As the 2013-2014 NBA season reaches the halfway mark there are more than a couple teams that wish they could hit the restart button on the year. Out in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets are perhaps the team that has fallen the farthest from expectations. After a strong year that saw them finish third in the conference, the team is currently scratching to stay above five hundred. Looking at this team it is not too difficult to see where they have fallen off of the beaten path.
Thirty-seven games into the 2012-2013 season the Nuggets were sitting on a 21-16 record. While this wasn't as fantastic as other teams at the time; Denver would continue to build on the year towards an end that would be one of their best performances in team history. Long time coach George Karl would be awarded “2013 NBA Coach of the Year,” as he would lead this unit to an impressive 38-3 home record. Unfortunately, the Nuggets would not be able to resign Karl and would appoint rookie coach Brian Shaw to lead the ship. Some may point towards this move as the catalyst that has the team in the position they are today, but Shaw shouldn't take all of the blame on his shoulders.
Subtractions to the Nuggets roster have truly hurt a team that was known for their run and gun style of play. At this point in time they are averaging 102.6 points per game which is 11th best among all teams in the league. Last year their 106.1 points per outing were enough to make them the highest scoring team in the league. Three key parts to that group are missing this year. Both Corey Brewer and Andre Iguodala have moved on to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors respectively. Perhaps the biggest loss came when Danilo Gallinari went down to a knee injury in October and the potential of his return is unknown. Those three players alone accounted for a combined 41 points per game last year.
The Nuggets did add Nate Robinson, who had a breakout year with the Chicago Bulls, but even his numbers are down to career lows as a part of this team.
At 19-18 the Nuggets have heard multiple stories of speculation about their struggles. They recently had to ride out an eight-game losing streak. All of last year the team would never lose more than three games in a row before turning things around. Recently, the Nuggets hit a streak of five wins before being stopped by the Utah Jazz.
Denver has a strong chance to turn things around well enough to push their way into the Western Conference playoff picture. They are just three games behind the seventh place Dallas Mavericks and seem to be playing inspired basketball. It will be interesting to see if team executives will make a move to bring in a scorer to shore up their offensive efforts. The Denver Nuggets have long played without a big name superstar on their roster and it seems that tactic has finally caught up with the organization.