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2013-2014 Denver Nuggets Season Preview
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On September 24, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The Denver Nuggets have changed significantly over the past few months, even if the roster isn’t vastly different. The key loss is versatile guard/forward Andre Iguodala, who left for the Golden State Warriors after just one season in Denver.
Despite a 57-25 season in 2012/13, the team let go of Coach of the Year George Karl. The franchise also allowed the Executive of the Year, general manager Masai Ujiri leave for the Toronto Raptors.
Brian Shaw finally gets a shot as head coach but the Nuggets will take a step backwards this season as Shaw and his players learn each other. In addition to losing Iguodala, forward Danilo Gallinari is expected to be out at least a month or two, recovering from a knee injury.
- Eric Pincus
Additions: J.J. Hickson, Darrell Arthur, Randy Foye, Nate Robinson.
Subtractions: Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer, Kosta Koufos, Julyan Stone.
Had the Nuggets kept their team from last year together, they’re easily the second best team in the Northwest Division behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off of strong offseasons that have them poised to make big jumps, while the Nuggets regressed. George Karl and Masai Ujiri are amongst the best coaches and general managers in the business today, to lose them both was devastating. Add on the departure of Andre Iguodal on top of it, and it’s hard to say anything positive about the Nuggets’ offseason other than they still have a talented team and an intriguing first year head coach in Brian Shaw. He plans on utilizing their low post players a little bit more offensively, but otherwise we should see a similar looking Nuggets team. Their potential obviously isn’t the same that it was last year, however a playoff run should not be ruled out. There’s a chance they could steal one of the final spots.
4th place – Northwest Division
- Yannis Koutroupis
It’s never good when a franchise loses three of their most important individuals in one offseason. That’s exactly what happened to the Nuggets this summer with George Karl, Masai Ujiri and Andre Iguodala no longer in town for various reasons. After an offseason with so many changes, it’ll be difficult for the Nuggets to duplicate last year’s franchise-record win total of 57, especially with a rookie head coach (Brian Shaw) and younger rotation. With that said, Denver should still be competitive in the Western Conference and make the playoffs as a mid-to-late seed. They still have a lot of talented players such as Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee. Right now, the Nuggets aren’t viewed as a contender in the West, but that could change in the next few years if their young nucleus continues to improve and Shaw finds his way as a head coach.
2nd place – Northwest Division
To say the Denver Nuggets had an eventful offseason would be the classic case of a massive understatement. Former All-Star forward Andre Iguodala departed to Golden State in free agency. Executive Masai Ujiri accepted a lucrative front office position with the Toronto Raptors. Lastly, the team parted ways with longtime head coach George Karl. But despite the fluctuation there is still plenty of talent remaining in Denver. Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee will be leaned on heavily while free agent signees Randy Foye, Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson will have opportunities to contribute. The Nuggets fortunes may hinge on how quickly rookie head coach Brian Shaw makes the transition from assistant to leading man. The team will also miss the scoring of injured forward Danilo Gallinari during the early portion of the season. Denver may slide out of upper tier of the Western Conference but another trip to the playoffs should be a bare minimum expectation.
2nd Place – Northwest Division
- Lang Greene
Without George Karl, Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari for the foreseeable future, the Nuggets enter the 2013-14 season as one of the teams that are most difficult to anticipate. Some do not expect them to make the playoffs, while others believe they will contend for the division title once again. New head coach Brian Shaw will have to continue to develop Ty Lawson and build upon the success that the former North Carolina Tarheel led the Nuggets to last season and hope that the extremely productive season that newcomer J.J. Hickson put together last season as a member of the Portland Trailblazers was not an aberration motivated by him being in the final year of his previous contract. The loss of Corey Brewer will hurt the Nuggets on both ends of the floor, but the ever-productive Wilson Chandler and newly acquired Nate Robinson should both be able to pick up some of that slack. With the conference and division both getting much tougher around the Nuggets, they will not come close to matching last season’s 57-win output, but they will still be a formidable team in the Western Conference and will likely push the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Northwest Division crown.
2nd Place —Northwest Division
— Moke Hamilton
By firing last season’s Coach of the Year, George Karl, and losing last season’s Executive of the Year, Masai Ujiri, the Nuggets went into the offseason in a state of disarray. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise when Andre Iguodala went searching for greener pastures, and when a good team loses that many essential pieces in one summer, it doesn’t usually mean good things for the season to come. Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee could all have breakout seasons from a statistical standpoint, but as a team they’ll be lucky just to make it back into the playoffs. They’ve simply lost too much to duplicate last year’s success.
4th Place – Northwest Division
– Joel Brigham
Top Offensive Player: Ty Lawson led the Nuggets last year at 16.7 points a game on 46.1% shooting from the field. Denver played at a fast pace and that typically started with Lawson. After the Nuggets traded away Carmelo Anthony in 2011, Lawson has gradually developed into the closest thing Denver has to a “star player.” Lawson, at nearly 26-years, is still growing into that role. The Nuggets need a tremendous season from quick, 5’11″ guard.
