Staking A Claim: The Nuggets Recent Success

Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.

As I have gotten to know Nuggets fans more in depth one thing keeps coming up when complaints get voiced, the teams recent run of making the playoffs before flaming out in the first round. While there is understandable frustration, especially as the possibility of it occurring again this season is there, though looking less and less likely, I ask Nuggets fans to do one thing.

Please just step back and realize how lucky you are just to make, and be competitive in, the playoffs each year.

You see, as a Bucks fan I am rooting for a team stuck in the worst spot for any NBA team to be; the perennial battle for the eighth seed.

Even worse, more often than not recently that battle has been a losing one. That losing has caused the Bucks to draft in the absolute latest lottery picks, a place too far to gain a real franchise changer but not far enough away that I can watch my team come playoff time, even if it is only for four or five games.

Add into the fact that the Bucks haven’t made wise decisions in regards to trades, (Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson and Cory Maggette) or free agent signings, (John Salmons extension comes to mind) and things are even more frustrating.

So when I see Nuggets fans complain about making the playoffs every year I laugh a bit, especially when I look at the state of the Denver franchise right now.

First of all, you have had the chance to root for your team in the playoffs every year in the recent past. Yes, I understand that losing in the first round every year can get frustrating, especially when you perceive that the team has enough talent to do more. But the fact of the matter is, that unlike 14 other teams in each of those years, the Nuggets season wasn’t done with meaningful games until playoff time.

In fact there are some teams that haven’t even seen meaningful games in March for years. The Timberwolves haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, the Kings since 2006, the Warriors since 2007, and the Wizards, Nets and Raptors since 2008. That is one-fifth of the league that hasn’t seen the playoffs in at least the last four seasons.

Even worse there are teams that barely make the playoffs and the once or twice they do they can’t win. The Knicks and Trailblazers haven’t won a series since 2000. My Bucks and the Raptors haven’t since 2001. The Kings and Wolves haven’t since 2004. And the Charlotte Bobcats haven’t won a playoff series in franchise history, a franchise which started in 2004.

More importantly than immediate and constant playoff success the Nuggets have a clearly competent front office, one that has a plan and is sticking to it, leading to what looks like a very bright future. Just recently Denver has nailed draft picks such as Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried. They have won trades such as the Melodrama and the Andre Iguodala/Dwight Howard/Arron Afflalo trade. They sign players to team friendly contracts such as the Lawson, and JaVale McGee extensions. They even have found and singed important role players to small team friendly deals such as Kosta Koufos and Cory Brewer. Most of all they are patient.

That patience was on display again this season when they didn’t make a move for the sake of making a move at the trade deadline. What they did was allow this team to gel and grow, to show them they have more than one year to make it work. And the team has responded, with a six game winning streak including a win over the Thunder. With Ty Lawson playing at a new level than ever before this team looks ready to win a first round series at the very least this year and do potentialy bigger and better things in the very near future.

That patience isn’t normal. Take the Bucks for example. The following players from the 2010 playoff team are no longer members of the organization: Andrew Bogut, Kurt Thomas, Dan Gadzuric, Primo Brezec, Darnell Jackson, Carlos Delfino, Jerry Stackhouse, Salmons, Charlie Bell, Michael Redd, Luke Ridnour,Royal Ivey and Scott Skiles.

The following players joined the team after the 2010 playoffs and have since left the organization: Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins, Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, Shaun Livingston, Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih, and Stephen Jackson.

In other words, twenty three players and one head coach have left the Milwaukee organization in three years. Only three players have remained on the team that long: Brandon Jennings, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, and Ersan Ilyasova.

On top of the patience and general intelligence of the front office, and meaningful games into March, the Nuggets have another thing going for them. They are incredibly fun to watch. The team flies up and down the floor,and  has fantastic finshers in Fareid, McGee and Iguodala to end those blazing trips. They have blinding speed in Lawson and a player who has mastered the art of the leak out in Brewer. And our good buddy Pierre even provides comedy on most nights. So not only does the team win, they do it in a fun way.

Imagine watching the Celtics on a nightly basis. Sure they win but the style, defense and midrange jumpers, isn’t exactly the most fan friendly thing in the world.

So yes, I get things can get frustrating after continuously losing in the first round of the playoffs.

But when things look too bleak, too frustrating, please do me a favor.

Look around the league and realize how lucky you are.

Your team isn’t trapped in purgatory. You can trust your front office. Your team is incredibly fun to watch on a nightly basis.

Most importantly though, you get to root for your team in the playoffs every year, a team that has been competitive in recent years and looks headed in the right direction.

So I ask you. From time to time take a step back.

Realize it can get worse.

Enjoy these Nuggets.

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  • Ckwizard


  • Kyle

    We know we have it good. Thanks for the heads up on that.

  • Bobby

    Agreed we should all be happy in our consistent mediocrity because hey we could be Charlotte fans. I think we should not only lower expectations of our teams, but in life also. Find your bliss in not being the worse.

    • Bobby


    • Ban Johnson

      Not true. “Mediocre” means average. The Nuggets have consistently been well above average in the George Karl era. That GK has adjusted our expectations, so that we now perceive a degree of consistent success as mediocrity, is actually to his credit.

  • Dillon

    Matt –

    I love this whole outsider idea. I completely agree with you about the front office. Not counting the top NBA markets, we are probably the second luckiest city in the NBA. I say second because our coach is not named Popovich, and we don’t have two hall of famers on our small market team.

    My only complaint for years has been George Karl’s approach to pick and roll defense. This is the most commonly run play in the NBA, and a teams ability to defend against it can decide the outcome of a game or series.

    I come from a coaching background that believes in hard nosed, man-to-man defense, and I don’t understand Karl’s approach. I have never seen a team successfully defend the pick and roll without either hedging and rotating (see KG and Celtics) or by switching, which can lead to mismatches depending on the personel. The Nuggets switch when they can but most of the time the Denver big flattens out letting the opposing ball handler turn the corner leading to layups or kick out three’s.

