The Denver Nuggets caught lightning in a bottle in the 2012-2013 NBA season. Despite not really having a superstar on their roster, the Nuggets under head coach George Karl played themselves into a 57-win season and into the third seed in the Western Conference for the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
As we all know, things sort of came crumbling down in the postseason for the Nuggets. In the first round of the playoffs, the Nuggets ran into a hot-shooting Golden State Warriors team that ultimately sent Denver packing after six games. That’s not where the crumbling of the Nuggets stopped, though.
When the off-season got underway, the Nuggets fired Karl from his coaching position, despite the fact that he had enormous success in the regular season. The Nuggets then lost their general manager, Masai Ujiri, to the Toronto Raptors after Ujiri was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year.
Then free agency started and Andre Iguodala, arguably their best player, opted out of the last year of his contract with Denver and then turned down their offer to go play with the Warriors. It’s pretty safe to say that the Nuggets have undergone a lot of changes this off-season and a lot of them have not been positive.
However, a lot of people remain positive regarding this team and still consider them as a playoff team. With a projected starting five of Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson, the Nuggets still have some talented players on their roster.
Not everyone, not even one of the Nuggets’ own, has a ton of faith in this team, though. According to a report from CBS Denver’s Vic Lombardi, veteran point guard Andre Miller was asked if the Nuggets could possibly repeat the success of last year and win 57 games. Miller simply replied, “Nah, that will never happen again.”
When you get down to it, it’s not hard to see why Miller or anyone else would feel this way. The Nuggets are really a team that could go either way. It’s unknown how this team will be able to handle the triangle offense that new head coach Brian Shaw runs and it’s unknown if Shaw is even effective as a head coach.
One of the things that it seems like a lot of people are missing is how Karl was able to maximize the talent on this roster last season. Rather than trying to institute his favorite style to the team, he created a scheme based on the players he had, namely a team that likes to get up and down the floor and attack the rim, and it worked extremely well. We don’t know if Shaw will be able to draw out the same type of production from this team.
Moreover, people seem to be missing how important Iguodala was to this team. Not only was he their best defender and a player who fit into their fast-paced system, but he was also a veteran leader on a team full of young guys. He was really a guiding presence for this team and now he’s no longer there.
In the end, Miller is correct; it really doesn’t seem like this team is going to get to 57 wins. In fact, they might not even get close. This is a team that could make the playoffs, but in all seriousness, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock ever if they missed out on the postseason either. As of right now, there are definitely more questions than answers in Denver.