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Uncertainty Surrounds The Nuggets 2013-14 Campaign

The Denver Nuggets are coming off 57-25 season, the best record since 1975-76 when they were in the ABA. The fans had high hopes for the team, especially knowing they were taking on a young Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, but Stephen Curry and company ended the party and eliminated the Nuggets in six games. It was the fourth year in-a-row they have been eliminated in the first round; overall nine out of the last ten years they have been one and done. Despite the fact that Nuggets head coach George Karl won Coach of the Year, management decided that it was time to cut ties with him. Denver brought in Brian Shaw, former assistant coach for the Lakers and Pacers. This move brings in a new mentality and change. Shaw will force the Nuggets to play slower and defend, something the Nuggets aren’t accustomed to.

The Nuggets lost two key players from last year’s team, Andre Iguodola and Corey Brewer. Iggy leaving kind of said it all to Nuggets fans; he didn’t think the Nuggets were a team capable of winning a championship, and flocked to the team that defeated them in the first-round, the Golden State Warriors. Andre was the most versatile defender on the Nuggets and the athletic forward’s presence will be missed. Corey Brewer on the other hand, signed a 3-year deal worth $15 million to go to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Don’t get me wrong, Brewer was a key player of the bench for the Nuggets with his energy during the regular season, but come playoff time, he was non-existent because the game is slowed down. In six games, he averaged 10.8 points, which wasn’t bad for a bench player, but shot roughly 31% percent, and 25% percent from three.

New Signings:

Point Guard: Nate Robinson

He spent the 2012-13 season in Chicago, where he helped lead a team without their star player, Derrick Rose, to the playoffs. He helped defeat the Nets in the first round, before falling to the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat. Nate Robinson will provide quickness, and a three-point threat for a team that struggled mightily from downtown last season, ranked 25th in the league at 34.3% percent. He averaged 16.3 points in the playoffs, shooting 34% percent from deep.

Shooting Guard: Randy Foye

Randy spent the 2012-13 season with his fourth NBA team, the Utah Jazz. He averaged 10.8 points per game, and shot 41% from three. Foye’s main addition to the Nuggets will be his three-point shooting, and if he can get to the line a lot, his free-throw shooting. Foye is a career 85.6% percent free-throw shooter. The Nuggets as a team last year were 28th in the league at 70.1% percent.

Power Forward: J.J. Hickson

Hickson spent the past two seasons with the Portland Trailblazers. He averaged 12.7 points per game, and 10.4 rebounds per game, which he was 7th in the NBA. Hickson provides the Nuggets with flexibility between the center and power forward position. This was a good signing by the Nuggets, giving them a forward/center option that can shoot.

Power Forward: Darrell Arthur

Darrell spent his first four NBA seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. Last season, he averaged 6.1 points per game, playing in just 16.4 minutes per game. Arthur will likely have the same role with the Nuggets due to the deep bench, but provides a pick-and-pop and mid-range shooter like J.J. Hickson.

It will be interesting to see how this Nuggets team evolves into a half-court offense over the season, after spending multiple seasons under George Karl with a run-and-gun mentality. It will take time, but in the long haul, it will be worth it. Brian Shaw wants the Nuggets to play physical in the post, something JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried need to improve on.

Here is what the 2013-14 Denver Nuggets line-up should look like:
Point Guard: Ty Lawson
Shooting Guard: Randy Foye
Small Forward: Wilson Chandler
Power Forward: J.J. Hickson
Center: JaVale McGee

Most Nuggets fans will realize I left out fan favorite Kenneth Faried, who was the starting power forward last season. The reason I think he will come off the bench is because of his energy. Brian Shaw wants his power forwards to have an all-around game, meaning they can shoot, rebound, and even facilitate. But this is what Faried lacks, a jumper. Either he develops one, or it wouldn’t be a surprise that the Nuggets do in fact trade him.

Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari will be sidelined until early December. He suffered a partially torn ACL and torn meniscus in his left knee on April 4th, which he had surgery on. He was the Nuggets leading scorer for most of the 2012-13 season averaging 16.2 points per game, and 5.2 rebounds. When Denver gets Gallinari back, he will return to the starting-lineup, forcing either Randy Foye or Wilson Chandler to come off the bench, leaving them with many options.

The 2013-14 season holds no real expectation for the Nuggets. Many experts are picking them to not even make the playoffs, which is odd after coming off a 57-win season. One thing I do know is if the Nuggets can adapt quickly to the Brian Shaw half-court offense, and buy into his defensive schemes, they could be a surprise threat in the Western Conference due to the talent and speed across the board.


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