The Denver Nuggets have been a fixture over the last decade being one in only three teams seeing the playoffs every seasons for nine consecutive years – along with San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks — and it looks as though they will see the playoffs again in the 2012-2013 season to make it magic number 10.
That’s the positive.
Out of nine playoff appearances, they have only been out of the first round once, that magical 2008-09 season, and with a serious upgrade where Denver shipped out Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo for All-Star and Olympic gold medalist Andre Iguodala, it seems Denver is ready to go all in this season.
Metrics have already dictated that the offensive game is little impacted, while the defensive side should have a measurable impact as Denver was a 20th defensive efficient team and George Karl hopes for a first tier defensive team. While Denver does lose a few points per game without Afflalo, they give up less point with AI9 defending, especially the perimeter. Denver was situated as the second fastest team in the league last season, and should prove much of the same this year.
“My question would be point differential. We were probably in the top 15 in point differential but I’d like to see us move into the top six or seven in point differential and that will be something that I think that’s going to tell us because the pace of our game is statistically going to cheat us a little bit because we’re going to give up more points.” – George Karl
A system which aids Iguodala’s athleticism and his transition game, add this in with the already quick Ty Lawson, an improved Gallanari, a rambunctious, bouncy Kenneth Faried, and of course JaVale McGee — who has been spending time in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon — you can expect a fight for homecourt this season.
“We are excited about this season and we think we can be a top four team in the West. If we get to a top four team in the West we should expect to try to win the first round and see what happens.” – George Karl
Without a doubt, Denver is one of the deepest teams in the league, arguably two-deep at every position, just like they were last season. It’s one of the things that kept Denver “in” games and allowed them to be offensively efficient. Well, besides the whole run-and-gun thing.
However, George Karl had so many various rotations — some that even boggled my brain at times — and he played that dreaded small ball, managing minutes and forming a go-to lineup is going to be one of Karl’s musts come the start of the season. In all fairness, he has already said minutes are going to be scarce with a talented team and will probably will be decided when training camp rolls around.
One of my favorite people on twitter, @denbutsu, who writes for RMC wrote about this very thing about two weeks ago and basically established while Karl will give a chance to guys like Hamilton and Randolph cutting the rotation, Karl will lean on the big guns and here’s a graph to illustrate his prediction for minutes this season.
Denver will — more than not — be a team in which garners homecourt advantage, it remains to be seen if they can truly push to advance to the second round. That has to do more with their seeding and the team they face off against, as it’s often more about finding a mismatch that allows the team to succeed. Obviously, that’s something that can’t be predicted in August.
In the meantime, the Denver Nuggets are going to be fascinating to watch.