The Denver Nuggets find themselves in a position rarely seen in professional sports circles. By all accounts, they had a very good season last year. Finishing 3rd in the West with a record of 57-25 would usually be enough for a head coach and a general manager to keep their jobs. Even if that wasn't enough, you would have to think you wouldn't get fired after wining NBA Coach of the Year Honors...right? But Denver is a place where they believe in making the impossible happen. President Josh Kroenke is going to make some decisions over the next few weeks that will greatly influence the direction this franchise takes for the foreseeable future. Bringing in a coach who knows how to work with the young talent that is there will be critical. If a coach comes in and attempts to apply a system that doesn't play to their natural strengths, they could become an average team. And the draft is on June 27th.
One thing the Nuggets have going for them is the talent level of the players on the roster. One player who will likely see more playing time is JaVale McGee. Rumours have circled suggesting that his lack of playing time under Karl may have contributed to Karl's dismissal. McGee recently signed a 4-year $40 million contract and sitting him on the bench may not be an option. The Nuggets are loaded with depth at every position and even have flexibility if they decide to go a different direction. They could trade their proven, mid-salaried veterans for younger talent if they wanted to go very young so the new coach could build around Ty Lawson, who rounded into form down the stretch after a slow start, and Kenneth Faried. A big worry is just how Gallinari will be after returning from an ACL injury. If he returns to form they could have another run at West contention.
This pick will be the first big move for whoever replaces Masai Ujiri as the new general manager. Living up to the Ujiri's success will place added pressure on this draft. The man did a great job last year in getting Ty Lawson (No. 18 pick) and Kenneth Faried (No. 22 pick). Addressing team needs through the draft might not be much of an issue for this yet-to-be-named GM, as this roster doesn't really have any pressing needs (unless they fail to re-sign Andre Iguodala).
With the 27th pick in the draft the Nuggets will likely add depth to what is already one of the deepest teams in the league. They recently worked out 12 players at their facility. One of the players the team is reportedly high on is Reggie Bullock, SF from North Carolina. The Nuggets had one of the highest scoring offenses I the NBA last year...and that was without much of a 3-point attack. They only ranked 25th in the league for 3 point percentage. Bringing in Bullock would immediately improve the team in that area. He enters the 2013 draft as a three-point specialist with prototypical size for a wing. His ability to shoot from the outside could help create space for the penetrating of Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and the other Nuggets who love to attack the rim.
Everything will be dependent on who the Nuggets bring in to make the decisions. The coach that intrigues me the most is Jeff Van Gundy. If he came to the sideline with the same focus on defense that he pressed in New York and Houston it could have a young, very athletic team shutting teams down. Either way, whoever they bring in will have a lot of talent to work with. That's the one thing that should give Nuggets fans some relief if they start to feel anxious with the draft approaching.