Thunder roars in the Rocky Mountains, a sound that shakes preconceived notions of basketball snobs who think they know everything about the NBA.

“I don’t see any limits for this team. We have all the parts we need, ”said new Nuggets striker Aaron Gordon on Sunday. “As long as we all work together, nothing can stop us.”

Showing the offensive versatility of swinging a catch-and-shoot jumper and bending the rim with a dunk, Gordon was delighted to be among six Denver players to double-digit during a 126-102 loss in Atlanta.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone immediately put him on the grid without getting used to 5,280 feet above sea level. “Why waste time getting Aaron Gordon off the bank?” Said Malone.

As Gordon fisted through new team members during the pre-game introduction, the sight of five players on the pitch wearing pickaxes on their jerseys made me ponder a question that I have asked in my last 37 years when I have been Recorded professional basketball in Colorado, had never considered.

How many NBA teams have a stronger and more dangerous grid than the Nuggets? One or two? May be.

While Gordon teams up with center Nikola Jokic, touted as the best player in the world by team architect Tim Connelly, the Nuggets can rightly claim the most talented starting five in the NBA on this side of Brooklyn where Kevin Durant All -Star gathers teammates in bulk, like sticks like you and I buy 7-pound tubs of Nutella at Costco?

Doc Rivers, the Philadelphia 76ers coach who has seen a thing or two in the league in nearly four decades, recently measured the Western Conference, stating, “The Clippers and Lakers are still the teams to beat.”

Sorry doc.

But even with the Lakers’ clever addition of center Andre Drummond, Denver has the best opportunity in franchise history to make it to the NBA finals. The big if isn’t whether the Nuggets have the talent to win a championship, but how long it will take Malone to get a full buy-in from every player in the locker room.

While the Nuggets greatly improved close-trade talent, the acquisitions of Gordon and the JaVale McGee veterans center also increased the risk of injured egos smoking quietly on the Denver bank.

At its core, the greatest challenge for team chemistry never varies from peewees to professionals. It’s all about the pecking order for game time. The game is much less fun when you are forced to sit and watch.

“We traded two small companies in Gary Harris and RJ (Hampton) and brought two big companies with us, so we have a lot of really talented big companies,” Malone said before the tip. “And in reality, it’s going to be really difficult to play all of these bigs every night. It will really be important that our guys understand this and continue to choose to be selfless and do what is best for our team. ”

After a big hug and greeting from Gordon in Denver, three teammates must look closely in the mirror and decide how much they are willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a championship ring.

Will Barton, whose boast can rattle the walls of the arena when he shakes and bakes offensively, now falls on the fifth goal option on the grid.

At the end of a respected 15-year professional career, Paul Millsap may want to stock up on Twizzlers to nibble between increasingly rare tasks on the pitch.

There’s no tricky way to put it: trading Gordon is bad business for JaMychal Green, who now seems doomed to 12-15 minutes of play most evenings.

And Bol Bol? It’s now a 7-foot-2 victory cigar that can only be seen when the Nuggets recorded another “W” on the books.

Yes, it takes big hits at big moments to win the NBA championship.

But the search for the ring can be lost to something as basic and human as selfish pride.