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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA End of Season Worst to First Countdown: 24. Denver Nuggets

2014/2015 Projection: 42-40, third place Northwest Division, eleventh place Western Conference

Actual Finish: 30-52, fourth place Northwest Division, twelfth place Western Conference       
2014/2015 Finish

Actual 2014/2015 Finish

Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 101.5 (12th)
  • Points Allowed: 105.0 (27th)
  • Team FG%: .433 (26th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .458 (25th)
  • Team FT%: .734 (24th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .325 (28th)
  • Rebounds per game: 44.7 (7th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 45.1 (27th)
  • Turnovers per game: 13.8 (18th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.7 (14th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Ty Lawson (15.2)
  • Rebounds per game: Kenneth Faried (8.9)
  • Minutes per game:  Ty Lawson (35.5)
  • Assists per game: Ty Lawson (9.6)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Kenneth Faried (.507)
  • Free Throw Percentage:  Danilo Gallinari (.900)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Randy Foye (.357)
  • Steals per game:  Ty Lawson (1.2)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Jusuf  Nurkic (1.3)  

SDH’s Hero to Honor: +Jusuf Nurkic

When Denver acquired Jusuf Nurkic from the +Chicago Bulls in a draft day trade last summer, it was quite a head scratch-er for Nuggets fans considering the fact that their team already had two accomplished big men: one that was on the rise in +Timofey Mozgov and an overpaid mess in JaVale McGee who was finally returning on the court to finally earn his paycheck.  Then all of a sudden, Mozgov gets traded to the +Cleveland Cavaliers and finally sick and tired of his constant nonsense and no shows on the court, JaVale was finally sent packing first being shipped away to the +Philadelphia 76ers where he was then waived and hopefully will never be seen again, and Nurkic suddenly went from being at the bottom of the rotation to being the team's starting center.  Nurkic certainly proved himself worthy of his opportunity as he started 27 games and posted rather impressive numbers for a rookie center of 6.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in less than 18 minutes per game which sad to say, was one of the better performances of this rather horridly shameful and disappointing 2015 NBA Rookie class. In a situation where he was expected to simply ride the pine and watch the game as a spectator, Nurkic got an opportunity that most young players in his case would probably never have gotten and managed enough pressure that would crush far lesser players rather handily as he slipped in seemingly as the Nuggets primary option in the paint.  At 20 years old, he is certainly still a work in progress and there will most definitely be growing pains along the way; but if his rookie numbers are any sign of what is to come, then Denver certainly have a gem on its hand and hopefully this one will shine and not be a worthless let down as those who came before him.         

SDH’s Face to Forget: +JaVale McGee

After six long years of shattered hopes, broken promises, and nightmarish dreams, One can sum up JaVale McGee's tumultuous career in one short, but brief sentence: GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH!!  JaVale had all the tools necessary to not only be a star in the NBA, but also potentially change the game of basketball itself; however with all his size, skills, and athleticism, his poor judgement both on and of the court in addition to a complete lack of understanding of the game constantly overshadowed whatever strengths he had.  Despite posting more red flags than a Caribbean coastline during hurricane season, Denver still decided to overlook his past transgressions and take a chance with him rewarding him with a ridiculously lucrative contract and quickly saw the error in the ways as he would once again fail to live up to expectations becoming less of an anchor in the paint that both fans and management hoped he would be and more of a bloated and dragging dead weight that held the team back.  The departure of McGee ends another sad chapter in the Nuggets' history where they have gotten burned time and time again after signing free agents to lucrative contracts with the likes of such players as JR Smith and +Kenyon Martin on the team's blooper reel.  One can hope that the Nuggets'front office will finally learn its lesson, but if history is a good indicator of what might happen then Javale McGee will not be the last black eye on this much maligned franchise.    

You have to feel sorry for the +Denver Nuggets because for their entire history they have been essentially been on the fringe of the +NBA getting little or no notoriety due to the team being essentially isolated in "no man's land." Whenever they have had a chance to be under the spotlight, the Nuggets time has been rather fleeting as they manage to only reach a certain point and upon reaching it, they slip away and are never heard from again.  Once again, the Nuggets find themselves in that same predicament where after a decade of post season appearances with little or nothing to show for it, they are in danger of slipping and falling into the abyss once again never to be seen or heard from again.  It took Denver eight years to return to relevancy in NBA and now after ten so-so years of just being at best a marginal playoff team, it is all coming a sad an abrupt end.If this sounds like a eulogy rather than a season recap and review, that is because it is supposed to be: after years of trying to avoid the inevitable, the "shroud of the darkness" has finally fallen upon NBA basketball in the Mile high City and Nuggets fans are left to pick up the pieces.  

