Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri will win the NBA's Executive of the Year, making a coaching and general manager sweep for the organization after George Karl took home the Coach of the Year Award earlier this week.
For the Nuggets, it is a just regular season award for finishing third in the Western Conference and for being perhaps the best team in the league this year without a "superstar." Andre Iguodala was the team's only All Star this year, yet the Nuggets were one of the tougher teams to beat in the league — particularly at home.
Both Karl and Ujiri put together a team that was difficult to defend because so many guys could beat you. Ty Lawson, Andre iguodala, Danilo Gallinari and others took turns leading the team in scoring and filling their roles.
That of course was in the regular season. The award is a regular season award voted on by the executive's peers, but the shortcomings from this roster became apparent in a six-game loss to the Warriors.
Golden State, despite playing without David Lee pretty much the entire series, outphysicaled Denver and easily knifed through the team's defense with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Denver struggled to get consistent offense after a Game One win that needed an Andre Miller layup in the dying seconds. Perhaps Danilo Gallinari's injury was a big loss for this team in the end.
Ujiri though has been working to build this team for several years. This was not an award based just on this year's success.
The Nuggets were built by Ujiri beginning with the collection of assets that came from the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2010. He has had the foresight too to trade Raymond Felton to give Ty Lawson more freedom to shine and the strong drafting to select Kenneth Faried and Evan Fournier, two major contributors this season, with late first round picks.
Aside from the Anthony trade, he might have won this award for "winning" the Dwight Howard trade. He traded Arron Afflalo and got an All Star in Andre Iguodala in return. Of the four teams involved in that trade, the Nuggets were the only ones to gain home court advantage in the first round.
That did not help the Nuggets get out of the first round. Excuse the confusion then as the Nuggets won both Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.
These are regular season awards, but neither of these guys can be very satisfied with the final results of their season.