    I would love for someone to explain Karl’s thought process here and why he doesn’t try to emulate teams like the Celtics/Duke who have had great success with hedging.

    Thanks for the consideration.


  • John

    Yes we have a fun team. But we are stuck in the small market without a superstar. I think the Nuggets are the third best team in the league, behind Heat and OKC. They have everything except true firepower. But, Lawson could be just that. Add a Korver in the offseason and watch out. Assuming Wilson wants out

    • Ban Johnson

      I really hope WC sticks around. Seems perfect for the system on both ends: switching D and small-ball, up-tempo stretch 4. Plus he’s shooting well and his contract is reasonable.

      If he’s going to shoot almost as well as Korver, why swap him for Korver, when he does so many other things better, including defend, drive, and rebound?

      • dynamo.joe

        Korver shoot eFG% 62, Chandler 47. Those numbers are not the same. The average SF shooots 49%. None of that points to Chandler being a good shooter, just slightly below average.

        If you want to say Chandlers d makes him a better overall player or you want to make statements like “Chandler has a pure shooting motion” or something else that isn’t quantifiable, feel free. But these quantifiable, easily checked, untrue statements aren’t helping anyone.

        • Ban Johnson

          I’ll try to put it in terms your pinched little nerd brain can understand:

          WC is shooting 40% from 3 this year, while coming back from a serious hip injury. Korver is shooting 46%. (I’m pretty sure all the get Korver (or some other shooting specialist) crowd are mostly talking about 3-pointers.) If WC can be a 40% 3-point shooter, it kind of makes replacing him with far inferior guys who hang around the line pretty ridiculous.

          Yes, WC defends better. WC rebounds better 4.9-4.1 in 9 fewer mpg. WC is more versatile (can guard 4s.) WC is more interchangeable on switches with Brewer, Iguodala, Faried, etc… Brewer is a better finisher on breaks. Just because these facts aren’t all immediately quantifiable, Spock, doesn’t render them untrue.

          • dynamo.joe

            See was that so hard? You CAN make your arguement for Wilson Chandler without resorting to patently false statements like ‘he is just as good a shooter as Korver’.

  • Ban Johnson

    Yes. It’s a GREAT time to be a Nuggets fan. Other than OKC, Miami, amd maybe the Clippers…whose team’s bandwagon would you rather be on right now?

    Which makes all the negativity around here a little absurd. This is a young team. This is an incredibly fun and likeable team. This is a well-managed and not stingy organization. This team’s best days are ahead, not behind. Can we just chill on the over-the-top, resentful negativity, and hating?

    I totally get the frustration with George Karl’s quirks. Some of them, like finishing every single game with Andre Miller, are mind-boggling to me…but, at the same time, I think he’s a great basketball mind when it comes to most of the big picture, system stuff. Winning 50 games almost every year, with flawed rosters, is pretty good stuff, no matter what happens in the playoffs.

    I get the frustration with the 1st round exits — but we should remember, most of those have happened in the Melo era, with an entirely different cast of characters. And they have all happened in an incredibly stacked conference, while the Dirk/Duncan/Kobe eras were all happening. Those 3 guys are top 20 players OF ALL TIME, and their organizations are top-notch.

    So, get happy. Get positive. If the Nuggets under-perform in the playoffs this year…which I don’t think will happen…but if it does, and if it’s related to the worst of GK’s quirks…i.e., playing Andre Miller in crunch-time no matter what…then I’m all on board for upheaval in the off-season.

    But, a little perspective please. The Nugs will probably be playing a top 6 team in the league in the first round and then a top 3 team in the 2nd. Nothing will be easy. And the Nuggets are still young.

    • Stephen

      ” Can we just chill on the over-the-top, resentful negativity, and hating?”

      +1. Amen.

      We have a fantastic team to watch, and a solid group of writers to give us even more content about our beloved team.

      I’m feeling pretty grateful today.

  • Chad

    I don’t understand why we should be happy with what the Nuggets have done over the last 10 years. Sure, we’ve made the playoffs 9 straight years (and only advanced ONCE). Over HALF of the teams in the NBA make the playoffs, so that’s nothing to brag about. There are 5 pressing needs, maybe 6, if they have any hope of making a deep playoff run. 1. Turnovers 2. Free Throw shooting 3. 3 point shooting 4. Free Throw shooting, again 5. Defense (we’re so inconsistent, and get lazy on rotations) 6. A CONSISTENT half court offense! Without improvement in each of these areas, the Nuggets are just another one and done.

    • The Lurker

      Okay, usually I just lurk, but I had to comment on this:

      “I don’t understand why we should be happy with what the Nuggets have done over the last 10 years. Sure, we’ve made the playoffs 9 straight years… that’s nothing to brag about.”

      Go look up how many other teams have accomplished this, then get back to me.

      “…Over HALF of the teams in the NBA make the playoffs…”

      LOL!! “Over half”? I think you need to go back and retake some of your grade-school arithmetic.


      Seriously, the level of negativity by some folks here is absurd.

      • The Lurker

        Ah, wait… 16 playoff-bound out of a 30-team league, not 32… my bad.

        But you still need to redo your math if you think “over half” the teams in the league get to the playoffs CONSISTENTLY.

        • Nathan

          I think making the playoffs every year would be impressive, if we are talking the NFL or the MLB. 53% of teams make the playoffs every year in the NBA. That means some teams with losing records make the playoffs every year. That is NOT something to brag about. Mediocrity is moderate or middle value. Barely making the playoffs and losing in the first round every year when more than half of NBA teams make it is practically the definition of mediocrity.

          I know the outsider writer is trying to put a positive spin on the Nuggets situation, but it is essentially the same one his Bucks are faced with- maybe worse. He talks about the Bucks being a playoff bubble team that gets a low/poor lottery pick often that can’t turn around a franchise, and that is basically what the Nuggets have- except they get to play for an extra week in the playoffs then get NO shot at a top lottery pick because they got that extra week to get thrashed by a hall of famer on a good team.

