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NBA 2015-16 Team Previews: Denver Nuggets – Malone’s Reformulation

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Denver Nuggets

Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews begins in the Northwest with the Denver Nuggets:

2014-15

Record:  (30-52) 12th in the Western Conference, 4th in Northwest Division, Failed to make playoffs

Rank: Offense:101.6 (21st)   Defense:105.5 (26th)  Differential/Net: minus -3.9, (24th) Pace: 98.7, (4th)

Key Stats:  Nuggets allowed the most free throw attempts by opponents and the 6th best opponent field goal percentage (45.8%)

Off Season Moves

Key Areas Needing Addressing:

  • Player attitude
  • Over abundance of front court players
  • Defense

Draft: Emmanuel Mudiay selected 7th overall, Nikola Radicevic selected 57th in second round

Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:

Players Exiting: Ty Lawson and several players waived who were picked up via trade

2015-16

Core Players: Emmanuel Mudiay,  Wilson Chandler,  Jusuf Nurkic,  Danilo Gallinari,  Kenneth Faried

Key Reserves: Randy Foye, Gary Harris, Darrell Arthur

Outlook

Rising Star: All eyes will be on Emmanuel Mudiay who performed so well in Summer League he became the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year by most pundits. He’ll certainly have plenty of opportunity to post big numbers in the thin air of Denver where Malone will surely have his Nuggets pushing the pace. His challenge will be improving his shooting especially from the perimeter. 

On The Bubble: Kenneth Faried was said to be one of the players who was making vacation plans on court during a game and also a player who was keen to get Brian Shaw fired. Last season he wasn’t as consistent in the effort he brought to the court nightly.  Statistically he was down in almost every single category. His rookie contract extension of 4-years at $50 million seems fair in the new escalating cap space era, but he needs to showcase growth this season to merit the faith Nuggets management and fans bestowed in him.

X-Factor: What does Mike Miller have left in the tank? Counting on him to provide offense isn’t realistic given his 2.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and .9 assists last season.  However, where he can definitely provide value is via his veteran leadership which is in short supply on this squad who famously were planning their summer vacations on court last season. Having played with the Big 3 in Miami during their championship runs and knows what it takes to win, so he’ll be a welcome addition to the locker room and likely try to work in concert with Nelson to direct the youth on the squad.

Other Factors: A loud cry of “shaft” arose in Sacramento and around the Association last season following the firing of head coach Mike Malone in Sacramento. After getting out to a solid start last season DeMarcus Cousins fell ill to an out of nowhere case of meningitis taking him out of last season Malone had the Kings playing well on both ends.

Best Case: Malone gets the team to adopt a defensive mindset to go along with their high paced offense which might get them a middle of the pack record. His goal might be best served focusing on gradual improvement and working in concert with GM Tim Connelly to rebuild this team around Mudiay by earmarking who the malcontents are and then moving them to gain assets and draft picks.

Worst Case: The team picks up where they left off last season continuing their lack luster inconsistent efforts pinpointing the real issue is the players leading to a fire sale in Denver with Faried, Chandler and Gallinari all going on the block.

Prediction: Selfishly I’m hoping the team will take a year to adopt Malone’s mindset (at least from a results perspective) since the Toronto Raptors have the draft pick from which ever team finishes higher of Denver and New York. Based on these hopes and the adage a leopard doesn’t change their spots I’m leaning toward Denver finishing in the basement of the West.

Games versus Rockets:

  • October 28th: At Toyota Center – Houston’s Home Opener
  • November 13th: In Denver at Pepsi Center
  • December 14th: In Denver at Pepsi Center

Fansided Affiliate Site: NuggLove

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

Next: Trail Blazers Preview

Next: SCS Complete Round Table Sessions

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