Denver Nuggets: 5 Most Important Players for 2013-14
5 Most Important Players for the Denver Nuggets in 2013-14
The upcoming NBA season is one of transition and uncertainty for the Denver Nuggets. This offseason has been unpredictable and full of change for a team that won a franchise-best 57 games in 2012-13. The young squad will feature a new head coach and two new starters in 2013-14 after the departures of Andre Iguoadala to the Golden State Warriors via sign-and-trade and Kosta Koufos in a draft night deal to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Nuggets also lost a prominent bench player in Corey Brewer to the Minnesota Timberwolves which means that they have a lot of production to make up for with those three key exits. First time head coach Brian Shaw will have his work cut out for him in finding the right balance for this young and talented roster.
Former coach George Karl had his favorite players that he trusted and gave the bulk of minutes to, often times leaving the young talented players to sit rather than get some playing time and experience to grow from. Shaw is known around the league as a players coach and one that has a reputation for maximizing the potential of up-and-coming young talent. This is good news for the Nuggets and likely the reason that they offered him the position.
Training camp is just a few short months away and the new season will tip off before we know it. This season the Nuggets will find out a lot about the roster that they have constructed. Here are the five most important players for a successful 2013-14 campaign.
Jordan Hamilton was supposed to have a breakout season in 2012-13 but found himself in Karl's doghouse. With a new coach, Iguodala and Brewer's exits and a decent showing in the Las Vegas Summer League, Hamilton is poised to become a key rotation player for the Nuggets this season.
Wilson Chandler missed a good chunk of last season due to hip surgery. Once he returned to the lineup for the Nuggets, he put together a solid stretch of basketball off the bench. This season, Chandler will be a starter for Denver with Danilo Gallinari missing action after knee surgery. Chandler's offense and defense will be vital if the Nuggets are to have a successful season.
Evan Fournier was a surprising part of the late season rotation for the Nuggets after Gallinari went down to injury. This season, the Frenchman will likely be competing for the starting shooting guard position. His offseason development will play a large factor in whether he gets that job or not. Either way, Denver will call on Fournier to step up into a bigger role in 2013-14.
It is no secret that Karl was not a fan of JaVale McGee and it was a contributing factor to the coach's ouster in Denver. One summer removed from a sizable contract extension and the dealing of Koufos this offseason and McGee suddenly finds himself as the Nuggets starting center. Once again, McGee will be working with Hakeem Olajuwan this summer and the Nuggets hopes are largely resting on McGee's ability to pick up what "The Dream" is teaching him.
Ty Lawson is entering his fifth season in Denver and is their longest tenured player. He is the only remaining vestige of the Carmelo Anthony era for the Nuggets. Lawson has high expectations for himself going into 2013-14 and so does Shaw and the Nuggets. Denver's point guard hopes to have an all-star caliber season and would like to reach the elite level of guards such as Chris Paul. In fact, after the NBA All Star Break last season Lawson's numbers were very similar to Paul, averaging 18.8 points and 6.4 assists per game for the Nuggets. For Denver to reach its potential this season, Lawson will need to sustain those stats for an entire season.