The Nuggets found themselves just a game away from round two of the 2012 Playoffs. Although disappointing with eyes on the offseason there is some tantalizing optimism towards next season.
With their standing lineup, the Nuggets were one of the most productive teams in the league, ranking first in overall offensive production with 104.1 points per game, first in assists with an average of 24 per game, and eighth in rebounding with an average of 43.1 per game. Their point guard, Ty Lawson, had a breakout season and equally impressive postseason. All of this spells out good fortune considering that all but three players (Miller, Anderson, and Harrington) have less than five years of experience.
Could the young Nuggets become a Western Conference powerhouse in years to come? This offseason will help shape their future potential, beyond the 2013 season.
Despite having a top-ranked offense, Denver had a major weakness on defense. They ranked 29th allowing 101.2 points per game. Their main focus this offseason should be signing some defensive-minded players to help stave off opponents' runaway offenses.
One possible solution would be Lakers’ small forward Matt Barnes, who has filled the roll of defensive specialist in LA, Orlando, and Golden State. His numbers my look banal with only 7.8 PPG and 5.5 rebounds, but he brings a high level of intensity while on the court and is tenacious when it comes to getting in a shooter’s face. Mickael Pietrus could be a similar solution if the Nuggets can pry him away from Boston. Either would provide a spark for Denver’s D.
There is also the concern that JaVale McGee may be wearing a different uniform next season. The loss of Denver’s 7’0 down-low monster who averages 125.25 blocks a season will leave their paint presence vulnerable and force Masai Ujiri to shop for more than just defense but a new center as well.
In the backcourt, there is some brewing controversy. While Andre Miller has told the press that he has an interest in staying with the Nuggets, Ujiri and company will have to weigh whether that is what’s best for Ty Lawson.
Christopher Dempsey for The Denver Post feels that keeping Miller around will stunt Lawson’s growth: “Lawson can learn from Miller, but on the other hand, the Nuggets will use the veteran at critical moments, stripping chances from Lawson to gain valuable experience running the show when it matters most.”
However, if Miller is sought out elsewhere, and George Karl still desires a veteran point guard to help groom the young Lawson and future star of the team, a viable option could be Derek Fisher. Fisher will bring some much needed experience to the young lineup, will help fill the defensive holes, but won’t step on Lawson’s toes too much.