Denver Nuggets in midst of transitional off-season


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It has already been an off-season of transition for the Denver Nuggets as they lost general manager Masai Ujiri to Toronto and replace him with Hornets assistant GM, Tim Connelly.  The front office also surprisingly decided to let George Karl go and have replace him with Pacers assistant, Brian Shaw.  The Nuggets could also be losing one of their best players in Andre Iguodala who will reportedly opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent.

Denver Nuggets (57-25 last year)

2012-13 Season Summary:
The Denver Nuggets finished with their highest win total since their final season in the ABA nearly forty 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 off-season acquisition Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari (pre-tearing his ACL late in the season) added punch on the wing.  A hip injury sidelined Wilson Chandler for half of the season 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 was relied more on their 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 post-season as they were bounced in the first round by the Warriors.  For those keeping track at home, the Nuggets have now made the post-season in each of the last ten 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 $52.6 million

Team Needs:
1. Re-sign Iggy?: 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 Iggy is priority number one for the Denver off-season but how much will they 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, the Nuggets might have to open up their wallets to bring Iguodala back since they don’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.  They finished in the lower fifth of the NBA in three-point percentage and their struggles from deep played a role in their early exit from the playoffs.  The Nuggets could look to address this need with the 27th pick in the draft but will they get somebody there 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 which then must trickle down to the player.

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David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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