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Ty Lawson says not to sleep on Denver Nuggets

Aug 29, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

Denver Nuggets Lawson celebrates a three-point shot against Golden State Warriors in their NBA Western Conference quarter-final basketball playoff in Denver Reuters

Two seasons ago the Denver Nuggets won 57 games with a powerful offense and a good enough defense, and were the team nobody wanted to face in the playoffs… until Danilo Gallinari went down. Then they became vulnerable and were ousted in the first round by the Warriors.

Then they inexplicably changed coaches to Brian Shaw. Next the Nuggets were just ravaged by injuries — Gallinari missed every single game, JaVale McGee only played in five, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler each missed 20 games, J.J. Hickson missed significant time… it was a mess. The Nuggets won only 37 games.

They are ripe to bounce back.

This is a team that adds Gallinari, McGee and Arron Afflalo to the roster and should get an improved (and contract year) Kenneth Faried — if healthy they are legitimately in the crowded and deep playoff mix in the West. After last season people are looking past them, but Lawson told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com’s Hangtime blog they shouldn’t.

“People,” Lawson said, “are probably going to sleep on us this year because of what happened last year….

“This year it’s going to be more of a defensive mindset. I already know we can score, everybody knows we can score with the best of them. But my mindset going into training camp is everybody buying into the defensive end. We’ve got to make stops. I feel like if we can do that, and score in the half court, we’ll be one of the top teams out there.”

Denver is going to play fast — they were the third fastest team in the league last season, averaging more than 100 possessions a game, according to NBA.com — and they have the athletes to do that and space the floor with shooting. Lawson is right that defense (21st in NBA) will be the real key. They need to get stops.

They also need to find a way to get out to a decent start. Which is not going to be easy, Lawson admits.

“We’ve got the Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, We got OKC twice,” Lawson said. “Our first month is crazy so I was like, ‘coach, we’ve both got to be ready coming in, we’ve got to all be focused when we get in there [to training camp].” Lawson didn’t mention two games against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first month and the Phoenix Suns in the powerful Western Conference.

The West is going to be that way. Teams like Denver, Phoenix and New Orleans are going to be improved and a real threat to the eight teams that made it last season (Dallas was the No. 8 seed with 49 wins). The West is going to be 11 teams deep with potential playoff teams (or teams that would make it in the East, at least).

As they did in Denver last season, injuries are going to play a key role. We just don’t know how the dice will come up on that game of chance, but the Nuggets feel they are due for a break.

  1. denverhoopdreams - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    If we can avoid injuries, this season will probably be much more enjoyable than last year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not setting my hopes high. Less chance for disappointment.

  2. nicktomfrank - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Good article. I was one of the people completely overlooking Denver before reading this.

  3. nilla619 - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    I was saying this last year once the Nuggets get everyone back from injury they are going to be a top team. The only thing the miss is a true superstar. In my opinion they are like the Pistons from 2004 just not as good on D. If Lawson gets everyone to buy into that then maybe they can make a huge run

  4. bronx77 - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    Faried will have a monster year.

  5. bbk1000 - Aug 30, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    “Ty Lawson says teams should overlook his Denver Nuggets despite coming off a down year.”

    I clicked on the link above and then read something different once there……I’m confused….it’s too early….

    I’m sticking with the title….I’m overlooking Denver this year….

  6. lazegowizfan95 - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    The Coach needs to give Faried 32-37 minutes a game idk why Shaw doesn’t give him more minutes he can easily give you 18 and 10 a game just play that man and I see Nuggets getting back to the playoffs but of course the squad has to be healthy.

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