When coach George Karl asked the question, the answer seemed obvious: The Nuggets have fallen too deeply in love with the talent on their roster. And that would be a dangerous mistake.

"You think Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are as good as Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee?" Karl asked me last week.

What? Was this a pop quiz?

A primary reason the Memphis Grizzlies are alive in the NBA playoffs and Denver has been eliminated is Gasol and Randolph are clearly superior to Faried and McGee.

"Really?" Karl said. "You'd take Gasol and Randolph over Faried and McGee?"

Absolutely. Positively. No doubt about it.

When the Nuggets look at the playoffs through rose-colored glasses, they see Memphis and Indiana headed for the final four of this NBA tournament, and are tempted to regard it as strong evidence star power has become overrated in the league.

The reasoning goes something like this: If the Grizzlies and Pacers can succeed in the playoffs, then Denver doesn't need to do much with its roster except let young players mature.

That would be a dangerous miscalculation, if the Nuggets are truly serious about becoming a legitimate contender for the NBA championship.

Memphis is better built for the playoffs than Denver, because the Grizzlies are tougher mentally, more stout defensively and possess more star power than the Nuggets.

Indiana is bound for the conference finals in part because the East is weak, but also because George Hill, David West and Paul George had better seasons than the Nuggets' big three of Ty Lawson, Faried and Danilo Gallinari.

But you don't have to take my word for it.

Dean Oliver is an advanced metrics guru once called "George Karl's brains" by Carmelo Anthony, back in the days when Oliver was employed by the Nuggets as their director of quantitative analysis.