Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is four weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next few weeks. This week is the Northwest Division. Today is the Denver Nuggets.
2011-12 Record: 38-28, lost first round
Key Losses: Arron Afflalo (traded to Orlando), Al Harrington (traded to Orlando), Chris Andersen (free agent)
Key Acquisitions: Andre Iguodala (traded from Philadelphia), Anthony Randolph (signed from Minnesota), Quincy Miller (draft)
|Ty Lawson||Andre Iguodala||Kenneth Faried||Danilo Gallinari||JaVale McGee|
|Andre Miller||Evan Fournier||Wilson Chandler||Anthony Randolph||Timofey Mozgov|
|Ben Uzoh||Jordan Hamilton||Corey Brewer||Quincy Miller||Kosta Koufos|
The Nuggets have long been the hallmark team for the no-star team. Denver's Masa Ujiri has built a team from the ground up with pieces that just fit perfectly together. It is incredible in this league of combined stars that the Nuggets continue to be such a tough out.
In the Playoffs last year, it took Andrew Bynum putting in the best Playoff series in his career to get rid of the Nuggets. This team is pesky, they play hard and they play together. This is a team the general basketball fan can love because of all that unselfishness.
There is no reason to think that will go away with the addition of Andre Iguodala. Denver really did not give up a whole lot to bring in the All Star and Olympian from Philadelphia. The best part is Iguodala should fit in just fine with this group of players because the 76ers are the Eastern Conference version of the Nuggets.
Iguodala has stated he wants to gain some more offensive freedom and show what he can do, but he has remade his career the last few years by making his name not as the slasher and dunker of his early years but as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
Denver brought a lot of that to its team while only really getting rid of solid players Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington. The Nuggets are deep though and have players capable of replacing their production and stepping into new roles. That is the brilliance of this formula Denver has employed.
The Nuggets, for all the talk and amazement about how they have been successful in the super-team era of the NBA, have not been out of the first round since 2009 when Carmelo Anthony was with the team. Denver has had the formula to defy expectation, but has not quite had the formula to make much noise in the Playoffs.
The Nuggets got involved in the Dwight Howard trade specifically to bring in a player of Iguodala's caliber to take that next step. It is absolutely possible that this move will do it. But it is also possible that adding in a player who aspires to be a star could disrupt the balance Denver has established.
That balance is important for Denver unless Iguodala makes the leap into true superstardom. Iguodala comes from a similar team in Philadelphia that required the balance necessary for a successful non-superstar team. There has to be some concern in Denver that a hungry Iguodala could upset that balance.
Iguodala does not seem to be that kind of player. He has always been pretty selfless and that will be necessary for his success in Denver.
Questions still remain whether the Nuggets are due for a fall. Yes, there is a lot of talent. But without a true superstar to rely on, maybe the clock is ticking. Iguodala might be that star to kind of keep the ship steady when others are struggling. Iguodala has been the "star" on a team before, and it did not work out so well in Philadelphia.
Lots of Nuggets players have been overperforming expectations and improving. Like a stock, you think that has to stop at some point. The stocks have to fall at some point, that is just how career arcs go. Denver is trying to buy some more time it seems, it may not fall apart this year but that day may be coming and a championship still seems far away.
This season may be a redemption year for JaVale McGee.
It seemed like every week last year featured another embarrassing moment for JaVale McGee. He has a long way to go to make good on his potential and redeem himself some from that.
But his time in Denver last year was a good step forward and there is reason to believe McGee will turn things around this year. McGee averaged 10.3 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game in 21 minutes per game. On a per 36 minute basis, McGee posted 18.0 points per 36 minutes and 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes.
McGee could be really good still. Denver is a second chance for him. But the problems he had in Washington could crop up still. And that would just be entertaining for all of us.
This is all part of the potential for the stocks filing on this overachieving team. McGee has been bought low, but this far into his career he may be that person and that player. A full season with McGee could get ugly.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Nuggets? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by using the hashtag #NuggetsDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Nuggets throughout the day.