Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Denver Nuggets 2013-2014 Season Preview (The Denver Nuggets Won't Suck)

It's that time of the year again. The magical start to the NBA season. The Denver Nuggets enter the '13-'14 season with a lot of question marks because a lot has changed after an amazing regular season, finishing with 57 wins last year.

1. The Nuggets were ONCE AGAIN eliminated in the 1st Round of the Playoffs (link to my post about the elimination/off season)
2. The GM of the Year moved to Toronto for tons of money
3. The Coach of the Year, George Karl, was fired (link to my passionate response)
4. Denver did next to nothing during the off season (link to my angry response)
5. The rest of the Western Conference bulked up like they're getting their beach bods ready for the summer (Example: The Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, Grizzlies and Golden State all got considerably better or stayed about the same)

So what does this season have in store for the Denver Nuggets? I can tell you this much: in the words of Andre Miller (when asked if the Nuggets will repeat a 57 win season), "Nah man, you know that won't happen again."

What must happen for Denver to be a top-6 team in the West:

1. Ty Lawson must average at least 19 points on 50% FG shooting, 8 assists and 2 steals per game.
It's time for Ty to take the next step.
Enough is enough, Ty. It seems for about 3 seasons now it's been "his time to shine". Averaging 16.7 points, 6.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game last year, he's been close. But this year has to be the one where he makes that extra jump and everyone says, "Wow, Lawson deserves to be an All-Star." I say deserves because unfortunately in the point guard-heavy Western Conference, chances he becomes an All-Star are very unlikely.

2. JaVale McGee must average a double-double.
It's clear that everyone's favorite big guy is going to see plenty of action this season. But what will McGee do with his opportunities? Denver's success of this season depends highly on his ability to take advantage of his freakish athletic abilities and get as many rebounds and dunks as possible. Averaging a double-double should not be that difficult if he sees 30+ minutes per game.

3. Kenneth Faried must be traded.
I'm sorry Denver fans, I just don't see it. Faried is an undersized power forward with extremely below average defensive and offensive skills. His amazing effort and rebounding ability can never be overlooked, but neither can his absence on the defensive side of the ball. While his stock is as high as it is, it's time to sell sell sell for a star. Faried will demand a high price when his rookie contact is up, and he just isn't worth the money. (Expect a post elaborating on this point in the near future)

4. There must be a new sheriff (or sidekick) in town.
The Denver Nuggets have about 5 players that have always had the potential to be good, but have been put in George Karl's "dog house". This is no insult to Coach Karl, every coach has players they love and players they don't. But with first year coach Brian Shaw taking the reins, a new, no-name legitimate role player (or starter) must emerge from this young group. Calling Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton, Quincy Miller or Anthony Randolph.

5. Wilson Chandler must play at least 70 games.
Chanlder has to stay healthy.
Chandler is an all-around player who can effectively guard 3 positions, rebound, handle and score the ball inside and out. But he has dealt with several injuries in his short stint in Denver. Last season he only played 43 games. When healthy, Chandler can often be the best player on the court. He has the talent, but will he be able to showcase it? With a knee injury to forward Danilo Gallinari, it is essential that Chandler stays healthy. But already being declared inactive due to injury for the first game of the season is no way to start.

What will happen:

1. Nate Robinson will legitimately contend for the 6th Man of the Year award.
I initially HATED the Nate Robinson signing. But it's undeniable how explosive and effective he can be when it comes to scoring. The big question is whether or not he will be able to play defense and keep himself from any silly antics on the court. But there is a good chance, after having literally no respectable offers after a career season last year, Robinson will play with an huge chip on his shoulder and put up some impressive numbers.

2. JaVale McGee will be on "Shaqtin' a Fool" at least 5 times.
With all the minutes he'll be getting, there is no doubt that McGee will make many... McGee-like mistakes. It's always fun and games to point them out. But hopefully there will also be lots of impressive dunks and blocks to combat those silly plays. Here is a compilation for good measure though.

