With the Draft Lottery behind us and Denver Post reporter Chris Dempsey again confirming via Twitter that Coach Brian Shaw will remain as the Nuggets head coach, it’s time to look forward to 2014. Before we look forward we must first take a quick look back at the bumpy road travelled to this point. In the Nuggets first win last season, Game 4 versus the Atlanta Hawks, Coach Shaw put Andre Miller out there at small forward to help get the last possession stop to preserve the victory. Let that sink in! You always hear people rebuking fans for using “injuries as an excuse.” The Nuggets may have won that game but trying to tell me that not having Danilo Gallinari and/or Wilson Chandler did not affect Coach Shaw’s transition into his first role as a Head Coach in the NBA is asinine. Even before a hammy became tight or a shoulder became stiff (and Gallo was the only injury) Coach Shaw had three MAJOR issues entering last season:
- A center in JaVale McGee widely known for his freakish athleticism and his frequent appearances on Shaqtin A Fool. Shaw’s job was to teach the man a new system.
- Redundancy at power forward with Kenneth Faried and JJ Hickson being almost identical players aside from the exuberance with which Faried plays the game. To make matters more of an issue, Shaw had to find time for Darrel Arthur who is practically the exact opposite of the aforementioned power forwards.
- Ty Lawson needs his 30 plus minutes, so here you go rookie Coach, make Nate Robinson and Andre Miller happy with less than 20 minutes per game each. By the way, the previous coach was constantly criticized for not giving young guys like Evan Fournier and Jordan Hamilton enough playing time so you kinda need to give them a shot to appease previous haters.
Moving into 2014, the simplification of rotation roles for Coach Shaw will do wonders not only for the Coach but for his players. Coach Shaw rightfully received criticism for his eleven man rotations but how much better of a Coach would he have been if he was handed a roster that was not so redundant? We are about to find out! All indications have been that Nuggets upper management is damned to succeed or fail with McGee. If this is the only demon Coach Shaw has to deal with then the smile on his face will be from ear to ear. The redundancy at the 4 is at bay until January with reports suggesting that is when JJ Hickson will return from injury. Coach Shaw now has a simple Faried/Arthur rotation. The back court of Lawson, Robinson, Foye and Fournier — while truly unspectacular — is solid.
Let’s say the starting five is Lawson, Foye, Gallinari, Faried and McGee. Then the second unit is Robinson, Fournier, Chandler, Arthur and Mozgov. See how much easier that was compared to last year?