At the moment the NBA is in a hiatus and no one knows when the season will resume. Some NBA fans would rather just move onto next season but
if you are a LeBron James fan you of course would not want that being that LeBron James is approaching the age of 36 and everything was going right for him this season. Anthony Davis has remained healthy for the most part and LeBron James has had a MVP caliber season with the Los Angeles Lakers sitting at the top of the West prior to the Corona-virus taking over globally. The favorites for the NBA title in the eyes of many are the Milwakee Bucks,Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers and rightfully so each of those 3 teams boast 4 of the top 10 players in the game in Giannis Antetokoumpo,LeBron James,Anthony Davis,and Kawhi Leonard. Paul George is arguably top 10 in the eyes of some NBA fans but in my opinion he is just outside my top 10 being that he is more of a second option and has lost in the 1st round back to back seasons.
Let’s talk about the Denver Nuggets, I was hyped to see Michael Porter Jr make his debut at Missouri as he looked nothing like the player I saw in high-school, he looked slow and had no elevation at the college level in the lone 2 games he played so I was not shocked he fell all the way to 14th in the 2018 NBA Draft. I thought Jerry West was going to swoop in and grab Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr but to my surprise he drafted shooting-guard Jerome Robinson which caught me by surprise, so far Jerome Robinson has not done much at the NBA level he is was traded away from the Clippers to the Wizards at the trade deadline and has seen an increase in minutes so far so good for him. Makes sense now though, Jerry West traded away Tobias Harris at the deadline and later on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander but now he has a team capable of winning a championship led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. I wanted to see Michael Porter Jr on the Clippers but when the Nuggets drafted him I saw the Nuggets vision. I recall the Nuggets rejecting a trade that would have sent Jamal Murray to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving and from that moment I understood the Nuggets were hell-bent on building a trio of their own through the draft.
Nikola Jokic who is the face of the Nuggets is as unselfish as they come, he does not see himself above anyone on the Nuggets’s roster and is arguably the best passing big man we have ever seen grace an NBA floor. He can rebound,score in the post,push the ball up the floor and find cutters and shooters, and at 7’0 he can see over the defense and create mismatches by bringing bigs out to the 3 point line due to his ability to knock down jumpers which is knocking down at just over a 30 percent clip. Jamal Murray was a combo guard coming out of Kentucky and has had to learn how to play the point guard position at the NBA level but being that Nikola Jokic is practically a point guard just 7 foot tall, play-making duties are not solely put in the hands of Jamal Murray which allows for him to play more of an off-the ball role where he can score off catch and shoot opportunities off passes from Nikola Jokic and not to mention Jamal Murray has the ball handling ability to shake you out of your shoes and carry the offense if needed. Jamal Murray has the ability to go off for 30-40 points any given night and can put on a shooting clinic reminiscent to Stephen Curry, believe me I saw him light up the Oklahoma City Thunder for 33 points on TV once and he looked like a combination of Stephen Curry and Allen Iverson that night which is flat out scary.
The Denver Nuggets made a very clever acquisition last off-season by acquiring Jerami Grant and it’s funny how no one took notice of it but myself and Michael Malone. Jerami Grant has a 7-3 wingspan and is oozing with athleticism and the young legs to take on the best wing on the opposing team meaning if the Nuggets face off against the Lakers or Clippers in the playoffs I won’t say Jerami Grant will stop LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard in their tracks but those two will certainly have their hands full with Jerami Grant as he has the athleticism,quickness,and length to stay in front of those two elite wings and contain them for stretches throughout a playoff game. I look back at the Durant-Curry Golden State Warriors and two of the teams that made them look vulnerable were the Rockets who boasted a long-athletic wing defender in Trevor Ariza and the San Antonio Spurs with Kawhi Leonard. The Rockets pushed the Warriors to the brink of elimination the 2018 West Finals and of course Zaza Pachulia robbed us of a possible historic series the 2017 West Finals as the Kawhi Leonard wrecked havoc on the Warriors on both ends of the floor and playing the passing lanes like mad man prior to getting injured, oh yeah they had the Warriors down 30 points by half-time.
So with that said the Denver Nuggets have the ingredients for a championship, last season I was not too optimistic about them going into the playoffs because despite them winning 54 games I knew they were not going to get out of the West because they lacked a second-scorer behind Jamal Murray and no I don’t think Nikola Jokic is that 1st or 2nd option. Nikola Jokic is a pass-first player and much more comfortable orchestrating the offense for his teammates, yes he can go off for 40 any given night but that is not who Nikola Jokic is. I look back at the Showtime Lakers and sure Magic Johnson was the leader of the team and floor general but James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the main scorers on the team. Michael Porter Jr is the best scorer the Nuggets have but I can understand why Michael Malone is reluctant to put him out there full-time due to his weak defense, it’s unfortunate that we can’t see Michael get big-time minutes but he just needs to remain patient because his time will come.
I understand some things take time to take fruition but if the NBA would resume the season I would not be shocked if the Nuggets blow everyone away and win the title because they are an unselfish team that plays defense more important of all. Sure they are a young bunch but the Nuggets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals last season, it was just unfortunate they ran into a Portland Trailblazer team with much more playoff experience than them but be it Michael Porter Jr coming off the bench of starting to have that level of a scorer off the bench will give the Nuggets a secret weapon going into the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Michael Porter Jr can score in just about every way possible and has developed a jab-step which he uses off the dribble which I’ve seen him put defenders on the floor with this season. I recall in a game against the Celtics early on this season the moment he got in the game the Nuggets offense went on a quick run and Michael Porter Jr hit a 3 coming off a screen,caught a pass from Jokic off a cut for an acrobatic lay-up in which he maneuvered in the air switched the ball from his left hand to his right and layed it in smoothly. At 6’10 and with a 7’0″ wingspan, Michael Porter Jr reminds me a lot of Kevin Durant and we all know how dynamic Kevin Durant made the Warriors look as he was a nightmare for opposing defenses who had to chase Steph Curry and Klay Thompson around all game as Kevin Durant lit teams up with his outside shooting and overwhelming athleticism on fast-breaks.
To conclude most would say the Denver Nuggets are still a few years away but I think they are ready right now. The break has served Michael Porter Jr well as he has been working on strengthening his ankle and has been working on his game to come back and show the NBA World why he was once being touted as the #1 overall pick prior to his back-injury which kept him out all year at Missouri. Michael said he wanted to be the greatest Nugget of all-time and I think he has all the potential to become just that if he can help the Nuggets win a couple titles as we enter this new decade. I still recall Michael stating he’s not in the NBA for the money and glamour as he saw a young girl lose her life due to a battle with cancer and that really touched me. It showed me the humility in Michael and I know he is focused on carving out a legacy which will leave an imprint on the NBA forever. Michael Porter Jr sat there and saw Luka Doncic and Trae Young who are now all-stars get called before him and sure most would say Luka and Trae are miles ahead of him so far but it is a marathon not a sprint remember that. Michael Porter Jr knows his time will come eventually and what better way to burst into the scene than to help the Denver Nuggets hoist a Larry O’Brine trophy this season? I’m rooting for Michael Porter Jr and the Denver Nuggets, I have a feeling they are on the brink of something special this season, till next time.