Marlowe Blog: Nuggets still worthy of great expectations
Despite offseason changes, Denver remain poised for regular-season, playoff success
“Some men see things the way they are and say, 'Why.' I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not.' ”
Robert F. Kennedy once said those words to describe himself as a man and a politician.
I’m with RFK all the way on this one. Why not.
I’m sure you have heard the pundits, the experts, the talking heads — all saying there is no way the Denver Nuggets can win 57 games next season.
Yes, I realize the Nuggets have lost executive Masai Ujiri, coach George Karl, swingman Andre Iguodala, center Kosta Koufos and forward Corey Brewer.
But in their stead are general manager Tim Connelly, coach Brian Shaw, forward J.J. Hickson, guard Randy Foye, forward Darrell Arthur and rookie Erick Green.
Can this new group be better than the recently departed one?
Connelly is a young, energetic, executive who has paid his dues in other organizations (much like Masai) and has already shown he is ready the challenge here in Denver.
Shaw has five championship rings, an extensive hoops background, and so far, has said all the right things. Some of my favorites:
“Playoff basketball is the main focus, improved half court offense and defense are key, and playing the youngsters is paramount to success.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Now, let’s take a look at the new players who will suit up for the 2013-14 Nuggets.
Hickson is a 24-year-old double-double machine. Last season he averaged 12.7 points and 10.3 rebounds. I got a good look at J.J. when he torched us for 18 points and 13 boards a game last season. He is very good in the pick-and-roll game and should continue to excel at that with Ty Lawson. He will battle with Kenneth Faried for power forward minutes, but if the Nuggies can’t re-sign center Timofey Mozgov, expect J.J. to see some time at center.
I’m very excited about the acquisition the sharpshooting Foye. The Nuggets needed outside shooting and they got it big-time with Foye. He shot 41 percent from 3-point land last season and is a career 86 percent free throw shooter! Just imagine Ty with the ball, Faried, Hickson, JaVale McGee and the gang hovering near the paint and Foye on the perimeter just waiting to pull the 3-point trigger.
Most Nuggets fans probably don’t know Darrell (pronounced Duh-RELL) Arthur from Bea Arthur. Here’s what you need to know. Darrell is a very talented big man. He is a quality defender, can block shots, and has a pretty good mid-range game. Injuries have been his bugaboo so far during his career. If Arthur can stay healthy, he can be a very nice asset for the Mile High Crew.
Finally, there is the Nuggets top draft pick 6-foot-3 guard Erick Green from Virginia Tech. Green led the NATION in scoring at 25 points per game. As a second-round pick (46th overall), Green’s contract is not guaranteed. He will be out to prove he is the real deal. By the way, Erick shot 82 percent from the stripe during his college career.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Nuggets are refitting the pieces to the puzzle very nicely. Hickson adds skill and toughness to a very athletic front line. Foye is a great shooter, a known leader and should be a big presence in the locker room.
The loss of Iguodala opens the door for second-year man Evan Fournier. In case you hadn’t noticed, Fournier makes plays. He is a terrific outside shooter and very heady. He and Foye should fill the Iggy gap nicely.
Brewer’s departure to Minnesota (congrats and good luck to a wonderful guy) paves the way for Jordan Hamilton. Jordan is a very skilled player who I believe will blossom with the knowledge and encouragement of Shaw and his staff. He is a terrific 3-point shooter to add to the mix.
Meanwhile, Green is a young point guard who can chuck it from Castle Rock! I hope there is a roster slot for him!
By the way, here is an early (very early) prediction for you. The Nuggets, 29th in free-throw shooting a year ago, will have seven players next season that will shoot 80 percent or higher from the line! Ty, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Fournier, Foye, Andre Miller and Green. Hello life – goodbye clanking!
In 2012-13, the Nuggets won 57 games during the regular season and were beaten by the Golden State Warriors in the first found of the playoffs.
Can they do better than that this season?
Chris Marlowe is in his ninth year as the play-by-play voice for the Nuggets on Altitude. He is a longtime broadcaster who also served as the captain of the gold media-winning U.S. Olympic volleyball team in 1984.