Denver Nuggets: Sleeping Giants of the West

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 29: Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets steals the ball from Dwight Powell (7) of the Dallas Mavericks during the first quarter on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Before the dawn of the season,  a handful of teams seemingly fit as championship-worthy contenders. Despite slow starts from some of the aforementioned franchises, the glimmer of hope stood firm. However, if a Western Conference falls behind too soon, it’s a challenging task to get back in the race. Although the Denver Nuggets, sleeping giants out west,  aren’t a convincing team so far.

The NBA’s Sleeping Giant: The Denver Nuggets

Despite a 4-2 record, Nikola Jokic’s public criticism on his doughy physique and apathetic efforts are dominating the talks surrounding the Denver Nuggets. The team soiled chances to defeat the Dallas Mavericks in Denver. Nikola Jokic, even with a silent triple-double, didn’t play like a superstar, quite frankly.

On a more embarrassing note, the eight-seed bubble team New Orleans Pelicans beat the Nuggets by double-digits. The 4-2 record, though respectable, is deceptive. Although the Nuggets survived the young-and-rising Suns, it wasn’t in a convincing manner. Offensively, Denver showcased a stinker. The .501 true shooting percentage from the battle with the Suns still rings in an Amber alert like tone.

Although the season is in its infancy, the lack of drive is reaching Denver Nugget’s head coach Mike Malone’s threshold of patience.

“We’re a great talk team. We can talk before the season starts about all the things we want to accomplish, and we want to be a contending team, It’s all bulls—. Don’t tell me about it, show me. And right now we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t showing me much.”

Despite a winning record, for a team with championship aspirations, fumbling into a 4-2 isn’t worthy of contender status. Perhaps there is more than what meets the eye. However, even if the perception is deceiving, it’s all we have to go by at the moment. Furthermore, Malone knows his team more than any blogger or reporter, so this angry yet inspirational quote speaks volumes.

Everyone’s effort isn’t built from the same template. Some, such as NBA great Shaquille O’Neal, dominated without much push. Meanwhile, other players treat every possession like it’s their last. Jokic is a hybrid of the two, with a little less of a burst than Shaq. In the contest versus the Orlando Magic, Jokic let out a shining moment the Nuggets have missed this season.

The Road Ahead for the Denver Nuggets

Whether the Denver Nuggets are sleepwalking or not, it’s imperative to their position in the Western Conference standings they snap out of the apathy nap. The next three teams have a combined record of 14-4. The Miami Heat is tonight’s contest, and since Jimmy Butler’s return to action, the Heat tout an offensive rating good enough for 9th in the league; Also, more impressively, Butler’s influence has blessed the team by securing the third-best defense.

After playing such a dog-of-a-game, the Nuggets face off against a battle-tested Philadelphia 76ers team. Joel Embiid is coming off his two-game suspension for his scuffle with Karl Anthony-Towns. Embiid is infamous for his wars with frontcourt players in the league. Fighting aside, it’s somewhat rare for a team with a pedestrian offense to confidently sit with a  5-1 record.

The combination of Al Horford and Embiid, a daunting task for most frontcourt players, could be what Jokic needs to reignite the fire in his belly. Although Jokic doesn’t showcase a bodybuilder frame, it’s clear he isn’t an NBA doormat. Enough bark will wake up a giant.

Finally, on the final stretch of playoff-hopeful teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves patiently wait for the Nuggets. Before the season, there wasn’t a single notable projection with the Timberwolves in the playoffs. However, contrary to the critics and analysts’ beliefs, the typically underperforming roster is on its best start since 2015.

A Sleeping Giant’s Elixer

Fortunately for Nuggets’ fans, sometimes all it takes for a poor soul to feel a giant’s wrath is to come knocking. Expect Jokic’s point average and attempts to see improvements in light of the upcoming schedule. If the Nuggets wants to survive the cruel Western Conference, Jokic must find his stride. With a team this talented and well-coached, there is no doubt the sleeping giants will fee-fie-foe-fum their way out of this funk.

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