Randy Foye established presence in first year with Nuggets

Veteran shooting guard made case as team's most valuable player
by Aaron Lopez

When Randy Foye joined the Nuggets last July, he brought a reputation as a lethal 3-point shooter and a veteran leader who set the tone for his teammates on the court and in the locker room.

Over the course of his first season in Denver, Foye built a strong case as the team’s most valuable player.

Though point guard Ty Lawson led the team in scoring and assists and forward Kenneth Faried put up All-Star numbers over the season’s final seven weeks, Foye proved to be a stabilizing force that helped keep the Nuggets focused and engaged in the wake of injuries to six rotation players.

“Randy’s the liaison to keep everything calm – the straw that stirs the drink, so to speak,” Denver coach Brian Shaw said. “On the court, he’s a pro. Our guys see that. We need more Randy’s when it comes to that.”

From chasing the team’s single-season 3-point record to defending the opposition’s best player on a regular basis to filling in at point guard when Lawson missed three weeks with a fractured rib, Foye did everything the Nuggets asked in 2013-14.

He even overcame an early season shooting slump that prompted Shaw to remove him from the starting lineup for the first three games after Christmas.

“I was out there in the beginning trying to fit in,” Foye said. “It wasn’t working. When he benched me, it sparked a fire. ‘If I’m going down, I’m going down swinging.’ ”

After playing a season-low 7 minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 27, Foye responded with back-to-back double-figure scoring games off the bench and earned back his starting spot on Jan. 1.

In his final 53 games, Foye averaged 15.6 points, 4.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting .395 from 3-point range. His buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 3 was easily the highlight of the season.

In addition, Foye recorded five double-figure assist games during that stretch, including a career-high 16 assists against Toronto on Jan. 31. Foye posted at least 10 assists six times in his previous seven seasons combined.

“When they first signed me, Coach was like, ‘I remember you from Villanova handling the ball, making plays and breaking people down. I want that, along with the 3s,’ ” Foye recalled. “I showed those guys I can do a little more than what they expected.”

He also gave Denver the perimeter shooting that has been so consistent throughout his career. After setting Utah’s franchise record with 178 3-pointers in 2012-13, Foye made 189 for the Nuggets, finishing three short of Dale Ellis’ team mark.

Foye said he never set out to break records. He was more concerned with establishing a positive culture in the locker room and acting as a mentor to young players such as Faried, Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller and Timofey Mozgov.

“When things weren’t going well for guys, they could talk to me and express their feelings,” Foye said. “I encouraged my teammates and let them know I’m here if they need me.”

The response was evident. Despite often playing with eight or nine healthy players, the Nuggets posted late-season victories over playoff-qualifiers such as Golden State, Houston, Miami, Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers.

“We fought,” Foye said. “Everyone has a bitter taste in their mouth from not making the playoffs but we have something to look forward to. It’s something to build on.”