Denver, CO – So here we are, Nuggets fans. Familiar territory about this time of year, every season, season after season….it’s almost become something where you can just pencil it in, or in our case we might as well use a pen. Nuggets bounced out of the NBA playoffs in the first round. Again. As a lifelong Denver Nuggets fan, the inevitable series loss to the Lakers either this weekend or early next week sickens me. Year after year, Denver has times during the season where you think they have the goods to do some serious damage come playoff time. Then once the playoffs start, they get exposed as being somewhat of a fraud and we look ahead to next year as our year. Is anyone else tired of this? Does this city hold this team accountable at all? It seems like the Broncos are the only team locally where the fans require a certain level of success and their feet are held to the fire. Is just making the playoffs OK with Nuggets fans? It sure feels that way, and anything extra is just peachy with everyone. This is a great sports town, and our basketball team needs to man up.
Here is the problem in the current NBA culture….It is a star driven league, and we have no stars. The Nuggets have several good to really good players, but like many other teams across the league, we don’t have one of the leagues studs. And what has happened over the last ten or so years is that the top guys want to play in certain cities and markets. They may be drafted out of college to a Cleveland or a Memphis, but once their rookie contract is up, they sign in L.A., New York, Miami, or some other main market. They want to play where they can make huge money in endorsements, so they end up doing so. If you are a fan of a mid-market to small market team, like Denver, your only hope is that your team drafts really well and those players feel some loyalty and want to re-sign when they become free agents. Other than that, the big markets will continue to dominate and win the majority of the championships. San Antonio has been extremely lucky to keep their core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. That is the exception, not the rule. Did you know that over the last 30 years, really only one time did a team win the NBA title without a true superstar? That was the ’03-’04 Pistons, who did have Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, but they were second tier players really. The rest of the championship teams have been led by guys like Kobe, Shaq, Jordan, Duncan, Magic, and Bird. Every team has had a superstar or a future Hall of Famer. To be taken seriously in today’s NBA, this is the equation, like it or not.
Want some Denver Nuggets history? Over the last 20 years, our Nuggets have gotten past the first round of the playoffs….drumroll please….twice. Once was the ’94 team that shocked the world when they stunned #1 seed Seattle, and the other was three years ago when Denver made the Western Conference Finals. Other than that, it has been pretty bleak. Eight times we have been knocked out in the first round, and ten times we missed the playoffs altogether. The question is what is the solution to fix this? The team needs to continue to draft well. Last summer’s draft was a home run, as Kenneth Faried looks to be a stud in the making. Jordan Hamilton has the scoring skills to be very productive in the next year or two. Then you have to hope young players like Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and JaVale McGee continue to develop and reach new levels in the next few years. Can this all be done? Yeah, it can, but it’s gonna require a perfect storm of sorts to make a serious run a title in the next few years. One or two of our players will have to develop into becoming “the man” for us to compete with the upper echelon teams.
The situation for our Denver Nuggets is not all terrible going forward, actually. At least we are not a franchise like a Toronto, New Jersey, Charlotte, or Washington for example, true dumpster fires of the NBA. Our franchise is not laughed at by fans and critics, and we have made the playoffs nine consecutive years now. But as a Nuggets fan, I want more. I want the Pepsi Center rocking at each home game well into June. I want deep runs in the playoffs, with Faried and McGee throwing down thunderous dunks on LeBron in the Finals. Denver is one of the best sports towns in America, and deserves more out of its NBA team. I am tired of seeing Kobe smiling after nailing a three point dagger against us. I am tired of watching L.A. or San Antonio or Dallas or Oklahoma City battle it out for Western Conference supremacy. Well, I guess we do have one thing goin for us….training camp is in two months and we did sign Peyton!
Denver Sports by J Simp