3. Danilo Gallinari will play less than 35 games this season.
Although he has said his injury wasn't as severe as first believed, Gallinari has been injury prone his entire Denver career.  A knee injury isn't anything to mess around with and Denver management will be very cautious to let him play. Especially when they have so much depth to use instead.

4. Randy Foye will be in the top-15 for 3-point field goal percentage.
Here's a fun graphic.

Foye was one of the most efficient 3-point specialists with Utah last season. With players like Lawson, Andre Miller, Chandler, McGee, JJ Hickson, Timofey Mozgov (I hope) and McGee all demanding defensive attention in the paint, there will be plenty of opportunities for Foye beyond the arch. Chances are he will take advantage of them. Expect early struggles to eventually be ironed out as he gets used to a new system.

5. The Denver defense will allow over 100 points per game, again.
The already defensively-deficient Nuggets lost their best defensive player in Andre Iguodala (he's dead to me forever) over the off season while adding no help. The 23rd ranked defense last season has no where to go but up on the defensive side of the ball... in all the wrong ways.


I've seen some silly things from basketball analysts saying that Denver is in great danger to not make the playoffs this season. Don't buy any of that crap. Although the Nuggets aren't as good as last season's squad on paper, the season still needs to play itself out. I mean, we all know what happened to the Lakers last season... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... woah, excuse me. Lost myself for a second.

Denver still has an explosive offense and a lot of depth. Defense will be key. There is no way that the Nuggets will have many "great possessions" on defense where everyone guards their man forcing a bad shot and nabbing the rebound. BUT, if Denver can manage to contain offensive attacks by forcing turnovers with almost reckless intensity and active hands, things might look good. 

Record: 45-37. Good for 7th in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, Denver will be knocked out of the 1st Round again... *sighhh* Hey, but it'll be a heck-of-a-series...
It's time to dig in, Nuggets fans. The season is here!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Denver Nuggets 10-in-10 Player Profile: Rank #7 (JJ Hickson)

Rank #7: JJ Hickson

'12-'13 Season Summary
The first newcomer of the list. Welcome to Denver. For a brief moment during the '09 NBA season, it seemed as if JJ Hickson's success as an NBA player was largely due to LeBron James. As a member of the not-good-enough Cavaliers teams led by the "Chosen One", Hickson was able to propel his energetic style of play into trade value and was shipped off to Sacramento for a first round draft pick. But after an absolutely abysmal 35 games with the Kings (4.7 points per game, 5.1 rebounds a game and 0.37 FG%), his contract was bought-out. Although it was clear his athletic ability was there, it seemed as if his success was drastically helped by playing alongside the best basketball player in the world. 

Hickson eventually signed with the Portland Trailblazers in the 2nd half of that same season... and then this happened:

He was immediately cast to the spotlight and the spring in hist step was back. Hickson finished that season with the 'Blazers averaging 15.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg and a 0.543 FG% in 19 games. In short, much better.

Last season, Hickson was able to show that his short half-year success was not a fluke and had arguably his best professional year (12.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 0.562 FG%). He was an absolute double-double monster and an iron horse, only missing two games all season long. Not only was he able to bring down rebound after rebound, his hustle and highlight dunks were always huge energizers for a team full of exciting young talent.

For good measure, here is another monster dunk that shows his worth as an energetic physical specimen:

'13-'14 Season Outlook
It could be argued that JJ Hickson was the biggest off season acquisition for the Denver Nuggets this past year. He put up amazing stats, brought the house down with jaw dropping dunks and has never been known to disrupt a locker room. So why is he ranked so low? Hickson does not fit in the current roster.

Let's repeat what we've attributed to Hickson: great rebounder, energetic, highlight dunks and fan favorite. Wait, did that just describe Kenneth Faried...?

