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Brian Shaw wants Nuggets to play ‘smashmouth basketball’

Oct 3, 2013, 4:08 PM EST

Brian Shaw AP

The Nuggets were largely considered to be underachievers during the bulk of George Karl’s nine years as the team’s head coach.

But would you consider those teams to have been “soft?”

It’s a nebulous term at best, but Denver’s new head coach, Brian Shaw, wants to make sure it no longer applies. He’s trying to impress a defensive-minded toughness upon his guys in the early stages of training camp.

From Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post:

The Nuggets have a new way to play.

“Smashmouth basketball,” new Denver coach Brian Shaw said.

I asked Shaw to define his terms. What qualifies as smashmouth basketball?

“Smashmouth means that you are literally going to get your mouth smashed if you’re going against us for a rebound or a loose ball,” Shaw said. “We want to have a nasty disposition, both offensively and defensively.”

“The style of play … is going to be a little different than what it has been around here for the past few years,” Shaw said. “We do still want to take advantage of getting up and down the floor and take advantage of the climate and the altitude. But, with that being said, the teams I’ve been associated both as a player and as a coach have had success establishing a presence inside, executing in half court and having a defensive identity, as well as being a good rebounding team.”

What’s interesting here is that Denver wasn’t bad defensively last season. The team finished 11th in the league in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions), while finishing fifth in the league in offense and playing at the second fastest pace. The Nuggets also finished fourth in the league in rebounding rate, without smashing anyone in the mouth that I can recall.

Most head coaches would love to get their players to buy in to bringing an all-out assault to the defensive end of the floor on a nightly basis. But it takes a certain mindset from the individuals on the team to be able to bring that intensity, and it’s unclear if the personnel is in place on the Nuggets roster to give Shaw exactly what he’s looking for in his first season patrolling the sidelines.

But the good news is, the team’s defending and rebounding is already statistically well above average.

  1. benjamincharlesparho - Oct 3, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    I’m really looking forward to Javale McGee smashing his own mouth as he jumps aimlessly in and around the rim.

  2. antistratfordian - Oct 3, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Well, this will only work if you have the players to make it work. And I don’t think the Nuggets have the necessary players. Trying to force this style on this group would be like D’Antoni trying to run with Gasol and Howard.

  3. lucifershuttlesworth - Oct 3, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Doesn’t he realize the toughest dude on the team is Nate Robinson?

    • adamsjohn714 - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      I think you mean Kenneth Faried. It sounds like Shaw’s priorities are defense and rebounding, which Karl seems to think didn’t matter in the 4th quarter and playoffs.

      • lucifershuttlesworth - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:25 AM

        No i meant Nate. Faried is obviously bigger and he plays with tremendous energy but as far as toughness goes I’d take Nate all day. I like Faried but he gets owned by the bigger PF’s in the league.

      • adamsjohn714 - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:09 AM

        by owned I assume you mean dominates them on the offensive glass.

      • cowboysfaninbuffalove - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

        Don’t compare toughness between the manimal and ball hog nate

  4. cowboysfaninbuffalove - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    Kenneth Faried is smash mouth basketball

  5. lakerade - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    Shaw is thinking how to win the West, and that’s exactly what they need. They’re not bad, but they need to be great. Aiming high, I like it. Will the players though? Javale.

  6. stayhigh_247 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:33 AM

    Pacers West

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