Posted on: October 15, 2009 3:15 pm
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year then you've heard EVERY single Denver sports franchise get thrown under the bus one way or another. All it has done is provide fuel for each team to prove the nay sayers wrong. So far so good.
It all started with the Denver Nuggets last year. Not ONE person picked them to win the Northwest division let alone make the playoffs. Even after they traded for Chauncey Billups they were picked to finish no higher then 7th in the powerful Western Conference. What happened? Oh yeah they finished 2nd in the Conference and won the division over a very young talented Portland team. Their record of 54-28 tied the single season franchise record for wins and got Denver fans excited like never before.
Even after that, no one picked them to go to the Western Conference Finals. What happened? They made it there easily beating New Orleans and Dallas in 5 games both series. Who were these guys?? Where did they come from? The answer is nowhere, they were there all along and have had the talent to do this for years. It just finally came together for them this last year. In my mind the Conference Finals was the REAL Finals. The Nuggets gave the Lakers much more of a fight then Orlando. In fact they could've won that series in 5 games if it wasn't for a couple of bad inbound passes. Doubters doubt no more and the Nuggets are now getting more recognition as they rightfully deserve.
Now on to the Colorado Rockies. 18-28 was not the way to start the season and everyone had written them off by that point (rightfully so). But even before the season started no one gave them a chance and called the NL West the National League doormat. What happened?? The Rockies then won 17 of 18 and stormed back to win the Wild Card with a record of 92-70. Also a franchise record for wins. Also noteworthy, the NL West produced 2 of the 4 teams in the postseason and the Giants were in pursuit of the Rockies for the wildcard the whole way until the last 2 weeks. Firing Clint Hurdle and hiring Jim Tracy was a huge factor, but even after that happened no one gave them a shot. But like the Nuggets they proved everyone wrong. Sort of an ongoing theme in Denver these days.
Next we move on to the Denver Broncos. Josh McDaniels had a fire storm thrown at him after trading away Jay Cutler and having issues with Brandon Marshall. The media said they'd win 4, maybe 5 games all year. What happened? They won their first 5 games. Now everyone is calling McDaniels the early coach of the year. Kyle Orton went from getting bashed everywhere to a surprise and even so far as an early MVP consideration. (see ESPN's latest MVP rankings, he's 7th) Brandon Marshall went from a cancer to a hard working scoring machine. The Defense went from the laughing stock of the NFL to the best defense in the LEAGUE. Thank Mike Nolan and McDaniels for reshaping the defense. All in all, they are also proving everyone wrong.
Last but not least, the Colorado Avalanche. They were supposed to be rebuilding this year, and in many ways they are. They have two 18year old kids starting at center on their 2nd and 3rd line. But they are producing and are 4-1-1 thru 6 games. How it may be too early to tell if they will keep it up all year, they are still surprising people enough for ESPN's Peter LeBrun to right an article on how surprising they have been. They got a steal at Goalie this summer signing Anderson. He has been great so far with a .940 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA. So far, the Avs are following the Denver trend and proving everyone wrong. Even with a rookie head coach named Joe Sacco.
We had the 'Redeem Team' in the Olympics, now we have the redemption city. It's Denver. For some reason Denver never gets respect. See my previous blog on how the Stars of Denver get looked over for every award possible. (i.e. see Troy Tulowitzki for rookie of the year in 2007, Matt Holliday for MVP in 2007, Carmelo Anthony for rookie of the year in 2003, Todd Helton practically every year with gold gloves, he has won 3 but deserves many more. And probably soon to be added to the list will be Josh McDaniels and Jim Tracy for coach of the year) For some reason Denver is an afterthought in the sports world. Denver may be the fittest city in the nation and the 2009 #1 place to live, but apparently it's not for the sports teams. However Denver likes it that way, they like proving people wrong and will continue to do so.
Posted on: July 13, 2009 7:03 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2009 4:49 pm
There have been many big offseason moves by all the top teams from a year ago except the Denver Nuggets. Do they think they can get back to where they were without making any additions? I'd like to ask Mark Warkentein and Stan Kroenke that question.
First lets review the NBA's offseason moves and if I think they will help their new respective teams:
Cleveland trades for Shaquille O'Neal - This may work or may not. I don't see them winning a championship by simply adding Shaq. Now if they would've gotten Trevor Ariza like they were trying that might have been more convincing. I just don't think Shaq has what he once did. Granted he had a great year last year leading the league in FG percentage. But besides that, where were the Suns in April and May? If he couldn't take a team to the playoffs that has Amar'e Stoudemire and Steve Nash in the lineup then how is he going to help a team get to the finals that has 1 marquee player. Don't get me wrong, Mo Williams is a great PG but he falls in love with the 3 and can be very inconsistent at times. I see them possibly returning to the Conference Finals again but falling short there. You'll see why below in other moves.
