2012 Denver Nuggets Diary, Entry #2

Just 1/99th into the Nuggets 2011-2012 season, my season prognostication looks good.  It is very early, but the team is shaping up to pose the threat I suspected before the season started.  The variety of skills and team depth offered by the Nuggets will be hard to stop on a consistent basis in this hectic, shortened schedule.

Through 1 ½ games, here is what we do know about this year’s edition of the Nuggets:

Ty Lawson, Next Star Point Guard

Lawson already ranks comfortably among the five fastest players handling the ball in the game.  He is on the cusp of a breakthrough, becoming one of the game’s best point guards.  In addition to his blinding speed pushing the transition game, Lawson has shown solid outside shooting ability, excellent court vision, and an uncanny ability to finish off the drive.  As the Nuggets unleash their own rendition of the famed Dribble Drive Motion offense, Lawson will be this team’s star.  After Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, I don’t see a better point guard in the Western Conference today.

If Nene plays like this MOST of the time …

At the half tonight (Utah @ Denver), renowned Jekyll-Hyde, tantalizing potential stud Nene has 19 points on 7/9 shooting.  He has offered up nice post moves and excellent penetration to the bucket, all against a team that I suspect will be above average in post defense this season.  If Nene plays like this MOST of the time … never mind, I don’t want to jinx it.  A player with potential is simply a player that hasn’t accomplished enough yet.  If any 9-year NBA veteran has potential, it’s Nene.

Al Harrington apparently spent some time with Charles Barkley this offseason

So much for the theory that mass can only be created and not destroyed by overpaid NBA players in the middle of big contracts.  Al Harrington is in shape, driving the lane, and making open threes.  A healthy, fit Harrington offers yet another (unsuspected) offensive weapon for the Nuggets.

Timofey Mozgov is not a stiff

Mozgov has nailed two 15-footers tonight, albeit while wide open.  In this offense, he’ll have to hit his open looks.  It appears that he can, with some degree of consistency.  The near deal-breaking demand for Mozgov in the Melo Trade appears to be yet another worthy endeavor of the Nuggets’ front office.

I don’t think George Karl misses J.R. Smith, at all.

Nor do I.

While I suspect a triumphant season, 2 ½ questions remain.

Who will be the crunch time scorer?

You need crunch time to identify a crunch time scorer.  That hasn’t happened yet.  Throughout the season, the Nuggets will be hard to defend because of their offensive versatility and selflessness, but a ruthless gunner would be nice.  If I could fire up Doc Brown’s DeLorean and kidnap Reggie Miller circa 1997, I’d be a lot happier right now.

Will this team consistently defend dynamic offensive superstars?

Save Dirk Nowitzki, who at this point appears to be recovering from a five-month hangover (along with the rest of his teammates), the Nuggets have not had to defend a dynamic offensive player.  With strong individual defenders in tow, I am optimistic, but I’ll be looking for games against CP3’s Clippers, Wade and LeBron’s Heat, and Durant’s Thunder to indicate whether this team has the necessary intestinal fortitude to defend the game’s best.

Will Nene play like this MOST of the time?

Good question.

Editor’s Note:  My halftime bravado was not wasted.  Nene thanked his Lord and Savior before answering his first post-game interview question, and the good mojo continues for the Nuggets.

Wednesday night’s game statistics:  Denver Nuggets (2 – 0) 117 – Utah Jazz (0 – 2) 100; Individual Leaders: Nene 25 points (10-13 FGs); Ty Lawson 15 points; Andre Miller 7 points, 12 assists; Rudy Fernandez 11 points, 8 assists; Nuggets Team Statistics: 29 assists – 18 turnovers, 17 steals, 3 blocks, 45-39 rebounding advantage, 27 fast break points, and 68 points in the paint.

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