The 2013-2014 NBA season for the Denver Nuggets was, for some fans, a disappointment. Injuries to Danilo Gallinari, JJ Hickson, and Javale McGee plagued the Nuggets. Signings such as Nate Robinson were great, but like Gallinari, he too suffered an ACL injury and was done for the year. The Nuggets are at an impasse, they can either blow it up and start over with a lottery pick this year and hope that a better pick comes their way next year, or they can make the most out of their pick, make a couple moves, and be back in the playoffs. Below is a simple three-step process on how the Nuggets can get back to being the playoff team they were in years past.
Step 1: Make the most out of the 11th pick.
The Nuggets have their highest draft pick since they drafted Carmelo Anthony in 2003, and they need to make the most out of this player. This draft is said to be one of the best classes in years, so the Nuggets picked a good year to get into the lottery, albeit outside of the top ten. Jusuf Nurkic is a 6’11 Center from Bosnia, and can add some size and much-needed strength on the front line, pairing up with power forward JJ Hickson, and form a very intimidating twin towers lineup with Timofey Mozgov and Javale McGee when he does come back from injury. Nurkic is a throwback big man in that he doesn’t rely on his athleticism, but his strength, soft hands, and his 7’2 wingspan to get the job done on the offensive end. He’s a solid rebounder, and very tenacious on defense and is not one to shy away from contact. Should the Nuggets draft the Bosnian big man, they will be getting a top 8 value pick at the 11th pick in the draft, and a possible franchise big man.
Step 2: Hit on Free Agency.
The Nuggets are just a couple of good role players away from being a solid team at the Pepsi Center, and on the road as well. The Nuggets need a couple of players that can play defense, as well as hit the open three when speedster Ty Lawson occupies the paint, and when Kenneth Faried gets going offensively. Mike Miller and Thabo Sefolosha are guys that can hit the open three, and play defense. Miller has shown that when open, he is almost automatic from any point behind the 3-point line, and Sefolosha has proven to be a real nuisance on defense and can hit a couple of threes when needed. Sefolosha is an upgrade over Randy Foye, and Miller can provide valuable minutes off the bench, and for a good value. The Nuggets are stacked at the front line; they need shooters to back up Ty Lawson, and those two are the guys to do that at the SG and SF position, respectively.
Step 3: Maintain Consistency Throughout
Last year was the first year under Head Coach Brian Shaw, one of the many coaches from the Phil Jackson coaching tree. There were many instances where the locker room might have been lost, and that causes mental errors on the court, and losing games that they should be winning. It is up to Brian Shaw in year two to make sure the players know that he is the boss, to get his players to believe in him and his system, and that they can win under him. You can have the best players in the world, but if you have a coach that the players don’t like or believe in, then your team will go nowhere. Consistency is key for the Nuggets, especially in the Western Conference. They need to have a positive, if not dominant record against the far weaker Eastern Conference, and have a great home record that the Nuggets are known to have. If the Nuggets can make the Pepsi Center a daunting place to play again, they can use that confidence to beat the upper level teams, and have success away from home. That all starts with the coach. If Brian Shaw can make his Nuggets believe that they are a playoff team, that no one can come into the Mile High City and steal a win, they will be back in the playoffs in no time.
What do you think Nuggets fans: Can the Nuggets get back to the playoffs next season?