Decimated by the injury bug early and often, the Denver Nuggets (18-9) are still a threat out West in my eyes. Let’s face the facts. No other team in the NBA has endured as much bad luck due to injuries as Denver. However, if they can keep afloat the next couple of months, look out.
Many Orange Roundball League experts believe that the Nuggets are overachieving early in the 2018-19 regular-season. They wonder when their complete collapse at the height of the Western Conference will come. I don’t believe it will. I understand that they now have a trio of starters that must recover from long-term setbacks. Will Barton (right hip), Gary Harris, Jr. (right hip) and Paul Millsap (broken toe) must be fixtures in Denver’s lineup if they’re going to compete for an NBA championship.
Don’t think I’ve forgotten about 5-foot-8 superstar, Isiah Thomas. Yet another injury involving the right hip. It turns out that Nuggets’ guards Barton, Harris, and Thomas are the right hip triplets. What were the chances that these three studs would go down with the same injury? I’d think I’d have a better chance to win the Lottery Jackpot, but that’s simply not the case. Why are the basketball gods throwing thunderbolts down at the Nuggets? I have no idea. As a huge Denver fan myself, I find myself scratching my head.
That leads me to Millsap. Who breaks a toe on the basketball court? Apparently, All-Star forward, Mr. Millsap. Yes, a broken big toe in his right foot. How many times are Denver players going to be plagued with right-sided injuries? Turns out to be four. All four players are looking at a four to six-week timetable of recovery before they return to the hardwood. This is probably the best case scenario for each of the four ballers.
It’s likely that two months is the true timetable. Although a daunting task, I believe that Denver will stay buoyant throughout this span. Head Coach Mike Malone is doing an extraordinary job working with these young men. The Nuggets have signed former Golden State Warriors guard Nick Young to provide relief. He’ll provide a much-needed scoring punch.
I think Young is an underrated player. Over the course of his career in the league, Mr. Young has shown that he can put the orange on the deck and get to the rim. He’s not shy about letting it fly from the land of plenty. A streaky shooter, Nick has the ability to catch fire from beyond the arc.
Nuggets’ reserves have already stepped up in the absence of greatness. On Monday night at Pepsi Center in the Mile High City, guard Monte Morris tallied a career-high 20 points. Monte’s efforts helped Denver escape the Memphis Grizzlies, 105-99. After a 9-1 start, the Grizzlies beat the Nuggets 89-87 in Memphis. Nikola “The Joker” Jokic & Co. had a little payback in mind facing an uber-talented Grizzlies’ squad.
Not including defensive strengths along with the ability to drop dimes and snatch rebounds, Harris (16.6 points per game), Barton (16.5 PPG) and Millsap (13.6 PPG) produce a combined total of 46.7 points per night. Offensive output that will be sorely missed during this span.
However, the rise of dudes like Mr. Morris coupled with the stats of team-leading scorer Jamal Murray (17.4 PPG) and Jokic (17.1 PPG), the Nuggets still have plenty to work with. Mr. Murray can light up the Rocky Mountain Sky, dropping 30 points easily on any given night. As for Mr. Jokic, he has a knack for triple-doubles. With a fantastic all-around game, it’s not uncommon to see Nikola produce 27 points, snare 12 rebounds and deliver 10 dimes to his comrades.
In fact, Jokic scored 23 points, gobbled-up 11 rebounds and served 15 delicious dishes against the NBA’s best on December 3rd. Playing the Toronto Raptors (23-7) on the road in Canada, Nikola played cold-blooded basketball. He finished off the Raptors with the last three points of the contest, helping give the Nuggets an enormous 106-103 win. Earlier in the first quarter of the game, Harris went down with the aforementioned right hip injury. The blow didn’t stop Denver from beating the best team in basketball. Neither did the additional injury to Millsap keep the Nuggets from walking away with a victory over Memphis on Monday night.
This is the kind of swag that will push the Nuggets past these next couple of months. After that, a run to an NBA title won’t be out of their reach.