Orlando trades for Vince Carter - This I think is the biggest move of the offseason. Vinsanity hasn't had a quality team around him since the Nets went to the finals. This will wake him up and he'll have his best year in a long time. I do disagree with what they gave up, Rafer Alston played very well over the course of the second half last year and in the playoffs. It was a mistake for Stan Van Gundy to play Jameer Nelson at all in the finals, it disrupted the teams rhythym. I thought Rafer played better with the Magic then Jameer did. But he also was inconsistent. If Nelson can return to his pre-injury form then this will be the best move of the offseason. Carter will make the Magic all but forget Tukoglu.
Boston signs Rasheed Wallace - Not much to say about this signing except that it will work great. He'll be a great 3rd option behind Pierce and Allen. Not to mention a healthy Garnett. If Rajon Rondo performs like he did in the playoffs this team will be the top in the east with the Magic right on their heels.
Raptors sign Hedo Turkoglu - The Raptors weren't even close to an elite team this last season. But with the addition of Turk they will at least be a playoff team fighting for home court in the first round. Not much past that, but maybe it'll be enough to pursuade Chris Bosh to sign that coveted extension if he thinks the Raptors are finally trying to build a championship Contender.
Lakers sign Ron Artest - In my opinion they could've not signed anyone, retained Ariza and Lamar Odom and been just fine. That wasn't good enough for the mighty Lakers. They add one of the league's premier defenders. He also isn't too bad on offense either, and playing along side Kobe Bryant will make his shot selection a lot smarter. You saw how him and Kobe went at it, now on the same team Kobe can enjoy seeing other teams take the beating. They will not miss Ariza.
Spurs trade for Richard Jefferson - This is a huge move. Too often the Spurs had to rely on Tony Parker last season with Ginobli and Duncan ailing. AND they still won 54 games before being shot out of the first round by the Mavericks. Imagine those two healthy all year with Jefferson to knock down some outside shots. He gives them four reliable options on Offense. You do lose the defense of Bruce Bowen but who are we kidding, he's past his prime and was slowly becoming ineffective.
Now the rest of the West is still up in the air with the Jazz talking about trading Carlos Boozer to the Bulls. The Blazers are stil trying to make their mark after being snubbed by Turkoglu. Houston signed Trevor Ariza, but with the loss of Yao for a long time possibly and the uncertainty of how Tracy McGrady will come back from micro-fracture surgery made me not include them in the big deals above. Plus Ariza wasn't that effective in the regular season, he made his mark in the post season so we'll see how he does in a starters role.
Now to the Denver Nuggets.
Is Kroenke that cash strapped that he has just said win with less. The same motto as last year that worked then but is surely a risk this year with all of the additons the other elite teams are making. The Nuggets have made some solid moves, re-signing Chris Andersen to a 5 year $26 million deal.
But then they let Dohntay Jones walk out the door in free agency. His defense was key to the Nuggets playoff run last year. He was becoming a young and more athletic Bruce Bowen. This will hurt more then they realize now, although I do think the Pacers overpaid for him at 4 years worth $11 million.
So now it's a certain that J.R. Smith will take over as starting shooting guard. This should've happened anyways given Smith maturing immensely over the last year. Also his defense was much improved towards the end of last year and his offense is explosive. Who will back him up though? They just acquired Arron Afflalo today in a trade for a future second round pick. That will help if Afflalo can grow fast. He wasn't a key player for a Detroit team that went 39-43 and got swept by the Cavs in the first round. To his credit he had the pleasure of playing behind Richard Hamilton and a disgruntled Allen Iverson. Also in the deal was Walter Sharpe, a 6'9" forward with almost no experience appearing in only 8 games last year.
They seem to be set at point guard with Chauncey Billups and a newfound rookie Ty Lawson who they got in the draft. They wanted to take him last year until he ultimately decided to go back to UNC for one more year which I might add worked out well for both parties.
The real help they need now is some front court depth. They don't really have a true center and although Nene and Kenyon Martin stayed healthy for the most part last year, they've both still been very injury prone in their past.
Overall I see them still being a top 4 team in the West but slide all the way out to the just inside the top 8 overall now after many believed they were the second best team behind the Lakers after last years playoffs. They were much more competitive against the Lakers then the Magic in my mind with the exception of game 6. Will they do anything else or hope they can win with less again. Only time will tell. . . . Resigning Linas Kleiza wouldn't hurt as he got back to his old form in the playoffs.
