By Court Zierk @courtzierk on June 24, 2014
The Denver Nuggets had a frustratingly mediocre 2013-14 season. They finished 10 games under .500, and missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Much of the blame has been attributed to the astonishing number of injuries sustained by key players throughout the season. Throw in a new, first-time coach in Brian Shaw, and the results were certainly less than exemplary. Here are their offseason priorities to turn things around.
The Nuggets need to be bold this offseason, and that starts with the draft. They need to either draft someone with incredible upside, or they need to shop their pick for an already established star. James Young or Rodney Hood are great options with the 11th pick. Both are young, athletic guys with tremendous potential, but will need significant mentoring from Brian Shaw.
Danilo Gallinari has missed the better portion of two seasons with an ACL tear that he sustained back in April of 2013. The Nuggets botched the way they handled his surgery, postponing it until January of 2014, hoping he would recover without needing to go under the knife. When healthy, Gallinari is clearly the Nuggets' second best player, and they will need him healthy if they are going to make any sort of playoff run.
Ty Lawson is obviously the Nuggets' most dynamic and talented player. He was on the cusp of being an All-Star last year, averaging 17.6 points, 8.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game. However, he has the unfortunate fate of being in the same conference as Steph Curry, Chris Paul and Tony Parker. He can, at times, be the most explosive player on the court, but lacks the killer instinct needed to sustain that edge. He needs to change that this year.
Rumors have been swirling over the last few weeks regarding a trade proposal that would send Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and the 11th pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love. This is a no-brainer for the Nuggets. Love would be an instant upgrade over an ever-improving Faried, and Wilson Chandler is expendable. A core of Love, Lawson and Gallinari would be quite a handful for any team to contend with.
When Shaw took over as the Nuggets' coach last year, he said all the right things about changing the team's mindset. However, it never really felt like he was given the opportunity to fully implement his system. With one year under his belt, the increasing respect of his players and a roster that he helped mold, the Nuggets need to go all-in with Brian Shaw and let him sink or swim.
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