          NBA teams need to have that franchise guy to be contenders year after year, or they need to bottom out so they can get a high draft pick for that guy who can turn around a franchise. See: Cavs with Lebron. I like this Nuggets experiment to build a deep and well rounded team without a franchise guy, but the jury is still out on whether they can go far in the playoffs- or whether they will hit a hall of famer and lose again. But that possible interesting/bright future doesn’t erase 10 years of mediocrity by muddling into the playoffs for first round exits.

          Teams need to be striving for the upper reaches of the league- the Nuggets have had a lot of patience with GK for the last decade- but it really needs to start paying off. IMO any more first round exits are unacceptable. Improvement must be shown.

          • Rupert

            When was the last time the Nuggets barely made the playoffs? They seem to get in pretty comfortably almos every year. Right now, they are the 6th best team in the NBA. And outside of the Heat, probably the hottest team in the league in 2013. That is not at all mediocre. By your definition, everyone outside of the Heat, Spurs, and OKC are mediocre. I would be upset with a first round exit for sure this year. It will probably 2 straight first round exits (2013 and 2014) to get Karl fired though. I like this team a lot and would much rather have this by my team than the Heat. This team is good and fun to watch and really young as well. Not mediocre. Even in the Melo days, the Nuggets usually lost to the eventual champion in their first round exits. I agree with Matt. Nuggets fans should be looking at the team in a positive light right now.

            • Rupert

              I would much rather root for my team in the playoffs than bottom out and hope we get the next Durant or LeBron. How would you like to root for the Bobcats, Wizards, and Kings who constantly look for that superstar that they never end up drafting. Maybe I’m a little crazy but I love going to playoff games at the Pepsi Center. It gets so fired up during playoff time.

            • Nathan

              I think you have your priorities wrong. The goal is championships, not playoff appearances. Stringing together a lot of appearances (which one by itself isn’t special since the odds say the Nuggets should make it anyways) is not nearly as important as winning championships. What do the Nuggets have to show for 9 straight appearances? 8 times bowing out in the first round and a lot of disappointment and what-if questions. It would be much better to go to the playoffs only a couple times in those 9 years and win a championship than to go all 9 years and have nothing to show for it. You are settling for mediocrity (i.e. averageness). Since most teams make it every year, it is nothing special to string a bunch of playoffs together. The Spurs and Mavs both have 9+ in a row as well- but they have championships to show for it. The Heat haven’t gone every year- but they have championships to show for it. I’m just not settling for one and done seasons anymore- I wish more of the fan base wouldn’t either. I know they are rebuilding post-Melo, but improvement must be shown.

          • The Lurker

            “53% of teams make the playoffs every year in the NBA. That means some teams with losing records make the playoffs every year. That is NOT something to brag about.”

            Ah, but that 53% is not what is being ‘bragged about’.

            The thing that Nugs fans can celebrate is the fact that they are headed for 10 *consecutive* playoff appearances.

            Since you insist on percentages, let’s do the math!! :)


            Making the playoffs *one* year: 16/30 ~= 53%. [Yes, nothing to brag about.]

            Making the playoffs a *second* year in a row: (16/30)^2 ~= 28% [Over a quarter of the teams, still not a whole lot to brag about.]

            Making the playoffs a *third* year in a row: (16/30)^3 ~= 15% [A bit more impressive. Raw averages would expect four or five teams to do this. Perhaps still not enough for those with large expectations?]

            …you should be getting it now, but just to make the point:

            Making the playoffs a *tenth* year in a row: (16/30)^10 ~= 0.18% [That’s less than 2 out of 1,000. That’s damn impressive, and anybody calling this “mediocrity” is clueless.]

            • Nathan

              I don’t think I’m being clueless by pointing out that since more than half of teams make the playoffs every year, that by making it in a given year is nothing special since only bad teams don’t make it. Statistically, you should make it any given year. A 10 year streak is nice, but the odds are not as outrageous as you make them out to be. Here is a list of every team that has made the playoffs over the last 9 years, the number of times they have gone, and a list of what position the Nuggets were in when they entered the playoffs:
              Nuggets-9 times (6,5,4,2,8,6,3,7,8)


              As you can see, teams that have some stability go for stretches where they make the playoffs many years in a row. As a matter of fact, the Nuggets aren’t the only team to have a 9 years streak to make the playoffs (but they are the only team having gone 9 years straight to not even have an appearance in the finals or win a finals). Several teams have 7 and 8 years out of 9 making the playoffs. I submit that merely making the playoffs isn’t that special, and going many years in a row isn’t that special, if you don’t accomplish anything in all that time. Again- mediocrity is “averageness”. More than half of all teams play in the playoffs every year- so how is getting eliminated year after year in the first round successful, or progress, or something worth being proud of when half of you are there and half of those move on? Is merely showing up worth a pat on the back?

              During this span, the Nuggets have escaped the first round once. Even with some years being a top seed and with 3 of those years having home court advantage. Out of those 9 years, 17 of 30 NBA teams have gone to the playoffs more than half of those years. How can you compare going to the playoffs for 9 straight years and 8 first round flameouts as damn impressive when the Heat have gone 8 out of 9 and won 2 NBA Finals? I’m sorry, but I don’t consider “showing up, where is my ribbon” to be something to consider “damn impressive”. It’s disappointing. Anything less than a championship as a goal for a franchise is doing the fan base a disservice. The team certainly shouldn’t be satisfied with merely making the playoffs (and I don’t think they are).

              I don’t expect the mid-market Nuggets to challenge for the Finals every year. That would be unreasonable. I do expect them to have some years where they exceed expectations and maybe go on a run. I would trade 5 years at the bottom of the standings for one championship in a heartbeat. Maybe even 10 years. What does 9 straight playoff appearances have for us? A lot of what-if’s.

