The Denver Nuggets lost Carmelo Anthony to New York in 2011. That didn't matter.
The 2011-12 Denver Nuggets were everything a George Karl team should be.
With no real superstar, the Nuggets relied on depth and chemistry to outperform expectations and fight their way to a sixth-seed in the west with a 38-28 record.
The Nuggets fell behind 2-0 in their first round series against the Lakers before battling back to win three of the next four and force a deciding game. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, that's where their season came to an end.
Depth and Versatility for Days - The Nuggets might just have the deepest, most balanced roster in the league. Seven Nuggets averaged double-digit scoring last season and there's no reason to think that can't happen again. They are also very athletic and versatile. They can play stifling defence, crash the boards and then turn around and hurt you in a variety of ways offensively. Oppositions will simply have to pick their poison.
Steal of a Deal
Landing Andre Iguodala as part of the four-team Dwight Howard trade was an absolute steal for Denver.
The Right Fit - Iguodala has found a home. He should fit perfectly into George Karl's system and finally can be the super versatile player he is without having to carry the load all by himself and pretend he is an alpha dog. Iguodala can run, rebound, pass, score, and defend at an elite level and now he is in the perfect system for his talents.
Fast and Furious - The Nuggets possess loads of athleticism and can run for days. Ty Lawson is lightning quick and should spur a ton of Denver fast breaks this year. The Nuggets can go freaky athletic with a lineup of Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer if they want and quite literally run around other teams.
Reasons to Doubt
No Go-To Guy - As deep as the Nuggets are there is no real go-to guy for those moments at the end of close games when you absolutely need a basket. Lots of guys can score but who is going to take the big shot in the clutch? This could be a problem in the playoffs.
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The Nuggets have the depth to run with anyone.
Kenneth Faried's double-double potential puts him at 52nd overall.
Lack of Post Offence - The Denver big men bring alot to the table but neither Kenneth Faried nor JaVale McGee possesses a polished offensive game in the post. This could prove problematic when the Nuggets are forced to play in the half court. Opposing defences should also never have to worry about doubling down-low which means the Nuggets wings will have to work harder to find open looks.
X Factor: Danilo Gallinari
The trigger-happy Gallinari is a matchup nightmare. He is 6-foot-10 but can stroke it from anywhere and isn't afraid to launch a shot at any time which helps up open up the court for the Nuggets. Shot selection can be a bit of a concern for the big Italian though, as can his trouble with injuries. If he is able to stay healthy and on the court while limiting his bad shots, Gallinari could be the clutch scorer the Nuggets need.
What to Expect
Under Karl, the Nuggets should have no problems getting back to the playoffs. This will be a fun team to watch that could conceivably win 50+ games and maybe even challenge for a top-4 seed in the playoffs. That said, they still aren't in the same class as the upper echelon of the Western Conference and aren't really title contenders.
Tim Chisholm's Offseason Grade
The Nuggets looked like they were going to spend the summer doing minor housekeeping (re-signing JaVale McGee and Andre Miller, drafting Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller).
Then they were presented with an opportunity to steal Andre Iguodala as a part of the four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles.
If you can get a guy like Iguodala for Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington you make it happen.
When you're Denver, a team that Iguodala fits like a glove, you jump for joy and thank the heavens.
If they can stay healthy they are going to be a fearsome team this season.