Does anyone remember when the Denver Nuggets were given the third seed in the playoffs two seasons ago? Despite their early playoff exit, the Denver Nuggets were proud of the season they just played. Unfortunately, the Nuggets felt as if it was time to let George Karl go and start a new coaching era in Denver.
There’s no hiding from the fact that the Denver Nuggets had a disappointing season in their first year under head coach Brian Shaw. Most of the blame went to the constant injuries the Nuggets were faced with. No matter that, though, because either way they failed to make the playoffs and fell way short.
Last year was much the same for the Nuggets. They were playing the same way they were the year before, which isn’t a good thing. They didn’t have trouble scoring, averaging 104 points per game. However, they failed to have a strong defensive game by allowing opponents to score an average of 106 points per game. They were aware that the loss of Andre Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors would be a big setback. It’s not new for the Nuggets to be an offensive-minded team, though. They’ve always refrained from being a defensive-minded team. Their strategy for winning is to have a high-octane offense.
Last season was just not a good year for the Nuggets. They saw a string of season-ending injuries that really set their offensive game back a lot. The Nuggets were seeing themselves get outscored by their opponent game after game. The Nuggets saw it clear that they needed to either add some offensive talent to their roster or bring in a group of guys to help out defensively. The Nuggets did a good job of filling both of those spots this offseason.
Getting back to the coaching, George Karl’s leaving was a very sad end to an enjoyable era for the Nuggets’ fan base. The many faithful fans loved Karl and hated seeing him leave. If Brian Shaw doesn’t display any signs of improvement with his team, then he could very well find himself in the hot seat. If not, then the fans will be clambering for his removal. With the way the Nuggets’ roster is looking right now, he should have no issues with delivering some wins. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the upgrades the Nuggets made to their roster:
In a draft-day-trade with the Orlando Magic, the Nuggets acquired Arron Afflalo. By sending guard Evan Fournier and their 56th draft pick in this year’s draft, the Nuggets received Afflalo. Afflalo is familiar with the Nuggets, having played for them from 2009-2012. He will be a great addition to the team and bring a lot of upside.
Ever since being drafted in 2007, Afflalo has been showing improvements each year. His rookie season ended with 3.7 points per game and has seen an increase year after year. The last year he played for the Denver Nuggets, which was the 2011-2012 season, he ended the season averaging 15.2 points per game. In his first year playing for the Orlando Magic, he averaged a total of 16.5 points per game and increased that number last season to 18.2 points per game. That also sets in as his career high.
Arron Afflalo has always been a defensive-minded player at the guard position. It wasn’t until recent that he became a constant threat on the other side of the floor. His coming back will give the team exactly what they need from both sides of the court. It will also bring the best out of fellow guard Randy Foye. Competition between positions is always good news for a team because it makes the players perform to the best of their abilities.
Jusuf Nurkic & Gary Harris
The Nuggets had themselves a good day after draft day was over. Originally dealt the 11th pick in the draft, they used it to grab Doug McDermott. However, later in the draft they traded their rights to McDermott as well as Anthony Randolph to the Chicago Bulls. In return, they received the 16th and 19th picks in this year’s draft. With those picks, they grabbed Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris.
Jusuf Nurkic was playing internationally before being drafted by the Nuggets. It was first reported that he would spend another few years overseas. However, that all changed when the Nuggets reportedly bought out his contract with his Croatian club. This is good news for a team that was thinking they wouldn’t get to use him for another few years. He is expected to have a nice role on the team.
Gary Harris was the 19th pick in the draft and has been thought of as a steal. He played his college ball at Michigan State. He was the leading scorer there for both of the years he was there. Although he is small, he brings excellent shooting and explosive scoring to a team in dire need of it. Playing behind Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo and Randy Foye will definitely help him develop quicker than usual. It was a smart pick by a Nuggets squad that was desperate. They have set themselves up well for both now and the future.
The front office for the Denver Nuggets did a really nice job this summer. They realized what problems they needed solved and went out and solved them. With the additions they made, as well as the players returning from injury, the Nuggets should find themselves back to their winning ways. They are competing in a very tough Western Conference, so it will be a battle. However, the Nuggets have the necessary materials to be a threat in the West. They just needed those pieces to work well with each other.
With Brian Shaw likely on the hot seat this season if they don’t fail to perform well, the Nuggets should be doing anything possible on the court to make sure that doesn’t happen. I expect his players to take that to heart and grab around 50 wins next season. They will grab a seed in the playoffs for sure and have a chance to make a run for the championship.