Does Hickson fit with this roster?
JJ Hickson is pound for pound Faried 2.0. Which also means he is small for his position and is also a very bad on-ball defender. With a starting front court of Faried and JaVale McGee, will Hickson be playing off the bench? Yes, it is true that his work ethic is largely better than so many other NBA players, but there is only so much work ethic can do. Size does matter. It is very difficult for this 6'9 energy ball to be guarding 7'2 NBA centers that can simply out muscle and out height (?) him.

With so many bigmen on the roster, it is a little difficult to see where he will eventually fit. Size will become a huge deficiency in Denver and his ability to pump-up a crowd will inevitably be trumped by his inability to defend and compliment players like McGee, Faried, Randolph, Timofey Mozgov (I still believe in him) and Darrell Arthur (who is not on this list).

But it is intriguing to see what such a player can do in a fast pace offense in Denver. In a run-and-gun style, Hickson can be good for 2-3 fastbreak dunks a game. He also has a solid 17-foot jumper and can stretch the floor a bit for a team that has so many inside options. The question remains whether or not he will be able to mesh well with a team with 4 other people who play his position.

JJ Hickson is no doubt one of the more likeable players in the NBA. He is a team player and comes up with highlight reel dunks almost on a nightly basis. It's frustrating that such a player is now on a roster with so much depth at his position. How will Coach Shaw spread the minutes? Will Hickson get enough to be in a groove for the year? Chances are that Hickson will have flashes of brilliance, getting a crowd to ooh and ahh at his physical feats. He will come down with double doubles quite consistently bringing energy and enthusiasm every night. But as the year progresses, it will be clear the this current roster was not created to play together. What does this mean? (A traaaade? I'll expand on this later.)

#10: Andre Miller
#9: Evan Fournier
#8: Anthony Randolph
#7: JJ Hickson
#6: October 25th
#5: October 26th
#4: October 27th
#3: October 28th
#2: October 29th
#1: October 30th

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Denver Nuggets 10-in-10 Player Profile: Rank #8 (Anthony Randolph)

Rank #8: Anthony Randolph

 '12-'13 Season Summary
After the worst season of his career, Anthony Randolph partly believed he'd never see substantial playing time in the NBA ever again.  Averaging 3.7 points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game in just 39 contests, the 6'11 power forward was lost in a Denver Nugget's roster with extreme depth at all positions.

Plain and simple, Randolph was a no-show all year. He scored a season high of 18 points against the Portland Trailblazers during the last week of the regular season and managed to hit double digit points only three other times during the whole year. He has always been known as a freak athlete and a player with a high ceiling but there were far too many boneheaded plays and lapses on defense to make him a viable option. This placed him into a cycle of inefficiency and spotty playtime for the entirety of the season.

'13-14 Season Outlook
Much like Evan Fournier, Randolph has now been given the best possible coach for his situation. A coach (Brian Shaw) that will allow all players to develop and maximize their potentials while also making mistakes along the way. Randolph was actually not originally on the 10-in-10 list until very recently. 
Randolph has the potential to put up big numbers.

During the preseason, he has found substantial playtime as one of the bigger surprises of training camp. What's even more surprising is that Coach Shaw has been giving Randolph a lot of minutes as the team's small forward.

How will his offensive game translate? Signs point to a positive outcome. Coach Shaw claimed that Randolph has actually been "our most consistent outside shooter throughout camp." Although this may be hard to believe, it honestly can't be much worse than his inside post game last season. He was constantly out-muscled down low and could never hold his own on the low block. Maybe it is likely that his outside shot is a much more lethal weapon. Although he has shot 1/10 on 3-point attempts so far this preseason (yikes).

Any defense? This could be the biggest problem for Randolph. He was never a solid on-ball defender on the post and played the role of off-ball rim defender, much like a poor man's JaVale McGee. He's too weak to play down low, but also could be a step slow guarding faster small forwards in the league like Chandler Parsons or Gordon Hayward (watch video below). But his length at 6'11 is intriguing. 

If he is able to develop a consistent outside jumper and defend his position well enough to stay on the floor, this could be a big year for Anthony Randolph. He's always had the talent to be a solid NBA player but has never put it all together. From goal tending shots when they're a few inches above the rim to trash talking Yao Ming and getting absolutely smashed (I'll give you all my love if you get this reference), Randolph has yet to minimize his mistakes to maximize his playtime. 

Anthony Randolph is Anthony Randolph. Although it is an interesting idea to play him at the 3 and make the lineup huge, the Denver Nuggets will eventually have to take minutes away from him because of his mistakes and questionable shot selection. Unless your name is Dirk or Kevin Durant, it's never a good idea to be over 6'10 and not have a polished inside game. But Randolph has proven to be too much of a defensive liability and prone to offensive mistakes. He'll start off hot but fade back to old habits and lose minutes by each game.

#8: Anthony Randolph
#6: October 25th
#5: October 26th
#4: October 27th
#3: October 28th
#2: October 29th
#1: October 30th 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Denver Nuggets 10-in-10 Player Profile: Rank #9 (Evan Fournier)

Rank #9: Evan Fournier
'12-'13 Season Summary
It was an odd season for Evan Fournier. Picked out of France as the 20th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Fournier was seemingly unused for about 90% of the season. Most Denver fans were undoubtedly confused whether or not they should be angry or rejoicing over the selection. What is his position? Why do I not know him? What is he good at? How do you even pronounce his name? But the young French sensation put on his working cap and went straight to training camp ready to prove his worth as a solid NBA-talent deserving of his 1st Round selection. 

Unfortunately, one man stood in the way of his playtime: George Karl. It's not like Fournier did anything particularly horrible in the beginning stages of his NBA career, but something about rookies and George Karl have never mixed. This landed the French rook' on the bench for the large majority of his first season.

Fournier lit it up to end the '12-'13 season.
The statistics for his first-year campaign are nothing to look at (5.3 points per game, 1.3 assists per game, 0.49 FG%) but the numbers are skewed. Evan only made appearances in 29 of the first 73 games of the year while tied to the chains of Coach Karl. In those games he averaged a measly 7.7 minutes per game, 3.1 points per game and 0.7 assists per game. But after a few late season injuries to key starters Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson, Fournier was given his chance to shine. And that he did. 

In the final nine games of the season, all of which Fournier saw action, he averaged 12.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 0.52 FG% in 22.8 mpg. While the Nuggets were in a dead tie with the LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies for the 3rd, 4th and 5th seeds for the Playoffs, Fournier was playing his best basketball. He not only produced, but he produced on a big stage. 

'13-'14 Season Outlook
So what happened after Fournier's rise to the top? He slightly struggled at the start of the Playoffs, and the short leash that George Karl had the rookie on was pulled. He found himself at the end of the bench before the series against the Golden State Warriors was even over.  

Fournier has offensive potential.
But the acquisition of new coach Brian Shaw is essentially a Godsend for Evan Fournier. A coach that preaches development and competition regardless of pay, Shaw will definitely give Fournier more opportunities than George Karl ever gave him. This year will give a much better indication of what type of player he is set to be.

It's been an awkward transition to the NBA for Fournier. He is a tall guard (6'6) with decent handles, he can shoot, can aggressively drive to the basket and is solid from the free throw line. But it's still unclear if he can create his own shot, protect the ball against faster and more athletic NBA defenses or defend his position well enough to earn valuable minutes. Even his role on the team has been awkward to determine. This Denver Nuggets roster has no shortage of depth so finding out whether or not Fournier should start or come off the bench has been difficult. 

In all honesty, he's Rank #9 because of his questionable role. The talent is there. But will Coach Shaw give Evan Fournier the opportunities to maximize his potential? And the bigger question that remains is whether or not he will take those opportunities to prove he is capable of being a player that deserves considerable minutes. 

