DimeMag

5 Reasons To Watch The 2013-14 Denver Nuggets

With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.

Next up, the mile high Denver Nuggets.

[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]

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.

*** *** ***

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.

High-Octane Offense
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?

Click the next page to see 3 more reasons you should check out the Nuggets this season…

Manimal Unleashed or Caged Manimal?
Kenneth Faried is one of those players that every coach and fan wants on their team. He is a powerhouse on the floor that can change the momentum of the game at any given moment by using his best intangible: his effort.

The 23-year-old New Jersey native is an undersized power forward at 6-8, but his 228 pound frame allows him to muscle and boxout true 7-foot centers for second chance opportunities, and he isn’t afraid to take to the air to protect the rim.

Nicknamed the “Manimal” for his physical style of play, Faried has become a fan favorite in the Mile High City because of his energy, hustle, passion, and his never-give-up mentality (as shown below). That is where he makes up for his lack of offensive abilities and 1-on-1 defensive skills. Individually, he is a highlight package waiting to happen with speed, power, and athleticism that can devastate opponents.

It will be interesting to see if Manimal is unleashed throughout the season, or if he’s caged due to Brian Shaw’s coaching philosophy. Shaw’s system will likely slow things down for the Nuggets, meaning it could quickly reveal Faried’s shortcomings. Could Manimal turn into a legitimate NBA star, or will he be a casualty of the new system in Denver? It should be fun to watch what unfolds.

Ty Lawson: The 25-year-old Leader
For four years now, the 5-11 point guard out of North Carolina has climbed up the ranks among the NBA’s best point guards. Among a group of young athletes, Ty Lawson is now considered the most consistent player on the Nuggets. Now, he will be looked upon as the outright leader of the team for the first time in his young career…at the age of 25 [Ed note: Andre Miller does not agree].

Lawson’s speed and ability to weave in and out of the lane, create easy opportunities for his teammates while also being incredibly fun to watch. He has improved his midrange and 3-pointing and is taking more and more jumpers now as his confidence grows with his shooting capabilities. His quickness is a nightmare for defenders to keep up with, and watching him flash past his opponents is the real must see TV.

Brian Shaw will likely take on Lawson as a development project, as he is known to do with young talent in the past. Lawson’s performance this season will make or break the Nuggets, as his game impacts every one of his teammates. While the addition of Nate Robinson is a solid backup for Lawson, Robinson lacks the consistency and control Lawson has shown.

Ty has gradually grown into an above average point guard in the NBA. With the right development — and if players around him fulfill their potential (Yes. I talking to you, Javale McGee) — this could be the year where he breaks into elite status.

JaVale McGee vs. JaVale McGee
25-year-old JaVale McGee might be the most interesting player to watch in the NBA. Sometimes you are watching a player fulfilling his potential; sometimes you are rubbernecking an accident scene; sometimes you are amazed at McGee’s display of power and athleticism; sometimes you laugh uncontrollably at the misguided decisions he makes on the court…sometimes on consecutive possessions.

There has been much talk this offseason of the improvements McGee has made to his game. He worked with Hakeem Olajuwon in 2012; he shined in the Drew League over the summer in Los Angeles; he worked on his midrange jumper and post play this offseason; he is said to have adopted a more serious approach to the game.

Is this the year McGee finally matures and reaches his potential as the Nuggets’ starting center? One thing is for sure, he is a human highlight reel. Whether those highlights are mesmerizing or downright awful, it’s always worth watching.

What do you think?

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @gobibs.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

×