Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Manimal And The Minimal

One of the really fun things about this NBA season has been the rise of the Energy Team, a collection of guys who buy into a team concept, go deep with athleticism, and win a lot more than they normally do, because of the sprint schedule. It's happened in Philadelphia, it's happened in Indianapolis, and it's happened in Denver... but unlike those first two teams, Denver just keeps winning. I caught the tail end of their game tonight against Sacramento, one of those classic home trap games, in that the Nugs had played the night before in San Antonio and won, while the Kings had the day off in Colorado. Game on.

What happened in the game isn't all that important, although watching Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson come up huge in regulation and overtime to overcome some shaky calls was more than enough fun, really. But to see the chemistry of this club, and the otherworldly athleticism and hops of rookie power forward Kenneth "Manimal" Faried, was just amazing.

Here's some of Faried's work, if you haven't had the pleasure. I think he might throw it down harder than Blake Griffin. And if there were a real slam dunk championship, rather than whatever that mess in Orlando was, you'd know him by now. Please, Manimal, don't hurt 'em.

His first NBA points:



Oh, and he plays defense, too.



Take one more. It's good for the soul.



Anyway... there's just something wonderful about watching a young team, having fun, that has no idea how good or bad they are supposed to be. You can tell this Denver team is George Karl's dream squad; they can do anything on the court and he's covered by the media, and every time he goes to his bench, he's got something interesting to bring into the game. In Ty Lawson, he's got the secret great point guard that every up and coming team needs, and in Andre Miller, he's got the cool hand bench minutes that keeps the offense moving. (Lawson, by the way, is the Minimal to Faried's Manimal, and nearly as much fun to watch.)

The Nugs should be getting better, now that starters Danilo Gallinari and Nene Hiario are coming back from injury; I actually think they will suffer a bit from reintegrating guys that aren't desperately intense on defense, but that's quibbling, really. After a 5 to 10 game adjustment, assuming future health, this is your true dark horse club in the Western Conference playoffs... because they've got a real home court advantage, a coach that's in his element, athletes all over the roster and a legitimate chance at a different hero every night.

And no, that won't be good enough to get past the Thunder or win an NBA Championship... but jeez, if you can't have fun watching these guys, you really need to see someone about your medical condition. Denver is quickly becoming a top five option to watch, and they raise the opponent to their level. Check them out with a quickness.

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