As the NBA season fast approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focusing on the Denver Nuggets, who last year had a record of 57-25 and made the playoffs.
Team: Denver Nuggets
Coach: Brian Shaw
General Manager: Tim Connelly
2012-2013 Record: 57-25
Place in Conference: 3st in the West
Leading Scorer: Ty Lawson (16.7 PPG)
Key Additions: J.J. Hickson, Randy Foye, Nate Robinson, coach Brian Shaw
Key Losses: Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer, coach George Karl
Denver was explosive last year, with one of the most balanced attacks in the NBA leading the league with 106.1 points a night. Paced by Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets entered the postseason as the number 3 seed in the west. They then ran into Stephen Curry and a sharpshooting Golden State Warriors team in the first round of the playoffs and lost 4 – 2. Following the season, CEO Josh Kroenke made a bold move, firing coach George Karl, who had been named coach of the year. With the reportedly unhappy Karl out, the Nuggets began a busy offseason, which included the signing of new coach Brian Shaw and new GM Tim Connelly, and a lot of roster swapping. In the draft the Nuggets’ biggest move was a trade down with the Utah Jazz, in which the Nuggets got the nations’ leading scorer in Erick Green from Virginia Tech., who has opted to play in Italy next year With a lineup that has a new look (with Gallinari hurt, guys such as Wilson Chandler and Evan Fournier will see more play time) and a new coach, it will be interesting to see if Denver can have anywhere near the success that they had last year under Karl.
I believe it’s a bit hard to predict what the strengths of this team will be, because…well… it’s a bit hard to know what the identity of this team will be. Shaw stated that he would like to “tailor the Nuggets’ attack to focus on their ability to push the pace so we should still see the high-powered offense they had last year. This team is still a balanced unit that has a number of established, albeit unspectacular, players. Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried should both be very good. J.J. Hickson is coming off of a career year in Portland. Nate Robinson and Randy Foye add firepower to the backcourt, and with the Gallinari injury many see this as a chance for young Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller to break out. JaVale McGee remains a wild card, but with his natural ability he could be important to this team. The team is still young (only two players are age 30 or over) so there is potential whether success is reached this year or not. Many believe Shaw is an excellent coach, who was a steal to get for a team that is already somewhat established.
Again, I don’t know what Shaw will do with this team, so the weaknesses are a bit of speculation. Defense was a huge issue for Denver last year, and I don’t see how it gets any better. Although they have a lot of depth, with that comes questions of who gets the most play time, and if the new guys (Robinson, Hickson, Randy Foye) will be a good “fit” with the current players. McGee has been a head-case at times, and never seems to be willing to reach his sky-high potential. Losing Gallinari for a while is a big blow, as he did a little bit of everything for the team. Without him and Andre Iguodala, they lose defensive toughness and rebounding from the wing positions. I believe a lot of the problems for the Nuggets will come in the form of growing pains: getting used to Shaw’s system, getting the new players incorporated with the team, and seeing the young players develop.
2013-2014 Season Predictions
I don’t think this team will be good right away. Although they still have a lot of good stuff, with Faried, Lawson, Chandler, etc., I believe they will have big problems defensively, giving up over 100 PPG last year, and now losing Andre Iguodala. I believe that Brian Shaw will live up to the hype surrounding him, and get this team in order, but not without some growing pains along the way. I really have no idea what the rotation is going to look like at the end of the regular season, but I am curious about it. Because of my uncertainty of how this team will come together, and a struggle to play defense, I say they will miss the playoffs, ending with between 32 to 37 wins. However, down, the road, I believe this team is built quite well for the future.