The Nuggets – despite losing the Executive of the Year (Masai Ujiri), Coach of the Year (George Karl) and one of their top players (Andre Iguodala) – entered the 2013-14 season with high hopes. To Denver, an 11th straight playoff trip seemed attainable.
But amidst injuries and growing pains under first-time coach Brian Shaw, the Nuggets stumbled to a 36-46 record. It was truly a dissapointing season, even if expectations were probably too high in the first place.
On the other hand, 36-46 must seem amazing at this point to Arron Afflalo, whose Magic went 20-62 and 23-59 his two seasons in Orlando.
Certainly, Afflalo is thrilled to be back in Denver, where the playoffs – even in a stacked Western Conference – are more of an immediate goal than they were with the Magic.
He’s just going a bit overboard in his optimism.
Afflalo, via Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders:
“Being traded for me is a positive experience,” Afflalo told Basketball Insiders. “I really enjoyed my time in Orlando. Rob [Hennigan], Scott [Perry], Coach [Jacque Vaughn], the assistants and all of my teammates really helped me develop as a player and as a person over the past two seasons so I’m very thankful for my opportunity there. I’m happy to be back in Denver, I got some very familiar teammates. I believe this is a championship team under the right mindset and coaching.”
I don’t care whether Shaw does everything possible to model himself after Phil Jackson and every Denver player takes the most-extreme steps possible to duplicate Michael Jordan’s attitude.The Nuggets aren’t winning a championship next season.
For one, players’ mindsets are not as easy to change as many believe. Jordan’s killer instinct was deeply conditioned. Danilo Gallinari can’t just turn that on at Afflalo’s urging.
And Shaw is still learning the ropes as a head coach, and it’s extremely unlikely he makes a huge leap – let alone the jump to championship-caliber – in a single year. That’s OK. When he was hired, it was reasonable to expect he’d need time to develop.
I get why Afflalo, after getting stuck in Orlando, is excited. There’s nothing wrong with innate confidence, either. But he should temper that enthusiasm.
As it stands, he’s just setting up Shaw and his teammates to get blamed when they fall short of unreachable goals.