Evan Fournier will be given multiple early-season opportunities to show his worth as an NBA player. His ability to shoot the 3 and drive the ball will allow him to average double digit points through the first month of the season. But his inability to do much of anything else other than score the basketball will force him to come off the bench. Fournier will be a very effective bench player, occasionally scoring 18+ points here and there. By the end of the season he will have proved that he has an offensive game worthy of starting in the pros. Also, he will immediately change his #94 jersey to a much more appealing number (I hope). 

#9: Evan Fournier
#6: October 25th
#5: October 26th
#4: October 27th
#3: October 28th
#2: October 29th
#1: October 30th 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Denver Nuggets 10-in-10 Player Profile: Rank #10 (Andre Miller)

Welcome! This is my newest and most ambitious project for the J.Nam Sports Blog, the 10-in-10 Player Profile. I plan to write about (who I think) the 10 most important active players are for the Denver Nuggets this season in the next 10 days. This will lead up to my season preview and the first game of the year for Denver.

NOTE: This list is for the most IMPORTANT players, not BEST. This isn't a ranking system for who is better or has the most potential, although rankings will be pretty indicative of that. Also, I will leave Danilo Gallinari out of this list because he is currently injured and won't be able to play at the start of the season. I'll probably do a separate profile on Gallo when he is set to return.

Let's get started!

Rank #10: Andre Miller

'12-'13 Season Summary
Last year was a long season for the 37-year-old Andre Miller. After signing a fresh contract worth $12 million guaranteed over 3 years, Miller had the worst season of his career averaging career-lows in points (9.6 ppg), rebounds (2.9 rpg) and averaged the lowest assists per game since his rookie season (5.9 apg). I know statistics don't always tell the whole story, but Miller might have also had his worst decision-making season as well. Too often did he convince himself he was the best offensive option on the court and take a questionable shot or drive to the rim against three defenders. The heartbreaking 3OT game against the Boston Celtics does a good job displaying his offensive deficiencies last season.

Just one season removed from his resurgence as a Denver Nugget, where a back court involving him and starting point guard Ty Lawson was heralded as one of the best change-of-pace guard tandems in the country, Miller experienced a considerable regression. But why?

It's pretty simple: Andre Miller plays like an old man. Unfortunately, now he is becoming old. His tricks in the low-post that once elevated his game are now getting slower, more predictable and easier to dismiss. This has forced him to compensate by taking more jumpers (have you seen his shooting stroke?) and by making poor decisions via driving against several defenders and trying too many spin moves when he convinces himself he is still 25.

'13-'14 Season Outlook
Miller is still an intriguing piece to the weird hodgepodge of players Nuggets President Josh Kroenke has formed. He really is the only player on the roster who is comfortable playing slow. But he may be getting too slow.

But one thing is certain. With high flyers like JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Anthony Randolph and even Nate Robinson, there will lobs for days. Miller is without a doubt the best lob-thrower in the entire NBA and even though he lacks the same offensive punch he used to provide, he can still get a crowd on its feet with his dazzling half court alley oops placed to perfection.

Perfect lob

His veteran leadership is also going to be important on such a young team. And even though he is showing his age as of late, Miller is still the best post player the Nuggets have. Which is understandable, sad, and hilarious all at the same time. But with the addition of streaky point guard Nate Robinson late in off-season, it is a little confusing what will happen to the slow-pace veteran.

Also, Miller's slow moving feet often make him a huge liability on defense. This does not help his stock being on a team where defense is a huge question mark. Regardless of if he plays well or not, Denver's defense will still be full of holes and their offense will still be fast. It's more a question of whether or not Andre Miller will be able to add anything with his seemingly contradictory playing style to the rest of the roster. 

Andre Miller will have an awkward start to the season where his abilities will be smushed in with the other Denver players. He'll have a few flashes of greatness but the coaching staff will soon realize he just won't fit in the current roster. He will either be traded for absolutely nothing or will find himself disgruntled and at the end of the bench by the halfway point of the season. 

