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Brian Shaw’s Nuggets vs. George Karl’s first Denver roster


Denver Nuggets primary logo and the Nuggets be...
ESPN anylist, and former Denver Nuggets head coach, George Karl. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dillon Thomas is your inside source to the Denver Nuggets. Follow him on Twitter for pre/post game locker-room coverage. @DillonMThomas


DENVER-Amidst one of the most inconsistent starts to a season in franchise history, the Denver Nuggets are still searching for the explosive momentum that the team has become accustom to since 2003.

After a lousy 17-65 season in 2002-2003, the Nuggets received the CPR they were in desperate need of by obtaining Carmelo Anthony with the 3rd overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

For nearly the next decade, between Jeff Bzdelik and George Karl, the Nuggets regular season record accumulated  483 wins and only 321 losses (note: the 2011-2012 season only consisted of 66 games due to lock out, as opposed to the typical 82 game season.)

I’ll do the quick math for you. Under Bzdelik and Karl (mostly Karl) the Denver Nuggets averaged only 32.1 losses per year, the lowest coming last season with 25 losses under Karl, and the highest coming under Bzdelik in 2003-2004 with 39.

First year Nuggets Head Coach Brian Shaw isn’t having as easy of a time as, perhaps, Karl had while running the high-altitude squad. Vastly approaching the NBA All Star break, Shaw’s Nuggets are testing their playoffs-buoyancy early, with a mediocre-at-best record of 20-20.

Although one may successfully argue that obtaining a roster with superstar names like Carmelo Anthony is not worthy of comparison to a team whose superstar is the emerging Ty Lawson, I personally would argue that the roster of today’s Nuggets is much deeper than that of Karl’s first season in 2004-2005.

George Karl’s 2004-2005 Denver Nuggets Roster

15-Carmelo Anthony

11-Earl Boykins


7-Greg Buckner

23-Marcus Camby

56-Francisco Elson

12-Luis Flores

31-Nene Hilario

3-DerMarr Johnson

1-Voshon Leonard

6-Kenyon Martin

24-Andre Miller

21-Eduardo Najera

10-Wesley Person

41-Mark Pope

9-Bryon Russell

22-Nikoloz Tskitishvili

5-Rodney White

For those who remember the talent of Karl’s first Nuggets roster, I would appropriately assume they would agree that Shaw’s roster today is a more solidified team.

Credit to Shaw- one of his vital organs to the roster, Danilo Gallanari, will miss the entire season. However, the Nuggets have the ability to be a playoff-contending team this year. Yet, if the season were to end today, the Nuggets would see their first DNQ for the playoffs in 11 seasons.

The Western Conference in incredibly difficult for a team to thrive in. As the Utah Jazz learned last season, sometimes your above-average winning record (which would get you a 6 seed in the Eastern Conference) is only good enough to get you the non-playoff worthy 9 seed in the West.

We all have heard about the disruptions in the locker-room in Denver. One, being that of Andre Miller, has even resulted in a vacant locker.

Every time I’ve set foot in the locker-room, both before and after games, mediocre-moral tends to be one of the ever-present vibes I sense.

It is Brian Shaw’s first season as a head coach. We all know that the job of an NBA coach can be incredibly stressful. However, the blame game this season is hard to dump completely on single factors.

The Nuggets’ roster this season is capable of winning in the first round. Even without Gallanari, the Nuggets have shown that they have what it takes to knock off some of the top teams in the NBA. But, at the same time, the team continues to lose to sub-par teams across the NBA.

As of right now, and from words heard from players like Kenneth Faried, the team is still in the process of discovering what works for them. Some teams move slower than others, and Denver may just be the caboose of that train.

The Nuggets have two games to wrap up this week that could swing the pendulum in favor of the Nuggets.

The Western Conference’s 3 seed Portland Trailblazers (31-11) host the Nuggets tonight. Saturday, Denver hosts the best team in basketball, the Indiana Pacers (33-8).

 Winning both of these games could provide the Nuggets the boost they’ve been searching for. Keep an eye out for both. I’m sure Brian Shaw is.


Dillon Thomas is your inside source to the Denver Nuggets. Follow him on Twitter for pre/post game locker-room coverage. @DillonMThomas

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