The Denver Nuggets went from a 57 win season in 2012-13 to a sub par, non-playoff team in the last two seasons. Since the 57 win season the Nuggets have seen many changes from their front office to their coaching staff and on court personnel. They reportedly fired the COY George Karl, because he wanted to extend his contract and they were not sure they wanted to after he got bounced out of the first round of the playoffs all but one time since 2003. They lost their mastermind GM Masai Ujiri to the Toronto Raptors and they lost arguably their best player Andre Iguodala to the team that bounced them out the playoffs, the Golden State Warriors. They hired Brian Shaw as a head coach with the hopes of a change in culture and a structured offense. The experiment failed and the Nuggets were forced to fire Brian Shaw with a little over 20 games left in the season. Most people believed the Nuggets were going to rebuild and trade all of their seemingly tradable players for draft picks in hope to draft a superstar or maybe even an all star in the upcoming years. The Nuggets reportedly tried to trade their star point guard at the trade deadline who was arrested in January for a DUI, but not only did the Nuggets keep their core together, they also improved upon the season finishing one win shy of .500 in their games after firing Shaw.
Since then the Nuggets landed the 7th overall pick in the lottery and with what seemed like the most luck this franchise has seen since drafting Carmelo Anthony, their point guard of the future landed right onto their laps. Emmanuel Mudiay the young guard from Texas who chose to play in China last season over SMU was the obvious choice. Ty Lawson was again arrested for a DUI on July 14th which would be the second just this year. After the latest news and Lawson’s more than questionable decision making, his trade value seemed to have plummeted. Most recently though the Nuggets were able to find a trade partner and by trading the player they believed would take them to the promise land, Ty Lawson, for a lottery protected first rounder and a bag of peanuts (Nuggets trade Lawson to Rockets) they also found a direction. With this move they prove that they trust their rookie guard after some brilliant plays in the 2015 summer league that show he can be a star in this league. They also extended their tenured forward with an agreed upon a 4 yr $46 million extension according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Wilson Chandler repaid them with a lengthy post on Instagram which reads:
“I make all my decisions based on what will make me happier in life. That should say everything in regards to why I chose to resign with Denver for the next 4 years. Of course I could of played out my current deal and tested the waters next year when the TV money will sky rocket the salary cap. However Life is bigger then that. While the nuggets organization was very generous and I’m extremely happy with the new deal, I made this decision because of the city of Denver, the Nuggets fans, and my teammates. I tasted what it was like to win in this great city, and I’ve never been more focused to recapture that feeling. It will take a lot of hard work and commitment from top to bottom but I know we can do it, and I’m ready to lead the charge. It’s going to be a great ride and I wish the season could start tomorrow. To the ownership and management I say thank you! To the fans I say an extra thank you for they are the real reason I’m staying here for the long haul. Nugget nation let’s come together and turn this around!”
In midst of a horrible season, and their lead, fringe all star player Ty Lawson quitting on the team the Nuggets have found a culture of players who would actually like to play in the city to win and not only collect checks. After the Wilson Chandler extension the Nuggets re-signed restricted free agent swingman Will Barton, they also re-signed their veteran point guard Jameer Nelson and agreed to extend their forward Danilo Gallinari who they believe will be a corner-stone for their future. With all the re-signings its hard to say Denver isn’t a place that players would like to play for. They are trying to create a team with stability who is dedicated to its core players.
Most people are surprised by the Nuggets latest signings thinking they would attempt to trade their veteran players with hopes of being bad enough to land a top pick in next years draft but I believe the Nuggets have another plan which doesn’t include rebuilding. With the Nuggets boasting a possible starting lineup of Mudiay – Harris – Gallinari – Faried – Nurkic and Nelson – Barton – Chandler – Arthur – Hickson rounding out their second unit, their future looks bright but so does their present. Bright enough to put them in the playoffs as early as the 2016-17 season but also bright enough to keep them from getting a high lottery pick next season. If their rookie and 2nd year players come to play and Gallinari plays like he did the 2nd half of the 2014-15 season, the Nuggets could find themselves in the race for the 8th seed. Most people would say that is mediocrity but people who look more closely understand it is not. If the Nuggets make the playoffs as the 8th seed and get knocked out in the first round, it is almost certain their core of young players lead by their Gallinari and Faried should improve and have a better chance of seeding higher the next year. Remember Rome wasn’t built in one day. Now with this in mind, are the Nuggets re-building or re-tooling for another playoff run in the very near future?