Tonight, the Nuggets play their final preseason game, looking to finish the exhibition season with a perfect 4-0 record. Few will be watching their last tuneup, however, as the game against the Trail Blazers at Pepsi Center will be overshadowed by the Broncos-Chiefs tilt at Empower Field and it’s still not available on Altitude in the Denver area.
That said, the hype surrounding Michael Malone’s team isn’t dying down. If anything, it’s gaining momentum.
The team’s stars are back, ready to make another leap in the development. Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are all potential All-Stars in 2020.
And the supporting cast is more intriguing. Denver’s top offseason acquisition, Jerami Grant, has looked good in the preseason. Meanwhile, the Nuggets X-factor, forward Michael Porter Jr., has shown flashes of greatness during his first three games since returning from a variety of injuries that sidelined him for more than a year.
So it’s not surprising that people in the Mile High City are excited about the upcoming season. But it is still a bit of a shock when national media members jump on the bandwagon. For so long, the Nuggets have been an afterthought in NBA circles, a team that resides in a flyover city and has no chance of competing for a title, that it’s strange when they land on the radar of people outside of Denver.
But it happened again this week. When Zach Lowe ranked every NBA team based on how interesting they’ll be to watch this season, the long-time ESPN writer had the Nuggets at No. 5.
Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:
“You could pull the names of four non-All-Stars out of a hat, put them on the floor with Nikola Jokic, and have a borderline top-five-watchability team. Some passes exist only because Jokic envisions them, and dares to throw them. There is no passing lane. No one is open. Only Jokic sees that if he dribbles over there, Gary Harris or Jamal Murray will slide two steps that way, and a void of 3-D space just larger than a basketball might open somewhere between the floor and a defender’s outstretched arm.”
It’s nice to see that people are finally appreciating the basketball brilliance of the Nuggets center. He’s an unconventional star, given that he doesn’t play above the rim, but that doesn’t make him any less fun to watch. For basketball purists, Jokic is must-see TV.
Lowe goes on to praise other Nuggets, as well. But his interest in the team is mostly based on Jokic.
“But Jokic is the star attraction, and it goes beyond his passing. He’s a post-up brute with classic footwork — counters upon counters. He is the king of the long-distance tip-in, even if he has to tip the ball to himself first.”
People who know basketball are in on the secret. The Nuggets, thanks in large part to their big man in the middle, are going to be a treat to watch in 2019-20.
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