Melo, OJ and JaJuan
Cub Scouts the Daily Hoops Scene.
by Cub Buenning
–For the second straight game, the Denver Nuggets played beautiful team basketball, built a monstrous lead and were able to rest their starters during a 4th quarter cakewalk. Last night, it was the Miami Heat (sans a gimpy LeBron James) that fell victim to a motivated Nugget squad, by a score of 130-102. These past two performances naturally lend itself to the “why does Carmelo Anthony want to leave this team?” argument (and one that Mike “The Czar” Fratello even pondered last night during a 3rd quarter Nugget run). Part of me is starting to be curious about how this team would finish the season if no alterations were made to the roster and they were allowed to play out the string.
–Melo’s most desired location, the New York Knicks, are again, attempting to insert themselves into this deal. Memphis’ OJ Mayo has now been thrown in as a possible piece coming to Denver, alongside a draft pick they might acquire by moving forward Anthony Randolph. Mayo, however, has already stated that he does not want to come to Denver. (Funny, seeing how this is coming from a kid that grew up in West Virginia and now lives in Memphis. That’s funny to me.)
For his part, Melo has again, “guaranteed” that he would be in a Nugget uniform for this Saturday/Sunday’s back-to-back games, but stopped short of going any farther. While I would love to hear thesurprise of the century, “MELO SIGNS DEAL TO STAY IN DENVER,” it now appears that a deal might already be in place. Melo’s “guarantees” leave me feeling that he actually DOES know if/when he will be taking his talents out of the Mile High region. By this time next week, Melo might finally be donning a new uniform. I hope I’m wrong.
–I must encourage you to venture away from our site to check out ESPN’s Bill Simmons’ recent piece on Carmelo. I know that the Sports Guy is not adored by all, but his grasp of the NBA (and its history) is of the highest caliber and I find his writing some of the most enjoyable and at the same time easiest to read.
–In the world of big-time college basketball, it’s hard to call any conference home-win an upset. You are supposed to hold serve at home. Regardless of those useless in-season, national rankings, when you play at home against your “contemporaries,” you should win. Those that cannot pull off this feat are those that continually reside in their respective league’s basement. Last night, teams like Stanford, Oregon, California and Minnesota held serve against “superior” opposition and in the process gave their conferences increased legitimacy. (For the record, our PLAYER ALERT focus from earlier this week, Klay Thompson, dropped an impressive 36 in the Cougs’ overtime loss in Berkeley.) The Minnesota Golden Gophers got their home win at The Barn over Purdue (again, NOT an upset) but one Boilermaker was especially visible with a 29/11 night.
–The PLAYER ALERT wants to break down the play of Purdue forward/center, JaJuan Johnson. The 6-10 senior has improved on an annual basis and has evolved into one of the country’s most dangerous big men. The Indianapolis native has several skills which should be attractive to NBA squads looking to add front-court depth. In addition to his craftiness around the painted area (his left-shoulder turn-around is his best weapon), Johnson is developing a competent perimeter game, even extending out beyond the college three-point line. He has a high shot release, has the aforementioned improving perimeter game and has played on a winner his whole life. His library of post moves is not vast, but he is effective and athletic around the rim. Johnson also could use a little more bulk as he prepares to bang against the league’s largest bodies.
This post was a segment of Cub’s blog at www.milehighsportsview.blogspot.com. The Mile High Five is a daily portion of his blog that covers several aspects in the world of Denver and national sports and pop culture.