Denver Nuggets: 3 Takeaways from the Mini Road Trip

Denver Nuggets(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

As the Denver Nuggets prepare to take on the Houston Rockets Friday night at Pepsi Center let’s reflect on the wild week and a successful January.

The Denver Nuggets finished January with a 12-4 record.  Another best in a season that seems to have limitless firsts for this Nuggets squad.  At 35-15, they have eclipsed Carmelo Anthony‘s 34-16 record in both 08-09 and 09-10 for the best 50 game start in Denver’s NBA history.

It hasn’t been without its share of drama, including improbable comebacks and unsung heroes.

We’ve seen Will Barton start to get his legs back though he’s shot poorly.  The same can be said for Gary Harris who can’t seem to shake the injury bug.  Harris hit two big three-point shots in the fourth quarter in New Orleans to give Denver an opportunity to win.

With Barton and Harris rounding into form and Paul Millsap fully engaged and healthy we turn to the rumored mid-February debut of Isaiah Thomas.  There are those that feel that with the emergence of Monte Morris, Thomas is an expendable asset.  As we’ll touch on later, that notion is folly, considering the dropoff the Nuggets have seen with the absence of Jamal Murray.  Add in a bit of a regression from Morris and Thomas’ veteran presence and the notion of dumping IT becomes more and more absurd.

That’s the game, these days, propose outrageous Denver moves as clickbait, I guess.  Anthony Davis, for example is a wonderful talent, one of the top players in the NBA.  He does not fit what Denver has spent four years building and trading half of our depth for him would essentially put the second seed in the West into rebuild mode.  Davis’ gifted scoring would be wasted on a Nuggets team that has no problem scoring the basketball and the clash with Nikola Jokic would not be worth it.

The Nuggets have a legitimate shot at a deep playoff run this season.  It mirrors the Golden State Warriors 2013 rise, leading to their 2014 title.  Denver will not win the title this season.  Not only are the Warriors flexing, Denver has shown repeatedly that they are not ready to take on Houston in a series.

There’s not much tinkering that’s going to make a difference for the Nuggets.  The trade assets people propose are better than the targets they are being traded for.  Malik Beasley for example is already as good as Jimmy Butler and is younger.  Barton, Juancho Hernangomez and Torrey Craig are more valuable to the Nuggets than Otto Porter would be.  Jamal Murray is better than Kemba Walker.  On and on, we’ll let the analytics guys work all this out, their brains are wired for it, so it makes sense.

With that, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned this week.