Whatever they do (if anything) they need to do it quick because their peers are making improvements in leaps and bounds while the Nuggets seem to be taking baby steps.
Tags: Aaron Afflalo, Boston Celtics, Bruce Bowen, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Hedo Turkoglu, Houston Rockets, J.R. Smith, Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Manu Ginobli, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Ron Artest, San Antonio Spurs, Shaquille O'neal, Toronto Raptors, Trevor Ariza, Ty Lawson, Vince Carter, Walter sharpe
Posted on: May 29, 2009 5:12 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2009 5:26 pm
Nuggets coach George Karl complained about the officiating after game 5. So what? So you have to write two articles on how bad it is that they are complaining and that it will cost them the series. Really, get over it. Where was your article on Phil Jackson complaining after game 4? I didn't see it, is it because he has 9 championship rings and the glare off of them was blinding you enough so you couldn't see your computer screen?
Posted on: May 14, 2009 11:58 am
Edited on: May 14, 2009 5:32 pm
As Kenyon Martin stood on the scores table after the game celebrating with fans I got chills down my spine. Was this really the same team who used to give up easy baskets, shoot 3's with 20 seconds on the shot clock and let themselves beat themselves?? It was, only this was the new Nuggets who are finally playing to their potential. Talent has never been the question as they have plenty of it from top to bottom. It always came down to the willingness to compete and treat every possession like it was the last.
Much credit will be given to Chauncey Billups, who is after all these years, still the real deal from Park Hill. I remember going to CU games back in the day with the Coors Event Center rocking. This guy brings excitement wherever he goes. After last nights closeout of the Dallas Mavericks in 5 seemingly easy games for the Nuggets, Billups has now been to the Conference Finals 7 years in a row. Lets just name the few others who have accomplished the same feat shall we... Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Michael Cooper, Magic Johnson... That is some pretty elite company and proves Billups status as a floor general and great leader. Magic Johnson calls him the best leader in the game today and he's right. Without Chauncey this year, if the Nuggets still had Allen Iverson, they would've been watching last nights game from their couch. No pun intended on Iverson but lets face it, Billups is a leader and Iverson wasn't.
Besides Chauncey you have to give all the credit to Carmelo Anthony and George Karl. Anthony has broke through at the perfect time and is playing the best basketball of his career. He is passing well out of double teams, hitting his mid-range jumper with ease and getting to the hole easier then an ice cream cone into a fat kids mouth. It is obvious this year more then any other that Melo finally just wants to WIN and win big. He's no longer satisfied with putting up great numbers and losing, and this shows signs of his ever growing maturity.
George Karl also found a way to save his job this season and resurrect his career all at the same time. Not bad for a guy who has 17 straight winning seasons as a head coach and has made the playoffs in 18 of 21 years as a head coach. Pretty good right... Well he's showing he has the smarts and game management abilities to lead the Nuggets to the promise land. Funny story considering these Nuggets upset his Seattle Supersonics in '94 who at that time were the first #1 seed to lose to a #8.
Overall the Nuggets look more mature by the moment. Kenyon Martin is playing stellar defense. Nene is shaping into a great post player. J.R. Smith is playing defense and being smarter with his shot selections as well as passing the ball well. Not too mention the Birdman.
These (our) Nuggets aren't done yet either. Look for them to make some noise in the Conference finals no matter who they face. Either the Lakers/ Rockets must be taking notice. Go Nuggets!!
Posted on: April 23, 2009 10:52 am
The Denver Nuggets are off to their first 2-0 series advantage since the conference semifinals of 1985. Chauncey Billups has been playing out of his mind, scoring 36 in game 1, 31 in game 2 while going 12-15 from downtown and dishing out 12 assists and 0 turnovers. Yes, 0 turnovers. You can tell he wants to win and win bad. He also played great defense on Chris Paul when he was on him.
The addition of Chauncey to this team has transformed it to one of the most entertaining teams in the league. You've got JR Smith nailing 3 pointers, Carmelo playing the best defense and offense of his life, dishing out a career playoff high of 9 assists last night. He's no longer trying to force shots and it's paying off for him and his teammates who are getting easy looks when he draws the double.
