Watchability Rankings: No. 9 Nuggets
by Sean Highkin, USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports’ Adi Joseph and Sean Highkin will be counting down NBA teams based on watchability for the upcoming 2013-14 seasons. We’ll go one team a day, from least-watchable to most, giving you an idea of what to keep an eye out for this season. Today, we continue with the No. 9 Denver Nuggets:
2012-13 record: 57-25, lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs.
Adi Joseph’s 2013-14 record projection: 43-39, seventh in Western Conference.
Two best players: PG Ty Lawson (16.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists a game), SF Danilo Gallinari (16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists a game).
Overview: After a stunning first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2013 playoffs, the Nuggets underwent an equally shocking organizational shake-up. They allowed Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri to take a job with the Toronto Raptors, then fired Coach of the Year George Karl (who was replaced by former Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw). Then, they allowed lockdown defender Andre Iguodala to leave in free agency for the Warriors and traded defensive-minded center Kosta Koufos. This is still a team with a shot at the playoffs, but losses as big as those make it tough to picture them as contenders at the level they were last season.
WHY YOU CAN’T MISS THEM
The genius of “Pierre”: With Koufos gone, JaVale McGee is being handed the reins as starting center. You don’t need to know anything more than that. Again: JaVale McGee is playing starter’s minutes.
Better shooting: Last season, the Nuggets scored a disproportionate amount of their points in the paint but didn’t have many players who could shoot from the outside. Gallinari isn’t expected back to start the season after tearing a knee ligament in April, but the additions of Randy Foye (who shot 41% from beyond the arc last season for the Utah Jazz) and Nate Robinson (40.5% for the Chicago Bulls) should give them more options away from the basket.
Shaw gets his shot: Until being hired by the Nuggets, Shaw was the NBA embodiment of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” As Phil Jackson’s right-hand man … [For more on NBA Watchability Rankings: No. 9 Denver Nuggets, click here.]