Injury Plagued Season Is An Unfair Assessment Of Shaw
Brian Shaw was elected as the new head coach following the 2012-13′ season where the Denver Nuggets were another first-round exit yet again under Coach of the Year George Karl. Karl’s firing sparked fans to question what in the word was management thinking firing a coach who led a team to 57 regular season games in one season. The firing simply stated that getting to the playoffs wasn’t enough, they want to win championships here in Denver.
Shaw inherited a young, versatile, and deep roster in Denver while coming off of an Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Miami Heat as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers. The Denver Nuggets only lost two players to free-agency, Andre Iguodala who is now a member of the Golden State Warriors and Corey Brewer who departed to go back to the team that drafted him 7th overall back in 2007 in the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Denver did however make a sign-and-trade regarding Andre Iguodala who was shipped in a three-team trade between Denver, Utah, and Golden State. Iguodala went to Golden State as Denver received shooting guard Randy Foye from the Utah Jazz and a future second-round pick from the Warriors. Utah would receive a future second-round pick from the Denver Nuggets in the deal.
The Nuggets did make a trade and key free-agent signings in the offseason to stabilize their young, talented roster. They would trade center Kosta Koufos who started at the center position under George Karl and shipped him to the Memphis Grizzlies for pick-and-pop specialist Darrell Arthur and the rights to the 55th overall pick which turned out to be Joffrey Lauvergne.
J.J. Hickson would depart from the divisional rival Portland Trailblazers in free-agency and signed a three-year deal with the Nuggets as he came off of a season where he averaged 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds. Denver would strike a deal with point guard Nate Robinson who came off of a stellar season with the Chicago Bulls while averaging 13.1 points per game, 4.4. assists, including 40.5% percent from three-point distance. Denver struggled at shooting the three in 2012-13′ so signing Robinson was a key addition to the club.
Denver’s line-up looked poised to make some noise during the regular season, even without small forward Danilo Gallinari who torn his ACL in April and expected to make a comeback sometime in late November-early December. Forward Wilson Chandler would miss the first six-games due to a nagging hamstring injury that sidelined him for the whole preseason and it would cost Denver early on.
Denver would start out the regular season with a record of 0-3, losing to teams like the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazers, and the San Antonio Spurs. Denver lost by a combined total of 35 points in the first three games, which wasn’t all that bad. They were in desperate need of a second-scoring option, as Ty Lawson couldn’t do all on his own averaging 20.3 points per game.
Denver would get back to their winning ways with a victory over the Atlanta Hawks on November 7th as they snuck past them with a 109-107 win. The very next game against the Phoenix Suns on the road, Denver would lose starting center JaVale McGee to a stress fracture in his left leg that is likely a season-ending injury as the bone hasn’t healed properly.
Over the next twelve games, Denver earned a record of 10-2 including a seven-game winning streak with back-to-back wins over the Dallas Mavericks in a home-and-home. Denver would go on a successful 4-2 road-trip win with wins over the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Washington Wizards. However, they would receive losses to lowly teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics that had Nuggets fans scratching their heads.
Star point guard Ty Lawson sat out the contests against the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers due to the groin injury he suffered in the loss over the Boston Celtics. Lawson came back a totally different player from the injury and struggled to get back into the groove. In the Dec. 4th loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lawson shot a miserable 1-of-13 from the field (.77%) collecting just 4 points and 11 assists.
The team would struggle towards the end of December as they lost seven-straight games to teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, and the Philadelphia 76ers on New Years Day. The frustration got to veteran point guard Andre Miller who was benched and didn’t play against the Sixers as he got into an argument with head coach Brian Shaw.
Miller hasn’t been with the team since the blowup on the sidelines and Denver is trying to trade the disgruntled guard. Denver started to get back into the winning ways as they defeated lowly competition against teams like the Grizzlies, Lakers, Celtics, Magic, and a surprising win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The injures continued to pile up for the under-manned Nuggets squad who lost back-up power forward Darrell Arthur to a groin injury. He sat out against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 13th and Denver laid an egg on the road to one of the worst teams in the league. They would bounce back with a big-time win over the team who defeated them in the first-round of the playoffs last season in the Golden State Warriors, defeating them on national television by the final of 123-116.
That win over the Warriors would soon be forgotten as the Nuggets lost to the Cavaliers for the season time this season. They would go on to lose two more games to the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trailblazers which put them at a record of 20-21.
After two consecutive wins over the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings, Denver would not only lose the game to the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 29th, they would lose a key-player off the bench in Nate Robinson. Robinson was driving to the hole in the first-quarter and came down awkwardly on his leg and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Denver’s streaky season continued as they lost to the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 31st, but bounced back against the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 3rd with a buzzer-beater win thanks to a Randy Foye three-pointer at the buzzer for the 116-115 win. Denver would then take care of business at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-100 before heading out on a four-game road-trip to head into the all-star break.
The Nuggets started off the road-trip with a game against the New York Knicks which didn’t turn out so well. Denver would get blowout in the Garden, 117-90 as power forward Kenneth Faried posted one of his worst games of his young career. He would accumulate a plus/minus rating of -28 according to ESPN, and trade rumors surrounding him quickly picked up.
In the very next game against the Detroit Pistons, Ty Lawson would go down with a fractured rib that will sideline him for the next couple of weeks. They would fall to the Detroit Pistons by the final of 126-109 as they couldn’t get anything going without their leader and court general.
In their last two games prior to the All-Star Break, Denver had no answer for the Indiana Pacers, nor the Minnesota Timberwolves. They would get outscored in those two games combined by 66 points. Without any fire-power in the lineup, Denver is lost and searching for answers. An 0-4 road-trip buried the Nuggets three-games below .500, six-games back of the eight-seed in the Western Conference.
Brian Shaw shouldn’t be ridiculed for the season Denver is having after missing their top-scorer from last season in Danilo Gallinari who has now been ruled out for the rest of the season, and their top shot-blocker in JaVale McGee. He should be judged due to the fact that prominent scorers like Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson have missed quite some time due to injury as well. He should be questioned why the team isn’t as successful as last season due to the injuries that have crippled the Nuggets this season. Despite the 24-27 record, Shaw has this Nuggets team played good basketball despite all of the key injuries.
Projected Starting Line-Up W/O Injuries
Starting Line-Up with Injuries:
You do the math.