              It’s not about the regular season- it’s about what you do when you reach the playoffs.

  • Adam

    With the emergence of Ty, Faried, even Javale, in the last few games, if that can continue throughout the playoffs, we’ll be tough to beat by anybody. Granted, I think no one wins the champ outside of Miami, but there is a chance that we actually make the Finals.

  • Aaron

    True, True! People in team sports who aren’t happy without Finals, Super Bowl, World Series, etc. . . just poison the well and make it impossible to be a fan. Hey, outside of the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Bulls, and Heat, there aren’t many other cities WHO HAVE EVER won a Finals. We should enjoy our gifted, fun to watch, growing team.

    I agree also with the above post that Karl and the current team shouldn’t be saddled with the blame for Melo’s teams. Melo is an inconsistent player who doesn’t lead teams in the playoffs (Chauncey did our one great year). That’s his business, and Kmart, Camby, Reggie Evans, Nene, etc. . . . None of those guys are around anymore.

    We’re rooting for a team that took LA to 7 games last year, and the year before was hosed by the refs twice in losing to OKC in the playoffs. That’s our team, let’s deal with it as it is.

    • ParkHillNative

      Your point about how few teams in the NBA have won championships is the real thing to consider in all this discussion, I think. There’s just a lucky few hoarding most of the trophies, and we fans of the rest of the teams are always stuck on the outside. For us Nugs fans, that’s meant a decade of making it to the playoffs and getting booted out. For fans of some of the other teams, it’s been even worse, but as I see it, it’s just different degrees of the same thing.

      I’m going to be very curious over the next few years to see if any of the changes in the latest CBA do anything at all to level the playing field a bit.

  • CoryW

    Half court offense: true post player, pick and roll, beat your man off the dribble. Not a firm believer in when the game slows down then what?. Score buckets like you know how impose your will. Sure half court offense would help but play to your players strengths.

  • TyroneH

    This article is more about your garbage Bucks and less of the success of my Denver Nuggets you should think about taking it down.

    • googergieger

      Haha, this is pretty mean, but I effin love it!

      Laugh people! As bad as anything gets you can always laugh.

  • Legalize Denver Nuggets

    I really haven’t enjoyed you talking down to nuggets fans between this post and your post defending a statement you made by fishing up some numbers you use as causal proof that you’re the rightest evar. I’m probably being persnickety, but you have come off as arrogant and insulting so far in your writing, at least to me. In regard to this piece, fans always want more. Do you want us to shed some tears for you and your bucks? Boo-hoo. For you to imply we don’t appreciate the Nuggets makes you seem like a sad old man who is becoming delusional, but still needs to prove he has more perspective than the stupid youth of today. Maybe I just take this post a bit more personally because I am one of the dying breed of optimistic Nugs fans haha.

    Ok- had to be a dick for a second because I don’t like my nuggets bloggers to be consumed with being right, but rather presenting a vast amount of info for us to absorb. But again, that’s just me. I do appreciate your opinions, and you can even be strong about them, just try to not talk down to us oh-so ignorant fans. So I’m looking forward to more outside perspectives, just hopefully meaningful ones in the future.

    God I’m sorry Matt, you’ve just rubbed me the wrong way so far and I had to express myself! Even though I’m being kind of irrationally harsh, I’m happy you are on the team and look forward to seeing how you develop as a writer for this blog.

    Go Nuggets!

    • Matt

      Sorry to have come off that way, in no way shape or form was that the intent.

      This post wasn’t meant to generate sympathy for myself or make it seem like Nuggets fans don’t appreciate the team. As I have learned many of the fans that frequent this site have very strong opinions on their team. I understand and very much appreciate that. The point of this post was to just show how things about the Nuggets are seen from someone with a different perspective. This recent run is something that I would love to have and I just felt that a lot of fans had lost sight of how special it was to make the playoffs for nine straigh years. Sometimes it takes seeing the other view to truly appreciate what you have.

      With the Gallo post I can see how it came off as having to be right and I apologize. If I could rewrite it I would probably change the wording on a couple of things that made it seem that way but it isn’t fair to you readers to do that at this point. I recieved a lot of hate for my opinion and that post was meant to just back it up a bit, not to say everyone else was wrong.

      I think this column can be a good one if people approach it with an open mind like you and plenty of others seem willing to do. Some opinions may come off harsher than others depending on the subject and I apologize if that happens and makes someone upset. I have no issue being wrong, it has happened and will happen again. But as long as people stay open minded and willing to have rational discussions on here or Twitter or the RMC Facebook page I will absolutly do so. The NBA online community can be a great place.

      So thanks for reading and thanks for being willing to come back despite not seeing eye to eye on a couple posts. Sorry again for the way things came off, that was not in any case the intent.

      • magster

        Your post was fine and interesting to read. It’s a tough crowd here if you haven’t noticed.

        • Legalize Denver Nuggets

          For what its worth, re-reading this piece, I’m completely willing to admit that residual feelings from the Gallo piece were probably still in my mind when I was reading this piece haha. I feel much better after having vented and smoked a bowl. I think I read the arrogance into the Gallo piece, so I was just a little affronted when you told us to do something in this piece (even though you said please!) This seems silly now, because I agree with what you are saying. Re-reading this piece, it made me think of how important it is to keep in perspective why we are NBA fans in the first place- the drama, the personalities, love of the game. We ultimately aren’t fans because we need our team to win a championship (We aren’t masturbatory effing Lakers fans). While we all want to see Nugs win someday, and it gets frustrating to see us lose in the first round, we have been blessed with an organization that has consistently provided a winning culture, dynamic talent, a team that has entertaining personalities as well as plays entertaining as hell ball. I could gush on, but I think my main point is that sports fanship in general can be rather futile if you are a fan of an organization that disrespects you (I don’t mean to imply that’s what the Bucks org has done- I really have no idea), but the Nuggets have respected us. It is always a good thing to remember to appreciate that. I’d join you on that pedestal any day, Matt. As my basketball friends from other states can surely attest, I can preach on and on about my certainly biased opinion that the Nuggets are the best team in the NBA (best here refers to the way the Nuggets interact with they higher appeals of why we are basketball fans). And even if you don’t agree with my hyperbole, its hard to argue that we don’t got it goood.

