Denver Nuggets: 3 Complaints Heading to the All-Star Break

Denver Nuggets (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone commented after losing to the Brooklyn Nets that the Nuggets’ issue is effort.

Malone went on to say that as a coach he shouldn’t have to coach effort and if he does, the team is in deep trouble.  While we are not trying to push any kind of panic button after Denver’s three-game losing streak, there are definitely areas of concern.

A funny thing happens when your team is suddenly much better than anyone thought they’d be, the media spotlight gets turned up and as the fan base takes on disgruntled Broncos fans, misinformed but well-meaning fans start demanding action when the Nuggets lose.

It seems to have degenerated into silly soundbites that get regurgitated over and over.  Trade Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles or anyone that has a bad game.  Murray is easily the Nuggets second-best player, has great chemistry with Nikola Jokic and is as integral to Denver’s future as anyone.  Lyles has had an uneven season but has been good for a month and great for a week. He was fantastic against Philadelphia on Friday night with Paul Millsap out.

People say Michael Malone’s rotations, particularly with Lyles are suspect and maybe Malone isn’t the coach for this team.  The absurdity of that is almost not worth addressing but it has to be exposed.  I know fans don’t make team decisions but as we’ve seen repeatedly in sports, in politics, in life, the mob has power.

It’s not even that I’m so keen to dissuade people from their opinions, I celebrate the diversity of NBA Twitter and sandwiched between the absurdity are some truly constructive discussions.  There are some really insightful and passionate Nuggets bloggers out there.  We banter back-and-forth and disagree on the day-to-day team news but for the most part we are all unified in support of management and the roster.

Which brings us back to effort.  It’s a thing that’s just started to creep into people’s critiques of the Nuggets.  It’s almost as if we’re afraid to whisper that cancer into existence (movie idea!).  Effort issues are insurmountable for a young team, it’s a festering wound that is tough to excise.

The good news for Denver is it doesn’t seem like this is a malaise that’s set in, we see individual effort.  From my seat, it looks like the Nuggets are tired and the injuries have finally taken their inevitable toll.  It’s not just the time missed from injured players, it’s working them back into the lineup only to have them injured again.  It’s the constant search for the “right” lineup with a  shifting roster.

It’s also super important to point out that the Nuggets are in second-place in the West.  If any one of us had been told before the season started that’s where Denver would be at the All-Star break, we’d have been delighted.

So, publicly, I try to bring Nuggets fans and my fellows back-to-earth when they start to approach the cliff over Denver shortcomings.  Sometimes I do it with snark, sometimes with facts, mostly with a common sense approach.

Privately, I have a few things that nag at me about this team, for the one and only time this season, I’m going to indulge those things: