The Denver Nuggets have only played two games in the 2013-14 NBA season. There are a lot of things that means. There are still 80 games left ahead of them. The fact that there are 80 games to play means 80 games worth of time for players to develop a rapport with one another and a new coach. It also would mean, in most cases, that it’s too early to panic.
In the case of the Nuggets, though, I’m sounding the alarm after only two games. This is a team who, after losing George Karl, Masai Ujiri and Andre Iguodala, I wasn’t especially high on coming into this season. After what they have shown me through their first two games, both of which were losses, all of my worst-case-scenario expectations are being confirmed.
One of the things that allowed the Nuggets to have as much success as they did last season was the efficiency and pace that they played with. Under Karl as their head coach, the Nuggets attacked the rim relentlessly and it worked well for them. It also helped hide some of their shortcomings on the defensive end.
As new head coach Brian Shaw tries to institute his offense to this team, though, they have struggled early on. While the Nuggets had the fifth best offensive rating in the league at 107.6 points per 100 possessions last season, they currently have the sixth worst rating through their first two games, putting up only 94.7 points per 100 possession.
Obviously this team can still grow under a new coach, but it doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t in a system ideally suited to their makeup like they were with Karl. Karl noticed the athleticism and general lack of outside-shooting on this roster and played to that and made it a strength. That’s not what Shaw is doing, though. Things could change, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nuggets ended up being the most disappointing team in the league this year.