The Denver Nuggets took some quick jabs to the face early on this season.
Losing Andre Iguodala in free agency was a blow to the chin, not having Danilo Gallinari to start the season was a shot to the gut, losing JaVale McGee less than 10 games into the season was a cross to the face, but the team that has been to the playoffs 10 years straight was still standing, still fighting to make it 11.
The team was still in the fight even after two more hard punches to the body. Andre Miller quit, and Nate Robinson had knee surgery that sidelined him for rest the year. Ty Lawson was holding the franchise on his shoulders.
Sitting at 22 wins and 22 losses, the Nuggets were just two games out of the playoff picture. It seemed like the team that has found its way in to the playoffs each year for the past decade would find its way into the playoffs again. In Denver it feels like the Nuggets always find a way in, even if they lose in the first round.
Then the haymaker came flying in and made square contact with the Denver Nuggets’ wobbly chin.
Ty Lawson suffered a broken rib against Detroit. The Nuggets and this fan base can kiss the decade long playoff streak goodbye. It’s over. Down goes Frazier.
Don’t believe me? Just look at how the team responded. Following the injury the Nuggets took a first round knockout at Indiana and lost by 39. They followed that stinker with a TKO against a sub .500 Timberwolves team in a game they lost by 27.
In the two games without Lawson, the Nuggets’ average margin of defeat was 33. Uh oh.
I know it’s not easy playing with 10 players, but the Nuggets didn’t even step into the ring. Their play screams, “We just lost our best player, and nothing is going our way so let’s just go enjoy the All-Star break.”
The Nuggets now have a 0.5, yes that says POINT FIVE, percent chance at making the playoffs according to the advanced stat formula that’s known as the Hollinger playoff odds. It’s time to stop comparing this team to the eighth or seventh seed in the West, and it’s time to start comparing them to the 14th and 15th seed.
The Nuggets looked just as bad in the last two games as any Western Conference team has this season. Just terrible. The team’s play shows I have some company on the “We Aren’t Making The Playoffs” bandwagon, and that company includes the players themselves.
Ty Lawson showed some leadership with his tweet after Wednesday’s loss stating, “Tough loss.. All star break couldn’t have came soon enough… Take a break and back it on Tuesday.. We not flat lined yet.. #blueandyellow”
Sorry Ty, I love the optimism, and this further proves that you are the right point guard to build around, but we needed you playing at 100 percent for the rest of the season after Robinson’s injury to make the playoffs. We are dead on arrival at the hospital.
The Nuggets now sit 6.5 games out of the eighth seed in the west. Even if Lawson comes back after the All-Star break with his rib healthy enough to play, he won’t be a 100 percent.
I can’t see the 10 remaining Nuggets and a half-strength Lawson being seven games better than Golden State or Phoenix in the second half of the season.
It’s been a nice run Denver. We got to enjoy playoff hoops for 10 years straight, and it sucks we have nothing but a single Western Conference Finals appearance to show for it.
It also sucks the Orlando Magic own our first round pick. Former general manager Masai Ujiri’s risk on the Iguodala trade of including a pick is sure killing us now. We lost Iguodala and the potential to draft a superstar.
All of the sudden, the hopes for the New York Knicks tanking and us getting a superstar isn’t as bright (Denver owns NYK’s pick). The way the Nuggets have “fought” recently, their first round pick looks a lot nicer than the Knicks’ first round pick – they’d be happy to swap at the end of the season.
This season is filled with teams tanking on purpose to get a superstar in this draft, and the Denver Nuggets are tanking because they took too many blows to the head. The only problem is that tanking won’t put this franchise in a top five draft spot, and we could be suffering from these blows for years to come.