Five Reasons Why the Nuggets Had a Positive Season
The Denver Nuggets and their playoff hopes were fatally crushed on Sunday night thanks to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder
The Nuggets looked to have the Thunder down and beaten on Sunday night in Denver, but as momentum gathered for Westbrook, the guard capped off his historic night with a heartbreaking buzzer-beater to kill off the Nuggets’ and their playoff dreams.
Amongst the anger at the dubious officiating and the naivety on the defensive end of an important game, Nuggets fans should feel a sense of pride. Why? because of a simple reality; the team was relevant in the final stages of the regular season.
With an incredibly youthful core and an arguably young coach who his still learning how to get the best out of his team, the Nuggets had a difficult start to the season.
So, to begin with, the reality of obtaining a playoff spot was undoubtedly slim. And although the team squandered ample chances to take the eighth spot, just being involved in a fight for a playoff place is a success for this young exciting team.
As we look ahead to the summer, here’s why Nuggets fans should have their heads held high:
Mar 26, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson (1) motions in the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The Nuggets possess a roster with a vast array of weapons. Though, it could be argued that the roster consists of perhaps too many players who offer as similar outlets, nonetheless, the team is stacked offensively.
Since January, we have seen the offense flourish and with that, the wins improve. However, on the defensive end, it’s another story and failure to close out games efficiently has cost this ball club dearly.
If there is one thing Michael Malone will learn from this playoff push, then it’s understanding the importance of playing hard, disciplined defense. And with time, the young Nuggets will learn from this experience.
Murray, Jokic, Mudiay, Hernangomez to name a few, will all learn from being involved in a meaningful end to a regular season and will come back stronger. Along with training and guidance, experience will prove to be the best teacher for a young squad.
Mar 24, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) reacts to a game sealing 3 point basket in the second half of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Denver Nuggets beat the Indiana Pacers 125-117. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rise of the Joker
Nikola Jokic is one colossal reason alone why Nuggets fans should be proud of their team. The Serbian’s rise into stardom has been absolutely justified with his massive improvement on the court this season.
His ability to stretch the floor with his expansive playing style has not been overlooked by anyone this season, even if it took the rest of the NBA world to realize ‘Big Honey’ and his greatness.
Next season, Jokic will only improve and will no doubt edge closer to that All-Star spot. But more importantly for the Nuggets, the center poses as a player for Malone to build around for many years to come.
With the selection of Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Nuggets probably couldn’t have picked a better trio.
With Murray, his ceiling looks to be unmeasurable as he displayed on numerous occasions just how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands. Scoring 30 points against the Pelicans recently, the former Kentucky guard showcased that this season is just the start for Murray and his development – and that’s exciting!
As for Beasley, despite spending the season back and forth from the NBA Development League, the forward has benefited greatly from his playing time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The 20-year-old’s attitude his impressive and when given his chance, he has displayed immense potential.
And lastly, the Spaniard Hernangomez is one of the most intriguing prospects of them all. In limited minutes, the forward has shown an adept ability to do pretty much everything in a game; he can spot up for a three, grab boards, pass the ball and more impressively, he can pick up a few steals.
It’s not evidently clear what Juancho’s main asset is yet but it could be his immense versatility which will no doubt be indispensable to Malone in the future.
Mar 20, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) dribbles against Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 125 to 124. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Statement of Intent
In the last few years, the Denver Nuggets have arguably been a transitional side waiting to make that jump back to being a serious power in the Western Conference.
This season, despite missing that seemingly obtainable playoff spot, the Nuggets have made a real statement that they are here to compete. Not tomorrow, nor the future, they can compete now. And they are not far off from being a notable team once again.
It would’ve been easy for Malone and backroom staff to keel over in December and admit defeat and initiate tank mode. With a young team, there is always the argument of transition and development. But credit to the Denver Nuggets, they challenged.
And next season, the club will continue to improve and hopefully extend on this development when October arrives.
March 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone coaches during the second half against the Boston Celtics at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 119-99. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s face it, the Nuggets failure to make the playoffs was mainly due to their lack of proficiency on the defensive end of the court and their dismal start to the season. However, the idea that they became a serious contender for a playoff spot emphasizes how much potential this young ball club has.
In the coming years, the Nuggets will only improve if they keep and build around this young core. This season, the playoffs was a slight stretch too far but the only team stopping them from making that step was themselves – not the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Nuggets dropped a mass of closely contended games in the final possessions. And if Malone can simply work on eradicating or at least minimizing the issue of closing out games – well, then – the Nuggets would be seriously dangerous.
Sure, it would’ve been great to see this team through to the post-season and giving the Golden State Warriors a run for their money. But, ultimately, it wasn’t to be and the Denver Nuggets can learn and grow from this experience and return to the Pepsi Center next year as a further developed and seasoned squad ready to fight.
[ 此帖被C’est_la_vie在2017-04-13 08:31修改 ]