#10: Andre Miller
#9: Evan Fournier
#8: Anthony Randolph
#7: JJ Hickson
#6: October 25th
#5: October 26th
#4: October 27th
#3: October 28th
#2: October 29th
#1: October 30th

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Denver Broncos Week 1 Preview (2013-2014 Season)

Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens

It has been an... interesting(?) offseason for the Denver Broncos to say the least. After winning the AFC West in back-to-back seasons (a moment of silence for Tim Tebow's NFL career), Denver's ambitions of winning the Super Bowl were quickly dismantled by the pesky Ravens and that dastardly Joe Flacco. 

It was a play seen over and over again for Denver fans: Safety Rahim Moore overplaying a Flacco hail mary pass that inevitably landed into wide receiver Jacoby Jones' hands as time expired.
Look away Denver fans. 
But the NFL is a relentless league that continuously cycles through season after season, and so the Broncos had to move on and hope for a better 2013/2014 campaign. The offseason/preseason was filled with unnecessary team drama, arrests, drug test failings and even suspensions... wait, what do you mean that was only Von Miller?
*sigh*...just... *sigh*

The Denver Broncos go into Thursday night's affair against the reigning NFL Champions without their two best pass rushers from last season in Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. The former is serving a six-game suspension after failing a drug test and the latter is playing on the opposing team after an odd fax machine issue. Denver also has to endure a preseason injury to HOF cornerback Champ Bailey who will also not be suiting up Week 1. To say the least, the defensive side of the ball for Denver seems a little shaky. 

But there is still room for optimism in Denver. By all accounts, star quarterback Peyton Manning has looked sharper, stronger and more poised for success in his second season as a Bronco. It'll be interesting to see how PFM  (Peyton F'ing Manning) will improve on his 4,659 yard 37 touchdown season. Being arguably the greatest regular season quarterback of all time, hope seams to be mounting. 

No Ray or Ed for Baltimore this season.
The Baltimore Ravens have also seen plenty of change on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Paul Kruger, outside linebacker Dennell Ellerbe, and two leaders for many years in safety Ed Reed and middle linebacker Ray Lewis have all moved on from the Championship defense. Many fans and analysts have speculated that this once stout "D" will never be the same, but that is foolish. The Ravens filled those spots with players like Chris Canty, Elvis Dumervil and the very underrated safety from Oakland, Michael Huff. Although none of those players bring the same leadership as Reed or Lewis, they are extremely capable and strong enough to hold down the fort. 

The position that Baltimore fans should be worried about is the quarterback aka Joe Flacco. The voodoo magic of Ray Lewis is now gone. His "NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST ME" post game speeches are nonexistent. And familiarity is lacking. Will Flacco prove his worth as an "elite" quarterback. Can he show the world that the playoffs were not a fluke, that he is a top 5 QB and that he is now the leader in Baltimore? Will Flacco not only be able to shoulder the on-field pressure of statistics and touchdowns while also shouldering the void in the locker room left by Ed Reed and Ray Lewis? Only time will tell, but this first game will be a big indicator of things to come for the Ravens.

Three Keys to the Game:

#1: The Denver Defense's response without its stars. Raven's wide receiver Torrey Smith absolutely torched Champ Bailey last season in the Divisional Playoff Round. So it might not be the worst thing in the world that the future HOF corner will have to sit this game. The loss of pass rush may hurt more. The Broncos are losing 29.5 sacks and 12 forced fumbles between Dumervil and Miller, those are some serious numbers. Can Derek Wolfe, Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips put enough pressure on Flacco throughout the duration of the game? And will the defensive backs contain the Baltimore wide receivers? (queue Rahim Moore)
Will Montee Ball emerge as a RB1?

#2: The Denver running game. There is no clear RB1 for the Broncos. Although the fumble-happy Ronnie Hillman will take the official start, backups Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno expect to receive plenty of touches. Regardless of who is getting the handoffs, the running game will have to be strong in order to open up play action passing and pass protection.

