If you ask Google if the Golden State Warriors are the most talented team ever assembled in the NBA, you will see links to story after story featuring pundits, analysts and basketball historians proclaiming that they are.
The roster includes four current All-Stars and they added another All-Star, caliber player in the off-season in DeMarcus Cousins. That is, to my knowledge, unprecedented.
The point here is not to argue whether the Warriors are the most talented assemblage of players ever gathered on one roster. They might be, but it is a subjective topic that ultimately boils down to a matter of opinion rather than fact.
What is not subjective is that Golden State is collecting NBA championships in bunches and is the odds-on favorite to repeat again this season. Any way you slice it, Golden State is one heck of a basketball team. That is an inarguable fact.
But that’s still not my point. Wait for it. I’m getting there.
My point is that one of the most talented teams ever assembled is currently sporting a record of 43-17 with a winning percentage of .717, and the Denver Nuggets are 41-18, one and a half games back, in second place. One and a half games back of the Warriors on Feb. 27. Let that sink in for a moment.
So, that prompts me to wonder if the Warriors are under performing, or are the Nuggets so darn good that there is truly less than a nickel’s worth of difference between the two teams? I don’t think 43-17 could be construed as underperforming, but it’s also hard to believe the Nuggets are an eyelash away from running down the greatest collection of talent ever assembled on a single roster.
As has been discussed here in previous weeks, playing on the road continues to be the Achilles heel for the Nuggets. Denver is 15-14 away from the Pepsi Center, but an NBA best 26-4 at home. The Warriors, meanwhile, are 23-8 at home and an almost identical 20-9 on the road.
The Nuggets’ overall record, if the regular season ended today, would give them home court advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Combine that with the fact that they have the best home record in the NBA, and the likelihood of a significant post-season run looks probable.
The Houston Rockets (38-21) and Oklahoma City Thunder (37-23) trail the Nuggets, but national media outlets have given far more attention those two teams than to Denver. The Thunder’s Michael Westbrook and Houston’s James Harden are press magnets, and the Nuggets are the newcomers, so perhaps that is to be expected.
If that lack of respect bothers the Nuggets, and privately, it probably does, a sure-fire remedy exists: keep winning. After all, any team hanging within a game or two of the Almighty Warriors can’t be ignored forever.
Looks like Rockies will retain Arenado
Not so long ago, Nolan Arenado was reasonably direct about his intentions to test the market and explore other options upon the expiration of his current contract with the Colorado Rockies.
But that was then, and this is now. That was before manager Bud Black demonstrated his mastery of the pitching situation, and before teammate Trevor Story exploded into prominence as one of the league’s most productive shortstops. Fast forward one year later, and one trip to the playoffs later, and staying put apparently looks much more appealing to the best third baseman in baseball.
According to reports Tuesday evening, the Rockies and Arenado have finalized a contract extension worth $260 million that would keep the third baseman at Coors Field through the 2026 season.
The deal sets a per season salary record for position players. And why not? Arenado has won six Gold Gloves in six seasons, a four-time All-Star, has led the National league in home runs three times. Last season he posted a .297 average with 38 home runs and 110 runs batted in.