Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose covered the Denver Nuggets in their latest Grantland video, and I am starting off this blog with the clip because it just might make you cry a little. In a good way.
Simmons has the Nuggets listed at No. 13 and Rose thinks they should be ranked higher. It says here that Denver is unlikely to make the playoffs this season because:
1. They lost Iguodala and got nothing in return.
2. They lost starting center Kosta Koufos, who was probably their second-best defensive player.
3. They lost Corey Brewer, who wasn’t the smartest cat when asked to guard sharp shooters, as we’ve seen from his sometimes-comical job during the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. Other than that, though, he was a pretty useful defender throughout the regular season off the bench.
4. Danilo Gallinari will miss significant time.
5. They are relying on JaVale McGee to anchor their defense. Based on what he’s done in the preseason, his maturity issues aren’t going away any time soon: he complains about calls, too often looks dejected about things out of his control, commits silly fouls out of frustration and generally lacks discipline when it’s most needed. His freakish athleticism allows him to be a very good shot blocker, but his overall IQ and demeanor on the defensive end is not to be trusted for 30-plus minutes. And who’s behind him? Timofey Mozgov? J.J. Hickson?
Brian Shaw will attempt to implement a new system for a team that is underhanded and underdeveloped, especially on the defensive end. He wants them to play a style that can better succeed in the postseason by playing a little slower and utilizing the post, but does he have the proper personnel for that? They do have some offensive weapons in Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson, but is that enough to overcome their deficiencies in a loaded Western Conference? I’m not banking on it.
STORY OF THE DAY:
Big news out of Oklahoma City on Monday about Russell Westbrook, from Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
But the headliner was All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who participated in on-court drills with the team for the first time since he had arthroscopic surgery earlier this month.
“There were bits and pieces where Russell participated in practice, so that was good,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It was good to get everybody out there, working together.”
In recent weeks, Westbrook has been seen on the court during the portion of practice open to the media, going through light workouts with the Thunder training staff.
But on Monday, he apparently amped it up. And even in that brief setting, Reggie Jackson, the man who is replacing Westbrook in the starting lineup, seemed to be impressed.