Nuggets 2015-16 Season Outlook: Three Things to Watch For


The upcoming season for the Denver Nuggets, ideally, should answer more questions than pose new ones. Denver can move on from the disastrous Brian Shaw era and we can see exactly what the current era has in store.

Here are three things to consider going into the 2015-16 season.

Leadership Development

The Nuggets are going to have an interesting blend of young talent and veteran leadership this year.

More from Nugg Love

One of the major issues plaguing Denver since Chauncey Billups’ departure has been the lack of leadership. No one is going to argue that Ty Lawson or Andre Iguodala had any plans of being a team leader, but Wilson Chandler and Jameer Nelson do seem interested in taking over that role. Danilo Gallinari seems interested in being a leader as well, and if he continues to play the type of ball he did at the end of last year, could be a player that his teammates look up to.

Allowing young point guard Emmanuel Mudiay to see how a team should be run can really help his development in the future when players like Nelson and Chandler age and retire.

Youth Development

Denver has quite a few young guys that could turn into great players.

Jusuf Nurkic was very productive in his limited minutes before he got injured. He has a mean streak that is fun to watch and will not take any gruff from anyone. Nurkic may not turn into a franchise star, but if he can keep developing into a Nikola Vucevic-type of player, the Nuggets should be happy with their first-round find.

Of course, everyone is pumped about Mudiay. He looks like a John Wall-type point guard and has been saying all the right things to the media. Mudiay will have his rookie-year struggles like most first-year players do, but his maturity should help him develop quicker than other players.

Gary Harris is kind of a question mark. Coming out of college he seemed to be a surefire NBA starter for years to come, but after his rookie year there are still some questions about his game. Again, Harris is young and it takes time for some players to develop, but it would be nice to see some better play from him this year.

The wild cards are the two foreign second-round picks from recent years. Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic are both obviously skilled and, once they learn the nuances of the NBA game, could turn into very good players. Honestly, it would be perfectly acceptable for them to turn into Kosta Koufos/Nick Collison-type players that will be productive 20-minutes-per-game guys on contending teams.

Coaching Schemes

Watch for head coach Mike Malone to attempt to build a better defense in Denver, which has been needed since the team’s inception.

The Nuggets have only been in the top five in defensive field goal percentage three times since 1990. Malone got DeMarcus Cousins to try on defense, so that obviously says a lot about his defensive schemes and ability to get the most out of his players who were not the most talented stoppers.

Malone’s teams allowed a high three-point percentage but were near the middle of the pack in opponent two-point percentage. Mudiay and Chandler are both potentially better defenders than anything Malone had in Sacramento.

Malone has stated that the Nuggets will get back to basics and run more instead of attempting to run the offense through the post like they did during the Brian Shaw era.

Note: All statistics are from unless otherwise indicated.