When you take that and the fact that the Nuggets are playing their best team defense in years, this looks to be a good year to make some noise in the postseason and give the city of Denver something to cheer for after 5 straight first round exits. If the Nuggets play the way they did in games 1 and 2, this should be a sweep and then they can get some rest heading into the second round as it seems almost inevitable that Dallas and San Antonio are going to go 6 or 7 games. The Nuggets won the season series agains the Spurs 2-1 and against the Mavericks 4-0 so they have the path they want to get to the Lakers. Now lets see if they can stay on that path.
They absolutely should be able to, JR Smith is playing with more poise and maturity, Dahntay Jones is playing great defense, Kenyon Martin is hounding David West and Chris Birdman Andersen is bringing energy every time he steps on the court. Combine that with the smooth steady play of Chauncey and the newly mature and team first Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets will go deep. The question is how far.
Posted on: April 21, 2009 12:45 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2009 12:50 pm
Have you ever noticed how when one of our stars (from Denver) on any major team we have in town, when they have a huge year and are in the award discussions, they always finish 2nd or within the top 5 but never win. Why doesn't denver sports get respect.
My thoughts started yesterday, when George Karl finished 5th in coach of the year voting. Maybe he shouldn't have won but come on, the guy took a team that even after the trade for Chauncey Billups was expected to finish no higher then 7th or 8th in the Western Conference. What does he do, leads them to the 2nd seed and ties the franchise record for wins with 54. Mike Brown won it, and I'm not saying he didn't deserve it, but everyone expected Cleveland to be good, not Denver.
Ok so Carmelo Anthony not winning rookie of the year is fine considering he came in with Wade and Lebron James. That's one I'll never be upset over. But lets go back to the 90's in Todd Helton's rookie year for the Rockies. He lost out to Kerry Wood because Kerry Wood had ONE great game with 20 strikeouts. Voters overlooked Todd Helton playing good day in and day out.
Our World Series year, Tulo gets robbed for rookie of the year, although Ryan Braun is a good player too. Matt Holliday lost out on the MVP to Jimmy Rollins, and what happened in the playoffs? who led what team past the other. I think it was a sweep too if I recall. So why no respect, sure we have an mvp here or there, Larry Walker, Terrell Davis (only had to get 2000 yards to get that honor)
It just seems as if the media craves near perfection from Denver to award our players. Carmelo Anthony is easily the least respected All Star in the NBA, and wait, he's not an all star according to the NBA fans and coaches. Bruce Bowen even got more fan votes then Carmelo. and he doesn't even start!! My guess is JR Smith won't win 6th man, he'll lose out to Jason Terry, who does come off the bench but plays more then the starters. Nene won't win most improved even though he came back from testicular cancer and hadn't played in more then 17 games in over 3 years. He played in 77 this year. And if the Nuggets win the title, or if the Broncos or Rockies make the playoffs this year, it will be considered a fluke much like the Rockies '07 campaign. So my only question is....
WHEN WILL THE RESPECT COME???
Posted on: February 3, 2009 6:44 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2009 6:51 pm
Iverson-Billups Three Months Later
So how many of you thought this trade would end up like this? To me it seems like it's gone the opposite way of which I expected it to.
I expected Chauncey to go to Denver and do good, but not this good. I would've expected Iverson to go to Detroit and help maintain the Pistons as an East power. Both results are somewhat surprising.
Lets go ahead and start with the Iverson side.
When Iverson was traded to the Pistons, it brought many emotions. A little excitement, questioning, and just a lot of buzz in general. It was supposed to bring back the excitement the Pistons were missing after being knocked out of three consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. Also in part to clear cap space after this year as Iverson surely won't get another 20million dollar deal. Nor will he be a Piston next year, you can quote that.
Many thought Iverson would bring the offensive punch to a defensive minded team. However Detroit has struggled and is just (21-21) since Iverson joined losing 9 of their past 12 games. Now is it Iversons fault or is it the Pistons? I don't want to say it's Iversons. Everyone keeps calling him a cancer. That's not the case, he's very one dimensional true. But the Pistons haven't let him loose to do what he does best. Score the ball. Iverson can still average 30 a night if given the opportunity. With Carmelo Anthony in Denver he still averaged 25 plus a night plus he was getting 5-7 assists a night. Not bad production. He took a lot of bad shots but made a lot of those too. Iverson is a point guard and the Pistons need to let him play that. He is better at being the leader then most people think. He wants to win just as much as anyone on the floor on any given night. Bring Stuckey off of the bench and let Iverson do his thing. He does need to give the ball up a little more if that were to happen. But if he gets doubled that means either Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton or Prince is open. Those guys are more then capable of knocking down a shot. So although the Pistons have struggled so much since getting him, they can also turn it around if Curry gives the game ball to Iverson and lets him run free. If it doesn't work, Iverson is gone after the summer anyways. What do you have to lose??? Nothing. Exactly.
