The Denver Nuggets finished the season with just 36 wins. That was quite a drop from the 57 wins the team achieved last season.
Despite those 57 wins and playoff appearance, the Nuggets revamped their coaching staff and front office. George Karl was fired and Masai Ujiri left for the Toronto Raptors. Denver brought in Brian Shaw to coach and Tim Connelly was named the new general manager. It was a big change for Nuggets fans that have become accustom to winning and going to the playoffs.
But the first-round losses wore on Nuggets president Josh Kroenke so he made the change. The beginning of the transition was tough but by the end of the season things were looking up.
The players on the Nuggets roster began to buy into Shaw’s new system and way of doing things. He was quite a different coach than Karl and several players only knew Karl as a coach. It will take time for the Nuggets but they are moving in the right direction.
The Nuggets are also set to have the No. 11 pick in the draft unless they get lucky in the NBA draft lottery. So Denver has a chance to add another quality player to the team.
Despite not making the playoffs and struggling at times, there were some bright spots and signs of growth with Shaw’s group.
The emergence of Kenneth Faried
At the beginning of the season Faried seemed lost and looked to be possible trade bait in February. Before the All-Star break he was averaging just 10 points and seven rebounds a game. He was not a part of the offense and spent some time on the bench.
Faried turned into a different player after the break. His offensive game developed more and his work with Shaw started to show. He went up to 18 points a game and 10 rebounds. His post-up game become an actual threat in the offense. Defenses knew his jump-hook was coming but were still unable to stop it.
The forward proved that he needs to be a part of the future of the Nuggets. His 13.7 points a game was the highest of his career. It was quite a turnaround for Faried.
Timofey Mozgov making a push
The center was not getting a lot of minutes under Karl and it seemed to be the same story with Shaw. Even after an injury sidelined JaVale McGee, it was tough for Mozgov to get on the court. But once J.J. Hickson was lost, the big Russian finally got a chance to play.
He is still a bit a streaking but has shown he can be a starting center in the NBA. He has work to do — especially with his hands but he should push McGee next season. In eight games played in April, Mozgov averaged over 15 points a game including a game where he has 23 points and 29 rebounds.
McGee is better off the bench. He is a 20-minute energy guy who can excite the crowd with dunks and blocks. Mozgov is a bit more polished and should be the starter at the beginning of the season.
Ty Lawson keeps getting better
Lawson played only 62 games because of several injuries. He still had his best season as a pro and began to emerge as one of the better point guards in the league. He averaged 17.6 points and 8.8 assists a game. The number of assists is very encouraging.
The Nuggets are a better team with Lawson on the floor and the more and more he gets familiar with what coach Shaw wants the better Lawson will be. If Lawson is healthy next season, the Nuggets should be in contention for the playoffs.
Seeing Quincy Miller play
Miller didn’t fill up the stat sheet or have a bunch of highlight reel plays but it was good to see him get some playing time. After playing in only seven games his rookie season, Miller saw the floor in 52 games including 16 starts.
Miller did show some flashes of being a quality players in the NBA. He will not be a star but will serve as a good backup for Danilo Gallinari when he gets back on the floor.
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