Why Nikola Jokic is the “King of the Unicorns” – animated video by Benjamin Sterne

Benjamin Sterne asked me to share the latest creations in his “Nug Sesh” animated Denver Nuggets video series, and I am more than happy to oblige, given the fantastic quality of his work. In this release, he compares Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to the NBA’s other “unicorn” big men, and makes the case for The Joker being King of them all.

If you have not done so already, I highly recommend that you subscribe to Benjamin’s YouTube channel “Dr. Skipaturner Productions” here, and follow him on Twitter @BenjaminSterne here so that you can always stay on top of his latest and greatest Nuggets video work as he drops it.

So, with no further ado, enjoy!



A late live tweeting of the Apr. 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game


Since, as is often the case for me, I wasn’t able to watch the April 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game live, I live tweeted it after the fact in two installments, and that’s what follows below.


First Half

Okay, here we go. Sitting down for a delayed viewing & live tweeting of the #Nuggets at #Pelicans game. Did not stay spoiler free, though.

Nuggets open with a turnover leading to a concession dunk by AD. Get the eeling that’s not the last of those…

Gallo with the long step-back 2 and the I totally DGAF anymore hair.

Murray hits a 3 and thankfully does not do the arrow gesture. I love it at the right time – but not every time.

Jokic gets stuffed twice in a row by Davis, then ties up Boogie on the other end for a jump ball.

Murray has already passed up at least 2, maybe 3 open 3-pointers. Think he wants to play in the flow, but hesitation isn’t his game.

Jokic drives in w a crazy behind the back move and lays it in. He’s just unreal sometimes, man.

DEN fails to score on about 3-4 straight trips until a Harris tip-in. Doing a lot of stationary passing. Ball moving, players not so much.

Mudiay passes over the shoulder from the paint over to Chandler for 3, reminiscent of the passing in his SL debut.

Always a good sign when Chandler gets off to a great start, which he has in this game. Plumlee on the other end can’t stop DMC at all.

Wilson really playing aggressively now, going right at the rim on a few straight possessions. This after some made jumpers. Mixing it up.

Plumlee hardest working Nuggets on the floor through this stretch, scrapping for some tough boards. Hardest job to do on D, too w Yoke out.

Mudiay another dish out from the paint, this time to Gallo for 3. He’s looking like who we thought he was.

5:35 left in the 2nd Q. Harris fights through a screen, starting a rare solid defensive possession for Denver.

Now that it’s in the past, an unanswerable chicken/egg question: Is Mudiay playing this well *because* he spent time on the bench?

Can’t really pin down causality there, but at the very least there is precedent for the same pattern his rookie year when he got injured.

Excellent pass by Faried to Harris as he cuts to the basket.

Faried’s improvement in passing this season is one of the most visible examples of the transmutative power of the Jokic effect.

Davis drives around the elbow screen to the basket, and the seas part.

Jokic threads the needle as Harris cuts again. Denver’s bread and butter.

Was tied 65-65 w/ ~2:30 left in the half, but NOP closes w/ a 10-4 run to go up 75-69 at the break. Seventy. Five.

But since it’s past 3 in the morning, gotta catch a few winks. Will have to do the second half sometime later, hopefully tomorrow, but…

Will miss HOU as well, so probably I’ll delayed live tweet that first b4 finishing the 2nd half of the Pels game. Sorry if it’s confusing.


Second Half

I only got through the 1st half of “live” tweeting the #Nuggets @ Pelicans last night, so I’m gonna finish it now b4 moving onto Houston

And then after watching HOU tomorrow, I’ll be all caught up before the Pelicans rematch. (Hopefully.) Wish I could watch it all live.

So, here goes, 2nd half of the Apr. 4 DEN @ NOP game…

Murray w/ a great pass on the drive to Plumlee who cuts for the dunk. Good for them to be developing good chemistry.

After Jokic ties it up w/ a bizarre shot off the glass from the high post, Plumlee hits a floater in the lane to put DEN up 87-85.

I doubt Plumlee will ever have range beyond 3 feet, but if he developed even a semi-reliable floater/hook in the lane, that would help.

Harris with a great spin move in the lane for the layup. He just keeps getting craftier in finding creative ways of getting to the rim.

Murray in transition w a jump pass at the arc right into 3 Pels, turns it over, easy layup the other way for Jrue.

Can’t wait to see Murray after SL & training camp next season, reducing rook mistakes, hitting the open 3s he’s missing now. Big leap ahead.

One of those stretches: DEN getting the looks they want, but shots not falling, and can’t stop anything the other way. NOP back up 5.

lol Gallo WAY off to the left on a 3 to end the 3rd but it banks in. I’m sure later he said he meant to do that. Brings DEN w/in 3.

Gallo to Mudiay, wide open catch-and-shoot 3. He’s .356 on C&S 3s on 2.3 3ptA/G this season, up from .343 on 2.0 3ptA/G last year.

