The Denver Nuggets are on the verge of their first playoff appearance since the 2013 season.
That Denver Nuggets team, that time, seems like another life. It was five years ago but may as well have been 25. That team won 57 games, won George Karl coach-of-the-year honors and Masai Ujiri executive-of-the-year. They were third in the Western Conference.
The 2013 Nuggets also had the (dis)honor of participating in Steph Curry and the Warriors’ coming-out party. Despite the best-ever record, the Nuggets bowed in the first round.
Since that time, we’ve had a shift in ownership with Stan Kroenke handing the reins of the Nuggets and Avalanche to his son Josh. We’ve seen Masai Ujiri depart for Toronto and we’ve seen the coaching staff turn over twice.
What we haven’t seen, perhaps until the last six games, is what THIS Nuggets team is. They are incredibly talented although much of that talent overlaps, leaving gaps in depth. They are very young. So young that they drive you crazy like your kids drive you crazy. Waiting for the last minute to do anything, reluctant to take direction. They have a young, polarizing coach in Michael Malone who has grown (sometimes painfully slowly) at his craft and his interaction with this unique roster.
We’ve written so much since the October 18 season-opening loss to Utah. We’ve delved into the character and motivation of each of the players. We’ve talked about the shortcomings of the Coach. We’ve questioned the front-office and the construction of this roster (Five power forwards?!?!).
This game and season have been weighed, measured and analyzed to death. We won’t dig further into details. Whether they move on to the playoffs or not, this game is the end of the regular season for the Nuggets.
Before the storm, let’s look at some things we’ve learned this season: