For whom I’m going to call — one of the most underrated fifteen-man rosters to ever assemble in the NBA, the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets had an identity unlike any other in our history.
The roster was variously combined with ecstatic youth, patient veterans, an “underachieved, yet still highly-achieved” head-coach, along with one simple purpose: Redefining what it means to truly be an underdog.
Denver finished the regular season with a franchise record of 57 wins and 25 losses, the best since the organization inaugurated in 1977. And with no surprise, that ahcievement is still standing-tall, and probably will for an extended time.
Who could’ve forgotten the excitement and balance from the highest-scoring team of the season, which were none other than the Nuggets, themselves. It was a blistering-hot offensive display led by George Karl, who successfully and respectively earned his first Coach of The Year award.
After such a strong and promising regular season, the Nuggets were eventually eliminated in the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs — as the Golden State Warriors defeated them in six games. However, this was still a more-than-impressive season for the Nuggets franchise, who were moving on nicely after the departure of Carmelo Anthony in 2011.
This group was, literally, a superstar away from winning an NBA title.
2012-13 NUGGETS SEASON STATS.
- Led the entire league in Scoring (106.1)
- 24.4 Assists Per Game (3rd)
- 45.0 Total Rebounds Per Game (2nd)
- 9.3 Steals (2nd)
- 6.5 Blocks (3rd)
- 5.09 Margin of Victory (5th)
- 110.4 Offensive Rating (5th)
- 2nd in the league in pace (95.1)
Denver piled up impressive numbers, especially on the offensive end. It was just enough for them to become such a feared team to play.
The lack of postseason-experience and outside-shooting was the team’s overall downfall, but it’s a shame of how quickly one can forget about the excitement this team gave — on a nightly basis.
TY LAWSON – 16.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 2.5 TOPG.
Even at a pygmy 5’11” height, 25 year-old Point Guard Ty Lawson was bound to prove the entire league that he wasn’t afraid of the challenge. He wanted to kick his role into a higher gear, and he didn’t have much of a problem doing so.
Lawson had a somewhat efficient season (46% field-goal, 36% from three, 75% free-throw). He didn’t shoot as well as the three seasons prior to 2012-13, but it was for the easiest reasons; His Usage Rate (22.3) and shot-attempts took a steady increase.
Per 100 possessions, Lawson averaged 24.4 points, 10.1 dimes and 2.1 takeaways. This was when Ty Lawson was actually doing “Ty Lawson” things.
On December 5th, 2012 against Atlanta, Lawson exploded with 32 points (12-16 field-goal, 5-5 three point) to go along with seven assists and five steals. Even with such a strong perfromace, it still wasn’t enough to get over the Hawks — losing 104-106. Lawson held Jeff Teague to 9 points on 4-16 shooting.
Lawson found himself on an impressive eight-game run — where he averaged a NASTY 26.1 PPG and 8.0 APG on about 53% shooting from the floor and 37% from three. The Nuggets went 4-3 in that stretch after facing solid teams such as Boston, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles (Lakers).
DANILO GALLINARI – 71 games (!!!), 16.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 1.6 TOPG.
This was with no doubt one of Danilo Gallinari’s strongest years — health-wise and production-wise. He topped his previous scoring and rebounding averages of the four seasons prior.
Gallinari was one of the biggest returns of the Anthony-deal, but however — in his first full-season run (Post-Melo era) with Denver, Gallo appeared in just 43 of the 66 games in the 2011-12 season.
Injuries were already a concern for the Italian Foward’s career, but that all changed the following year (At least for that season). Gallo then appeared in 71 games in 2012-13 — and if you’re a Denver fan, you’ll take that kind of variety any-day of the week.
He didn’t necessarily “go-off” in many games, but he did have a monster 39 points (14-23 field-goals, 7-11 three-pointers), 8 rebounds, and 3 assists in a 21-point blowout win over Dallas.
Gallo also sustained a 21-game streak of scoring in double-figures — averaged 19.4 points, 45.6% shooting, 41.7% from three, 78.2% from the stripe, along with a plus/minus of 7.5. Denver went 17-4 in that stretch.
And still to this day — that was the most games Danilo has played in a single-season. Not only does he produce greatly when he’s healthy, but the Nuggets win plenty of ballgames to go alongside it. That was certainly the case in 2013.
ANDRE IGUODALA – 13.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 1.4 TOPG.
On August 10th 2012, the Nuggets were involved in what is highly-considered, the largest four-team deal in NBA history. We named it, “The Dwight Howard Trade.”
Notable names such as Dwight — who was headed to Los Angeles after multiple disputes with head-coach Stan Van Gundy, were on the move. Ex-Laker Andrew Bynum went on to Philadelphia, although he never got the chance to play a single game for the organization.
But for the Nuggets, they gave away Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a 2013 second-rounder, and a 2014 first-rounder to Orlando. After the damage was done, Andre Iguodala’s eight-seasons with the 76ers came to a sudden end, just a couple of months before the next season began.
The then 29-year old had no difficulties fitting right in with Denver. He gave everything Denver could ask for, and what he’s been doing his entire career: Unselfish play, aggressive defense, great hustling abilities, and of course, highlightable finishes. Iggy’s all-around presence was much needed.
This wasn’t his strongest season for Andre, and he definitely wasn’t the dependable scorer like he was in his early years in Philly, but he made his strides as Denver’s swiss-army knife.
His biggest performance of that year ironically came against Golden State. With 29 points (11-19 FG, 3-6 3P), 6 rebounds, and 2 assists, the Nuggets delivered an 11-point home victory over the Warriors. Iguodala also obtained a plus/minus of 13 along with zero-turnovers in that game.
WILSON CHANDLER – 13.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 1.4 TOPG.
Chandler appeared in just 43 games (eight starts) with the Nuggets in 2012-13, but was ready to go come post All-Star break, including the playoffs.
Wilson had some huge performances against big teams. On March 1st 2013, against Oklahoma City, he scored 35 points on 13-19 shots and 6-7 three-pointers. He also added 3 rebounds and 3 assists — as Denver held on to a two-point lead, defeating the Thunder 105-103. Chandler obtained a plus/minus of 18 in the win.
But it didn’t stop there for Wilson. On March 18th, he dropped another 35 points (13-21 shooting, 8-9 free-throw) along with nine rebounds, as the Nuggets came away with a one-point win over the Chicago Bulls.
KENNETH FARIED – 11.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 BPG, 2.9 PF.
This is where it got fun. The Nuggets thrived from their youth, led by a 23-year old sophomore Power Forward from Morehead State.
Kenneth Faried was spectacular in the 2013-14 season. Not only was he slowly proving to be a nightly double-double threat, but he was already gaining notice as one of the league’s hardest workers. And man, it really paid off.
Faried was straight-filthy on the glass. Per 100 possessions, he averaged 23.1 points 17.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 2.3 blocks in his rookie season. Those numbers weren’t as high in 2012-13, but Kenneth made it known early that he could have an enlarged role on a winning team.
His best performance of the season came in a 108-105 victory over the Magic. Faried came up with a huge double-double of 19 points and 19 rebounds on 7-10 field-goals, along with two blocks and two steals. Faried had NINE offensive rebounds in the win.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Ty Lawson was traded to Houston in 2015 after multiple DUI’s and setbacks with the Nuggets organization. He ended up struggling with the Rockets following the same disciplinary issues. He’s now a starter for the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings.
Andre Iguodala was traded from Denver to the Golden State, just two months after losing to them in the first-round. Andre ended up becoming a very-important player for the Warriors’ two-way identity, as he was named the Finals MVP in their historic 2015 Finals run.
Danilo Gallinari is still a member of the Nuggets, but has struggled to remain healthy. He missed the entire 2013-14 season after reconstructive ACL surgery, and hasn’t played no more than 59 games in these last three seasons. He’s started the 2016-17 healthy, but is still a long ways to go before proving to any of us that he’s back on track.
Kenneth Faried is the second of three remaining players from the 2012-13 team. Since then, he’s been involved in many trade rumors, but all have fallen out. He is still earning his keeps as one of the league’s best board-cleaners.
Wilson Chandler is the third-and-final remaining player from the 2012-13 roster, and has remained somewhat heathy throughout. He did suffer a hip injury which would keep him out the entire 2015-16 season, but has returned.
Corey Brewer continued to bounce around the NBA. After making his return to Minnesota (where he began the first three-and-a-half seasons of his career), he was eventually traded to Houston, and has had good moments.
Kosta Koufos had a two-year stint with Memphis, and is currently on his second year with Sacramento, as a compliment to Demarcus Cousins.
Javale McGee appeared in just 62 combined games with Philadelphia and Dallas since getting traded from Denver. Is now a reserve for Golden State.
After 21 seasons, Andre Miller announced his retirement from the NBA. He finished with solid career numbers of 12.5 points and 6.5 assists.
Evan Fournier grew into a solid Shooting Guard since the 2012-13 season, which was his rookie year. With the door closing on Victor Oladipo (traded to OKC) Fournier signed a 5-year, $85 million contract extention with Orlando, and has been a solid starter for the team.
Timofey Mozgov steadily grew into a larger role with Denver, but was soon to be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mozgov came out of nowhere in the 2015 NBA Finals. He averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks on 55% shooting in that series. But however, there wasn’t much room for Mozgov afterwards. In the 2015-16 postseason, the Cavaliers were completely healthy — leaving Timofey out of the rotation. Cleveland of course won their first major sports title in over 50 years.
Success continued for Mozzy though, as the Lakers signed the free-agent to a four-year $64 million deal — and hasn’t wasted time running with the young guys in LA.
Jordan Hamilton has still been unable to find his niche in this league. In 11 games with New-Orleans, he did average 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 27.6 minutes. Since then, no roster spot has been available for him.
Anthony Randolph hasn’t played a single NBA game since the 2013-14 season. The Forward vowed to make a return in the future, but suggested that Europe was the better option for him.
Julyan Stone signed with Indiana back in August, but was eventually waived just days before opening night.
Quincy Miller Has had multiple D-League stints with the Iowa Energy and Grand Rapids Drive. He was signed by Detroit in the summer of 2015, and was eventually traded for Steve Blake to Brooklyn. Miller was waived by Brooklyn, and hasn’t been seen in the league since.
FOLLOW: @FifteenHeatMan on Twitter.
LIKE: Isiah Curry Analyst on Facebook.