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Season Preview: Denver Nuggets

September 26, 2012
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“There’s no question, it’s too many [players at the PF & C positions].” – George Karl

In: Andre Iguodala, Anthony Randolph…..rookies Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller, Izzet Turkyilmaz…Wilson Chandler (spent most of last season in China, then injured foot upon return to Denver)

Out: Arron Afflalo (ORL), Al Harrington (ORL), Rudy Fernandez (Spain, thankfully), Chris Anderson (no comment)

Lineup:

PG Ty Lawson             Andre Miller, Julyan Stone

SG Andre Iguodala     Jordan Hamilton, Corey Brewer, Evan Fournier (r)

SF Danilo Gallinari     Wilson Chandler, Quincy Miller (r)

PF Kenneth Faried       Anthony Randolph

C   JaVale McGee          Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufous, Izzet Turkyilmaz (r)

Offseason Recap: The Nuggets were determined to lock-up JaVale McGee long-term and they did so…he’ll make $40 million by the next Olympic games. Then the team got some good fortunate when PG Andre Miller didn’t get much luv out on the open market. They were able to keep him at the mid-level.

Acquiring Andre Iguodala was a brilliant move by Masai Ujiri, though I think Mitch Kupchak deserves most the credit for that deal. Talk about a perfect fit…George Karl likes versatile guys who play both ends and don’t hold the ball on offense. Sure Aaron Afflalo will be missed, but this was a great move (as the team also shedded Al Harrington’s contract in the deal). I also really like the free agent acquisition of Anthony Randolph from Minnesota. If this was NBA2K13, I’d pick the lefty in the 1st round. The guy is as versatile and talented at 6-11 as a Lamar Odom…the only question is if he gets his head together (again, see Lamar). Lastly, the team mercifully cut ties with Chris Anderson who is under investigation for child pornography. What ever happened to ‘the birdman’?

Strengths: In an era where most teams have just one or two real ‘bigmen’, the Nuggets have a handful. More importantly, they all know their roles and aren’t concerned with touches…a coach’s dream. If you ask coach Karl, he seems to think that he actually has too many ‘bigs’. But take that with a grain of salt, as he also said recently that the NBA season should be shortened (blasphemy!).

The Nuggets have as much versatility as anyone in the league, especially defensively. George has a back-up PG that can play the SG, a starting SG that can guard anywhere from 1-4, and a 6’10″ forward who can make shots anywhere out on the floor. Oh, and don’t forget the most athletically-gifted guy in the league at center. Speaking of JaVale, the team’s shot-blocking will likely go up from last year’s ranking of 16th in the league now that McGee is there for a full slate (and likely starting). I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention ‘The Manimal’ Kenneth Faried at PF (there, I just did).

Ball movement is also a strength for Denver, as they led the league in assists last season. Ty Lawson and back-up Andre Miller are as good as it gets as a PG rotation.

Weaknesses: Is the bench as good as in years’ past? Wilson Chandler, who spent the brunt of last season playing in China, is the team’s second-unit anchor. He only appeared in just eight contests last season (9.4 pts, 5.1 rebs, 2.1 assts) but boasts a career scoring average of 13.8 points on 45 percent shooting. Chandler is great in the 6th man role because he can line up anywhere from SG/SF, to PF. He’s a tremendous athlete and a versatile defender who fits Denver’s high-octane, up-tempo style of play perfectly. Andre Miller provides the team with a veteran pure PG that knows how to read a defense. Miller averaged 9.7 pts and 6.7 assts last season and gives the Nuggets’ backcourt a pass-first lead guard who can make his teammates better, run the pick-and-roll and give their offense a different dynamic than the attacking style of Lawson. But can he play still play big minutes at this stage of his career? Corey Brewer is another athletic, defensive-minded wing player who can lock down the perimeter, attack the basket and hit the occasional shot from the perimeter. But isn’t he just a poor-man’s Iguodala?

Is George Karl serious when he says his team has too many ‘bigs’ or is he just trying to motivate them heading into training camp? Since his comments, the team has sent Al Harrington to Orlando…but Iguodala coming in means that Gallinari will likely play a lot more at the ’4′ (again adding to the logjam). Speaking of ‘bigmen’, no one really knows how JaVale McGee will play now that he’s gotten that big NBA paycheck. Will he revert to his Wizards days or continue to show the stuff he displayed in the 1st rd vs. the Lakers? It’s a scary question for Stan Kroenke, the man who’ll be writing those checks of $10M/yr for the next four.

Lastly, the team was also 25th in FT-shooting last year and they went to line more than anyone else in the league. This percentage must go up considering that George Karl preaches ‘attack basketball’.

Prediction: This team took a major step forward in acquiring Andre Iguodala, even though he’ll play out of position a lot at the SG. He’s a perfect fit for the George Karl system, on both ends of the floor.

I also predict that Kenneth Faried will lead the league in technical fouls this season. I was shocked at how much leeway the refs gave him last year, as he seemingly shouted complaints after every shot attempt inside. Kenneth seems to forget that when you’re 6’6″ “big man” in the NBA you often don’t get good looks inside, or calls. I think he’ll continue to push the issue verbally and be reprimanded for it (finally).

I see the Denver Nuggets doing what they usually do…..putting on a show regularly in the 82-game season and thenmaking someone’s life miserable in the first round of the playoffs. No NBA team wants to play an energetic and hungry college team, let alone in a 7-game series. However, I just don’t think this squad has the magic it takes to make a long run in the postseason…but please ask me again in 2014. I like the way this team is movin’.

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One Response to Season Preview: Denver Nuggets

  1. 2012 Gz on September 27, 2012 at 3:25 am

    No mention of Mozgov? He started all last season and only got stronger in the summer in London.

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