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Will the Nuggets win 57 games again? Andre Miller: ‘Naw’

Jul 17, 2013, 12:20 AM EDT

Andre Miller, C.J. Watson AP

The Nuggets completed a trifecta this offseason, losing a high-end player (Andre Iguodala, who signed with the Warriors), a high-end coach (George Karl, who was fired) and a high-end executive (Masai Ujiri, who was plucked by the Raptors). It’s a disappointing follow-up to a season in which Denver won a franchise-record 57 NBA games.

Not only will the loss of three talented people likely hurt the Nuggets, the franchise’s willingness to lose three key cogs will also likely take a mental toll on those who’ve stayed.

Take Andre Miller, who was asked at 4:17 of this video whether Denver will win 57 games next season (hat tip: Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie):

“Naw, you know that won’t happen again,” Miller said.

Ouch!

He is right, but that attitude still stings.

The 2013-14 Nuggets will likely be worse than the 2012-13 Nuggets, but that doesn’t capture the whole reason Miller is likely right. The 2012-13 Nuggets got a lot of breaks.

No team won more one-point games last season. Some might chalk that up to clutch play, but I think it’s more a matter of good fortune.

Denver got hot late in the year, closing the season on a 23-3 stretch. That type of self-perpetuating momentum doesn’t come around often, and it’s usually kick-started by some lucky breaks.

The Nuggets’ Pythagorean record was 55-27, a better indicator of their true level than their actual record of 57-25.

And a first-round loss to the sixth-seeded Warriors further indicates Denver overachieved during the regular season.

Repeat the 2012-13 season 100 times, and I bet the Nuggets fall short of 57 wins at least two thirds of the samples. But repeat the 2013-14 season 100 times, and I’m not convinced the Nuggets crack 57 wins even once.

There’s a difference between realizing your team probably can’t maintain a high level without a few lucky bounces and knowing your team can’t reach a high level of play – lucky bounces or not. Just ask Miller.

  1. rushbacker - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    Bah. Pundits can criticise all they want. . . it doesn’t change the fact that the Nugs as constituted lat year were never going to be a legit contender. The roster needs some re-tooling, and I think most Nugs fans get that. 29-year-old Iguodala isn’t a centerpiece that you build around, there’s no point overpaying the guy. He makes more sense for the Warriors, who can put him next to Curry, Thompson and Lee, and have a chance to compete right now. Denver needs to add a legit scorer before they can get in that conversation. If they need to take a step backwards first, that’s usually how it goes in the NBA. By adding moveable contracts like Hickson and Foye (and the trade exception from the Iggy deal), to their current assets, they’re now in good position to make a move before the deadline, or next off-season. It gives the new coaching staff a chance to evaluate some of the younger players. If Denver can shift gears on the fly and get into the playoffs, great– and if not, even a late lottery pick in a deep draft puts them into position to potentially move up a bit for the type of impact player they need to get over the hump.

  2. 00maltliquor - Jul 17, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    LOL! Keepin’ it real ‘Dre! I love it when players don’t give you the PC BS scripted answers! He did try to gloss it over afterward a smidge, but still kept it funky!

  3. terrellowens81 - Jul 17, 2013 at 3:28 AM

    Was asked a question and he answered it honestly. nothing wrong here.

  4. davidly - Jul 17, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    I think Miller is right, but have to disagree with Feldman on a number of levels* here. The most glaring of which is that the Nuggets cannot play last season again. It’s over. They won 57 games.

    Chalk it up to good fortune if you like, but there’s a logic behind “we make our own luck” – especially when you’re talking about some of the best few hundred people on the planet at their given profession. The fact is, the reason why they closed out the stretch in such impressive fashion is primarily because of the rare make-up of the team, which included a unique balance from top to bottom, cohesiveness, and coaching.

    Their loss to Golden State was in no small part due the Warriors being a better team who matched up well against them AT THE TIME (notice the caps, because this is the real world we are talking about here, which, like it or not, involves time).

    This whole idea of over- and underachieving comes from a parallel universe in which it is unnecessary to consider the competition or bother to play the games, because we know ahead of time who the better team is based upon previous results. Did Curry overachieve for a handful of games or did he just get hot the way elite shooters tend to do? Feldman’s Rule would seem to indicate the former and ‘d be based upon “Golden State’s luck having run out”.

    Finally, the “if they play last season over”-bit has absolutely nothing to do with the coming season. Even if the team were exactly the same, which they are not–a point emphasized at the beginning of the author’s piece–they would be playing a different set of games on slightly older bones in a different year against different teams… I mean, this analogy is so flawed it makes me think the author had just finished watching the Michael J. Fox trilogy from the 80s and it finally dawned on him how every team can win it all… eventually. George Karl just needs to get his mom to kiss a different guy at the prom!!!11

    Fair enough, if you think that a lot of games were so close that you consider luck to have been on their side last year. But, heck, a couple of more breaks and they could have run the table. Either way, whether or not they could win 57 games again in some Groundhog Day based fantasy world has nothing to do with whether or not a substantially different squad can repeat an accomplishment from the previous season.

    It’s like comparing GMO apples & orangutans in the eleventh dimension.

    *aside from his usage of the Sport’s Journalist Second Conditional, ie. employing the Simple Present where the Simple Past and “would” should be, respectively–which, I’m sorry, just grates on me

  5. broncobeta - Jul 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    “The 2012-13 Nuggets got a lot of breaks.”

    Yeah, like that Gallinari ACL injury or missing Wilson Chandler for half of the season.

  6. fm31970 - Jul 17, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    Sorry, can’t get past the dude with dreads in a Laker’s jersey over his right shoulder…was LMFAO performing at halftime??

    • jcmeyer10 - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      You’d like to think it’s one of those hats with the fake hair, but I fear it’s not.

  7. cowboysfaninbuffalove - Jul 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Andre is fantastic. Rumor is the Nugs will trade him and that would be a terrible decision, the leadership he brings to the court is more important than his “lack of speed” he’s a perfect compliment to lawson. Lawson is fast paced but when Miller comes in his “old man game” is great. Hes invaluable to the Nugs.

  8. azarkhan - Jul 17, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Aww come on. When you fire the Coach of the Year you MUST know what you’re doing. The Nuggets should win over 60.

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