The Denver Nuggets finished a franchise-best 57-25 last season and George Karl was named NBA Coach of the Year.
Then the Nuggets and Karl parted ways, a contract issue at the heart of their rather unlikely divorce.
So the Nuggets went out and hired longtime respected assistant Brian Shaw, and no one really knew what to expect.
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Well, so far, so cool as the Nuggets enter Tuesday’s game at the Brooklyn Nets with a record of 10-6. That includes a six-game winning streak.
Point guard Ty Lawson is off to a fantastic start, averaging 20.6 points and 8.2 assists. He could be an All-Star this year. But he’s hardly alone.
Here are some other Nuggets nuggets worth noting:
• Lawson is only one of two players in the NBA averaging 20.0 points and 8.0 assists. He recently scored 28 points and passed for 17 assists in a game against the Houston Rockets (Nov. 16). That was one of four double-doubles for Lawson this season. In his five-year career, the Nuggets are 22-6 when Lawson compiles a double-double.
• The Nuggets certainly have some depth in the backcourt with Lawson, offseason signee Nate Robinson and 15-year veteran Andre Miller. Already, Robinson has provided a huge lift off the bench, averaging 14.6 points on 50 percent shooting — including a sizzling 52 percent on 3-points (16-of-31). Robinson has scored 10 or more points in seven straight games.
• Meanwhile, Miller moved ahead of Rod Strickland to capture sole possession of ninth place on the league’s all-time assist list Nov. 23 vs. the Dallas Mavericks. Miller is just the eighth player in NBA history to record 15,000 or more points and 7,500 or more assists for his career. Clearly, the man still can keep the ball moving.
• After a slow start, forward Kenneth Faried has been fairly dominant lately. Faried has compiled seven of his eight double-doubles (in points and rebounds) in the previous 11 games. During that stretch, he is averaging 12.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and burying 60 percent of his shots.
• Much like last season, the Nuggets’ bench has been a major factor. Nuggets reserves rank second in the league in scoring (behind the Los Angeles Lakers) at 45.2 points per game. They are first in rebounding at 19.8 boards per game.
• J.J. Hickson has been starting at center and doing a nice job, but 7-footer Timofey Mozgov often receives most of the minutes. Mozgov is one of just four NBA players to record a game of at least 23 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots on the same night. The others are Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. That’s pretty doggone good company.
• All this and forward Danilo Gallinari has not yet returned from an ACL injury. As an aside, Gallinari recently said he has “no idea” when he might be back.
• Bottom line: The Nuggets look every bit as big of a threat as last season under a new coach. They may even be better. Imagine that.