Boogie torpedoes the entry pass into Crawford for the layup. He’s no Jokic, but he’s a really good passer.

Mudiay nails another open C&S 3, but Cousins answers right back w/ a 3 of his own. Then Harris 2, Harris steal, Murray 2, DEN on a run.

Mudiay to Gallo for 3 this time, his 7th dime, Nuggs go up 9 w/ 6:53 remaining. Got 3 consecutive stops by my count – an all too rare sight.

All of Mudiay, Murray, and Harris playing so well in this game, it’s hard to justify (even if healthy) why Malone started Jameer vs HOU.

With Nuggets up 5 w/ just under 3 min left, Harris banks in a huge 3 off a Jokic screen. Marlowe says “Oh, yeah!”

Refs bail out Gallo, who goes to the line & puts Nuggets up 7 with 1:26 remaining.

Meanwhile (and perhaps more interestingly), Malone off to the side has the ear of Murray, who listens attentively.

Which is another of the many reasons to believe Murray is set for a big jump next season: His attentiveness, his drive to get better.

Boogie answers with another huge 3 to cut Denver’s lead back to 4 with 1:17 remaining.

I know the outcome of this game, but it’s still pretty exciting and fun to watch how it unfolds…

Just under 40 seconds left, Jokic makes 1 of 2 FTs after a Davis oop, 131-128 Denver.

Gallo gets duped into no-man’s land, Boogie left wide open for the 3, ties it up. Nuggets fans must’ve been thinking “here we go again…”

Just like against Miami (twice? three times?) Nuggets can’t inbound, have to call time out. Maybe put this on the docket for training camp?

Wilson gets to the line, drawing a foul on Boogie on the drive, misses the first, sinks the second, Nuggets up 1 w/ 18.2 on the clock.

Like Chandler, Mudiay makes one of two FTs after being fouled on the inbound play. Nuggets use last foul to give, up 2, 9.3 left.

And there it is, Harris game-winning steal, DEN holds on to win. Unlikely, but if they make the playoffs, one of the season’s biggets plays.

And that’s all she wrote. Tomorrow, catching up with the Houston game if I have the intestinal fortitude to do so.



It’s not too late for the Nuggets to improve their draft position by tanking hard

Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder

Although the Denver Nuggets have not yet been mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs, their road to the postseason has now become so implausible as to be nearly insurmountable.

After the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the tanking Phoenix Suns yesterday, extending their current winning streak to six games, they are now a full two games ahead of Denver in the standings, though that number is effectively three, as the Blazers hold the tiebreaker between the two teams. With just six games remaining for Portland, and seven for Denver, this means that any combination of Nuggets losses and Blazers wins totaling four will officially end Denver’s postseason aspirations.

And realistically, though some Nuggets fans are still holding onto that last sliver of hope, it is now a near certainty that Portland, and not Denver, will clinch the 8th seed in the Western Conference. This point is unambiguously driven home by FiveThirtyEight’s NBA forecast, which gives the Blazers a 99 percent chance, and the Nuggets a mere 1 percent chance, of making the final cut.

The silver lining for the Nuggets, however, is that it is not too late to meaningfully improve their draft position by tanking. Let’s first take a look at the current draft standings as presented by Tankathon.com:


As you can see, the Nuggets are currently near the bottom of the draft lottery, in 13th place. Importantly, however, they share the same total of 35 wins with the two teams in 12th and 11th, the Charlotte Hornets and the Detroit Pistons.

Additionally, the Nuggets have two more games with the New Orleans Pelicans, who are currently in 10th place in the lottery standings with 33 wins – which just happens to be two less than Denver.


What this all adds up to is that if the Nuggets lose out the remainder of their last seven games, and finish with a 35-47 record, they can do no worse than finish in a four-way tie for 10th. The Pelicans, however, are not tanking, having won their last two games and seven of their last 10. And while Detroit and Charlotte both have fairly brutal closing schedules, it seems unlikely that both teams would finish the season without at least one single win.

So if the Nuggets do finish 0-7, they have a very good chance of climbing from 13th to 11th or even 10th in the draft lottery standings. And while even a jump to 10th would only improve their odds of landing a top three pick from 2.2 percent to 4 percent, the difference between the best player available at 10 and 13 could very well be quite significant.

When the Nuggets continue their five-game road trip at the Miami Heat tonight, Jameer Nelson and Will Barton will both be out, and as the Denver Post’s Nick Kosmider reports, Denver has called back Malik Beasley from the D-League, and he along with Emmanuel Mudiay are both expected to see “extensive” minutes:

This opens up what may be the Nuggets’ last best chance to finish the season with a positive outcome by tanking the rest of the way out, and thereby increasing their chances of landing a player this summer who can truly make an impact as part of Denver’s young core of the future.