We’re back with another round of Denver sports power rankings.
This week gave us Jusuf Nurkic incinerating his old team, more shuffling in the AFC West and some good news for you, Joe Taxpayer. To the rankings:
8. The Nurkic-Plumlee deal
I’ll be honest: I was on board with the Nuggets’ decision to swap Jusuf Nurkic for Mason Plumlee. When Nurkic’s role was reduced after Nikola Jokic’s emergence, he didn’t give the Nuggets anything. He moped constantly. Things got so bad that Nurkic actually left the Nuggets’ bench and drove home during a game. Swapping him for Plumlee would theoretically rid Denver of that bad juju and allow it to play the same brand of moving, cutting basketball when Jokic went to the bench.
We’re about a month and a half removed from the trade, and wooooo boy do the Trail Blazers look like the winners of that deal. Nurkic is putting up big numbers, and Portland is outscoring opponents by 8.9 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Nurkic helped deal a huge blow to Denver’s playoff hopes with his 33-point, 16-rebound game Tuesday night.
Is now a bad time to remember that Plumlee is a restricted free agent this summer and that the Nuggets included one of their first-round picks in this deal?
7. The AFC West
In January, NFL owners approved the Chargers’ move from San Diego to Los Angeles. This week they OKed the Raiders eventual move from Oakland to Las Vegas. In one offseason, the NFL decided to relocate half of the AFC West.
The Chargers are moving to a city that last year showed meager support for the Rams. They plan to play the next two seasons in a 30,000-seat soccer stadium. The Raiders are moving from the sixth-biggest T.V. market to the 40th biggest. This doesn’t seem like a great thing for football. But hey, who can say no to $750 million in public funds?
6. Endorsements of the Rockies’ bullpen
The Rockies haven’t confirmed anything, but Patrick Saunders said he expects the Rockies’ eight-man bullpen to look like this:
- Greg Holland as the closer
- Adam Ottavino, Jake McGee and Mike Dunn as the seventh- and eighth-inning guys
- Carlos Estevez, Jordan Lyles and Jason Motte handling the middle-inning work
- Chris Rusin as the long reliever when he returns from a strained oblique
“It’s sort of a real bullpen,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. Molten-hot take.
5. Local college basketball rivalries
The University of Denver and Colorado men’s basketball teams haven’t faced each other since November 2007. That will change next season. The Pioneers and Buffaloes will meet in Boulder at some point during the 2017-18 season. An exact date isn’t hammered out quite. Denver went 16-14 in its first season under Rodney Billups, who used to be an assistant on Tad Boyle’s staff at Colorado. The Buffaloes went 19-15.
4. Sven Andrighetto
Andrighetto is settling in nicely with the Colorado Avalanche. The Swiss winger recorded two assists in the Avalanche’s 5-3 loss the Capitals on Wednesday. He’s now up to five goals and six assists in 13 games since Colorado acquired him in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
3. Jon Gray
The Gray Wolf officially locked down his spot as Colorado’s opening day starter. He’ll take the mound when the Rockies face the Brewers on Monday in Milwaukee. Start mentally preparing yourself for some wicked sliders.
2. Will Butcher
The University of Denver hockey team’s senior defenseman moved one step closer to earning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. Butcher was named one of three finalists for the award, which is given to the player who shows “outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.”
A winner will be announced next Friday, the day after Butcher’s Pioneers take on Notre Dame in a Frozen Four semifinal game. Butcher, who the Colorado Avalanche picked in the 2013 draft, is trying to become the first defenseman to win the Hobey since 2009.
1. The Rockies’ new lease at Coors Field
This week, the Colorado Rockies and the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District agreed to a 30-year, $200-million lease. The deal will keep the Rockies at Coors Field through 2047. Perhaps the best part of it is that taxpayers won’t be responsible for any of the stadium upkeep.
As part of the deal, the Rockies acquired a plot of land south of Coors that they will be allowed to develop and lease, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reported. The team is paying $125 million to control it for 99 years. The deal means the team won’t have to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for stadium improvements. Cheers to not allocating public funds to build/maintain sports stadiums.
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