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Thursday, September 20, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 10. Denver Nuggets

Overall Win/Loss Record : 38-28 second place Northwest Division


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Projected 2012/2013 Finish

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Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 104.1 (1st)
  • Points Allowed: 101.2 (29th)
  • Team FG%: .476 (2nd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .456 (24th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.1 (8th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game:  40.3 (5th)



Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring: Ty Lawson (16.4)
  • Rebounds per game:  Javale McGee (7.8)
  • Minutes per game:  Ty Lawson (34.8)
  • Assists per game:  Andre Miller (6.7)
  • Steals per game:   Ty Lawson (1.3)
  • Blocked Shots per game:   Javale McGee (2.2)

Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.

  1. Danilo Gallinari (F)
  2. Andre Miller (PG)
  3. Corey Brewer (G/F)
  4. Kosta Koufos (C)
  5. Timofey Mozgov (C)

2012/2013 Projection:  52-30 second place in the Northwest division, Iggy’s arrival may mean a new devotion to defense in the Mile High City.

Analysis:

Plain and simple, George Karl needs to go—he has coached the team for eight years and for that amount of team the Denver Nuggets have only managed to pass the first round of the playoffs only once.  Karl has spent almost a decade in Denver, having one of the longest coaching tenures in the league, and the Nuggets have not gotten any better during that time.  He has only managed to keep the team treading water, despite all the roster moves and all the hundreds of millions of dollar spent by the front office in the efforts to build a championship team.  If it were any other playoff team, Karl would be out faster than you can say “interim coach;” however, Denver just seems to be content with being mired in mediocrity as Karl.  Whereas most playoff bound teams in the West are currently strive for excellence, both the Denver Nuggets and George Karl are just content with being “ good enough” and nothing more.

Sure, many people laud him for keeping the Nuggets a strong and competitive team after they traded their star player of seven years Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks; however, after two straight season with early playoff exits, it starts to get a little tired.  Even Carmelo saw that he was not going anywhere fast with the Nuggets, thus his trade demand and his desire to head for Madison Square Garden.  Carmelo wanted more that the Nuggets and the city of Denver could give him and although he and the Knicks have not been living up to expectations since he has arrived, he is still way better off.  Even if Carmelo ends up wasting his career in New York, at least he will have more exposure and more acclaim than he would have ever had if he were to have stayed in Denver.  For Antony, it is better being on a team which is in the largest sports market in the world that is going nowhere than a small change team such as the Nuggets that is moving in the same direction.

And with all the new faces and the wealth of size, talent and depth, Denver still remains stuck between being not bad enough to be in the lottery yet not good enough to go far in the playoffs.  Last season first round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers did not go to all seven games, because Denver played well, but because the Lakers played poorly.  Los Angeles held a three game to one lead on Denver and should have closed it out in game five as they were playing that game on their home court as well.  Unfortunately, the Lakers took the Nuggets too lightly and ended getting embarrassed in front of their fans in the Staples Center.  They were embarrassed yet again when they headed to Denver and were then forced to play a deciding game seven in which all respects should not have happened.  

That seven game series all but cemented Karl’s tenure as head coach of the Nuggets as it gave both fans and the front office false hope that he has the team going in the right direction.  Forget about the fact that despite having five players that averaged at least a blocked shot a game, Denver was second to last in the league in points allowed per game along with allowing their opponents to shot close to .460 last season.  With a team that is blessed with so much size and talent, one would expect that the Nuggets would at least be able to hold their opponents to under 100 points per game and shot less than .440 from the field.  It is deplorable for a team such as Denver to be so poor defensively and there is really no excuse for it given the depth of young athletic talent on that team.  And no one needs to look any farther for the reason for the team’s lack of effort and intensity on the defensive end farther than the coach himself.

Unfortunately, it is very likely that Karl does not care because as long as he keeps winning and bringing the team to the post season, his job security is all but ensured.  He is under no pressure to push his team to improve because there are doing just good enough and as long as the team’s management does not complain, he is in the clear. It is rather sad to say the least that an NBA franchise that has had so many winning seasons would just settle with mediocrity and not even bother to attempt to take the next step.  One can only hope that the offseason addition of Andre Igoudala will add some spark to the the team rather lackadaisical way of playing defense; however, with the way their history has been, it is rather doubtful that will happen.  Unless there is a severe change at the top, there will never be any chance of Denver being nothing that first round fodder, and with Karl in the coach’s seat there is no chance of any of that happening.