Marlowe Blog: Why the Denver Nuggets will be much improved in 2014-15

Return to health will be big factor in bounceback season

by Chris Marlowe

Almost every day this summer, someone has asked me, “How are the Denver Nuggets going to do this season?”

My answer never varies.

First, I tell them that the Nuggets will be MUCH better this season. In fact, I believe that the Mile High Crew will rebound and make the playoffs in the West.

“Really?” they reply. “How can they do that?”

I explain.

To begin, I ask them if they realize the impact that injuries had on the team last year. Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee, Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson all were lost for varying parts of the year.

“Oh,” they say.

I inform them that the law of averages says that those kinds of injuries will not hit the Nuggets this season or any time in the future.

“Hmm…” they mutter.

Then I advise them that if the Nuggets are healthy in 2014-15, they are going to a very good team.

“How?” they query.

I tell them about the team’s depth. With three talented players at each position, the Nuggets may have the deepest team in the league. Remember what coach Brian Shaw wanted to do last season? He believed that his starters would “wear ‘em down” and the subs would “wear ‘em out”. Unfortunately, that plan could never be utilized because of injuries. This season, opponents better get ready for wave after wave of Nuggets coming right at them!

Next, I talk about offense.

After averaging 104.4 points per game last year, I expect the Nuggets to average 105 points or more this season.

“Why the improvement?” people ask.

“Three-point shooting!” I say.

Ty Lawson, Gallo, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler, Arron Afflalo, Nate Robinson and Darrell Arthur all have shown the ability to shoot and consistently make 3-pointers. Throw in secret weapon Timofey Mozgov and the Nuggets have a bevy of shooters that rivals any other team (except maybe the San Antonio Spurs) in the NBA.

Finally, I wrap up my Nuggets dissertation by talking defense.

I assert that the Nugs will have four good defenders at their disposal that they didn’t have last season.

At the top of the list is Gallinari, a long wing defender who sat out all last season. If he’s healthy, he can cover the likes of Carmelo Anthony and other highly talented players. Molto bene!

McGee, limited to five games last season, is one of the most feared shot rejecters in the association. Prediction: If he can play 25 minutes a game, he will challenge for the shot block title.

Afflalo has been long regarded as one of the better wing defenders in the league. AAA plays in the Shane Battier mode – he moves his feet, hustles like crazy and gets a hand in his opponent’s face. I can’t wait to see him “Glove” the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant once again.

Finally, the Nuggets added Michigan State defensive standout Gary Harris with the 19th pick in the NBA Draft. Gary comes to Denver with a solid defensive reputation, and if you watched him in the NBA Summer League, you know he can guard!

I also tell them to expect the other players on the roster to be improved defensively. They have now had a year in Shaw’s system and should know it backwards and forwards. That will make a huge difference.

So don’t be lost for words this fall when someone comes up to you and asks, “How are the Denver Nuggets going to do this season?”

You now have a perfect answer.