April 16, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl talks to small forward Danilo Gallinari (8) and forward Kenneth Faried (35) against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Offseason Preview: Denver Nuggets

2012 Free Agents: Rudy Fernandez (R), JaVale McGee (R), Andre Miller

2013 Free Agents: Ty Lawson (R), Timofey Mozgov (R), Julyan Stone (R), Corey Brewer

2011-12 record: 38-28 (6th in Western Conference)

Positional Needs: backup point guard (If Andre Miller leaves), backup shooting guard, backup small forward

Potential Draft Picks: Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure), John Jenkins (Vanderbilt), best available player

BIG QUESTIONS

1) Has JaVale McGee done enough with his limited time as a Nugget to warrant an extension with the team?

Say what you will about JaVale McGee and his idiotic tendencies on the court, but 7 foot big men with his length and athleticism are hard to come by in the NBA.

In 20 regular season appearances with Denver after coming over in the Nene Hilario trade, McGee averaged 10.3 points, 5.8 rebounds  and 1.6 blocks in 20.3 minutes of action a game. In the Nuggets opening round 7-game series with the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 8.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks.

GM Masai Ujiri has reiterated on many occasions that he plans to match any offers that are thrown McGee’s way. Why wouldn’t the team want to keep him? JaVale is only 24 years old. He’s proven to be an effective weapon in the Nuggets fast-paced system in such a short period of time.

The Washington Wizards were never the right fit for McGee. He needs structure and discipline to truly reach his fullest potential. Coach Karl and the Denver Nuggets can offer that to him and help him grow as a player.

I would be truly surprised to see him wearing a jersey that wasn’t that of the Denver Nuggets. It’s the perfect pairing.

2) Do the Nuggets need a superstar-type player/go-to scorer to take their success to the next level?

I don’t necessarily feel that they do.

The Denver Nuggets don’t have any glaring weaknesses. They are stocked with depth at pretty much every position. They have tremendous size, youth and athleticism down low (McGee, Faried, Mozgov, Koufas), solid scoring, shooting and perimeter defense from the wings (Afflalo, Galinari, Brewer, the returning Wilson Chandler) and a up-and-coming star point guard with outstanding leadership quality in Ty Lawson.

The team had 7 players (Lawson, Afflalo, Galinari, Harrington, Hilario, McGee, Faried) average at least 10 points a game during the regular season. They led the NBA in points scored at 104.1 per game.

Do they need a superstar to come in and change the dynamic of this roster? Absolutely not. This model of team basketball and having unselfish players who are willing to look at the greater picture rather than their own individual accolades has worked up to this point.

Why ruin what works so well? The important thing for this franchise is to keep these players together and have them grow as a basketball team. If this nucleus can evolve alongside one another and develop together, then the skies the limit.

They took a Los Angeles Lakers team with 3 all-star players (Kobe, Pau, Bynum) to the limit in the opening round of the playoffs this year. Build off of that, have a solid training camp and come back stronger and more focused than over. The Nuggets are going to be a very scary team in the Western Conference come the 2012-13 season.

Other Previews: Atlanta HawksBoston Celtics, Brooklyn NetsCharlotte BobcatsChicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks

 

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports 

Tags: Aaron Afflalo Danilo Galinari Denver Nuggets Javale McGee NBA Offseason 2012 Ty Lawson

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