The Mile High Review returns! Just in the nick of time as well. The dust has mostly settled from the NBA Free Agency kickoff. Man, oh man, it was a dousy! Arguably, this has been the best Free Agency period since The Decision. Maybe ever. However, we don’t read too much into that in the Mile High City. Instead, we focus on how it benefits us. Yes, some teams have gotten better. At the same time, though, some teams have not. Meanwhile, Denver, the number two team in the West last season, is still here. We’re ready!
In truth, I don’t want to minimize just how the landscape has changed in the Western Conference. The Warriors are done. LeBron has one of his best running mates ever in Anthony Davis. Kawhi and George got that other LA team ready to flex. When the dust settles, though, this is Denver’s conference to lose. So, in this NBA Free Agency special edition of the Mile High Review, we will discuss the top five threats to the Nuggets making the Finals.
5. Portland Trailblazers
It seems like forever ago, but it was the Trailblazers that beat the Mile High City in seven in the playoffs. It was a hard fought series that could have gone either way, but Dame and CJ got the best of the young Nuggets. Like the Stark family though, the Mile High never forgets. Denver showed how raw they were against Portland. They did against San Antonio for that matter as well.
If Dame continues to progress (and I see no reason why he will not), Portland can see be problems for the Nuggets. Dame is one of the most underrated players in the league. He continues to prove why year in and year out. Don’t sleep on the Blazers.
4. Golden State Warriors
Initially, this is not a pick I would have made. Klay is gone for most of the season. KD is gone, gone. What made the Warriors great before KD, however, is their front office genius. Not to be forgotten, the Warriors went out and signed the best free agents that no one cared agent. Yet, everyone talked about him. That would be D’Angelo Russell. Known as the Snitchtuation in some circles, Russell BALLED last season.
It’s no secret that the Warriors are not serious contenders to win it all this next season. In fact, I don’t even really think they’re serious contenders to win the West. Still, game rec game. Steph is an absolute beast in the regular season. Even with the improvements of the other teams out West, Steph can still give the West of the Mile High City heartburn with that cocky shimmy. At the end of the day, I think Denver is better, but the Warriors will still be dangerous…in the regular season.
3. Utah Jazz
This here is the sleeper pick of the year. I’m calling that right now. If you would have told me at the end of the season that the Jazz would be contenders I would have laughed in your face. Well, now the egg is on my face. The Jazz absolutely loaded up in free agency. Even that it should worry the Mile High City. If it doesn’t worry Denver, then we’ve already lost.
Let’s look at the notables of the current Jazz roster:
The Jazz even added a player the Denver should be familiar with: Emmanuel Mudiay. Once more, I still think the Nuggets are the better team. It would not, however, surprise me too much if the Nuggets were to lose to the Jazz in the playoffs. Though, the next two teams I think are dead even with Denver.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Call me a LeBron explicative rider. I really don’t care at this point. The man has proven me wrong more times than I care to mention. To me, it is absolutely insane that people think LeBron is done. He had one bad season and it wasn’t even that bad. The Lakers did not get Kawhi, but they still have Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma. That’s still the best frontcourt in the NBA. Oh yeah. They still have arguably the best player in league history with a couple years of MVP play left.
Here’s the issue in relation to the Mile High City. The Nuggets are the better team on paper. Unfortunately, NBA games aren’t always won on paper. Things happen you cannot control. While AD is an injury waiting to happen, the Nuggets haven’t exactly been models of healthy themselves. If both teams still healthy, I’ll take the Nuggets. We shall see if that happens or not.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Who saw this coming? I sure as heck didn’t. The Clippers have (overnight) gone from the red-headed stepchild in Hollywood to the favorite to win it all in many circles. That’s what happens when you trade for Paul George and sign Kawhi Leonard. In addition, this team contains Patrick Beverly, Montrezl Harrell, and Lou Williams. The Clippers are not hurting for talent.
The one advantage the Nuggets have is cohesion. They’ve been together for a couple years now. While massively talented, the Clippers will have some growing pains. More importantly, Paul George has not been the model of consistency in the postseason. Still, this is another team that will keep the Mile High City up at night.