The Avalanche and Nuggets provide the perfect tonic to the Broncos blues
After another Broncos loss, one that officially eliminated them from the playoffs and clinched another losing season, it’s time to take a break and see what else is happening around the Denver sports landscape. It’s time for a respite for trying to read Von Miller’s moods.
During this hiatus, checking in with the Avalanche and Nuggets provides some interesting food for thought:
• I believe it was a mistake that the Avs didn’t pursue Taylor Hall more aggressively. New Jersey traded Hall to Phoenix. Hall is a Hart Trophy winner in the prime of his career. He is a high-character guy. Acquiring Hall would’ve instantly made the Avs the favorite to win the Western Conference and maybe the Stanley Cup.
• I find the reasons for not making the trade shortsighted. “Hall is a free agent after the season.” “Avs can’t give up top prospects for a rental.” First of all, Hall would probably want to re-sign here to be part of such a promising organization. Secondly, prospects and draft picks are assets to be used in difference-making trades like these. Thirdly, it would be a mistake to hoard prospects, convinced they will all work out.
• Put it this way: Pierre Lacroix would’ve made this trade. He recognized the window for success can be fleeting and you owe it to your team and fans to go for it. Lacroix already had good teams, but it didn’t stop him from going after Patrick Roy, Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Theo Fleury and others to try and win now! I’m surprised Joe Sakic – who benefitted from those aggressive trades- didn’t take a page from Lacroix’s playbook.
• The Avs are good, really good. But, to say there’s no need to mess with a good thing and add to what they already have could be a strategy they regret come next spring.
• I always thought the hand wringing about Nikola Jokic’s conditioning was a bit over-wrought. There was never any doubt in my mind he’d regain his old form. My sources told me Jokic wasn’t happy about playing for Serbia during the summer. He felt pressured to play by his country and the Nuggets. So when it was over, he said, “The heck with this, I’m not going to get into tip-top NBA shape.” As a result, he started the season appearing out of shape. My response when asked about it was, “Relax, it’s a long season. He’ll play himself into shape.” It appears he’s done that.
• My take on Michael Porter, Jr: Love the kid’s talent and potential. He needs to play. However, one thing I learned from covering George Karl for years was NBA coaches of contending teams hate playing rookies. Michael Malone is no different. He just doesn’t trust MPJ to be in the right place on offense and definitely doesn’t trust him to be responsible on defense. There’s no way Malone is going to risk losing a game just to get Porter some playing time. MPJ has tantalizing upside, but always remember the Golden Rule when it comes to coaching: Coaches think more about what can go wrong and coach to not lose more than to win.
• Final take: The Avs are poised to have a great regular season. I can easily see them finishing as the top seed in the West. Will they steamroll through the playoffs or perhaps peak too early? Can they handle having the bullseye on their sweaters? On the flip side, I can see the Nuggets slogging through the regular season believing they can hit the switch come playoff time. Different approaches to be sure. It will be fascinating to see how it all works out.