          • magster

            I never would have known you smoked a bowl had you not said so…. :)

            This is the delusional side of my Nugglove… the game is rigged. The refs suck, the league favors the stars and the big cities, and our Denver boys keep going to the playoffs. I have fantasies, notwithstanding the reality check afforded by Tim Donaghy’s whistleblowing and the youtube of LAL’s win over Sacramento, that we will win by 20 in order to win by 1 against the favored teams and stars in the playoffs, and that the championship I’ve been waiting for over 40 years to celebrate will someday come. Why not this year? OK don’t answer that. Just pretend like I do that it’s possible.

  • Tom

    It’s important to keep perspective, both in terms of how short we are of a championship and how far we are above mediocre.

    The Nuggets have been a 50 win team (or equivalent) for 6 straight years, and this will be the 10th straight year making the playoffs. Like Ban Johnson said, if we perceive that level of success as mediocrity, the organization deserves a bit of credit.

    The Nuggets are also definitely below the level of the top teams in the league. They show up to play against good teams (one game worse than the Heat and Spurs, and two games BETTER than the Thunder, against .500+ teams), but aren’t consistent about beating bad teams on the road.

    What needs to happen for the Nuggets to win a championship? I don’t think Ujiri has to do a lot more; a core of Ty-Iggy-Gallo-Faried-McGee has the potential to be great, and guys like JHam, Chandler, and Koufos can become a solid supporting cast. The players need to grow and improve, and show up in the playoffs playing their best ball (if we get last month’s Ty, last year’s Iggy, healthy Gallo, and Laker-series JaVale, that’s gonna be a tough team to beat.) And coach Karl needs to figure out how to keep the best guys on the court in the right situations, or he needs to step aside for someone who can.

    So we’re not in a bad spot, but there’s room for improvement.

    • ParkHillNative

      Nitpicking here I guess, but last season’s 38-28 record was not the equivalent of a 50-win season. More like 47 or 48.

  • Joshua

    Thank you!! I don’t know what it is about our fans and this blog but the whining has become unbearable. I come to this blog to get deeper insight into my favorite sports team of all-time. The comments here used to be filled with intelligent perspectives from people way more knowledgable about the game than myself. Now all I read is people moaning. Most of the time it’s not even related to the nuggets (i.e. grading system, article content, other submitted comments). Seriously guys, complain to the TV while you are watching the game, but if you’re going to write something make sure it’s well thought out and contributes to the conversation. And I’m not saying criticism is not welcome, just back it up with some content.

    The point is, this team we have right now is a good team. They are fun to watch, they are winning games, and they are building towards the future. As a fan, what else can you ask for?

    I guess this submission could be considered hypocritical, but I just want to throw some perspective out there. Every comes here because they love the nuggets, now let’s enjoy them for the good team they are!

  • googergieger

    Yeah and the Charlotte fan thinks literally everyone else has it good. What’s your point?

  • prospector

    Holy Low expectations BATMAN!! I think KARL wrote this B/S under a another name… We want a ring… We want our coach to actually use lineups that do not always have 2 point guards.. I would rather read material other than the standard Denver Post George KARL is GOD articles… More DRE posts from the wages of

    • airvaid

      Hey, if you know so much about coaching and line-ups, how about you get a job doing it.

      Have you ever won on NBA 2k13 even?

  • TylerS

    Matt, I appreciate you doing this article, It’s always intriguing to hear a fan of another teams legit feelings about yours. Definitely came off a little wrong in like the last paragraph but overall Im looking forward to more. Any idea how much you will do this? Once a week? Once every 2?

  • DH


    Your article is well thought-out, well written, and on point. I hope you don’t let the negativity get to you.

    Personally, I feel like the Nuggets are in year 2 of a very solid plan for building towards contention. And year 1 can only partially be taken into consideration, with the lack of training camp, short season, and roster changes (for example, the midseason acquisition of McGee). This is a new team with new decision making (Massai) and it has very little to do with previous teams, IMO.

    Yes, the coach is still GK, but GK has barely coached THIS team. Let’s see what happens in the postseason, at least, before we start bashing. Maybe some people are right and we need to add a “star”. Maybe one or more stars can come from the current roster. Or maybe we don’t need a star. My point is it’s too early to tell what we need. But we’re on the right track. Even if you don’t believe we have the right players now, we do have assets that can be used in a trade down the line. I think the future is bright. And I think the only thing that can derail us is extreme impatience. Just my opinion.

  • Ackdog


    Yes we are spoiled! Yes we are lucky! I think the frustration comes out because after 9 years of GK we see all the warts. The honeymoon is over so to speak. But as some would say better the Devil you know……………..

    I still don’t like your grading however I really liked this piece. Keep up the good work :)

  • NuggDr

    Please go write for a Bucks blog. Your take means little to nothing and your posts always have an agenda. I am assuming you don’t write about the Bucks because nobody cares about them.

    Why does a Nuggets site have a Bucks blogger on it? This is a disgrace.

  • AyKay

    Matt, you’re getting a lot of hate here, so I wanted to tell you how much I really enjoyed your article.

    There is so much constant negativity in the comments about the team and I don’t understand it at all. At times I think it’s just Mark Kizla with hundreds of accounts looking for a new place to troll.

    How can people bitch about how we should be contending for a championship right now? Who do we sign? Who do we trade for? Should we just tank our season for the hopes of maybe drafting a star player? The nature of the NBA works that usually only the big cities take it all. There’s no parity. No star wants to play in Denver or any other small franchise. The Nuggets organization is just playing within the unwritten laws of the NBA and doing a damn good job of creating a winning team.

