Monday, November 04, 2013

NUGGETS TAKE GIANT STRIDES - BACKWARDS

Yeah, yeah, I know that the pro basketball season is only two games old, but I know bad, as well as boring, basketball when I see it.  Ever since the organizational debacle at the end of last year's Nuggets season, I have suspected that this year would not be a pretty sight.

Let's start with their first huge [and dumb, but that's implicit in all of my comments] mistake - firing George Karl: 

http://blogs.denverpost.com/nuggets/files/2011/03/thing_karl_03112011.jpg

Karl has always been a coach that can get the most out his roster, and last season was no different. Without any superstars [and thankfully with Carmelo gone], the Nuggets had  57 wins, the most in their history, the best home record, 38 and 3, in the entire NBA, and Karl passed the 1000 win mark which only 6 other NBA coaches have achieved.  Karl was named the NBA Coach of the Year, and after 8+ years in Denver, he was rewarded not with a contract extension but with a pink slip.  Sure, the Nuggets lost to a red-hot Golden State team in the first round, but they also lost Danilo Galinari to a torn ACL.  I cannot add too much to what Coach Karl had to say after he was dumped:

“I don’t have a lot of bitterness other than I don’t understand. But not understanding — when you are working in a world of millions, millions, and millions of dollars, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand. 

“There’s a lot of contracts we give players that I don’t understand. There’s a lot of trades that I don’t understand. There are a lot of decisions I don’t understand

“I can’t deny there’s an anger and frustration. But there’s much more celebration in my heart than anything else.”

One of the main reasons that I loved to watch the Nuggets-of-the-past is that they "played basketball" and by that I mean they played a fast-paced, share-the-ball game.  Without the typical NBA "superstar" ball hog, the Nuggets truly played team ball and proved that a team can win doing that.  They also understood that a fast-paced game at 5280 feet would ultimately wear down nearly all opponents.  That strategy produced 38 home wins and only 3 losses - and my prediction is that the new Nuggets style of walk it up, pass to the big guys down low, and let them back it in will result in more home losses than wins this year.

Second blunder:

http://teamnigeriabasketball.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/20130509__masai-ujiri-denver-nuggets-050913xp1.jpg

This is Masai Ujiri, holding his 2012-2013 NBA Executive of the Year Award as the General Manager of the Nuggets.  Gone.  He and Karl seemed to have a solid relationship, and perhaps he saw the writing on the wall and took the GM position with the Toronto Raptors.  Nuggets probably could have kept him for $3M a year - peanuts in the pro sports world.

Third, fourth, fifth, sixth, .......steps backwards, all based around the change from the Karl coaching style to that of the new head coach, Brian Shaw, who came from the Indiana Pacers.  I think that this image sums it up:

 
http://www.crocktees.com/_images/sports/dstiffsround.png
Actually the Denver Stiffs and some of their website commentary are right on - like this one "Reality bites - Nuggets lose to Portland - Look like grunge.  The Nuggets got rid of up-tempo players like Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufas, and defensive [and occasionally offensive] - minded Andre Iguodala, and brought in some slow giants who I had never heard of.  They have a couple of the quickest high-energy guards in the NBA in Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, and they get to walk it up the court and pass into the slow giants and then stand around and watch.  Running is rare and a well-executed pick-and-roll happens only on occasion.  At least the Nuggets still have Andre Miller who knows how the game should be played - unfortunately he's about 100 years old.  Dre and Brian Shaw played in the league at the same time, and Shaw has been a coach for several years.

Enough curmudgeontary for now - perhaps I will be proven wrong, but I sincerely doubt that.  The Nuggets are no longer a good team and are no fun to watch.  My prediction is that they will be lucky to play .500 ball and if they make the playoffs, it will be as a very low seed.  So stay tuned to see how this season plays out.

ps - should give credit where credit is due - thank the Kroenkes for this mess.  At least the Avalanche is winning.

5 comments:

Douglas E said...

Nuggets lost their third in a row last night to the SA Spurs - at home, which means that they are only one loss away from matching the total number of home losses last season. I hate to admit that I sometimes wish that the Nuggets would go 0 for 82 this season, but that would be punishing the players as well as the ownership management. Possibly the best strategy is to stay away from the Pepsi Center

Bizzy Brain said...

On the one hand I would like to see the Nuggets do well because the current coach came from the Pacers. On the other hand, George Karl got crapped on so badly that I hope the owner pays dearly for that decision. Maybe he is another Jerry Jones, who, due to his maniacal ego, makes Dallas's losses quite satisfying.

hoosierdaddy said...

Yeah, Bizzy, I can relate. However, I am not yet too impressed with Shaw - rather than coming in, seeing who he has and how they play, he has simply imported the Indiana style. This definitely won't work with the team he has - so my bet is that most of the current Nuggets will be history as he changes the face of a previously dynamic and well above average team to a boring one.

Douglas E said...

To continue the story line - some local sports writers are all gushing because the Nuggets have won a couple of games. They seem to overlook that Utah was 0-8 and the Lakers were well under .500 when they played the Nuggets. Talk to me when they beat some decent teams.

hoosierdaddy said...

Well, doc - as of the beginning of 2014, it looks like your predictions are about right on; can you pick some lottery numbers for me??