2013 Denver Nuggets

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Denver Nuggets (Last Year: 57-25)

2012-13 Season Summary:
The Denver Nuggets finished with their highest win total since their final season in the ABA nearly 40 years ago. They did so by utilizing their depth, up-tempo style of play, and ability still to score the basketball. For the amazing job George Karl did, he earned the NBA Coach of the Year Award … and then was fired less than a month later. (#SMH)

Again, the depth was key as nine players averaged at least eight points per game. Ty Lawson was the spark plug of the offense with offseason acquisition Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari (before tearing his ACL late in the season) added punch on the wing. A hip injury sidelined Wilson Chandler for half of the yeat, but when healthy, he was a valuable asset off the bench as was Corey Brewer who made the most of added minutes in Chandler’s absence. Andre Miller, once again, provided experience as a floor leader, and even rookie Evan Fournier came on strong near the end of the season.

The guards and wings had to provide the offensive firepower since the frontcourt relied more on its defensive presence and rebounding than really scoring the basketball. Kenneth Faried is becoming the ultimate energy/role player/glue guy with his ability to rebound and guard multiple positions. JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufus, and Timofey Mozgov all rotated in at center.

In the end, the committee approach couldn’t get it done for Denver in the postseason as the team was bounced in the first round by the Warriors. For those keeping track at home, the Nuggets have now made the postseason in each of the last 10 years, but exited in the opening round nine of those trips. Maybe that’s why Karl got the boot ….

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Kosta Koufus/JaVale McGee/*Timofey Mozgov

PF: Kenneth Faried/Anthony Randolph

SF: Danilo Gallinari/Jordan Hamilton/Quincy Miller

SG: Wilson Chandler/Evan Fournier

PG: Ty Lawson/Andre Miller/*Julyan Stone

NBA Free Agents:

G/F-Andre Iguodala (ETO)

SF-Corey Brewer (UFA)

*C-Timofey Mozgov (RFA)

*PG-Julyan Stone (RFA)

2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $57.5 million

NBA Offseason Team Needs:

1. Re-sign Igoudala?: Andre Igoudala is expected to turn down the final year of his contract – worth about $15.9 million – and instead become a free agent. The new management has already said that re-signing Igoudala is priority No. 1 for the offseason, but how much will the Nuggets be willing to pay him and will they be outbid by another team?

With Danilo Gallinari to miss a good chunk of next season as he recovers from a torn ACL and Corey Brewer a free agent, Denver might have to open up its wallet to bring Iguodala back since the team doesn’t have the cap flexibility to find a suitable replacement in free agency, and I’m not sure Fournier, Hamilton, or Miller are ready to make that big of a leap into a critical role.

2. Three-point threat: Whether Iguodala returns or not, Denver needs to find a capable shooter to bring off the bench, especially since Gallinari’s return date is up in the air. The Nuggets finished in the lower fifth of the NBA in 3-point percentage, and their struggles from deep played a role in their early exit from the playoffs. Denver could look to address this need with the 27th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but will the team get somebody there who is more capable than Fournier, Hamilton, and Miller? Probably not.

3. Cohesiveness with Management: Anytime there is a change at both head coach and general manager, there is some concern that goes into that transition. Will the current players fit new head coach Brian Shaw’s system? Will new GM Tim Connelly want to re-make the roster a bit? Whatever decision is made, Shaw and Connelly need to buy into the same philosophy and then that must trickle down to the players.

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