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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

SDH Presents the 2013 End of Season NBA's Worst to First: 13. Denver Nuggets

Overall Win/Loss Record (At Season’s End):  57-25,  second place Northwest Division

At Season’s End:

Team Statistics and League Rank (At Season’s End)
  • Points Scored: 106.1 (1st)
  • Points Allowed: 101.1 (22nd)
  • Team FG%: .478 (5th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .444 (11th)
  • Team FT%: .701 (28th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .343 (25th)
  • Rebounds per game: 45.0 (2nd)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.6 (10th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.7 (27th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.2 (4th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (At Season’s End)

Taking a Look Back at the Season that Once Was . . .

SDH Worst to First Recap
Time Period
Change (+/-)
At Season’s End
SDH Player of the Year:
Kosta Koufos

His regular season numbers do not jump jump out at you as he average just eight points and a shade under seven boards per game, but Kosta Koufos still played consistently enough to remain as the team's starting center, despite having signed the higher profile JaVale McGee to a four year contract extension worth 44$ million.  At just 24 years of age, Kosta Koufos has maintain a solid and consistent presence providing points in the paint along with rebounding and interior defense.  Despite playing just 22 minutes per game, Koufos finished second on the team in rebounds behind Kenneth Faried while almost being automatic from the filed making close to .600 of his shot attempts.  If he had played more minutes, he would have been considered for All Star recognition as his per 40 minutes averages would show:  14.3 ppg, 12.2 rpg, and 2.3 blkpg.  At just only 24 years of age Koufos has yet to reach his full potential and can be possibly become one of the best players in the NBA that no one has ever heard of.   

As it was the case in the last four years, the Denver Nuggets had failed yet again to advance past the first round in the NBA playoffs despite finishing the regular season with the third best record in the Western Conference at 57-25. The Nuggets looked as if they had so much going for them as they not only earned the third seed in the NBA playoffs along with home court advantage in the first round , but, they were facing a team who had not made the post season since 2006 and only had it third playoff appearance in the last twenty years.  The Golden State Warriors surprised everyone, even their own fans when they went from being one of the perennial cellar dwellers in the league to becoming the feel good story of  2013 NBA Season; however, no one thought that those upstarts would have a chance against a seasoned Denver Nuggets team.  The Warriors would silence any doubters and turned the table on this supposedly superior Denver team as they eliminated the Nuggets in six games and moved on to the second round to face the San Antonio Spurs.  As for the Nuggets, they would return to their usual routine of packing it in early and watching the rest of the playoffs on TV; however there would be a slight change as this time they will be doing it without their head coach.

When the season had finally ended, many assumed that the Nuggets would re-up head coach George Karl's contract as he not only led Denver to one of the best records in the team's history, but also earned Coach of the Year honors to go along with it.  Fortunately for Nuggets' fans, the team were not swayed by Karl's recent accomplishments, but chose to instead look at Karl's career as whole while coaching the Nuggets and it left little to be impressed about.  In his nine years as head coach of the Nuggets, which ranked second longest among active coaches in the NBA, George Karl only brought his team past the first round of the playoffs just once.  Most NBA coaches would have been fired a long time ago, especially since much of the Nuggets' inability to advance to the post season was the reason why Carmelo Anthony wanted to jump ship because he was tired of being stuck on a team going nowhere.  Even with the departure of Anthony, Karl was still capable to keep his job as the Nuggets still managed to make the playoffs despite losing the best player the team has ever had; however, after the team's third straight early ousting from the post season, the shtick simply got old and Karl simply wore out his welcome in the Mile High City.  

What is even more shocking about the situation was that it took the Nuggets' front office close to a decade to finally wake up and finally part ways with Karl in the first place.  Essentially Karl had been coasting with the team having it play well enough to remain respectable enough to keep his job and not aspiring more than doing the bare minimum.  He essentially was never pressured by his higher ups to raise the bar because they also simply settled with the team remaining at the same spot it had been for close to a decade being happy with just simply being a middle of the pack team with no other real aspirations whatsoever.  The team's third straight embarrassing post season exit was the straw that broke the camel's back, especially since it look as if the Nuggets' would finally breakout of it four year first round slump.  Unfortunately, that did not happen and what was even more insulting about the entire state of affairs was that Karl was nonchalantly arrogant to expect the team to resign him despite failing yet again simply because he won coach of the year and coached the team to its best regular season record.

Thankfully the ownership and the team's front office finally wised up to see what George Karl really was--certainly, not the coach that could inspire greatness in his players enough to make Denver a championship contender.  Instead, George Karl proved himself to be no more than a charlatan who only looked to pad his numbers well enough to earn the elite coach salary that he never deserved.  He was actually pretty fortunate that Denver went on that 40-10 tear to finish the regular season, because the team started it rather weakly at 17-15 and if things had not turned around the way they had, Karl probably would have been fired by mid-season.  The Nuggets struggled mightily at the start of the season trying to keep their heads above water before that almost miraculous run brought the team out of mediocrity and into the upper echelons as one of the league's elite team.  Had the Nuggets managed to pass the Warriors in the first round, Karl probably would have been re-signed to a contract extension and his charade would have continued for another three or four years; fortunately, however, that was not the case as Denver certainly dodged a bullet in retaining him.  Now the Nuggets have the chance to take the team into another direction instead of being stuck in the same spot spinning their tires going nowhere.

The ousting of George Karl should not be seen by Nuggets fans as a sign that the team looks to tear down and rebuild, but more of going into a new direction. They already have a deep and talented roster with players who have yet to reach their full potential and with the right coach, they can probably be able to break their poor playoff streak once and for all.  Even if they don't next season, at least the Nuggets will have a new coach at the helm instead of the same guy who simply settled with the status quot.  Hopefully, the Nuggets find a coach who will challenge his players and have them play with a greater sense of purpose instead of simply going through the motions as they did with George Karl.  The season may have ended disappointingly with the Nuggets being ousted yet again in the first round of the playoff, but  at least their future has a chance to be rewritten thanks to the departure of the man that kept them stationed at the same spot for the last nine and a half years.