As a Nuggets fan, for those of you who have been following my historical articles the last several years will know, you get used to "transition years" (ie: times of great change within the organization). However, one might say this organization has been going through this process for the last two and a half seasons (since they traded Carmelo Anthony in February of 2011). If you extrapolate this out further, the Nuggets have been in a franchise readjustment since losing their franchise player. They have just gone about it in a different way.
You can argue, however, that this particular season is by far the most turbulent of the three preceding seasons (considering the dramatic change of the offseason ... losing Masai Ujiri, coach George Karl and Andre Iguodala to free agency in the span of three weeks) and the Nuggets have reached some sort of crossroads with the personnel they have on the roster. Is this sink or swim time?
In a manner of speaking, yes. However, I'm going to address this as someone who has been a fan for most of my life. The best way to approach this season would be with tempered expectations, understanding, and maybe a feeling that this will be a year of development and approach. This applies to the players as well as new head coach Brian Shaw. Everyone is feeling each other out, trying new things and seeing what fits. The Nuggets are taking a more deliberate approach to offense and it remains to be seen if they have the personnel to pull that off.
I'm not sure what the end result of this season will be. It's clear that without their two best wing players in the lineup (Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari) that the offense will be a ... work in progress, shall we say. Moreover it should be a nice audition chance for Quincy Miller and Jordan Hamilton to step up and shine in the preseason. When Gallo gets back things will be "more normal", but the process of "finding out" what the Nuggets have may be a bit on the painful side. Even when Gallo returns, he will need time to work his way back into basketball shape. It will be a long process to "find" the Gallo of old.
I used to be afraid of this process, but as I've gained greater access to Nuggets practice and have gone deeper into "covering" the team I love rather than just being a fan, it has become easier to step outside and just accept that this season may be a little rough. That's ok. There are many remaining questions that need to be answered and this is headlined by JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried. It seems, as of this moment, Shaw wants to see how J.J. Hickson looks in the starting lineup ... at least in the preseason. This leaves Manimal coming off the bench. Will it work? We don't know. Is McGee a starting caliber center in the NBA? We hope that the answer to that question is absolutely yes. However, we won't know until the Nuggets play games for real.
That's the most crucial part of this. Waiting. Time. Approaching this team with an open mind is one of the hardest things for a fan to do. I still struggle with it. Yet, while the Nuggets try to find the best way to move forward, we hope they remain competitive and show us that the chaos of this offseason was worth the short term pain.
There's only one way to find out. Right?