After terrifying their entire fanbase over the weekend with word that they were interviewing former Los Angeles Clippers head coach, Vinny Del Negro, the Denver Nuggets have finally selected their next head coach: Brian Shaw. Nuggets Nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief that their next head coach is neither Del Negro nor Lionel Hollins. Shaw has spent the last two seasons as the associate head coach for the Indiana Pacers and was previously an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson.
While in Indiana, Shaw developed a reputation for developing young talent such as Lance Stephenson, Paul George and Roy Hibbert. In fact, Shaw receives a lot of credit for the maturation of George to one of the league’s newest breakout stars. What does this mean for Denver? It could mean a lot as they had the third youngest roster in the NBA last season with a lot of raw talent including Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton and JaVale McGee among others. Shaw will have a lot to work with and we should expect this team to only get better with him at the Helm. Fans should expect to see the young players in the game a lot more than they were accustomed to seeing with George Karl as coach.
At 6-foot-6 tall, Shaw was a combo guard in his playing days, primarily as a point guard. This likely means that gone are the days of Nuggets fans groaning as Andre Miller subs in to play alongside Ty Lawson in the backcourt. This also bodes well for Denver’s own 6-foot-6 point guard, Julyan Stone. After a surprising rookie campaign, the undrafted Stone missed most of 2012-13 after undergoing hip surgery. Stone is a restricted free agent this summer and Denver can likely keep him for cheap. Then, Shaw can get to work honing the four-year man out of UTEP into Lawson’s long-term backup so that management can ship Miller out of town any way possible.
As a protégé of Jackson, Shaw is of course connected to the triangle offense. However, in an interview with the Denver Post, Shaw was quoted that he would not implement this system and corroborated new Executive Vice President Tim Connelly‘s comments from his introductory press conference that Denver would continue to play a fast-paced brand of basketball this season. Fans should expect to see McGee in a larger, starting role after the Shaw and Connelly hirings. This likely means that Nuggets fans can also expect to continue to see lob passes thrown to McGee for alley-oops, especially given Shaw’s past of setting Shaquille O’Neal up for alley-o0ps during the 1990’s.
Nuggets fans should expect the hiring of Shaw to be a great indicator of the direction that the franchise is going in. Josh Kroenke is the youngest owner in the NBA at the age of 33, Connelly is 36 and Shaw is 47. This team is bringing a young, modern approach to the NBA from ownership all the way down. Not only are the Nuggets approaching things from a fresh perspective, they are bringing a head coach to the table with legitimate championship credentials. Shaw won three rings as a member of the Lakers three-peat squad and two as a coach on Jackson’s staff. Kroenke was not kidding when he said he wanted to win banners not awards. The Nuggets players will respect this and we can expect another exciting year from them.