Next up, the mile high Denver Nuggets.
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The Denver Nuggets have a ton of questions and a lot of uncertainty lingering as they enter the 2013-14 NBA season. How will Brian Shaw do in his overdue first stint as a head coach? How will the team absorb the loss of their best perimeter defender, Andre Iguodala, and bench leader Corey Brewer? When will Danilo Gallinari return? How will the team and franchise move on from the George Karl era?
The offensive-minded Nuggets are likely to be a team consistently in the playoff bubble throughout the season, fighting for a playoff spot somewhere between the 6 and 8 seeds this year. What will make viewers tune into League Pass to watch a team that will be playing for a hopeful playoff spot? Let’s look at the five reasons why.
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Brian Shaw Is Finally Top Dog
In an unexpected turn of events, the Nuggets fired George Karl just one month after he was named the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year. Karl led the Nuggets to 57 wins (the most wins in nearly three decades) the best home record in the NBA, and finished the regular season as the 3 seed in the West. Yet, a first round exit against the Golden State Warriors and internal conflicts with management caused a rift that led to breakup between Karl and the Nuggets in early June 2013.
After years of being the top candidate for a head coaching position only to be continually passed over, Brian Shaw finally landed his opportunity to lead his own squad. The Nuggets replaced Karl with Shaw, who was coming off successful runs assisting in Los Angeles and Indiana.
Shaw will bring his version of the Triangle Offense, which he studied as the thought-to-be successor for Phil Jackson with the Lakers. He will mesh the Triangle with the hard-nose defense he absorbed with the Pacers, and the run-and-gun offense that has been a staple with the Nuggets for years.
Nuggets point guard, Ty Lawson, spoke to the Denver Post about Shaw:
“We’re a young team eager to learn. He brings that pedigree from being under Phil Jackson to taking the Indiana Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals. We’re just ready to soak up all the knowledge that he’s going to give us and hopefully get us out of the first round. That’s our main goal right now.”
It will be curious for fans to see if Shaw’s version of Tex Winter and Phil Jackson’s Triangle works with the fast-paced Nuggets.
Want to give the crowd an entertaining game? Then give them offense:
That is exactly what the Nuggets have been doing for years, whether it stemmed from Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, or the evenly spread offense of the last couple of seasons. The Nuggets led the league in points scored per game (106.1) last year, and did so in a speedy offense that was reliant on their fast break (19.7 fast break points per game), which also led the league. The Nuggets were also ranked in the top 5 for offensive efficiency in the NBA (1.076 points per possession).
However, the Nuggets gave up an average of 101.5 points per game (25th in the NBA via basketball-reference), which is why Brian Shaw is stressing defense this year. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if the team buys into collective defense since the best individual defenders from last season (Iggy and Kosta Koufos) are gone.
Will the defensive experiment work or will it fall flat early in the season? Will the Nuggets revert back to the high-octane offensive juggernaut that made them one of the most entertaining teams in the league last year?