The Denver Nuggets’ season is over, and man was it eventful. The first losing record in a decade, on-court blowups, midseason trades, winning streaks, losing streaks, being forced to hear George Karl’s sour grapes all year, what a season it was. But the big takeaway from this season isn’t the disappointing play, the potential plainly seen in Brian Shaw or many of his players. No, the one thing to take out of this season was injuries. Oh, the many, many injuries.
Missing the entire season was Denver’s best player last season Danilo Gallinari. After blowing out his knee at the end of last year, he seemed poised to come back right around the All-Star break of this season, but that timeline was blown out of the water when he had to go under the knife again in January. A pure scorer with dynamic playmaking ability and the size and quickness to hang on the defensive end, Gallo was a major loss this season. He is all set to make his return next season, though, and should be ready to be one of the top Nuggets again.
Javale McGee played in only five games this year before a leg injury sidelined him for the next 77. One of the most intriguing players in the Association, McGee’s athleticism and size was desperately missed, especially early in the season before Timofey Mozgov was inserted into the starting five. Now, McGee’s future with the Nuggets is in doubt. His contract is probably too ridiculous to move and with the emergence of Mozgov and the overall depth of the frontcourt, he might go back to playing only 20 minutes per game.
Nate Robinson blew out his knee about halfway through the year and threw the Nugget backcourt into disarray. Ty Lawson missed a lot of games (more on that later), Andre Miller was gone and there was nobody else to handle the point guard duties. Randy Foye and Evan Fournier served admirably, and the deadline pickup of Aaron Brooks was stellar, none of these guys play with the explosiveness or the heart shown by Nate Robinson. Hopefully he won’t miss too many games at the start of next season if he isn’t ready by opening night.
JJ Hickson was lost at a time when there was doubt to the direction of this season for the Nuggets. Another knee injury for a Nuggets stalwart did emphasize just how unlucky this team was, though. On that line, Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson each missed 20 games this season, not allowing for the team to garner any on-court chemistry or long stretches of momentum. Without Ty in the lineup, the Nuggets looked lost on offense at times and without Chandler, Denver was down their best perimeter player.
However bad things got, there was an upside to all of these injuries. Mozgov, with the heavy increase in playing time, showed he is a quality starting center in the league. Fournier was able to show flashes of brilliance in his extended minutes. Aaron Brooks made his case to be retained in the offseason. Most importantly, however, Kenneth Faried stepped up in a huge way and in many ways became the leader of the Denver Nuggets. Extend the Manimal as soon as possible.
With a lottery pick and health on their side for next season, watch out for the Denver Nuggets. Here’s to next year.
Tags: Denver Nuggets