Thunder roars in the Rocky Mountains, a sound that shakes the preconceived notions of basketball snobs who think they know everything about the NBA.
“I don’t see any limits for this team. We have all the parts we need, ”said new Nuggets striker Aaron Gordon on Sunday. « As long as we all work together, nothing can stop us. »
Showing off the offensive versatility of swinging a catch-and-shoot jumper and bending the rim with a dunk, Gordon was delighted to be among six Denver players who fell in 126-102 during a loss Atlanta double digits.
Nuggets trainer Michael Malone immediately put him on the grid without getting used to 5,280 feet above sea level. « Why waste time getting Aaron Gordon off the bank? » Said Malone.
As Gordon fisted through new teammates during the pre-game introduction, the sight of five players on the pitch wearing pickaxes on their jerseys made me ponder a question I have in my last 37 Years ago when I was recording professional basketball in Colorado.
How many NBA teams have stronger and more dangerous starting lines than the Nuggets? One or two? May be.
As Gordon teams up with center Nikola Jokic, touted as the best player in the world by team architect Tim Connelly, the Nuggets can rightly claim the most talented starting five in the NBA this side of Brooklyn, where Kevin Durant All-Star collects teammates in bulk, like sticks like you and I buy 7-pound tubs of Nutella at Costco?
Doc Rivers, the Philadelphia 76ers coach who has seen a thing or two in the league in nearly four decades, recently measured the Western Conference, stating, « The Clippers and Lakers are still the teams that make it up beat applies. »
But even with the wise addition of center Andre Drummond by the Lakers, Denver has the best opportunity in franchise history to reach the NBA finals. The big if isn’t whether the Nuggets have the talent to win a championship, but how long it will take Malone to get a full buy-in from every player in the locker room.
While the Nuggets greatly improved close-trade talent, the acquisitions of Gordon and the JaVale McGee veterans center also increased the risk of injured egos smoking quietly on the Denver bank.
At its core, the greatest challenge for team chemistry never varies from peewees to professionals. It’s all about the pecking order for game time. The game is much less fun when you are forced to sit and watch.
« We have two small businesses in Gary Harris and R.J. (Hampton) and we brought two bigs with us, so we have a lot of really talented bigs, ”Malone said before the tip. « And the reality is that it’s going to be really difficult to play all of these bigs every night. It’s going to be really important that our guys understand this and keep choosing to be selfless and do what is best for our team . »
After a big hug and greeting from Gordon in Denver, three teammates must look closely in the mirror and decide how much they are willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a championship ring.
Will Barton, whose boast can rattle the walls of the arena when he shakes and bakes offensively, now falls on the fifth goal option on the grid.
At the end of a respected 15-year professional career, Paul Millsap may want to stock up on Twizzlers to nibble between increasingly rare tasks on the pitch.
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There’s no tricky way to put it: dealing with Gordon is bad business for JaMychal Green, who now seems doomed to 12-15 minutes of play most evenings.
And Bol Bol? It’s now a 7-foot-2 victory cigar that can only be seen when the nuggets recorded another « W » on the books.
But the search for the ring can get lost in something as basic and human as selfish pride.
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