Now to the Billups side, which is much easier to talk about. Denver loved Iverson and so did his teammates. They just couldn't convince George Karl of the same thing. One problem with that is that Iverson didn't know how to back down and let Melo and J.R. Smith lead the way. Yes the Nuggets were bounced from the first round twice with him but they still won 50 games last year. When's the last time they did that?? Just checking.
With Billups now, George Karl has a true PG who can spread the floor and score when he needs to. He is a proven leader something Iverson wasn't. Since Billups arrival the Nuggets have gone (30-13). Not bad, you give them that record and they are 2nd in the West (currently 3rd) and are only a couple games behind the big 4. The Nuggets started out (1-3), 2 of those games without Iverson, 2 without Melo. So it's obviously apparent how much the demeanor has changed on this team since he came to town. The defense ranks in the top 10 in efficiency even after losing 06-07 DPOY Marcus Camby. Every critic had them buried after they got rid of him, guess what, they've only gotten better and will continue to do so. Really there's not too much more you can say about Billups in this trade beside the fact that his leadership has brought trust of this team back into the city of Denver and also some W's too. Now maybe with another low post player he can bring Denver a championship in the next few years.
So who got the better of the trade? The Nuggets, but don't give up on the Pistons.
Posted on: January 2, 2009 3:19 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2009 6:40 pm
M.V.P - most valuable player
1. LeBron James - F Cleveland Cavaliers - He has been unstoppable this year. If you would've asked me at the beginning of the year if the Cavaliers would be fighting for the NBA's best record I would've laughed. Don't get me wrong I expected them to be in the top 3 in the East, but didn't think they'd be so close to the Celtics.
GP: 30 - MIN: 36.4 - FG% .509 - 3PT% .281 - FT%.777 - STL 2.0 - BLOCKS 1.1 - REB 6.7 - AST 6.4 - PPG 27.5
2. Dwight Howard - F Orlando Magic - I love this guy. He's been playing with such intensity and has improved every aspect of his game. I think that summer trip to Beijing might have helped the young mans confidence. After all, he is Superman.
GP:29 - MIN 36.5 - FG% .547 - 3PT % .000 - FT%.565 - STL 0.9 - BLOCKS 3.7 - REB 13.8 - AST 1.4 - PPG 19.8
3. Chauncey Billups - G Denver Nuggets - Yes there are plenty of players in the league who have better numbers then Chauncey, but how many of those guys can say and be right that without him the team would be nowhere. The Nuggets were 1-3 before Chauncey arrived, since then they've gone 20-9. In the preseason the Nuggets were picked to either be the 8th seed or miss the playoffs entirely, now they're looking for home court advantage in the first round. HUGE change.
GP: 30 - MIN 35.3 - FG% .420 - 3PT% .399 - FT% .886 - STL 1.4 - BLK 0.2 - RPG 2.4 - AST 6.9 - PPG 17.6
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. O.J. Mayo - Grizzlies - This guys has been great and succeeded my expectations so far this year. I was never sold on Mayo going into the draft, his stats at USC were impressive but I thought there were a lot more players that were just as impressive last year. This year, new story, he easily wins this in my book. Rose is a great player and just as he is to the Bulls, Mayo is the Grizzlies.
2. Derrick Rose - Bulls - Rose is having a great year and would've been rookie of the year for me last year. But this is this year, SO FAR. The Bulls would be nowhere without him, but in my opinion the Grizzlies wouldn't have more then 2 wins without Mayo. Bulls would be a little more competitive then the Grizzlies would without Rose.
COACH OF THE YEAR
1. Mike Brown - Cavaliers - As I mentioned in my case for Lebron for MVP, same goes for Brown. I didn't expect them to be as competitive as they are atop the east. Expected 55 wins, they're on pace for way more then that. Though the addition of Williams at PG is a lot of the reason for the fast start, Brown must also be givin credit for great game management and for not burning out Lebron after he played in Beijing this summer.
2. George Karl - Nuggets - This may seem wrong to most of you, but who thought the Nuggets would be in the top half of the Western Conference this year. Karl has finally gotten this team to commit to playing defense and with a bang. Nuggets are in the top 10 in both defensive and offensive efficiency ratings. Transition D is still a concern but it's getting better.
Well that's it kids for my '08 mid season awards. Left out most improved player and 6th man of the year as for now I think it's too close to call. See you for the real mid season after most teams hit the 41game mark. Happy New Year!