The Denver Nuggets, with the magic worked by former general manager Masai Ujiri and head coach George Karl, were able to win 57 games last season and head into the postseason as the three seed in the Western Conference. The 2013-14 NBA season will more than likely hold much different results for the Nuggets, though.
With the departure of Ujiri and Karl, as well as Denver’s best player from last season in versatile wing Andre Iguodala, the Nuggets’ chances are diminished quite a bit. Throw in the fact that arguably their best player now in Danilo Gallinari is for quite a while recovering from an injury and their chances look even smaller.
Despite all that the Nuggets have lost or are without heading into the start of the season, though, there are many people that still have the Nuggets penciled in as a playoff team. Sports book Bovada seems to share that belief as well, setting their over/under win total at 45.5 wins heading into the season. I, however, am not one of those people who share the belief that Denver is a playoff team.
I’m taking the under on 45.5 wins for the Nuggets this season. Though I’m sure the Nuggets will still get out in transition some like they did and had success with last season, I believe that Brian Shaw is asking this team to do things out of its comfort zone. He’s trying to get them to set up their offense instead of just telling them to get to the rim like Karl did last season. Moreover, he’s asking big men like JaVale McGee to shoot mid-post jumpers and do other things not exactly in his wheelhouse.
Don’t get me wrong—I like a lot of players on this Nuggets team. I think JaVale is a good energy guy off of the bench, I think Ty Lawson is one of the most underrated point guards in the league, and I think that Wilson Chandler can have real value in a bigger role. However, I don’t think Shaw’s system that he showed in the preseason is suited for the personnel he’s working with.
Obviously Shaw could switch things up mid-season and this team could also start clicking in this system. As they currently stand, though, I don’t see this team having as much success as many people seem to think they will. The under feels like the safer bet to me, even if I’m not in the majority.