Warriors and Nuggets continue to surge: Any which way you want to put it, the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets are playing like legitimate threats that no top team would like to see in the playoffs.
Do the Warriors have the postseason experience to really make some noise? Probably not. But if you’re the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers or Grizzlies do you really want to find out?
The Warriors have found the last piece of the puzzle, and it’s one that they had on the table the whole time:
While Bogut’s minutes have been limited, and the sample size has been small, the rest of Golden State’s key players have flourished in his presence. Since the big man from down under has returned, David Lee has averaged a staggering 18.6 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists per game.
Yes, he’s an All-Star for a reason.
Meanwhile, sharpshooter Klay Thompson has averaged 26 points and four 3-pointers a game while sixth-man extraordinaire, Jarrett Jack, has filled in nicely for Stephen Curry, averaging 17.6 points and 8.3 assists in his three-game absence.
Yes, this is all without Stephen Curry in the lineup.
Golden State isn’t the only up-and-comer in the West, however, as George Karl finally has his Denver Nuggets firing on all cylinders. The Nuggets have won six in a row and 12-of-14, moving into a tie with the Warriors for the 5th seed in the Western Conference. Did you know that 5th in the West is just 1.5 games behind first in the East? With a potential Grizzlies fall-off coming, one of these two teams could be playing on it’s home court to start the playoffs.
Heck, they could even be playing each other.
Denver is 30-18 despite an early-season schedule that was just cruel. The Nuggets played 20 of their first 29 games this season on the road, while working in a new key cog, Andre Iguodala. Iguodala has transitioned nicely with the Nuggets, giving them the defensive stopper Karl has desperately longed for to compliment his up-tempo offense.
While Iguodala’s stability and leadership have fueled the Nuggets, Danilo Gallinari’s mid-season transformation – 24 ppg during their six game win-streak – has been equally important to the Nuggets success. A top-four seed is well within reach for the Nuggets as they’re currently constructed, but if their front office decides to get a little creative at the trade deadline, there’s no telling how dangerous they might be.
Is Josh Smith on the market? Rumors that the Phoenix Suns are fervently pursuing Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith have been flying around several NBA circles this week. Pursuing Smith is a tricky situation for anybody involved, though.
While he has unquestionable talent and one of the most unique skill sets in the league, his desire to be a max-contract player has cooled some potential investors off a bit.