DROP THE MIKE

Championship swagger, a costly gamble and Nuggets nuggets

Nov 10, 2023, 5:34 AM | Updated: 5:40 am

• Michael Malone said after the Nuggets win over Golden State how proud he was of his team’s start to the season. Denver is tied for most games played in the NBA and they just finished a stretch of seven games in 11 days. Before the season, Denver’s head coach talked about the “responsibility” of defending their championship. The players have responded. Very impressed with their professionalism.

• While I’m not surprised at anything Nikola Jokic does, I’m making it my mission this season to really concentrate on enjoying everything he does. Many times as sports fans we have to study sports history. We’re not always lucky to realize we are witnessing all-time sports moments as they happen. The Age of Jokic is one that will go down in the NBA history books and I don’t want to take one moment of it for granted.

• Aaron Gordon just gets it, doesn’t he? Whatever is needed to win, he does it, no questions asked. Someday, I’m going to do an all-underrated Denver athletes Mt. Rushmore. He’ll be on it.

• KCP seems to mean it when he says he wants to be NBA Defensive Player of the Year, huh?

• Michael Porter, Jr. is making the effort to become an all-around player. Good for him. However, I still chuckle at the lengths some people go to to pump up his game. “Look at those rebounds!” “Look at that finish in traffic!” “How about that defensive slide?!” Folks, MPJ is in the middle of a five-year, $180 million contract that pays him $36 million a year. For that kind of coin, I would hope he’d be doing those things and more.

• I feel bad for Jamal Murray. Even though he has established himself as one of the “big game” guards of the NBA, like every player, making the All-Star team is a big deal. Murray hasn’t added that to his resume and missing a month due to an injured hamstring will likely ruin his chance.

• But that’s nothing compared to what he could be losing out financially. Murray turned down a chance to sign a three-year, $145 million extension before the season. Jamal was betting on himself that he could be named first- or second-team All-NBA. If that happened, he’d be eligible for a Super Max contract. NBA insider Bobby Marks estimates a contract like that would be approximately five years, $304 million. Guaranteed. That stings.

• The story of this regular season is what does the Nuggets’ bench look like come playoff time. I’m on board with giving young players Christian Braun, Julian Strawther, Collin Gillespie, Peyton Watson, Zeke Nnaji and Hunter Tyson all the chances they can earn. Right up until the trade deadline. At that point, all bets are off. These young players have either solidified their spots in the playoff rotation or the front office needs to be aggressive in going out and bringing in established veterans. The Nuggets are in a championship window. This is no time to not be bold.

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Championship swagger, a costly gamble and Nuggets nuggets