(Boulder-CO) By now, and after we are all probably a little bit numb to the situation, I don't think a diatribe about who, what, or how the Nuggets could have played better in their series against the Lakers is needed. However, I do have a few thoughts about last night's game (which I attended) and the immediate future for The Nugg Doctor.
In game four, I thought there was a lot of positive points that shined both in retrospect of the season and for the future of the franchise. Here's a quick list:
- J.R. Smith is going to be a tremendous player in this league. Last night's 26-point performance was a team-high and I feel J.R. may have finally turned the corner. He is playing far superior ball in just the last half of this season in compared to his career up to that point and to lose him this off season after the franchise has been through the dark hours with this young ball player would be foolish.
- Marcus Camby's offensive inconsistency is a problem. On O, he's like playing four on five unless he grabs an offensive board. He takes bad shots, despite making a three last night for his only bucket, and is still trying to bring the ball up on the fast break. Reminds me of someone else I know...
- Carmelo Anthony is too 'Melo. I don't know about you, but when Carmelo plays with a chip on his shoulder I like his game a whole lot more. His performance last night may not be in his all-time favorites list, but I would rather see that kind of double-double (21 points- 11 rebounds) effort anytime over a 30-point - lack luster defensive effort - any day.
- AI just doesn't want to play team ball. He is who he is and that is all he will ever be. Nate Archibald was the same way for a few years early in his career, but "Tiny" made the adjustment to win a championship with the Celtics. Leaves me wondering if AI is willing to make that metamorphosis, or if you will, sacrifice.
- LK is a player that I just am not sure of how Denver is going get their full investment from. With Carmelo as the cornerstone of the franchise, I don't think LK is getting the minutes he would garner on another club and that is not only holding the Nuggets back, but LK too. It will be very interesting what happens with Linas this off season.
- Eduardo Najera plays hard, but he just doesn't fit the Nuggets' system. They need either a bigger player who plays more fours and fives, or a small player who can guard big two guards more effectively. I love all the intangibles Eduardo brings, but for the most part, he puts Denver in a tough spot a lot of the time on both offense and defense. However, his three-point shooting has been a pleasant surprise this season.
Other than that, I just have one other afterthought: the Nuggets were out played by not a superior roster, but rather a superior team. And as a result of that one critical aspect that decides who wins and who loses, the Nuggets are the first 50-win team to ever be swept in the NBA postseason. Not exactly something to be proud of, Denver. Although, there were a lot of good things along the way to such a train wreck of an ending.
As for what is next this off season on The Nugg Doctor... Of course I will still be writing op-ed pieces with my two sense on any and all news this summer. In addition, I will be bringing back the Historical Glimpses on a weekly basis. I miss writing those and the feedback from them is a perfect reason to resurrect that feature column. Now, of course I will be still bringing you, "Today's Date in NBA History" as well, but I feel those Glimpses give us all more of a historical context. I will also be working on a few interviews with some pretty big names from the media and former NBA stars, so be sure to stay current with all that goes on around here.
In the immediate future, I will be posting one or two player report cards (similar to last year's) to help us better evaluate how each player progressed, or in some cases, regressed over the course of the year. They should also be a good way to truly reflect on the 2007-08 season. We've had a good run, Nuggets Nation, but not nearly good enough to rest complacently.