The concept of having a "plan" is all the rage in social media and on the blog circuit. Strike that, you apparently need to have a plan that is vetted by the twitter mob who will then praise you up and down until their voices are choked and hoarse with glee.
There. I think we have come to the point now.
Count me as among those who wasn't entirely sure what the plan was a Pepsi Center until recently. I think the turmoil of the 2013 offseason affected my viewpoint, and if we are fair it affected the viewpoint of many others. George Karl's seeming embrace of the analytics movement (which is only partially true by the way, Karl was still highly skeptical of advanced stats) as I discussed last season, gave the Nuggets a "hip" vibe that dissipated once he was fired. This was compounded when the team hired a long-time disciple of Phil Jackson by the name of Brian Shaw. Square peg, round hole right?
Let me be the first to say, I was confused and skeptical despite the Nuggets myriad of injuries. These worries only increased after the strange Andre Miller incident in the middle of the season and the subsequent fallout. Just what in the hell are they doing? Logical question.
Yet, let us digress for a moment and talk about "plans". Apparently one plan that is all the rage on the blogosphere and twitter is Sam Hinkie's self-immolating multi-year tank job with the Philadelphia 76ers. Oh yes, everyone can see what Hinkie is doing. There's no subtlety there and people stumble over themselves praising the plan. To which I say this: I could cover myself with dog feces and walk down the middle of Colfax twirling a bejeweled cane while singing Woman from Tokyo at the top of my lungs. Some may think I'm crazy, but others will say "That man is a genius, he must have a plan!."
The "sexy" plans also include the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns who were surprises last season. The Blazers have forged a similar path as the Nuggets you could say, dipping out of the playoffs and acquiring the exciting Damian Lillard without truly tanking. The Suns came completely out of left field last season, and surprised many. Goran Dragic had a breakout year. What makes them that much better than a Nuggets team that is one season removed from winning 57 games? It doesn't quite make sense to me.
The beauty of a plan is in the eye of the beholder. It is unfair to say the Nuggets don't have one because it doesn't immediately conform to the known parameters of tanking your way to glory. The light bulb went on over my head in a moment of realization recently that the Nuggets are pretty much following the same plan put into place my former GM Masai Ujiri once the Carmelo Anthony trade came to fruition. Build slowly, accumulate tradeable players on good contracts, draft well and see what happens. The difference between GM Tim Connelly and Ujiri is that the Nuggets have a much broader and more sophisticated European scouting Network now. The drafting of Jusuf Nurkic should be a clue to that approach.
The Nuggets path changed a bit once Danilo Gallinari clutched his knee in pain in early April 2013. Management was shuffled and a new head coach was brought in. I'd say it is quite valid to say the unanswered question within the Nuggets prevue is head coach Brian Shaw. As no one is quite sure what type of system he intends to run, and the pressure is on with a (finally) fully healthy roster this season. The team was beset with an unusually high number of injuries last year, and I'm not entirely convinced Shaw was employing the type of offensive system he is comfortable with at the end of the year due to injuries.
It is absolutely fair to say the jury is still definitely out on what SHAW intends to do with this roster. However, from a management perspective I think it's perfectly clear what the plan is. Whether you agree with the plan or not is a different subject all together. The implication that the Nuggets have been shuffling about "planless" since firing Ujiri is a false one. Don't let that particular narrative overtake you. IF this doesn't work, the Nuggets can and will adjust. Nothing is set in stone and as I brought up a couple weeks ago, the Nuggets have quite a bit more salary flexibility than people are willing to believe.
It's legitimate to have skepticism about the Nuggets injured players. It's legitimate to question how the Nuggets intend to navigate a tough schedule with 21 back to backs (and multiple 4 games in 5 night stretches). You can question the Nuggets future without succumbing to the laziness of "plan vetting". It's just stupid at this point.
I'm excited for this season. I now feel we will get the truest sense of the Nuggets possible this year and I can't wait to find out what we have in store.