Blog Entry

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

Posted on: April 3, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 6:37 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Nobody expected to be asking this question. I don't think even in his heart of hearts George Karl thought the Nuggets would be in the position for someone to ask it. More than a month after trading away the apparent franchise player, the Nuggets didn't dip. In fact, they did the complete opposite.

They rose.

You've heard the number a ton already, but I'll say it again: Since trading Anthony, Denver is an astonishing 15-4 and winners of seven straight, most recently with a terrific road win against the red hot Lakers. Again, I don't even the most optimistic people saw this streak coming. The feeling was the Nuggets made 50 cents on the dollar with the trade, getting quality pieces back but nothing comparable to Anthony. That's sort of the situation you face when trading a star. No matter the return, it's not as good as what you're sending out.

But the Nuggets clearly found something. They found a unit that works together, understands a philosophy entirely and has settled into roles and bought into a culture. There isn't a crunch time star to run things through. But there are a number of really solid players that are flourishing under Karl.

Not only are the Nuggets winning, but they've played every game well. They haven't really had a bad night. Their four losses were by a combined 15 points. And they came against the Magic, Heat, Blazers and Clippers. Yeah they Clipper loss isn't great, but it was at Staples where the Clips are 22-18 and have beat a lot of good teams. Not really a bad loss.

So the Nuggets have already accomplished the first goal, the one that appeared to be a longshot when general manager Masai Ujiri decided to finally cut ties with the Melodrama. They are going to go to the playoffs. Currently, the magic number is at one. A lone win or a Houston loss puts Denver in. And they are still in the rearview of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Northwest Division title and the four-seed in the playoffs.

Because that's where things have advanced to -- playoffs. No longer is it just about getting there, but now it's a new mission and a new question: Can the Nuggets actually make some noise?

It almost seems like we've all dismissed that as an option because of the lack of starpower. It's like people are saying, "Yeah the way they've played the last month is cute, but they aren't built for the postseason." But here's what wins in the playoffs: good basketball. And what do the Nuggets play? Good basketball.

On both ends, they've become a fundamentally sound unit that defends, moves the ball, cuts, runs and finishes. They are still scoring but instead if 60 percent coming from two players, it's now evenly distributed out among a number of guys. I think the toughest type of team to defend is one that have five, not one, players on the floor at a time capable of scoring. And not scoring as in making a bucket here or there. I mean capable of putting up double-digits consistently. George Karl deserves Coach of the Year consideration just for getting J.R. Smith to buy in to playing well with others. That honestly says it all.

Is this a team just built to contend for the Western Conference Finals? I mean, really? Well look at it this way: Most everyone the Nuggets play talk about how good they're playing and how scary they are. Put this group in a series where they need four wins and I don't think many teams would want to play them. They match up just about everywhere, have shooters, have two good point guards, have a big man that can rebound and score, have a really good bench and have an enforcer in the middle that adds toughness. They're built for anything.

One thing that makes a team more dangerous than anything is confidence. A belief in self, along with the 11 other guys on your team and the system you play in makes a team scary. It's how you see runs like what Butler has put together two straight years in the NCAA tournament. They believe in one another. They trust each other. And they just feel unbeatable, no matter what. Establishing that mentally was the top priority for Karl once the trade went through and he's absolutely succeeded.

The concern for them heading into the postseason is how they perform on the road where they're just 17-22. But Sunday's win in Los Angeles is a pretty good example of how they might be able to get over that. The Nuggets absolutely grinded one out versus the Lakers, playing hard nosed defense, by grabbing a couple key offensive rebounds and by moving the ball for good looks in crunch time. The Western Conference was already very aware of this Nugget team, but Sunday's win against the defending champs certainly raised a few more eyebrows.

But let's not get too carried away though. Winning in the playoffs isn't easy, no matter who you are or how well you're playing. You've got to beat a good team four times. That's tough, no matter how good you feel. And it will likely start versus the Thunder, a team that features a two-headed monster in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook plus ample size and toughness inside. Certainly, it will be a fun, but very difficult series.

The Nuggets are definitely capable of moving on though, but it's not like they're a favorite. It's not like most will give them much of a shot. Which means they'll be flying exactly where they want to be -- under the radar.

Since: Mar 22, 2011
Posted on: April 5, 2011 5:51 pm

The Denver Nuggets Best In NBA

Yes, there I said it. I'm all in, putting the chips on the table. The Denver Nuggets are the best team in the league and will win the NBA title.

Since: Jan 17, 2010
Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:36 am

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

I really like the Nuggets and will be rooting for them. But Lawson is so so SLOPPY and WILD, and Gallinari is about 2 years away from being a big time player. If you could put those two guys in a time machine than maybe.

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: April 4, 2011 8:13 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

I would really be rooting for the Nuggets but since the Suns are not in it I will have to rooting for OKC if that's who they play, if not i'll be rooting them.  WHo needs melo anyway.

Since: Sep 11, 2008
Posted on: April 4, 2011 8:01 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

The comments of a 14 year old, obviously

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: April 4, 2011 3:33 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

  1. First off Jim F13 not to critique your post but they are not a no name team. They have made the playoffs for the past 5-6 years and were in the Conf. finals 2 years ago. I guess your looking at them as a new team maybe?
  2. Second the reason why they will go far is due to depth. They simply don't get tired they constantly have capable starters on the floor. Just because they don't have a super star means nothing. They still have 9 players capable of posting double digit points which makes them extremely hard to guard. You never know who is going to step up. With teams that rely heavily on a few players defenses can zero in on them not to mention the fatigue as the game progresses. And the nuggets always have fresh defenders on the floor. As a basketball fan this is the type of team I have always wanted to see. Instead of all your money tied up in a couple of players and a bunch of bench scrubs I would much rather see a team full of good talent and depth. The only teams I see as a problem for us is San Antonio( seem to also be a favorite of the refs), Chicago(full of young talent with a quality bench), and maybe Boston(depth and experience).

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: April 4, 2011 1:12 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

This is only regular season so I will wait for them to prove something in the playoffs when the stars step up and play is way more intense. That being said, it is great to see a no name team playing so well and I would LOVE to see them beat a few star studded teams in the playoffs.

Clearly the Nuggets got a lot of solid pieces from the Knicks in the trade. Unlike the Raps and Cavs who blindly figured something would work out and in the end they got nothing, the Nuggets have strengthened their foundation for years to come.

The Knicks could be the big losers if they don't find ways to deepen their team. They are not going to win with Chauncy, Melo and Amare and no supporting role players.

Since: Aug 13, 2007
Posted on: April 4, 2011 12:42 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

The Nuggets can win in the playoffs for one simple reason. They have guys who can (and want to) play defense at the end of the game. The Nuggets can get stops. Plain and simple. The Nuggets have a lot of different parts that can play defense on anyone. Chandler did a great job on kobe at the end of the game. Nene played tough against Gasol. Even Mozgov played tough against Bynum.

Since: Nov 27, 2008
Posted on: April 4, 2011 12:15 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

Go Nuggets! Hope that raises my score Cool

Since: Mar 4, 2011
Posted on: April 4, 2011 11:51 am

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

good job on the nuggets part...keep it up

Since: Mar 4, 2011
Posted on: April 4, 2011 9:08 am

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

At last, a positive article on the Nuggets on this website.  Now we've beat the Lakers in LA I'll be interested where you numbnuts put us in the next Power Rankings.  Probably 14th, behind the Rockets and Grizzlies again I'll guess.

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