The NBA is back. Kind of.
The league is facing their version of a new normal. In their words, it’s a whole new game for everyone. What wonders will the Disney Bubble bring to the teams, players, fans and even the league itself?
I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the Denver Nuggets hogged the most attention during these NBA bubble scrimmages, at least for anything that happened on the court (yes, I’m looking at you Lou Williams). I don’t have access to any advanced statistics to support my claim, but it seems pretty fair.
From Bol Bol balling out to Michael Porter Jr. shining in his only game, it sometimes felt like the Nuggets were the only team playing in Disney World. As a matter of fact, they commanded the spotlight right from the beginning when coach Mike Malone trotted out his starting five for the opening game against the Wizards.
“Meh, Mason Plumlee.”
“Oh wow, nice. Bol Bol is starting!”
“Wait, Jokic is listed as a point guard?”
Those were the three immediate reactions right from the get go and it got the internet excited. Three seven-footers in the starting line-up and one playing at the point? What will they think of next?
It felt like something out of Jon Bois’ “NBA Y2K” series on SB Nation, where he tested the limitations of NBA 2K by adjusting the settings and players to the extreme. The Nuggets bubble scrimmages were the closest real-life example as you can get to someone blasting the height and wingspan of their players on NBA 2K to the max. (We’ve all done it at some point, admit it.)
Just as fun it is to play 2K in those settings, it was super entertaining to watch the Nuggets do the same thing. They were passing the ball over defenders wherever they needed it to be. Whether it was dumping it in the post or kicking it back out, they didn’t have to squeeze out the angles to get the ball through defenders. They’d move the ball until a size mismatch presented itself and attack at it until they got their way. Their long, long arms waved around in the paint, overlapping each other and shadowing the offense from a clear path to the basket.
It isn’t even fair to set a cut-off height to highlight the Nuggets going super big at merely the seven-foot mark. Jeremi Grant (6’8”), Paul Millsap (6’7”), Torrey Craig (6’7”) are all big forwards with long arms who are just unfortunately dwarfed by their oversized teammates. You even forget that Michael Porter Jr. is a legit 6’10” when you watch him play with the fluidity of a two-guard.
Suddenly, we’ve arrived at a reality where the Denver Nuggets could potentially put out a lineup of Jokic, MPJ, Bol Bol, and Plumlee… and it wouldn’t feel awkward to watch. Just as how the Warriors incidentally stumbled on and excelled the concept of super small ball, could the Nuggets have figured out a way to effectively go in the completely opposite direction?
Hit the brakes for a bit, though.
It’s certainly fun to imagine the Nuggets super-sized squad in action, just as it would be to play NBA2K with a team of 12 edited seven-footers. However, as the case with most video games, it might not pan out as properly in reality.
That reality is that we’re probably not going to see as much of this big ball lineup as we crave for when the actual NBA bubble games take place.
Jamal Murray will certainly return to his role as the lead ball handler for the team. Bol Bol, for all of his awesome play these past three games, is not quite there yet as a contributor for a team like the Nuggets who aiming for a deep Playoff run this season. Jokic will have to take on a more aggressive role as well and will be playing huge minutes.
These past few games for the Nuggets have been fun to watch. The team will also be pretty darn good in the Playoffs, but I doubt it will be because of the imagined super-sized lineup.
Before you starting jumping off the bandwagon, this doesn’t mean the “Big Ball Boys” shouldn’t be a part of the Nuggets’ future. The core of this team is very young and, as we’ve seen in these scrimmage games, full of potential. The reason we’re so excited about the idea of Jokic/MPJ/Bol on the court is because of all the possibilities they can create playing together. How do you stop a trio of super big guys with guard-like skills? That should certainly be something coach Malone has on his mind for the team’s future down the road.
If you were excited about all of the headlines and buzz that the Nuggets were generating during these scrimmage games, brace yourselves. That same attention might take a slight dip in the upcoming month, but it might just blast off the roof in the upcoming years should these players develop as their fans hope for into becoming a championship contending team.