Published Jul 16, 2023
By Brad Broadstreet From Denver Dispatch
The Dinosaurs lived during what paleontologists refer to as the Mesozoic Era. Mesozoic, stemming from the Greek words for middle life. And if there’s one word that describes the Denver Dinosaurs, it’s “mid”. Mid talent, mid effort and middle of the pack in the Western Conference. Though their record puts them at 10th in the 16 team Conference, so mid may be a bit too kind to the Dinos. .
Coach Bernard Jackson was fired after a woeful 119-127 record in Denver. Perhaps ownership was a bit hasty and that was a virtuoso performance given the talent he had to work with. The veteran coach is still at it at the age of 69, now in Philadelphia coaching the 37-19 Silverbacks. Maybe he knew what he was doing after all! To replace him, Denver hired Shannon Cundiff to huge fanfare around the league. A so-called offensive guru who made the playoffs 5 out his 6 years in SIBA. Of course, in three of those years his teams were bounced out in the first round. That’s not the kind of thing that makes the press releases.
Does this team have talent? They tell us they do. There’s a lot of potential here. This offseason the team signed veteran guard Timmy Carroll to the MLE, but after just a half season tryout they flipped him and a 2nd round pick to Boston for 19 year old Brooks Horton. Horton seems to embody the Denver basketball ethos. Promise not production. The 6’7’’ wing seems to have loads of potential, but he’s never had much chance to put it together in the pros. Much like new teammate Derrek Wall. Big man Derrek Wall exudes potential. He’s a force defensively with some offensive upside, but when he hit the market last offseason as a restricted free agent he was forced to crawl back to the Dinos to sign Denver’s 6 million dollar tender. This season he’s performed adequately in Denver’s experimental big man lineup at the 3 next to fellow Derek, Bennem who’s playing the 2.
Derek Bennem has legitimate bona fides as a star in this league. All-Defense Teams, All-Star Teams, All-SIBA teams, but the 6’9’’ wing was asked to step up in a big way this season and hasn’t responded as well as team officials would have liked. FG% and Efficiency are trending down for the 3rd straight year and he doesn’t seem to be close to anyone on the team. Not what you look at in a franchise cornerstone.
The one player living up to the hype, and the only reason the team has an outside shot at the playoffs is Josh Briggery. The PF/C is averaging 31 points and over 13 rebounds per game in what is shaping up to be the finest season in the young star’s career. The 23 year old is certainly a franchise player, but if the franchise wants to capitalize on the window a player of his caliber creates, they have a lot of work to do.