Top Defensive Player: Kenneth Faried is one of the league’s most energetic players. Last season he averaged a double-double with 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds in just 28.1 minutes a game. Faried is still developing as a defender, especially in the team concept. If Faried, along with center McGee — with both learning how to avoid trouble, the complexion of who the Nuggets are as a team changes dramatically for the better.
Top Playmaker: Ty Lawson led the Nuggets last year with 6.9 assists per game. He’ll be asked to do even more with Iguodala (5.4 assists a night). Andre Miller is still a steady reserve at 37-years old, last year averaging 5.9 assists per game. Recently-acquired shooting guard Randy Foye has some playmaking skills, although not on par with Iguodala. Denver will need Lawson to blossom in the lead role both as a scorer and playmaker.
Clutch Player: Ty Lawson will have the ball in his hands with the game on the line — be it to score or make the play to one of Denver’s shooters. His combination of quickness and strength (despite his diminutive size) can be difficult for teams to stop. Lawson has had some big moments already with the Nuggets in his young career. Denver is going to need even more moving forward.
Unheralded Player: Wilson Chandler was a key piece of the Carmelo Anthony trade for the Nuggets. A lockout year in China, followed by 2012 hip surgery, set him back significantly. Last year saw a gradual return to form, averaging 13 points a game in 43 appearances while shooting 41.3% from three-point range. The Nuggets need Chandler’s outside shot, especially with Gallinari on the mend. Chandler could be Denver’s opening-night starter at small forward.
Best New Addition: Nate Robinson is an NBA oddity. A five-foot-nine guard who can flat-out score. Robinson was a major contributor for the Chicago Bulls last postseason. Now he’ll bring his unique, unpredictable instant offense to the Nuggets’ roster. Robinson may not be a true point guard but he’s capable of big assist numbers. The team also brought in veteran guard Randy Foye and forwards J.J. Hickson and Darrell Arthur, adding experience, size and toughness to the roster.
- Eric Pincus
1. Ty Lawson – Lawson drives the Nuggets, literally, as point guard on a team that has played a fast tempo for a number of seasons. While his role might change slightly under Brian Shaw (instead of the departed George Karl), he’s still remain Denver’s primary ball handler and one of the team’s man scorers. Lawson isn’t especially big but he’s strong for his size. The Nuggets need a big year from their point guard.
2. Kenneth Faried - Faried plays with an infectious energy. He covers a lot of ground with his athleticism and has a real knack for finding the ball as a rebounder. As he gains experience in the league, Faried should improve as an individual defender. He’s already an efficient, opportunistic scorer. Faried doesn’t have much of a post game. If he can find a few go-to moves down low, he can significantly change the team for the better.
3. Brian Shaw - A rookie coach can be hit or miss but Shaw has the pedigree after years working under Phil Jackson. Shaw was also a crucial part of Frank Vogel’s staff in Indiana, a team that nearly made the NBA Finals this past season. Similar to Mark Jackson in Golden State, who needed a year or two to blossom with the Warriors, Shaw will have an initial learning curve. With his experience as an assistant, he should adapt more quickly than Jackson.
4. Danilo Gallinari - The Italian forward suffered a knee injury last season, which set back the Nuggets’ playoff hopes. When healthy, Gallinari can score off the dribble and from the outside. Recovering from a torn ACL can be a lengthy process and Gallinari is not expected back for the season opener. If he can get healthy, he adds a crucial dimension offensively to Denver’s attack.
5. JaVale McGee - McGee can be one of the most entertaining player to watch in the league, both with his spectacular feats of athleticism – and his occasional baffling show of judgment on the court. What McGee is capable of on the floor, no one else can match. The trick is getting him to be a consistent force both offensively and defensively. The Nuggets gambled on McGee with a big contract and he still has a lot to prove.
- Eric Pincus
The Nuggets have a deep, athletic, talented roster. While the team lost Kosta Koufos, Corey Brewer and Iguodala, Denver brought in Nate Robinson, Randy Foye, J.J. Hickson and Darrell Arthur. With returning players Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler, Evan Fournier, Andre Miller and Gallinari, the Nuggets have a lot of weapons for first-year coach Brian Shaw. Last season, the Nuggets averaged a league-high 106.1 points per game. They lost just three games at home the entire regular season. Even with all the personnel and management changes, Denver will continue be a high-scoring, dominant home team.
- Eric Pincus
The Nuggets weren’t an especially strong defensive unit last year. Are they improved while losing their top-two individual defenders in Iguodala and Brewer? Denver gave up 101.1 points a game; getting stops will be more of an issue in the upcoming campaign. McGee needs to establish himself as a true defensive anchor. With Koufos traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, McGee will have the chance to break through as the team’s full-time starter — but is ready to step into that nightly? Offensively the Nuggets badly missed Gallinari in the playoffs. They need him to come back strong from injury.
- Eric Pincus
Is Brian Shaw ready for his first head coaching job?
After winning championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, both as a player and a coach — along with a strong stint with the Indiana Pacers as associate head coach, Shaw will get his first opportunity to run a team this season in Denver. He’ll replace Karl, who continually got the most out of his roster during each season with the Nuggets. Karl didn’t have a lot of postseason success. Can Shaw quickly reshape the team into one that can advance deep into the playoffs?
- Eric Pincus
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