With that said... #3: Pass Protection. Every player loves versing a former team. But how about versing a former team, after a weird contract snafu in which you were taking a decent pay-cut, in the VERY FIRST GAME of the season? In short, there is no doubt that Elvis Dumervil will arrive in Denver with his engines revving to go. Protecting Manning is of the utmost importance in all games. Will the injury/experience-battled Denver O-Line provide enough protection? Terrell Suggs, Chris Canty and Dumervil sure hope not. 


Like mentioned earlier, it has been a weird offseason for Denver fans. But more importantly, it has been a long offseason. Fans should be rejoicing at the sign of real regular season football. In the end, this game will be much closer than most people think. Joe Flacco is the real deal, and the absence of Von Miller and Champ Bailey will be apparent from the first snap of the game. But the no-huddle offense led by Peyton Manning will also be very difficult for the Raven's defense to handle. Points will be put up on the board like a basketball game; especially early.
A fresh start for Peyton Manning.

Final Score: Broncos 35 - Ravens 31

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Denver Nuggets Off-Season Plans (Part 2)

As the 2013 NBA Off-Season is slowly coming to an end, it is now time to recap what the Denver Nuggets were able (not) to do. First I want to recap how the Nuggets did on the suggestions I gave in my "Denver Nuggets Off-Season Plans (Part 1)".

1.  Offer Andre Iguodala the exact same contract that Ty Lawson received last offseason.
Result: Let's call it a wash. The Nuggets didn't offer Iggy an absurd amount of money, but he left anyways. Can I mention that I feel completely betrayed he left for the Warriors? What a joke...

2a. Trade for a "star player".
Result: Mmm. Nope. Didn't listen.

2b. Trade Kenneth Faried for that star.
Result: Seems like the Nuggets are surrounding the team around Faried now. 

3. Pursue Kyle Korver like he is LeBron James.
Result: Hahahahahahahahaha... Nope.

4. Look for a new back-up point guard.
Result: Nate freaking Robinson. I don't even know what to say.

5. Demote Kosta Koufos.
Result: Kinda? Koufos was traded on draft night for Darrell Arthur. Another 6'9 power forward. *sigh*

So taking into account that new Denver GM Tim Connolly could not have gone more opposite of what I had suggested for the Nuggets, it's now time to assess what has happened. But before I begin I'm just going to be honest. I believe that with the roster currently assembled, the Nuggets will ALWAYS be a 6-8 seed team in the playoffs never amounting to anything great for at least the next five years. 

Coaching Change

Brian Shaw: It was only a matter of time before one team gave Phil Jackson's apprentice, Brian Shaw, a chance at a head coaching job. Now the Nuggets new coach has to back up all the talk with performance. Coach Shaw is someone who is interested in player development which should excite Denver fans. George Karl NEVER gave rookies or young players a chance to make a name for themselves, except Kenneth Faried. Here's to hoping that either Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier or Quincy Miller have a breakout year under the tutelage of Brian Shaw. 
Some happy individuals. I'm not. Not at all.

He also seems to be focused on creating a more half-court offensive mindset in Denver which is something that has been lacking for... well, ever. Although I think it is important to change the offensive culture in Denver I don't believe that the Nuggets currently have the personnel to do so. I mean, can anyone see JaVale McGee posting up at all?

Also, I fear that Denver is just a stepping stone for Shaw who has had a longtime home in Los Angeles. Call me crazy but I think most coaches would prefer LA over Denver. And I think Los Angeles just wasn't ready to give a rookie coach the reigns in the mess that is the Lakers at this moment. I can't see Shaw being in Denver for over his current 3-year contract. 
Grade: B+

Draft/Draft Night Trade Acquisitions

Erick Green: The Nuggets traded the Draft's tallest player in Rudy Gobert (7'2) for Erick Green, the NCAA's leading scorer last season (25.0 ppg). Green is an intriguing player but his limited size (6'3) and lack of a passing game will make him a role player at best. But his scoring ability is something to be excited about. Still, giving up all that size in Gobert really is a head-scratcher.
Grade: C+

