The 2014-2015 season was very much a forgettable one for the Denver Nuggets. Finishing with a 30-52 record placed them firmly in the 12th position in the Western Conference, ahead of only the Kings, Lakers and Timberwolves. This also led the Nuggets’ front office to scrap nearly the entire roster and coaching staff this past offseason. As a result, the team, now led by the commanding Mike Malone, is in a clear rebuilding phase and will likely rely on internal growth for the next few seasons.
A storyline to watch from the immediate start of the season will be the play of forward Danilo Gallinari. The 27-year old Italian is coming off of a torn ACL and now is the unquestioned leader of this inexperienced squad. He seemed to find his stride after the All-Star break last season as he averaged 18.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals. He also caught fire from behind the arc, nailing over 40% of his attempts from distance during this period. Entering his 8th year now, he will be relied upon heavily for the first time in his career, making this season a defining one for the sharpshooter.
When Ty Lawson and his off-court antics proved to be too much of a distraction for the liking of Denver Nuggets’ management, he was immediately shipped away to the Houston Rockets. His replacement comes in the form of 19 year old Emmanuel Mudiay, who was selected with the No. 7 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The explosive 6-foot-5 guard and his progression through 18 games in October/November is enough reason alone to keep up with the Denver Nuggets. While he will definitely have his ups and downs, as rookies do, Mudiay possesses All-Star potential and will have a shot at Rookie of the Year honors.
The key match-up for Nuggets’ fans falls on October 28th, when Mike Malone and his troops head to Houston to take on Ty Lawson and the Rockets. Lawson left a bad taste in not only the front office’s mouth, but fans’ as well and emotions will be at an all-time high for this season opener. Denver finished 11-30 away from home last season, which is an area in which Mike Malone has recently addressed. However, the most intriguing match-up by far will be the duel between Mudiay and Lawson, old versus new for Nuggets fans. The two guards have eerily similar playing styles as they both prefer slashing to the hoop to score easy buckets or set teammates up. This electrifying match will be played again just two weeks later on November 13th, this time at the Pepsi Center.
Courtesy of Rant Sports