'30 Teams in 30 Days' 2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: #27, Denver Nuggets

By Rob Perez
Sep 21, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
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  • Odds to win the 2015-2016 NBA Championship: 250:1
  • 2014-2015 Record: 30-52 (Missed Playoffs).
    • 2015 Draft Results:
      • Emmanuel Mudiay, China (7th Overall)
      • Nikola Radicevic, Serbia (57th Overall)
    • Key Offseason Additions: Kostas Papanikolaou
    • Key Offseason Losses: Ty Lawson
  • Projected Starting Lineup:
  • Player Salaries:
  • Season in Review:

The Good: There’s only one way to go – up! The good news is that the Denver Nuggets are successfully adding by subtraction. Head Coach Brian Shaw is gone, Ty Lawson and his toxic locker room attitude + DUIs too – which will allow Denver to build around their young foundation … and they got plenty of it in the form of Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay absolutely killed it at the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas…

…to the point that he is now the odds-on-favorite to win the 2015-2016 NBA Rookie of the Year Award:

This kid’s got some Russell Westbrook explosiveness in him, and no i’m not exaggerating…

In addition: i’m still still not sure if he’s good at basketball or not, but, Jusuf Nurkic has proven to be a game-changing defensive presence either way (101 Individual Defensive Rating vs. 108.2 Team)

 

…and most importantly: the franchise’s cap situation is almost as ideal as it gets – i.e. their three “best” players (Gallinari, Faried, Chandler) are only owed a collective total of $126 million over the course of the next four seasons. To give you perspective: that’s only $10.5 Million per year per player, and with the cap going up from $70 Million after this season – the Nuggets, despite being terrible, are in a low-risk high-reward situation if their starters can stay healthy for once.

The Bad: This team’s defense is absolutely atrocious. Despite being wrong at just about everything, one thing Brian Shaw did correctly recognize and act on during his Nuggets tenure was the inability of his front court to defend their own shadows let alone opposing NBA players – one of many reasons why Shaw benched Kenneth Faried halfway through the year. Overall: the Nuggets ranked 27th in Opponent Points Allowed Per game (105). Part of this can be attributed to Denver’s pace: 96.1 average possessions per game (4th fastest in the NBA), but, the poo poo defense hypothesis is reinforced by the team’s defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 108.2, 26th in the league, Faried’s individual defensive rating (106), Hickson’s (106), Arthur’s (106), and Mozgov’s before he was traded (106). If it weren’t for Nurkic (101), this 2014-2015 Nuggets defense would have likely finished dead last – and is without a doubt the team’s biggest concern.

The Ugly: The culture.

  • Baseless God Wob

After the players literally and publicly gave up on the season and their coach, the franchise officially bottomed out. Was the players’ “1-2-3-Six Weeks!” parody of Nick Van Exel’s “1-2-3-CANCUN!!!” chant a product of the roster resenting the coaching staff (no longer in place), or, do these guys just not give a shit anymore? Only time will tell. Also, the owner is a notorious cheap skate with no sense of investing in team operations, regardless of the entity he owns. Put it this way: he’s like James Dolan, but, without any real money. I think I just described the worst human on Earth, oh well… Anyways: while the Nuggets’ cap situation is certainly a positive, articles like this make you wonder whether Kroenke will utilize it if ever given the opportunity.

Expect this team to be entertaining to watch — but, I don’t anticipate this team winning many games. There is a ton to look forward to in the form of Mudiay and Nurkic; Mudiay because he’s actually, like, good … Nurkic because he’s funny, loves taunting players better than him, and isn’t scared of anyone…

Example 1a:

 

Example 1b:

 

As opposed to most “bad” NBA teams, the roster talent is in place here AND is signed long-term at a reasonable price. However, this franchise needs a front-office makeover … and QUICKLY.

  • 2015-2016 Season Projection:
    • 25-57 Record
    • 14th Place in West
    • No Playoffs
  • Fan Mindset, as told by Hollywood:
    • Smalls, The Sandlot

So innocent, yet, so clueless.

  • Baseless God Wob’s 3 Divine Questions:
  • 5 years from now, will Emmanuel Mudiay be the best player from the 2015 draft?
  • Should Nurkic and Faried play together, or, is it better for the Nuggets to just say “F*** our defense, it stinks anyways” go small, and start Wilson Chandler in Faried’s place?
  • What is the mindset of the fans in Denver? Do they collectively feel as though the team is headed in the right direction, or, was the end of last year/this offseason the beginning of a patented Hurricane 5 Kroenke shit storm?

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PREVIOUS NBA SEASON PREVIEWS:

#30: Philadelphia 76ers

#29: Portland Trail Blazers

#28: Brooklyn Nets

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