Darrell Arthur: Denver also traded beloved big man Kosta Koufos on Draft Night. Although it stung to see Koufos go, it seems that it is finally time to see what JaVale McGee is capable to do as a starter. But what Denver got in return for the former starting center isn't something to be overly joyful about. Darrell Arthur is a 6'9 power forward who is not overly proficient at anything. He is an above average defender, average offensive player and a below average rebounder. His stats last season looked like this: 6.1 ppg/2.9 rpg/0.451FG% in 16.4 minutes per game.  It seems that size is not important to Denver.
Grade: C-

Joffrey Lauvergne: Who? All I thought of when I heard his name was:
All I do is rage when I see this face...

And this did not make me happy.
Grade: I have no idea.

Free Agency

JJ Hickson: It has become completely obvious that Denver thinks small-ball is the way to go after signing Kenneth Faried 2.0 as their first big Off-Season acquisition. JJ Hickson was nothing short of solid last season for the Portland Trailblazers averaging a double-double per game (12.7 ppg and 10.4 rpg). But he is still a 6'9 center. There is no getting around that fact. He is an absolute source of energy, the ball seems to always bounce his way and he is good for three to five highlight dunks per year. Sound familiar?

Denver officially has two Kenneth Farieds and this is not necessarily a good thing. An undersized athlete can only get an NBA team so far. But constantly going to battle with shorter less physical players is an equation for failure. Part of me feels that Hickson will surprise me and show me that energy and hustle is greater than height. For now, I can only wish for that. But taking into account that his contract is only for around $5 million per year, he's not an expensive risk.
Denver's top acquisitions. Hickson (left) and Foye (right)
Grade: B-

Randy Foye: I actually am excited for the acquisition of sharp-shooter Randy Foye. He can handle the ball on occasion and knows his role on the floor: shoot 3's. This is something that Denver sorely missed last season, so adding Foye doesn't hurt. The former Utah guard averaged 10.8 ppg while shooting .410 beyond the 3-point arch for the 2012/2013 season. Those are solid numbers. This may be the move that proves to be most worthwhile for Denver. But Foye is by no means a shutdown defender and doesn't seem to have a huge passing prowess.
Grade: B

Nate Robinson: The newest addition to the Denver Nuggets comes in the shape of a 5'9 lighting rod known as Nate. After a one-year stint with the Chicago Bulls where Robinson thrived under the coaching of Tom Thibodeau, Nate is now taking his talents to the Rocky Mountains. This move means a couple things for Denver fans.

Can Nate thrive in Denver?
1. Andre Miller is now officially done with the Nuggets.

Nate Robinson is short. Wow, I know. News Flash. But he also has no sense of a good shot. Every
shot is a good shot for Nate "The Great". I know how dynamic he was at times for the Bulls. I lived in Chicago for the past year. I witnessed the amazing playoff stretch he had which included the 23-point 4th quarter performance against the Brooklyn Nets. I also believe Robinson had a very under-the-radar regular season averaging 13.1 ppg and 4.4 apg. But he is the definition of streaky and has a highly flammable attitude. Part of me worries how a rookie coach will be able to handle that. Let's fill in the blank people: Nate Robinson + JaVale McGee = _____________.
Grade: D+

Denver has compiled a roster of small high energy players. After new coach Brian Shaw mentioned that his offense will be centered around the half-court, the front office then went to acquire a team made for the fast break.

Height is also a huge concern for Denver. Here are some alarming numbers:

Average PG height: 5'10 (at best)
Average PF height: 6'8.5
Not to mention a 6'9 center (JJ Hickson)

It'll be interesting to see how this weird misfit group will work together next year under a first-year coach. But part of me worries this off-season has set Denver back several years.

Overall Grade: C- (Just below average... aka Not... Good... Enough...)