1) Let's start with the positive. During the regular season, this team wildly overacheived. They were entertaining, gutted out key victories and beat every contender except for Miami.
2) Fond memories include Brewer taking over a couple games and winning them (PHI?), blowing out our arch rivals at altitude, including, the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Bulls (not arch rivals) and the best moment, winning at OKC on a back-to-back, on Stiffs Night Out, showing the league that an exciting brand of basketball can win, as well as entertain.
3) Setting a record for regular season victories with no superstars, while battling injuries, and watching George Karl get the best out of guys such as Brewer, Koufos, Miller and McGee, who face it, are not polished NBA players with superior skill sets, was terrific. The rest of the cast is average: the enigmatic Chandler, the inconsistent Lawson, the fundamentally challenged Faried. Our two best players were Igoudala and Gallinari. Lawson was excellent, but inconsistent on defense in the playoffs. At least he showed up. AI and Gallo both have fatal flaws: The diffident AI in his dwindling offensive game and Gallo with his health. Gallo has been hurt every year, primarily on drives to the basket. Can he be effective and true to himself if he doesn't drive to the hoop? Otherwise his long legs and joints may be just to frail for the demands of NBA basketball. So our team was flawed to begin with, just like every team, but hey, you need to be able to shoot the basketball with a decent rate of effectiveness and to have some variety to it, otherwise teams can adjust in a 7-game series. I never said you can't win without making some outside shots.
4) Re. the running/passing game versus the shooting game or isolation game. I believe it is a better way to play basketball and will ultimately evolve as a dominant scheme. However, no strategy is better than the players who play it. For some reason, in the playoffs the players stopped playing the kind of defense that leads to turnovers and the running game. The walked the ball up on offense and fell into the timid trap of isolation ball. Sickening.
5) The playoffs. The team, which is primarily responsible for success, choked. They stopped playing the game that got them there. They did not impose their wills. They did not realize what the playoffs were about. You can blame the non-playing coach all you want, and he is not without blame because it is shared, but it is the players who screwed the pooch on this. Perhaps the Nuggets were overconfident that excellent coaching could overcome pure talent. Maybe that's proven not to be true now.
6) George Karl. He shared in the playoff choking. First by not mentally preparing his team for the increased intensity of the playoffs; by not stressing that they must impose their will and style of play; and second, by panicking and going small against GS instead of riding out the shoddy play by his big men and Wilson Chandler. Karl goes small far too often. He should have had a couple backup plans that the team practiced. The final nail in our coffin was playing his trust guys, Miller and Brewer, far too long in the playoffs. It worked during the regular season, but those 2 weren't playing well and should have been cut back.
The other main criticism I have of Karl is his failure to develop his young shooters in a season that begged for better shooting. Shooting is confidence and by yanking Fournier, he hurt his confidence. GK hates losing and during the regular season, we probably would have lost more games if he developed the younger talent, both in terms of shooters (Fours, Hamilton) and of McGee. Yet it would have paid off in the playoffs because they have more talent than Miller and Brewer.
Karl will probably coach his last year here in 13-14. He has acknowledged that he has to change. I don't think that will be easy to do. Be careful what you wish for, fans, and remember this when we don't even make the playoffs without Karl.
7) Rosterbation. Brewer is in for an unpleasant surprise. He can only thrive in a few places that run the ball. He's just not that good a shooter and won't stop gambling on defense. Don't overpay for Korver. There's a reason he's bounced around the league. Sure he can hit a few shots but the rest of his game pretty much sucks. I think its time to start Fournier and cut back Miller to 15 minutes a game.
8) McGee. Big men are supposed to take a lot of time to develop, but he's had enough. He regressed during the second half. If he doesn't improve, he should be traded. Faried also must provide some type of offense besides dunks and putbacks.
9) The Denver Stiffs. This site was the best thing about the season. It was great to meet and get to know Andrew, Jeff and Nate and discuss our shared passion of pro basketball and the Nuggets for the better part of a year. Thanks to Sandy Clough for his participation and support and of course his insightful commentary. I felt like I made some basketball friends and even got to meet some of them at SNO. What a great site. It's what social media is supposed to be. Generally the intelligence and good naturedness of the contributors is very high, better than any other blog in the country. Thanks you guys (and gal).