For the first time in ten years there will be no basketball being played in the Pepsi Center this spring. The Denver Nuggets finished the year with a 36-46 record, the first time in ten years that the Nuggets failed to make the playoffs and the first in 11 years they failed to finish the regular season above .500. Here are a few reasons on why the Denver Nuggets missed the playoffs this season:
The injury bug hit the Nuggets hard throughout the season. It seemed as if every month a new player was injured and would be out for a significant time. If a team can’t stay healthy during the season their chances of postseason play will be decreased drastically.
Danillo Gallanari and JaVale McGee both had zero contributions this season, Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson both had to be placed on the Injured Reserve at some point during the season, and Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler both were unable to play for 18 games due to injuries (Most of the games both were missing).
The Nuggets’ final roster lineup on Wednesday featured Kenneth Faried, Aaron Brooks, Quincy Miller, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler, Evan Fournier, Anthony Randolph, and Jan Vesely. Clearly a lineup the Nuggets didn’t vision ending the season.
The aspect that really bothered me this year about the Nuggets was their inability to play consistent basketball. Yes, injuries can be blamed, but my biggest reasoning for the inconsistency was the lack of effort the Nuggets would display some nights. I watched this team beat a very good Golden State Warriors team in the bay area in a tough environment. Thinking this would give the team some confidence and a little swag to their next game, instead they came out and showed no hustle, no effort, no desire to want to be out on the court.
That’s something Nuggets fans hadn’t been to used to seeing in previous years. The Nuggets were also to streaky throughout the year. This season they had two winning streaks over 4 (One at 5 and the other was 7), yet they had five losing streaks of 4 or more, including two during the month or March. The Nuggets weren’t able to bring it for all 82 games this year and is one factor as to why they are only playing 82 this season.
3. Western Conference was too tough
Plain and simple, the Western Conference was too much for the Nuggets to compete in this year. After all the changes were made in Denver, most preseason experts predicted the Nuggets would be fighting with teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, and Minnesota Timberwolves for the final one or two spots in the playoffs.
Honestly, I can see how the conference was too tough for the Nuggets. The Dallas Mavericks got the final playoff spot this season and they finished with a 49-33 record- 13 games better than the Nuggets.
Denver really never seemed to be in the playoff push after the All-Star break. They finished with a 20-32 record against the West and 5-11 against their division. In order to be a playoff team in this league you have to beat teams in your conference and division, something the Nuggets had struggles with year.
Let’s not forget that just a little less than a year ago the Denver Nuggets had lost their coach, GM, and one of its best players (Andre Iguodala); that’s a lot of turmoil to deal with for an upcoming season. They hired Tim Connelly and Brian Shaw, two people I was for during the hiring process, and both had different tendencies and desires with their profession than the previous occupants.
At the beginning of the year the Nuggets looked as if they didn’t buy into Shaw’s style and schemes, and there was constant beef between Andre Miller and Shaw, something than can easily divide a locker room. Fortunately things got resolved and the players played more toward Shaw’s style and began to trust him as a coach which is a necessity for this team to succeed.
Tim also had his issues to deal with upon taking this job. He got stuck with no payroll and some big contracts for players who haven’t lived up to their dollar amount. He worked with what he had and signed guys like Robinson, JJ Hickson, and Randy Foye, all who made significant contributions. The Nuggets had to get used to seeing new faces something the organization hadn’t seen in awhile and it might have taken this year for everyone to finally settle down.
The 2013-2014 Denver Nuggets season could best be described as the part at the end of the movie where you think everything is over then those three words pop up on the screen: to be continued. I think that’s the best way to feel about this season. We didn’t really ever get to see the full potential of this Nuggets team, and this was a team who did have talent to compete.
Nuggets fans are worried that this losing season will lead back to the days where the Nuggets were one of the laughing stock franchises in the NBA. I promise you this team and organization is no where near those Denver Nuggets years. It was a tough season for Nuggets players and fans and the mile high city isn’t use to no basketball in May, but have faith Nuggets hopefuls Opening night is only a little more than 6 months away.