By Court Zierk @courtzierk on June 25, 2014
The Denver Nuggets are awkwardly positioned as it relates to prominence amongst NBA fans. In a recent report regarding the frequency of Google searches for NBA teams, the Nuggets ranked 17th overall. Of the eight teams that have won a championship over the past 30 years, seven were in the top 10. There is no denying the relationship between popularity and the success of NBA teams. Here is my five-step plan to make the Nuggets relevant.
Tim Connelly has made it known that he intends to be aggressive this offseason, starting with the upcoming NBA Draft. However, the Nuggets cannot make aggressive moves for the sake of being aggressive. They need to push the envelope as it relates to how this franchise has typically operated, but do so in a smarter way. They should stack the roster with incredible athletes who have undeniable upside, and rely upon Brian Shaw to mentor them.
It was only one short year ago that Masai Ujiri won the NBA’s Executive of the Year award. How that happened, I will never understand. He made moves that hamstrung this organization (Javale McGee) and then took off for Toronto, leaving Tim Connelly to clean up his mess. This core of overwhelmingly unexceptional talent needs a makeover. Everyone, including Ty Lawson, should be considered available for trade.
Denver will never be a market with the same appeal as Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, but there is no reason it should sit behind the likes of Detroit, Cleveland or Oklahoma City in terms of relative popularity amongst fans. The Nuggets need to make a concerted effort to improve the perception of their brand. Denver should really own the entire middle of the U.S. map as it relates to market penetration.
The George Karl era was fun, but dissatisfying. The Nuggets made a decision to fire Karl even after he won the Coach of the Year award, and hired Shaw to change the face of this franchise. Shaw needs to be given free reign so he can properly instrument his vision and see if it sticks. You never know, he could be the next Doc Rivers -- or he could be the next Isiah Thomas.
Part of why Ujiri received so much praise stemmed from the way he maneuvered through the Carmelo Anthony trade while avoiding the perceived inevitability of the “rebuilding process”. Hogwash. Had the Nuggets embraced the rebuilding process, they could have had a Damian Lillard or a Paul George to build around. If it takes a few down years to truly turn this team into a contender, the Nuggets and their fans should embrace it.
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