Five teams have played at least seven games decided by 20 or more points this season – the Mavericks (7-1 in such games), Clippers (7-0) and Cavaliers (5-2) because they’re good and the Hornets (1-6) because they’re bad.
And the Nuggets (4-3) because… I don’t know what they are.
Denver, 13-20, might be the NBA’s most bipolar team. The Nuggets beat the Suns by 25, Pacers by 21, Pelicans by 20 and Heat by 20 and lost to the Wizards by 30, Hornets by 28 and Kings by 22. The roster is full of talented players, but probably not talented enough to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.
It’s the type of team where coaching comes into question, and Brian Shaw has drawn his share of scrutiny. Of course, it matters only what management thinks, but a payroll that ranks 11th in the league suggests the higher ups had higher expectations.
Shaw is a second-year head coach, and he could just need a little more time to figure out how to optimize this team’s talent. This is also the same franchise that fired George Karl after he won Coach of the Year.
This is a long way of saying I don’t know Shaw’s job security, but if the Nuggets make a change…
according to two NBA sources, the name to keep an eye on in the unlikely event the Nuggets move away from Shaw would be Mike D’Antoni.
D’Antoni could be a really good fit in Denver, where his up-tempo system would combine with the thin mountain air to give opponents fits. He actually coached the Nuggets once before, the 1999 lockout-shortened season. Denver went 14-36 and fired him after the season. But that was well before he perfected his offensive scheme with the Suns.
A few Nuggets – Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov – were playing well for Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks before being traded to Denver for Carmelo Anthony. Kenneth Faried would also fare well in a high-octane attack (not that the Nuggets play slowly now), and it would be a tremendous opportunity for Ty Lawson to run D’Antoni’s offense.
Denver rode out a slow start with Shaw, and after a hot streak, the Nuggets are seemingly finding equilibrium. It’s telling that they stuck with Shaw during the low points, but it’s also telling that someone is circulating the name of a potential replacement.