Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com
After a mediocre start primarily caused by an extremely difficult schedule, the Denver Nuggets are looking more and more like the team we thought they would be.
Their record has climbed to 32-18 and they have moved all the way up to fourth in the Western Conference. For the past month, they’ve been one of the best teams in the NBA and as the playoffs draw ever closer, one can’t help but wonder if this team really is a potential champion, or if the firepower of teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will take them down in one of the earlier rounds.
If we’re going by depth, the Nuggets are pretty much unmatched. They have a second unit full of players that could start for the majority of teams in the league.
They are especially stacked at the point guard position, with both Ty Lawson and Andre Miller on the roster. What makes this pairing great is that they can–and often do–play together. The explosiveness of Lawson combined with the veteran experience and excellent passing of Miller makes them one of the deadliest combinations in the league.
The pairing of Lawson and Miller isn’t the only luxury of the Nuggets’ great depth. The energy Corey Brewer provides off the bench is a huge part of their high-scoring offense. After struggling to find a home with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks, Brewer finally found the right team in Denver and his excellent athleticism is finally being used properly.
Equally enticing off the bench is center JaVale McGee. People tend to blame McGee for his shortcomings, and indeed he certainly has his flaws, but he’s also an amazing athlete who can dominate the weaker second-unit centers in the game. The solid players on the Nuggets’ bench unit are a huge part of why they’ve been so dominant lately.
Which is not to take anything away from the starting group.
While Andre Iguodala‘s numbers are a bit short of his peak years, he was still an extremely valuable acquisition for the Nuggets with his amazing defense and solid passing. Quite simply, the Nuggets have more impact players than just about any team in the league and that should serve them very well in the postseason.
But will it be enough to take them all the way?
The problem with this team, and we’ve been hearing this for about two years now, is that they don’t have a true superstar. There’s no one guy on the roster that you can look at and say with absolute confidence that they can carry the team to victory or make a crucial last shot. There’s no transcendent player like Kevin Durant or Chris Paul on this team.
That’s been established for some time now, but the Nuggets’ overall talent is enough that it might not even matter. This is a team that can score at will and has one of the best defenders in the game in Iguodala.
The lack of a superstar might hurt in games when the team is down by 20 and there’s no one who can make a quick barrage of shots, but the Nuggets are good enough that they probably won’t find themselves in that position very often.
This is not to say that they can definitely make it to the Finals, just that their depth can overcome the lack of a superstar. Whether or not they’ll be able to get past the San Antonio Spurs, who are also deep and extremely well-coached, is an entirely different conversation.
With that said, it doesn’t seem crazy to think that this team might make a very deep playoff run. They’re deep, they’re tough and they can match anyone on the scoreboard. They aren’t the favorites to win the West, but they shouldn’t be counted out either.
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