Does anyone still think our bench players are overrated/paid?
We had a lot of chatter in the offseason about how much Mason Plumlee‘s contract extension was one that the Nuggets may not survive, yet alone afford.
Plumlee is this year’s Will Barton. Denver’s everyman, there for the defense, the rebounding, the toughness. Those things we’ve known about Plumlee from his time at Duke. What we’ve seen this season that we didn’t know are the finger-wagging blocks, the fearless attack of the boards on both ends. The sheer hustle, the three point shot and something on Friday night that is the bacon bits on the grand salad of Mason’s night; He was 3-for-3 from the free throw line. Mason is on the verge of graduating from the hack-a-Shaq club.
The Nuggets reserves have been outstanding, seemingly taking polite turns at being the star, passing the baton from Juancho to Beasley to Lyles, Morris and of course, Plumlee.
The Denver Nuggets have been steadfast in their vision over the last three seasons, resisting the draw of big trades or big free agent gambles. They’ve turned the center position on it’s ear, a move that took some vision from Connelly and Malone. The next step and one the Nuggets seem uniquely suited for is to shatter the idea of starters and bench players.
The above mentioned idea of a starting five that has Monte Morris supplant Jamal Murray is not one I promote lightly. I’ve fought long and loud against the bench Murray crowd but the part I’ve always missed was the “what if it was mutual and super groovy for everyone’ angle. Again it’d be a big ask of Murray but it would be such a boon to his game and him, IT, Juancho, Lyles and Plumlee is just an absurdly good group.
We have to stop thinking in terms of that next unit being inferior to the starters. Name one of those five that hasn’t or couldn’t start in the NBA, it’s not about skill or quality. It’s about team and this squad is as much a team as any I’ve seen. Like the backcourt rotation, like the way the Nuggets play defense, their rotations should be fluid, on-demand. Nobody should feel like a reserve, nobody should feel like a starter. They should just feel like family, like Nuggets.
Take that seriously enough and this squad, this year could feel like something else.