NBA Playoffs Preview: Denver Nuggets

Orchid - Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow! (2000)

The biggest surprise during the 2nd half of the NBA season has been the success of the Denver (K)Nuggets. As with most teams who trade their superstar away for young players and assets, they were expected to struggle. Take the Utah Jazz...please! However, a few days after Denver made their blockbuster trade with the Knicks, picking up Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, and Ray Felton, they beat the Celtics on national television, finishing the game off on a dominating 16-0 run. They would eventually win 17 of 22 games and position themselves as a dangerous playoff team, an unknown quantity in an age where teams are stacking together star players in order to compete for a title.

The Nuggets are doing it a different way, through a 10-deep rotation that spreads the wealth as much as any team we've seen. Take a look at these scoring averages since the trade was made:

Danilo Gallinari - 15.5
JR Smith - 14.4
Nene - 13.7
Ty Lawson - 13.6
Wilson Chandler - 12.3
Ray Felton - 11.0
Kenyon Martin - 10.7
Aaron Afflalo - 10.7
Al Harrington - 8.0

There hasn't been a team this socialist since Adam Morrison retired to focus on his poetry. The Nuggets are smashing the star-ocracy and sparking a team construct revolution. If you think Paris 1968 was bad, you watch: Denver 2011 will be worse!

Orchid didn't think Paris 1968 was bad at all. In fact, they spent the late 90s-early 00s constructing fast, chaotic, and strangely beautiful songs about philosophers and revolutionaries. On the track "Victory Is Ours" off their EP/10" Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow!, vocalist Jayson Green screams "I was born in 1968/I was born in '68/And I'm born again!/Fresh face for the stenciled walls/Debord is always right here", referencing Guy Debord and the Situationalist International. Greene furthers the motif in "I Am Nieztczhe":

I make the sounds you can't understand
This is my critique!
This is my subversion!
This is my revolution!
I make the sounds that you can't understand

It is hard to understand how a trade that deals one of the top 10 players in the league and a point guard who at one point played in 7 straight conference finals would actually benefit a team. From Charles Barkley being traded for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and Tim Perry to Kevin Garnett being traded for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, and birthday cake dunking specialist Gerald Green, these "3 quarters for a dollar" trades tend to leave a team in shambles and perpetual rebuilding mode.

Denver subverted this trend by making sure the 3 quarters they got were legitimate starters, and holding out for a 4th quarter (Mozgov), who the Knicks barely could afford to part with considering their lack of size. GM Masai Ujiri masterfully used a team that Melo showed no interest in playing with (New Jersey) as a bargaining chip and made sure owner Stan Kroenke was involved in order to bring the Knicks buffoonish owner James Dolan and his trusty sidekick Isiah Thomas into the process. In the end, the team that normally gets burned shifted the paradigm and created a blueprint for future trades of this magnitude.

Orchid's lyrics made bored art school kids take notice, but their real appeal was in the fast drumming and secretly brutal guitar riffs, with songs rarely surpassing 2 minutes. Early splits with Pig Destroyer and Combatwoundedveteran gave them cred from a crowd who would rarely admit to liking anything associated with the "screamo" label. On the other hand, those who were more in touch with their feelings enjoyed the melodies while still being able to spaz out in a more accessible way.

While the Nuggets lack a star in the front court, the size and strength they can feature with the likes of Kenyon Martin, Nene, Chris "Birdman" Andersen and even Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos can create matchup problems for any undersized opposition (any wonder why likely 1st round opponent Oklahoma City made sure to get Kendrick Perkins?). The Nuggets can throw out a secretly brutal lineup of 7 footers and physical power forwards if they feel like it. They can also go super small and fast with Ty Lawson, Ray Felton, JR Smith, and Aaron Afflalo. They are just that fucking deep. And their 22 game run is a critique of top heavy teams like the Miami Heat. This is their subversion! This is their revolution!

Follow Schmucko on Twitter for more Mozgov discussion, and for more Emo Spring NBA Playoff Previews, click here and wallow in your weird combination of nostalgia and embarrassment.


Kelly said...

I can't believe you unearthed J.R. Smith's picture.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Denver took the Orchid path from May '68 instead of following an arguably more successful (although equally unsustainable) path like the one Refused took. Does this team have a Shape of Punk to Come in them? Doubtful, but a Dance Tonight... is noteworthy enough!

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