Denver Nuggets: 5 Things Fans Need to Know About the 2012-13 Nuggets
Not too long ago, the Denver Nuggets looked like a franchise completely devoid of direction. Franchise player Carmelo Anthony had made his desire to exit the team crystal clear, and Denver looked like a team doomed to another slow and painful rebuilding process.
But, after a series of nimble moves, the Nuggets look better than ever less than two years after the Melo drama. Denver managed to snag an impressive package in exchange for Anthony, and has since acquired JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala in separate deals, both of which shed major salary. Throw in smart drafting that brought Kenneth Faried and a host of other potential-laden young players to the organization, and the Nuggets look primed to make some serious noise in 2013.
Here are five things to know about next season’s most exciting basketball team.
The Transition Game Will Be Emphasized
George Karl has long been known as an offensive mastermind, and his emphasis on the transition game should serve the Nuggets well next season. Denver led the league in scoring in 2012 despite the lack of a clear go-to scorer, and has a great chance of repeating as the NBA’s top offensive team next season.
The Nuggets have arguably the most athletic starting lineup in the league. Speedy Ty Lawson should lead the break at point guard, with experienced fast-breaker Andre Iguodala alongside him at shooting guard. The seemingly slow-footed Danilo Gallinari has deceptive athleticism to pair with a deadly three-point shot, and Kenneth Faried is an athletic freak of nature at power forward. At center, the Nuggets have perhaps the most agile 7-footer in the league in JaVale McGee.
This team will not be afraid to get out and run next season, and fans should expect a whole lot of dunks, pull up three-pointers and trips to the foul line.
They Are the League's Deepest Team
The Nuggets not only have an excellent starting lineup; they also have an exceptionally deep and talented second unit.
Andre Miller serves as the leader of the bench squad. The 13-year NBA veteran is still superior to many starting point guards in the league and will keep the second unit running like butter.
On the wings, the Nuggets have Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, Jordan Hamilton and Evan Fournier all ready to come off the bench. Hamilton and Fournier are both very raw and likely won’t play major roles this season, but Chandler looks like an early Sixth-Man of the Year candidate, and Brewer has proven to be an effective scorer in limited minutes.
Up front, the Nuggets have several promising young big men to choose from. New addition Anthony Randolph looks like the favorite to back up Faried at power forward, and Nuggets fans will have to hope he can finally capitalize on the considerable potential that got him into the league. Rookie Quincy Miller is recovering from injury, but could provide depth as a combo forward as well.
In addition, Denver boasts a pair of talented young 7-footers in Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos—both still young and with plenty of room to improve.
With so many options on the bench, George Karl will be able to experiment with all kinds of dangerous lineup combinations, and should have no trouble keeping his opponents on their toes.
At Least Six Players Will Average Double-Digit Scoring
One product of the Nuggets’ impressive depth will be a very balanced box score. The Nuggets may not have an elite scorer on the roster, but they have several players more than capable of averaging double digit scoring.
Lawson, Iguodala and Gallinari are sure to carry the brunt of the Nuggets’ offense, but Faried and McGee should both dunk their way to double-digit averages as well.
Chandler struggled during his brief NBA stint last season, but should see his scoring bounce back to its previous levels as the focus of the second unit’s offense.
Outside of those six, a few other Nuggets have double-digit scoring potential. If Randolph can figure out a way to maintain focus, the scoring ability is already there. Either Fournier or Hamilton, meanwhile, could shoot his way into significant minutes.
At Least One Player Will Make the All-Star Team
Ty Lawson broke out last season in his first full year as Denver’s starting point guard, and fans should expect continued improvement next season. With an improved group of players to dish the ball to and a point forward in Andre Iguodala to help facilitate the offense, Lawson could be in line for a bump in both his scoring and assist numbers.
Should he up his production even further, Lawson is bound to become a very strong all-star candidate. Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook are locks to return as all-stars, so Lawson will have to battle Steve Nash and Tony Parker for the remaining spot.
Iguodala, McGee and Gallinari are three other Nuggets with considerable all-star potential. Iguodala made his first appearance last year, Gallinari was a strong candidate before being derailed by injury and McGee seems primed for a breakout season in his first full year with a decent team.
They Will Finish in the Top Three in the West
However, there are plenty of other teams capable of making noise. The San Antonio Spurs continue to surprise critics, and the Los Angeles Clippers have fortified the bench with new additions Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Lamar Odom.
But, despite the fierce competition, the Nuggets should finish in the top three in the Western Conference in 2012-13.
This youthful Denver team has tremendous upside and should absolutely decimate opponents through the fast break. The combination of great size, athleticism, scoring ability and coaching will make this Nuggets team the best rendition of the past decade.
Denver should be a top team in the West, but will need to show defensive improvement and establish a consistent go-to scoring option in order to be a true contender.