    I think people overlook many of the positives. We traded away a franchise player and yet came out like he never left. That is a rarity in the NBA. People said we would be the Cavilers of the West. Look at us now. A strong core of young players who should only grow with time. And as you say, a front office that actually cares about developing the team and making savvy trades.

    I only see positives with this organization. Great young talent that can grow into stars or small-level stars and enough pieces that if the right opportunity can present itself, we can trade for a franchise player.

  • EWilson

    The problem I have with the negativity around here is that people don’t seem to propose reasonable alternatives to the current situation. So let’s look at the ‘problems’, shall we?

    George Karl–Ok, if you want to get rid of him, who do you plan to replace him with? It needs to be a coach with an uptempo system because those are the type players we have. (Ty Lawson, for example, would be wasted in a grind-it-out half-court offense where his defenive liabilities would outweigh what he could do offensively.) So, who do you want to replace Karl?

    Finding a ‘Star’–We had one in Melo (at least as far as the NBA marketers were concerned), and two when Iverson was here. They didn’t win, so it isn’t just having stars, but having the right ones. Then, you need them to stay–see Melo and LeBron. So people need to explain which star we should get, HOW we’re going to get him and how we’re going to get him to stay. I’d submit that’s a major task.

    Changing the team to compete for a Title (assuming you think we can’t now)–How do you plan to do this? If you tear everything down, you put yourself at the mercy of the Draft. Maybe you get lucky and find a Superstar, but you’re just as likely to get the #1 pick in a year when Kwame Brown is your best option. Then, even if you’re lucky, you need to be able to surround your star with enough talent to compete, lest he pick up bad habits playing with bad players. (And you need a good coach willing to ride out the bad times.)

    If you choose to rebuild on the fly starting with a good team, you probably won’t get a superstar with a low draft pick unless you get lucky (see the Spurs and Tony Parker). Which means you have to trade existing assets, which means you have to find willing partners AND try to fleece them. Under the new salary cap rules, it’s harder to use expiring contracts, so you’ll end up trading talent for talent. So you’ll need to get it right.

    I could go on, but I think it’s obvious that rebuilding a champion would be a major endeavor. Instead, I think we have a front office with a plan and the willingness to take chances (see the Iguodala trade). We should give them a chance to make good.

    • http://msn cddubb

      hey the new york nuggets LOL!!! you know all the big cities,LA,NY,etc!!! are eyeballan our best players. they are just tryn out for other teams, we can never keep any talent , next year we will lose somebody that we need to contend. i’m not counting on seeing a championship untill we keep our talent for say 2 or 3 years just please as a frustrated fan seeing people like the bird man,smith,etc,,, but i’m glad melo’s gone. he was look’n for a big frachise to go to anyway. the one that hurt was c bill the or MR BIG SHOT. a real team leader so why even worry i’m just tired of it keep out talent please!!!!

    • theo

      Very nice take. The voice of pragmatism.

      I’ve made very much the same point to some of my friends. Whether you like Karl or not–some legit reasons not to like him–firing him is the messiest and most complicated approach to becoming a contender. The lineup has been entirely constructed to play Karl ball, so firing Karl means reconstructing the roster, unless, as you say, you hire a young coach to run a very similar system. Sure, Scott Brooks would have fit nicely but he’s already got a nice job with better players.

      I’m probably oversimplifying here, but I really do believe the simplest explanations are the best and lead to solutions that are practical. Why aren’t we a contender right now? 1. We don’t shoot well from the perimeter and the line. 2. We play down to bad teams. No need to speculate about Karl’s rotations or Ujiri’s issues, or anything else. Hard data to back up the critical importance of those two issues–taken together they’ve cost us around 10 games this year. Simplest solution? Get us a shooter or two and work relentlessly on free throw shooting in the off season–and I mean, everybody. Next, recognize our pattern of not taking bad teams seriously, especially on the road, and make it a relentless emphasis beginning in training camp onward. Shore up those 2 areas and we’re contenders. Seriously, that’s it. Now maybe it will turn out we can’t accomplish one or both of those goals, and at that point you’ve got to look at some serious restructuring. But for sure you’ve got to start there.

  • theo

    Just got a look at the take. Makes sense from the perspective of a Bucks fan, but the expectations here have changed over the past 4-5 years. Moved here the year before we got Melo, so had a one year taste of the terrible brand of hoops that long time fans here have endured for generations. I’m actually pretty impressed by the loyalty of fans here that stuck it out while getting hit in the head with a two by four every year. Over the last 10 years, with winning and watching quality ball year in and year out comes a smarter and more savvy fan base. I’ve clearly seen that develop, especially since the 2009 run to the WCF. Noticeable difference in knowledge of the game and expectations now, and I think rightly so. Nobody should put up with the status quo–only debate now is how to become contenders, not whether we should expect it or not. Would have been silly in, say 2002, to talk about contention and championships, but not now.

  • dynamo.joe


    team # Unit rank
    uta 20 Foye-Burks-Hayward-Millsap-Jefferson 1

  • dynamo.joe

    We were talking about 5 man lineup data the other day.

