Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post writes in today’s article, “Right now, the Nuggets are a waste of our time and franchise owner Stan Kroenke's money.”
A sentiment that I can understand, and relate to completely.
The Denver Nuggets are currently on a pace to win 48 games this year, only three games better than last year’s 45-37 mark, and have not even begun to play their hardest stretch of games on the schedule.
Now get ready for some harsh and sobering realities.
“Big Brazil” is set to return sometime after Christmas. Nene is going to have to be worked into the playing fold, and without doubt, back into any kind of shape. This is going to take at least a month of games and could create a playing time quagmire which could, in turn, result in a sour atmosphere on the Nuggets frontline. Kenyon Martin is playing, well, far better than anybody expected him to this early off of yet another microfracture surgery, and having two injury-prone power forwards that have both been inconsistent at times is going to be a tricky road to navigate.
Chucky Atkins is also set to return sometime after Christmas, and that is going to create a similar situation in the Nuggets backcourt that, in all reality, only has one part-time vacancy. Allen Iverson just does not need a substitution at any one time in most games, so that leaves Anthony Carter (who, by the way, has played really solid basketball as of late) and Chucky Atkins in a predicament of who should play when, how much, and why? Chucky’s three-point shooting may be able to help the Nuggets score in bunches, but his defense is going to be a downgrade from Carter’s pesky nightly efforts to shut down the opposition’s best scoring guard. On the other hand, Atkins is more suited to commandeer the Nuggets in a more clear and direct fashion on the court than the oft-times quiet and yeoman Carter. Not to mention… what happens to a guy like J.R. Smith when there isn’t all of a sudden a direct need for his, often times, streaky shooting?
So, what does this mean for Nuggets fans?
It means that while things may (and trust me I’m hopeful because the thought of covering another 58 games like the first 24 makes me quiver) get better in the long-run. The Nuggets Nation has at least the entire month of January to wait before any sustained improvements are going to be seen. Player rotations need to be shuffled, production needs to be evaluated, minutes are going to have to be monitored, and the Nuggets are going to continue to lose games to teams they should, on paper, beat handily because of Denver’s personnel being all out of whack.
The best case scenario for the Nuggets is staying on the same pace they are on now with the correct answers, and players, emerging from the situation at hand as the season progresses.
The worst case scenario is a bunch of very individually talented and disgruntled basketball players who are confused as to the reasons why they still barely keeping this team above .500 while not playing the kind of minutes that some of their salaries might warrant. All while Stan Kroenke stares a $15 million dollar salary cap overage directly in the face.
But one thing is for sure, and Kiszla hit it right on the head, “Right now, the Nuggets are a waste of our time and franchise owner Stan Kroenke's money.”