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