Alright, so hear me out here, perhaps the landscape of the Mid Market NBA team has changed and us here in Denver haven't realized. Maybe I'm just an eternal optimist when it comes to the Nuggets (I'm telling you, I like our combination of Junior Harrington and Vincent Yarborough at guard! Good, young talent). However, I think I'm starting to see some reason behind the Nuggets madness to date...The success of the Indiana Pacers. I think they provided B Shaw with a blueprint for how to win without a bona fide superstar to start the year. P George is developing into one and I think Lawson has a chance to the same.
Point 1 - Player development
Indiana started last year losing their best player in Granger (our AI but better) and young roster. If the rumors are true, B Shaw had a lot to do with the development of Hibbert, George, and Stephenson. He had a project at center and some talented wings who were young and raw.
McGee needs to develop along the same lines as Hibbert. This is absolutely necessary. I think Gallinari (if healthy) can be a Paul George typs. Chandler or Fours are as good as Lance, and Lawson is a huge upgrade over Augistin or George Hill. The key will be McGee and Fournier/Chandler this year developing leaps and bounds.
Point 2 - A semblance of veteran leadership
Sure they still had Granger in the background to help with George's development, but the presence of David West was huge for that team. Doe we have an exact imprint of David "Don't call me North" West? No, but I would argue that the combination of Hickson/Faried/Arthur have a decent lockdown on PF. This is where I think Dre Miller's staying would be beneficial. I know people hate him on here, but he is one of the smartest players at his position hands down. How else does a guy his age with no jump shot and not a ton of quick stay in the league for so long? I think he will be the guy to help continue to bring Lawson and Fours along. If Miller is gone and Billups comes home, then I'm fine with that as well.
Point 3 - Paint scoring/Rebounding and D trumps outside shooting
The Pacers weren't a great 3 point shooting team last year. George led them in 3's attempted/game at 5.9 and hit at a 36% clip. Gallo, by comparison led the Nuggets with 5.1 /game and shot 37%. George Hill was next and also shot 37%. This team was certainly not built to score from the outside. The O Rtg last year ranked 20th out of 30 teams, but D rtg was #1. They were also one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA last year. Will this years Nuggets be better than 20th in the NBA? For sure. Will they be the best Def team in the NBA. No way. Will the be the best rebouding team? I think they will be close. Point being, we don't need 3 point shooters to win. If Foye comes here, him, Lawson, Fours, Gallo, and Chandler will be sufficient. Our interior D needs to be beefed up along with P n R D. If Shaw can bring that to the table, I'm ecstatic.
I'll wrap it up with this. I think I have gotten too caught up in the Spurs model. Does it work? ABSOLUTELY! But it's not the only way to win in the NBA. Does it help to have LeBron or Kobe? For sure. But, the Pacers pushed the Heat in a simliar fashion to the Spurs through a model the B Shaw is familiar with. It seems to me that he is trying to do the same thing here. Quite frankly, I don't really care how it happens. The Karl era was fun, no doubt. I was in LA at the Staples Center when we beat the Lakers in game 2 of thw WCF. Highlight of my sports life thus far. However, the greater body of work shows that brand of basketball doesn't win in the playoffs. Shaw seems to know a little something about winning in the playoffs. Let's hope he can transfer that knowledge and development over to the players.
And if it doesn't work? It's just basketball, right :)