
1 7 Jamal Murray SG/PG  Canada Denver Nuggets (from New York)[B] Kentucky (Fr.)
1 8 Marquese Chriss PF  United States Sacramento Kings (traded to Phoenix Suns)[a] Washington (Fr.)
1 9 Jakob Pöltl C  Austria Toronto Raptors (from Denver via New York)[C] Utah (So.)
1 10 Thon Maker PF  Australia[n 3] Milwaukee Bucks Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute (Canada HS Sr.)
1 11 Domantas Sabonis PF/C  Lithuania[n 4] Orlando Magic (traded to Oklahoma City Thunder)[b] Gonzaga (So.)
1 12 Taurean Prince PF  United States Utah Jazz (traded to Atlanta Hawks)[D] Baylor (Sr.)
1 13 Georgios Papagiannis C  Greece Phoenix Suns (from Washington,[E] traded to Sacramento Kings[a]) Panathinaikos (Greece)
1 14 Denzel Valentine SG  United States Chicago Bulls Michigan State (Sr.)

 

TRADES:

Ugghhh.  Make a move.  Listen, we will forever talk about bad trades and magical trades.  But make a move.  I would personally say that if I had to rank the NBA in “tradeable assets” that any team would welcome the player, the Nuggets, although not in the playoffs, are probably in the top 5 or 6.  Talk about brain hemorrhage, you have like 12 guys that are all NBA good, and there are limitless amount of ways to package these guys and get one BETTER guy.  You make three trades.  Two or three guys for one.  Say you lose on one of the three.  You have two good trades, and two guys who can get you in the second round.  Yes, I know they have made some big trades in the past, but not recently.  The thinking behind having Melo and Iverson on the same team was not correct.  Getting Billups was not a bad idea, but about 5 years too late.  Then, their “big” trades were Iggy, Afflalo, and a host of other role playing guys.  The last 5 years have been quiet.  They need to be NOT quiet if they are serious about winning.  Once again, the trade doesn’t have to get a big name on the roster.  But considering the highest they have picked since 2003 is #7, get into that top 5 again.  Go get Josh Jackson.  Go get Dennis Smith.  Go get Jayson Tatum.

LOCATION:

I will keep this short.  Outside of the fact that there is NO beach anytime soon, Denver has the best weather, no bugs, mountains, no humidity, snow that goes away after a day, and a nightlife…IF you choose to find it.  Place is awesome.  They are three hours away from being able to drop serious cash in Aspen.

ALTITUDE:

So, Olympic hopefuls come here to train.  We are a mile above sea level.  It sound like it sucks.  But, check THIS out.  It doesn’t affect your shot so don’t worry about Larry Walker or Dante Bichette raises, teams are exhausted coming here and won’t prepare for it, you will have more wind at sea level, AND can outdrink your friends when you celebrate the win in their town AFTER.  Like the old school Old Milwaukee commercials said, “it doesn’t get any better than this.”

FREE AGENCY:

Let’s make a quick list of who is available.

Durant, Curry, Hayward, Griffin, Paul, Lowry, Millsap, Holiday, Ibaka, Gasol, Wade, Hill, Porter, Monroe, Teague, Iggy, Noel. Redick, etc.

They should make a run at Hayward-makes parting with Danilo much easier obviously.  Millsap might blend in nicely also.  If you think you might part with Gallinari and/ or Chandler, than look at bringing Iggy back.  Noel would be fun to have and might pair with Jokic seamlessly.  Lowry is tired of losing in Canada.  This is not the most glamorous list of past years, but it is a list regardless of phone calls to make.  Make a move in the draft, and then make a huge run at two of these guys.

SUMMARY:

So, what is the point of this dribble.  Simple.  The name of this article is “treading water.”  I will make sure we won’t tread water and remain neutral in my closing.  What am I asking for?  What am I pleading for?  Mistakes.  No’s.  Blunders.  Why, Mark, why would you ask for this?  Because of this.  You can’t make mistakes if you aren’t aggressive.  You can’t get no’s unless you call.  You can’t make blunders unless you gamble.  Status quo is cool.  Safe.  Off the wire.  But you don’t win championships by status quo.  You make a move.  Time to stop treading water, Nuggets.  On ANY of the above levels, make an aggressive move that we will either laugh at or treat as brilliant in 2021.  Celtics have sad Brooklyn’s #1 pick this year.  Think about how that happened.  Portland picked Sam Bowie before Michael Jordan in 1984.  They at least had a top five pick to make a mistake.  Wouldn’t you love, Nuggets, to have the CHANCE to make that mistake????  I would.  In sales, we want a yes or no.  I am tired of the maybe.  Do something.

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