Commentary: Nuggets headed in the right direction
DENVER — The NBA is all about superstars. If you have one on your team, then you have a shot at winning a title.
Miami has three, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and they dominated this year. Oklahoma City has three, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and they made it to the finals.
The Denver Nuggets don’t have a superstar, but they have really good players.
I think Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried have the potential to be stars, but they aren’t there yet. I was trying to figure out if the team that the Nuggets have right now can get to the NBA Finals. I think they can.
When I moved to Denver three months ago, I didn’t even think this team could get to the playoffs. When Denver got to the post season, I thought they would be swept by Los Angeles. Maybe they would win one game.
The Nuggets proved me wrong. They tested the Lakers, a team with three superstars in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. They took them to a Game 7 and had the lead in the 4th quarter.
Unfortunately, Denver lost and the season was over. That series changed my opinion of the Nuggets. This is a team. Not a team of superstars, but a team that plays really well together. I love that.
Look, I get it. The odds say that Denver can’t get to the finals. The last 8 titles have been won by teams with stars. Last year it was Dallas with Dirk. Kobe and the Lakers won the two before that. Boston won in 2008 with the Big 3. The Spurs won with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. The Heat won in 2006 with Shaq and Wade.
But the 2003-04 season gives me hope for Denver. Remember the Detroit Pistons? Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince knocked off the heavily favored Lakers. L.A. was stacked. Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone and Gary Payton were an unstoppable force. That was until they met the Pistons. No superstars, just a team. They were deep and they played well together and they remind me of these Nuggets.
The Nuggets are deep. Denver has talent. They play like a team that’s played together for many years, yet they are young. Lawson is only getting better and should be the leader. Faried reminds me of Ben Wallace. He’s a beast on the boards, can defend well and has a motor. Arron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari can shoot. Javale McGee has tremendous ability.
The bench showed they can come in and provide a spark. They also have size. And then you have coach George Karl. He’s a great coach and these guys clearly love his style and love playing for him.
Denver has a couple of options this year. Sign McGee and Andre Miller and keep this team the way it is. Or you can trade some of your pieces to get a superstar. They have the pieces to do this, but is it worth it? Do you trade the farm to get Dwight Howard? I think I am happy with the way it is. I say bring everyone back and see how this season goes.
Maybe they can land a solid free agent or two. Maybe they will find another Faried in the draft. The draft is this Thursday and Denver has 3 picks. The Nuggets first will be pick number 20. There’s no pressure. They just need to take the best player available. That’s the advantage of being a deep team.
Who knows? Maybe they will get lucky and find a superstar. I bet they get to the 2nd round of the playoffs next season. The Nuggets match up well with most of the teams in the West. The Thunder will be the favorites to win the conference, but I think Denver can test them. The Spurs, Lakers and Mavs are getting old. The Clippers are good, but not great. That really opens the door for the Nuggets. They should take their team of non-superstars and shock the world.