NBA Preview: Nuggets change coaches, and possibly results
Editor’s note: This is the 13th of Sam Amico’s look at all 30 NBA teams heading into the 2013-14 season.
Meet the Nuggets
Well, it was a banner year for the Denver Nuggets. They set a franchise record in consecutive wins (15) and wins in a season (57).
So what do they do? Part ways with the coach, of course. That was none other than one of the league’s most experienced and proven leaders in George Karl. It was purely a business decision, but in a business where the bottom line is winning … well, it’s a real head-scratcher.
Replacing Karl is Brian Shaw, a highly regarded longtime assistant who is getting a crack as the main man.
The good news for Shaw is the majority of the folks who went on a tear last season have returned. The Nuggets have no star -- but they clearly understand how to play together. Under Karl, they played hard, shared the ball and put pressure on the opposition with an up-tempo brand of basketball.
Now? Well, who knows?
Danilo Gallinari is the closest this team has to an All-Star, and his well-rounded game is expected to take the floor sometime in November following knee surgery last season.
Other than that, the Nuggets are a pretty much a bunch of guys who, again, understand the value of playing basketball like it’s described in an encyclopedia.
Point guard Ty Lawson, power forward Kenneth Faried and reserve guard Andre Miller are just three examples of the people who fit that description. And newcomers J.J. Hickson and Nate Robinson should add a little punch off the bench.
So the Nuggets should be able to pick up where they left off last regular season. At that same time, it wouldn’t be a major shock if they took a step back -- adapting to the new man in charge, who is the opposite of the former man in charge when it comes to head-coaching experience and proving he can get his team to overachieve.
Coach: Brian Shaw (first NBA season)
Last season: 57-25, lost to Golden State in first round of playoffs.
Projected starters: C JaVale McGee; PF Kenneth Faried; SF Danilo Gallinari; SG Randy Foye; PG Ty Lawson.
Key reserves: PF J.J. Hickson; PG Andre Miller; G Nate Robinson; SG Evan Fournier; SF Wilson Chandler; PF Darrell Arthur; PF Anthony Randolph; C Timofey Mozgov.
New faces: Shaw, Foye, Hickson, Arthur.
Outlook: One thing not mentioned yet: Andre Iguodala, a key piece, departed for the team that eliminated the Nuggets from the playoffs (Golden State). Somehow, perhaps collectively, the Nuggets will have to replace his tenacity (especially defensively) and strong locker room presence. But even if they do, it seems like the second-round of the playoffs is their ceiling.
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