In Denver, long gone are the days of the isolation ball that made Nuggets fans fall asleep watching Carmelo Anthony play one-on-one. The 2016-2017 Denver Nuggets are armed with a free-flowing, uber-athletic offense designed to leave fans gasping for breath trying to keep track of a blur of point guard that can get to the rim at will, Emmanuel Mudiay, and all the open 3s that he creates. He's paired with 19-year-old guard Jamal Murray, who is already an excellent shooter, giving the Nuggets a back court the team can build around for seasons to come. The fact that Denver was able to draft Jamal Murray at #7 when New Orleans at #6 had a bigger need for him is a steal that will haunt the Pelicans for years.
Murray knows one thing he does on a very high level is shoot the 3, as he shot 40% from behind the arc as a freshmen at Kentucky. For a young team without a lot of leadership that is just trying to find themselves, it will be exciting to watch coach Mike Malone just turn the horses loose and let Murray fling 3s from all over the floor without regard for humanity. While Murray's range commands attention, opponents can’t forget about Mudiay, who has a lot of work to do on his jumper and 3-point shot. Mark my words, this guy is the third-fastest point guard with the ball in his hands in the league. Russell Westbrook and John Wall are the only point guards that can stay in front of this guy in the half court. (Sorry Eric Bledsoe, you’re just not the same since returning from your ACL injury). Forget about it in the open floor, as Mudiay runs a track meet on a nightly basis. It is simply impossible to outrun him.
This year, Nuggets fans will be repeatedly treated to Mudiay blowing by his man and having the easy decision to dish it to Nikola Jokic for a dunk, or kick it out to Murray or Danilo Gallinari, who are both waiting on to rain down 3s like snipers. Believe it or not,. Even a coach who is best-known for being the only coach that Demarcus Cousins actually liked playing for can coach that kind of beautiful basketball.
Five things to look forward to as a Nuggets fan for the 2016-2017 season:
1. Having the front office finally pull the trigger and trade Kenneth Faried. Get a young asset and a pick in return for Faried, and both sides will be happy.
2. The development of Jokic will be exciting to watch. This guy can do it all at the age of 21 as a center. What a building block he is.
3. The over/under of how many times you think to yourself during a game. Is Mike Miller’s destiny now a future YMCA coach?? Or the 36-year-old uncle that thinks he can dribble a basketball let alone get a shot to hit the rim without a hand in his face.
4. Attending the home opener each season knowing that the coach killer/city cancer Carmelo Anthony is not on your team infecting this young and promising roster. Season ticket holders should get opening night free to acknowledge that there is still justice in this world, while Chuck Norris is the halftime entertainment.
5. How many points Gallinari will average this upcoming season with an offense this team will trot out. You better average at least 20 points or you’re dead to me!! You hear that Gallinari, I have my eye on you!
This team will scratch and claw their way to a 23-59 record, but you bet your bottom dollar this team will do it fashionably and own it. Watching what this back court will do this coming season will be very exciting, but by no means it will translate into wins. Just get the #7 pick or better and keep building this very intriguing roster. This is much better than clawing into the #8 seed and getting swept by the Warriors.