After a summer of upheaval, a new era dawns at Pepsi Center (Photo courtesy of: http://5280lensmafia.wordpress.com)
A new era has dawned for the Denver Nuggets after coming off of the most dysfunctional offseason in recent history having lost their NBA Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year winners, as well as their starting center (Kosta Koufos) and shooting guard (Andre Iguodala). This metamorphosis began for the Nuggets following a 2012-13 NBA season that saw them win an NBA franchise-record 57 games and yet another first round playoff exit.
Despite another early end to the Nuggets postseason, the future looked somewhat bright for the team. Masai Ujiri was just awarded the NBA’s Executive of the Year award for his role in the architecture of a promising young core for Denver and he looked to be signing a long-term extension with the team. Whatever plans the Nuggets had, were quickly thrown out the window when Ujiri bolted for a high-paying gig with the Toronto Raptors.
Coach George Karl followed Ujiri out the door when he was fired by owner Josh Kroenke after seeking an unwarranted contract extension. Karl failed to lead the team to the promised land year after year. Every spring for the last nine years, with the exception of the magical month of May in 2009, Denver was bounced in the first round of the playoffs. During Karl’s tenure, the team went through dozens of different players and three different front office regimes – Kiki Vandeweghe, the three-headed monster of Mark Warkentien, Rex Chapman and Bret Bearup and finally Ujiri. No matter what the circumstances were, the result was the same. The only constant during each of the last nine seasons was Karl.
Training camp opens today and the Nuggets begin a new chapter in their history with Brian Shaw as head coach. Denver now has the fresh voice in the locker room that they have been seeking and with it – perhaps a new approach to the way the Nuggets play basketball. Shaw has indicated that he wants the team to be more prepared for the postseason by teaching them how to play halfcourt basketball. At his introductory press conference, Shaw stated that he would not be instituting the famed triangle offense. However, in an interview during the Las Vegas Summer League, Shaw said that we would see some triangle sets and triangle spacing.
Detractors of the triangle tie their argument to the Nuggets lack of a transcendent talent as reason to fear its implementation in Denver. While the Nuggets do not have a superstar on the roster, they do have many talented players that can work together in a cohesive manner – which is one of the fundamental aspects of the triangle. The triangle does not necessarily need a superstar to succeed, it just needs players to play selflessly as a team.
This young Nuggets squad has shown the ability to stick together and play as a team. However, they have not been able to effectively execute in the halfcourt and this, perhaps more than any other factor is the reason that Denver has won two playoff series in the last ten seasons. Fans should not be afraid of change, they should embrace the new era of Nuggets basketball that begins with the 2013-14 season.
The Nuggets are embracing another new era – that of integrating social media and technology. Denver is among many NBA teams that have granted press credentials to bloggers (generally affiliated with larger media entities such as ESPN or SB Nation). In addition, the team employs its own beat writer, Aaron Lopez, who documents every detail – including many exclusives – for the team’s official website. Another exciting addition for Nuggets fans this offseason was an official mobile phone app that will give fans access to the team like never before all on their mobile phones. This app features exclusive behind-the-scenes video as well as highlights and many other niceties like arena and parking lot maps to help fans find their way at Pepsi Center, integrated social media and more.
Perhaps the biggest technological advance surrounding the Nuggets this offseason is Pepsi Center’s new scoreboard, which is the largest of its kind in the world. Basically, that means that no other arena will feature an in-game display such as the one that was recently hung from the rafters. In case you were wondering just how massive this thing is – it stretches from 3-point line to 3-point line. The time-lapse video below should give fans an idea of how much larger the new scoreboard is compared to the old one.
As a new era dawns for the Denver Nuggets, Hardwood Gold Rush launches as a new destination for Nuggets news and analysis as well as the only Denver Nuggets-specific podcast – the 5280 Hoops Show. This will surely be an interesting season for the Nuggets – check back all season long for the latest.
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