    These are the best 5 man lineups from every team. The # means its rank in terms of minutes played. Rank means its rank against all other 5 man units in the nba.

    team # Unit____________________________ rank
    uta 20 Foye-Burks-Hayward-Millsap-Jefferson 1
    por 13 Lillard-Matthews-Batum-Freeland-Hickson 2
    lal 18 Duhon-Bryant-WorldPeace-Gasol-Hill 3
    san 15 Parker-Neal-Ginobili-Splitter-Duncan 4
    nyk 10 Prigioni-Smith-Novak-Anthony-Chandler 5
    det 9 Bynum-Singler-Daye-Villanueva-Drummond 8
    mem 16 Conley-Bayless-Prince-Randolph-Gasol 9
    hou 8 Douglas-Harden-Delfino-Patterson-Smith 11
    mia 6 Chalmers-Wade-Allen-James-Bosh 13
    tor 6 Calderon-DeRozan-Anderson-Johnson-Davis 14
    lac 8 Paul-Crawford-Barnes-Griffin-Jordan 15
    Brk 18 Williams-Bogans-Johnson-Teletovic-Lopez 17
    noh 19 Vasquez-Mason-Aminu-Anderson-Smith 19
    okc 9 Jackson-Martin-Sefolosha-Collison-Thabeet 20
    gsw 19 Curry-Thompson-Barnes-Green-Lee 22
    sac 13 Thomas-Fredette-Johnson-Robinson-Hayes 23
    atl 15 Teague-Harris-Korver-Horford-Pachulia 27
    chi 16 Hinrich-Belinelli-Deng-Gibson-Noah 28
    Bos 14 Bradley-Terry-Pierce-Green-Garnett 29
    orl 17 Smith-Moore-Harkless-Nicholson-O’Quinn 33
    phi 18 Holiday-N.Young-Turner-T.Young-Brown 36
    was 14 Wall-Webster-Ariza-Singleton-Nene 39
    den 11 A.Miller-Iguodala-Gallinari-Faried-Koufos 43
    ind 18 Hill-Stephenson-Young-West-Hibbert 44
    mil 14 Jennings-Ellis-Daniels-Sanders-Udoh 54
    pho 14 Telfair-Tucker-Beasley-Morris-O’Neal 65
    dal 20 Collison-Mayo-Crowder-Wright-Kaman 72
    min 10 Barea-Shved-Gelabale-Cunningham-Stiemsma 75
    cle 2 Irving-Waiters-Gee-Thompson-Varejao 134
    cha 16 Walker-Henderson-Kidd-Gilchrist-Mullens-Haywood 166

    • dynamo.joe

      Utah has the best line up in the NBA but refuses to play it. Best line and somehow they parlay that to a bubble playoff team

      Charlotte is so abysmal that it’s best lineup is worse than 165 other lineups. Wow, that is bad.

      Karl’s best lineup is 43 in the NBA and somehow we are a top 10 team. Either GK is a better coach than I think he is or every other coach is much much worse.

      Oh, Pop has 3 of the lineups in the top 10, #4, 6,7.

      I’m gonna look for other things I think are interesting in this data set and put them up later.

    • dynamo.joe

      Byron Scott might be coach of the year. He played his best team until Varejao went down.

    • Joshua

      This is good stuff. Thanks!

  • http://msn cddubb

    dont worry ty lawson,gallo, magee, or anybody that can build to be a contender will either be traded or want out to go to the big time teams. who wants to be in denver never get any reconition on espn or other networks!! we deserve it any way we always loose on national tv when it counts.sorry folks i do love the nuggs but GK needs to keep his starting line up in at least for a full qter and please play mosgov he needs time in real games he’s a tower and has talent.

  • Native Nugget

    I’m not sure why but this outsider eyes column has brought out a broader range of comments than I think I’ve ever scene on this blog. As I read through the comment I see a natural separation between what I view as reactive thinking and big picture thinking. Reactive thinking takes a disliked quality in a team, player, coach or writer of an opposing opinion and jumps on it – “fire him, you’re a troll, he’s a worthless player, etc.” Big picture thinking takes a more nuanced perspective and considers the front office, the overall body of work by the coach, the pros and cons of a player, the risks of a new coach, etc.
    I’m basically on the side of the optimistic big picture types. Yes we had a lot of first round exits and while I appreciate the “Finals or bust” mentality and I agree it is the ultimate goal, I think it’s a shame to dismiss the continued success of the team and the enjoyment of their style of play because we’re not favorites to win the title. Ditto the comments about hearing more constructive suggestions. It’s easy to sit back and say “we should be in the finals every year and have a superstar” but that type of magical thinking doesn’t make it so.

    I appreciate Melo for helping turn the franchise around but we had less of a chance with him on our team than we do now. Most of our early exits can be attributed to his sticky hands and low team awareness. We had our star and he left. The chances on getting a better one who also wants to stay in a small market indefinitely are almost nil. So we can either hold out for a highly unlikely scenario or bank on the current strategy which has the better chance of producing a championship somewhere down the line. We have a young unselfish team with a LOT of upside, the strongest front office I can remember and a hall of fame coach with a great record. One can choose to be angry about this or… grateful.

  • TyroneH

    I can’t believe this horrible article is still up. It’s bad when I have to read a website all about the Nuggets to only have one of the people working for the site, talk negative about the Nuggets fans and doesn’t even bother to give our team credit, instead he decides to go rambling about his sorry team. Your a Bucks fan WHO CARES MAN. This is a Denver Nugget’s site not a site for you to cry about your Garbage Bucks!!!!! If you continue to want to hate on our Nuggs I suggest you move back to Wisconsin and write about your feelings to people who actually care about that team. Because myself and other Nuggets Fans could care less.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Rupert

      I got the exact opposite message from the article. Don’t see how he is hating on the Nuggets at all. I think he was saying these Nuggets and the recent history of the franchise should be appreciated.

  • Ckwizard

    I was first to comment on this piece with my comment of “what?” Because I needed time to process what the heck was going on with this blog and I am at a loss as to what contribution this piece offers me as a Nuggets fan in terms of discussion about basketball.

    This piece is a slap in the face of the Banner on this sight “We will move the earth for a title” especially given it is about how we should be gratefull we are competitive in the leage even though our team has shown very little in terms of being able to compete for a title.

    More to the point I hate this piece because shouldn’t I be the one to determine what motivates me to be a fan of a given team and if I am then shouldn’t I have the right to expect the money I give to this process in terms of money spent on tickets, concessions, and gear yield more than just a team that makes the playoffs. I think Matt and myself would be both happier fans if George Karl was the coach of the Bucks because I do like the Nuggets team put together by the front office but George Karl makes it hard to be passionate about the Nuggets sometimes….

