The battered Denver Nuggets have no postseason to look forward to, marking the first time they haven’t been in the playoffs since the 2002-03 season. But behind this rocky season, the Nugget faithful have nothing to worry about.
There were multiple reasons that the Nuggets didn’t perform this year, one being the new cast in Denver. Tim Connelly and Brian Shaw came into Denver to replace the Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri and legendary coach George Karl, so it’s expected that the team fell off a little. What wasn’t expected was the slew of injuries that took away weapons from Shaw.
Danilo Gallinari played a total of zero games for the Nuggets, suffering an ACL tear last April and has undergoen two surgeries since. If it wasn’t bad enough that the star forward didn’t appear on the court, center JaVale McGee suffered a fractured leg five games into the season. Other injuries included new additions Nate Robinson and JJ Hickson, both of whom suffered season ending knee injuries.
With all these injuries, Shaw wasn’t able to properly evaluate the talent on his new team like he would have liked. He had to shuffle for lineups that he wasn’t expecting, but was still able to put players like Timofey Mozgov in positions to perform, as well as successfully incorporate new additions, Hickson, Robinson, and Randy Foye into the lineup. We should have more insight on what Shaw can do next year.
The exciting part of the season was to see what Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried were able to bring to the floor at Pepsi Center, and how they will be able to translate that into next season. Ty Lawson stepped into a role of a potential all star, rounding out the season ranked 3rd in assists with 8.8 and 35th in scoring with 17.6. He showed he has the potential to lead the team into the future. Faried impressed too, providing spectacular plays for the Nuggets throughout the season. The high-paced game that this young team likes to play is perfect to set up Manimal with ferocious dunks. He’s finishing his third season with 13.6 ppg and a 8.5 rebound average. These two young leaders took on the lead for the injured team, if they keep this progression into next year, their future is bright.
What’s to be excited about this offseason? The NBA draft. Although the team is not to the weak standing of Milwaukee and Philadelphia, Denver has a lottery pick and will be able to get great talent in this big talent draft. The Nuggets, who most likely won’t win the lottery, will be looking at players like Stanford SF Jerami Grant, Oklahoma State PG Marcus Smart, and UCLA PG Zach LeVine. But even with these stud athletes, a starting lineup of Lawson, Foye, Gallinari, Faried, and Hickson will be a great canvass for Brian Shaw next year. Nugs fans have nothing to worry about coming out of a recovery year.