One have to give this organization for surviving so long in one of the smallest, most secluded sport markets in possibly the world while at the same time managing to remain competitive despite all the missteps taken and overall bad luck.  The team spent a decade treading water in not only a world that ignored them, but a cruel and unforgiving Western Conference while having to endure losing hundreds of millions of dollars on failed free agent signings as they watched their hope fade away with each signed check.  Such names as +Marcus Camby+Kenyon Martin, JR Smith, JaVale McGee, and +Nene Hilario, have all disgraced the parquet floor of the +Pepsi Center to the tune of more than 200$ million total and both the fans and the organization watched as they fumbled on and off the court while picking up their undeserved paychecks.  Although it owns some responsibility for their failed decision making, the Nuggets' front office basically had no choice but to overpay these free-loaders because otherwise, they would not be able to get anyone else otherwise to play for the team.As mentioned before, Denver can be considered as the black hole or the Bermuda Triangle of the NBA where many players come in, but few if any are able to come and by that time, it is too late and as their abilities, skills, and marketability have all been drained. 

+Carmelo Anthony saw this fate coming from miles away so before its cruel clutches pulled him any further and bleed his soul dry, he decided to take action by forcing a trade that would send him to the +New York Knicks--a move that would send both parties into a downward spiral. Nonetheless, even though the current marriage between the Knicks and Anthony has been a disaster thus far with both him and the team failing miserably to live up to fans' expectations, it is more than worth the price in Anthony's eyes to escape that frozen prison that he once called home. He would rather go down in history as one of the biggest free agent flops in not only Knick, but NBA history and suffer the pain and scars from are the arrows and rocks thrown at him rather than be remembered as a top tier star playing in a sports marketing wasteland on a team going nowhere.  Sure, Nuggets may have survived and even temporarily thrived after Carmelo's departure, that was short lived as the team came crashing down to reality three years going from finishing among the top winners in the Western Conference in 2013 to completely falling off the radar the following season.  No matter what anybody says about his lack of character, his selfishness being a detriment to his team, or his lack of effort to provide any effort on the defensive end, no one can say that Carmelo made the wrong decision leaving Denver because being the captain of a sinking ship is FAR better than being a king of a barren and desolate wasteland.

Now with the Nuggets headed for yet another collapse, every player who has little or if any marketable value left on that team will be looking for a quick way out before the porthole closes and they are stuck to waste their best basketball player years of the harsh and dismal tundra otherwise known as Denver.  So far the team's current leading scorer and assist man, +Ty Lawson has put up a brave facade saying nothing about wanting to leave the Mile High City in its most desperate hour; however, even he has his agent looking for a way out of having to waste his peak years of his playing career in an obscure, and indistinguishable city that is isolated from the rest of the world. The same goes for +Danilo Gallinari, who after this season, will have one year on his contract remaining and is probably headed to his homeland, make a pilgrimage to Vatican City and pray the rosary continuously until the Blessed Virgin grants him mercy and releases him from his bondage.  +Wilson Chandler and +JJ Hickson are certainly almost in the clear because not only will their contracts at the end of next season, but unlike Gallinari who will be paid up to 11$ million, their deals are much more manageable and can be either traded or released before the season even starts.    Unfortunately, some people just never learn because in spite off all the evidence warning of an apocalyptic future,  +Kenneth Faried decided to sell his soul and stay on with the Nuggets signing a five year extension worth 60$ million (10/6/2014) freezing himself and his career to a bleak future indeed squandering his talents on a team that will at best be in the periphery of the NBA spotlight and nothing more.   

Many hardcore Nuggets fans living in Denver--because it is doubtful that there are many that are outside the state of Colorado--may consider this piece as a hack job to their believe team and they are right in most respects; however, whether they want to admit it or make, everything that has been said thus far remains the unequivocal truth.  In its entire history, the Nuggets have not been more than a flash in the pan team that temporarily shines in the corner of the media's eye only to flicker off without anyone ever noticing it left. Credit the team's front office for keeping both the city and its NBA franchise remotely relevant for a decade before the red carpet for the post season was finally pulled up from under them after performing their redundant disappearing act qualifying for the first round of the playoffs only to be eliminated soon after.  Now it is finally time to say that their 15 minutes of fame is over as the sky closes and both the team, its fans and the city will sink back into obscurity once more; however, it should be noted that in most eyes, the Nuggets had never left obscurity in the first place.  So to conclude, here is a farewell toast:  to the Denver Nuggets, who whether they win or lose, will always be a team that is ignored and disregarded by the NBA, its fans and the rest of the sporting world.