    Also I love basketball, not just the Nuggets. If the Nuggets are not competitive then I won’t follow them as closely and probably won’t take the time to visit or comment on blogs like this as it becomes not as enjoyable. Actually because of this piece this Blog has lost value in my eyes good thing it is free lol because if it wasn’t and this is the kind of information you want to become a staple of the blog I would be canceling my membership.

    I don’t mind when other followers say we got it lucky and should be gratefull our team is good but when those writing for the sight decide to express that view like this then those that run this sight have lost sight of what kind of fans thy portrayed themselves as because truth betold I don’t think a Bucks fan would move earth for a “Nuggets” title.


  • EWilson

    One of the best things the Nuggets have going for them is their front office, which seems to do an excellent job evaluating and valuating talent. That puts them in a much better position than the days when Dan Issel was taking Raef LaFrentz over Paul Pierce/Dirk Nowitzki. Even with a low chance of getting a real superstar, I’m very willing to let Masai Ujiri work with the roster until he gets it exactly the way he wants it. He’s a top 5 GM, if you ask me, and given time, I think he can build a championship team.

  • slader

    Poor Matt!
    here you are trying to offer a slightly different but constructive take on the Nuggets, and you get pilloried for it! Not criticized – jeered at, sneered at.
    T’aint right, roundballers. A guest is a guest. Im only an occasional contributor, but I have noticed the tone degenerating for some time on RMC.
    Wouldn’t blame Matt if he packed up his antlers and went home. A victory for rabid-fan censorship.
    Go Nuggets!

  • slader

    Just in case anyone wants to pillory me too, they should first check out the respectful treatment Jelly Bean (a Lakers fan!) receives over at DS.

  • airvaid

    It’s a long season, and I actually like to watch basketball rather than just look at the result.

    So I just love the fact that we play some awesome basketball about 75% of the time.

  • Andrew K

    Maybe they will listen to you, Matt. I’ve been on my soapbox about the very same thing for a long time. I believe some of these fans don’t remember or weren’t even there when the Nuggets were in the same position as the Bucks around the turn of the millennium. Since then, I’ve been very glad to make the playoffs so many times, and realize that not many other teams enjoy that type of success. What people don’t realize is that only 1 out of 30 teams can a win a year, so there shouldn’t be any angst if that doesn’t happen.

  • amlowlife

    I can see the merit of having “outsider” viewpoints on a Nuggets board like this but I’m not sure the “you’ve-got-it-better-than-you-know” theme is the one that will work all that well, especially coming from a fan who is in apathy about their team.

    It was interesting hearing how low the Bucks have sunk and I have to admit I wouldn’t mind hearing from other team fans on how they feel about their team but telling us to be happy about where we’re at isn’t going to get you a lot of props.

    Especially on this site. RMC has devolved to one of the most negative comment sections of the sites I am on (which are way too many).

    I expect the Nuggets to win the first round and lose a hard-fought second round, a round which will show the nation that we are close, very close.

    I expect that there will be a few trades/roster moves during the off-season and we will be that much better next year, contending for a spot in the WCFs.

    In the meantime, I will continue to get a tremendous amount of entertainment value watching this version of the Nuggets as they are, by far, the most exciting team in the league when they play the way Karl wants them to.

  • chronicnugs

    Let’s review some of the prevailing conditions in the four major sports that determine both regular and post season success….

    In which sports is having the single best player the most critical? NBA, maybe NFL (but I will concede a hot goalie or a true ace are pretty damn critical).

    Which sports have stars that are primarily drawn to large markets? Or where the size of the market is equally as important as contract size or winning tradition? Which sports have the truest forms of free agency? NBA and MLB

    In which sports is the salary cap most easily manipulated (or discarded), especially when taking market size/local tv contracts into account? NBA and MLB

    Which sport has the most suspect officiating in terms of advancing league office wishes? NBA

    I’m probably being a little paranoid here, but at face value you might think the whole thing is rigged against teams like the Nuggets. And don’t offer up the Thunder. Everyone knows how improbable that is.

    I’ve been watching this team for almost 30 years. That’s too damn long to expect a championship or sustained post season success for our fly-over city. Its just not the way things work in the Association.

    Call me a defeatist, but I agree with Matt. This is a really enjoyable team with some upside. It’s well managed and fun to watch. Do I want a title? As much if not more than anyone here. However, until the league seriously addresses its own inequities, I will remain happy with exciting 50 win basketball, savor those playoff wins when they happen, and keep hoping for a more level playing field.

  • ny nugs fan

    super sid moncrief & terry cummings two of the best to ever lace ’em up!!!!

    go nugs… beat la (clips)!

  • Darrell

    I’m sure several comments echo my thoughts/feelings, but I strongly disagree with you.

    1) You call yourself unbiased, but that’s clearly not the case. I appreciate what you’re trying for, but you missed the mark.
    2) The, “I have it worse than you, and so do other teams” mentality is hardly going to make anyone feel better. Sure, it’s nice that we aren’t a bottom-of-the-barrel team, but who wants to root for a consistently mediocre team?
    3) After several years of being good but not elite, with no sign of improvement, Nuggets fan have every right to be unhappy. Not necessarily with the team, but the league as a whole. How can a small-mid market team compete with teams attracting the talent that it takes to win it all? The NBA is doing their best MLB impersonation by allowing a handful of teams to buy their way into the playoffs each year. Sure there’s gonna be the occasional upset (Rockies in ’07), but who honestly wants to root for a team that has a slight chance at pulling off an upset on a blatantly superior team?

    Just my scatter-brained $.02. A good article, but clearly we disagree.

  • Ryan

    The main problem Matt has is he didn’t read the title associated with this blog: “We’ll move the Earth for a TITLE”. That’s “TITLE”, not first-round exit. We demand more than being good…