DENVER, May 9, 2013 – Denver Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has been named the 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year, the league announced today.
Ujiri helped construct a young, athletic roster that won an NBA team-record 57 games and captured the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference despite being the third-youngest team at the start of the season.
Ujiri, who completed his third season in Denver’s front office, is the third Nuggets executive to receive the award. Mark Warkentien was honored in 2008-09 and Vince Boryla won it in 1984-85.
Ujiri was instrumental in assembling a balanced roster that featured nine players averaging between 8.0 and 16.7 points and a bench that ranked second overall in scoring (41.3 ppg). Of the seven teams that won at least 50 games, Denver was the only one without an All-Star selection.
One of Ujiri’s biggest moves heading into 2012-13 took place on Aug. 10, 2012, when he acquired All-Star and Olympian Andre Iguodala from the Philadelphia 76ers as part of a four-team trade that also involved the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.
The Nuggets sent guard Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and a future second–round pick to Orlando in exchange for Iguodala, an elite defender who averaged 13 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 80 games.
Ujiri, a native of Nigeria, became the first African-born executive vice president of a major American sports team when the Nuggets hired him on Aug. 27, 2010.
He since has overseen a roster reinvention that began in earnest with the 12-player trade that brought current Nuggets Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov to Denver on Feb. 22, 2011. Lawson is the only player remaining with the Nuggets since that deal.
Considered one of the most proactive executives in the NBA, Ujiri has kept the Nuggets among the Western Conference elite through numerous trades and shrewd draft picks.
After selecting forward Kenneth Faried with the 22nd overall pick in 2011, Ujiri drafted guard Evan Fournier 20th overall in 2012. Fournier played valuable minutes late in the season and started three playoff games for the Nuggets.
For his work in 2012-13, Ujiri totaled 59 points and received eight first-place votes from a panel of his fellow team basketball executives throughout the NBA. The Los Angeles Clippers’ Gary Sacks finished second with 28 points (three first-place votes) votes and the Houston Rockets’ Daryl Morey and the New York Knicks’ Glen Grunwald finished tied for third with 25 points (four first-place votes).
Executives were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.