No excuses for Nuggets under coach Brian Shaw

First-year coach wants Denver to tackle all challenges ahead
by Aaron Lopez

With a new coach implementing a new system and preseason injuries to key players, it would seem natural to give a young team some latitude when it comes to expectations.

Brian Shaw will have none of it.

While he understands there will be some growing pains in his first season as Nuggets coach, Shaw is determined to hold his players to a high standard regardless of any adversity they might face.

“I would want the fans to want immediate results, and I’m pushing for us to have immediate results,” he said after practice Tuesday. “I know they won’t be immediate, but that’s still our goal.

Regardless of injuries, new system, young players, I want to try to eliminate any of those reasons as excuses as to why we’re not getting it done. I don’t want that to even enter into the thought process.”

As he did during his introductory press conference in June, Shaw pointed out that he grew accustomed to having championship aspirations every year while playing for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.

“I don’t expect it to be any different (in Denver),” he said. “It’s a different team than the previous year, but I fully expect for everybody to take steps – take major steps – towards getting further than we did before.”

The Nuggets, who have reached the playoffs in 10 consecutive years, have two more preseason games before the regular season opens Oct. 30 in Sacramento. They are expected to be without at least three rotation players Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns.

Forward Wilson Chandler (hamstring) has yet to play in the preseason and did not practice Tuesday. Forward Kenneth Faried (hamstring) won’t play against the Suns, and forward Danilo Gallinari is out indefinitely while recovering from a knee injury.

In addition, guard Nate Robinson (hamstring), forward Darrell Arthur (bruised quad) and center Timofey Mozgov (knee/quad tendon inflammation) are game-time decisions.

“It’s not really a setback,” Robinson said. “It’s slowing us down, but at the same time guys are learning. Guys are paying attention on the sideline. When you’re a fierce competitor you want to be out there and playing, but first and foremost, we want to come into the season healthy.”

Shaw said the preseason injuries are cause for concern as he tries to set a playing rotation and evaluate what lineup combinations will be most effective. At the same time, he won’t use the injuries as a crutch.

“It’s giving other guy more reps out there and a little more experience,” he said. “It’s part of the game. Better to get them out of the way now than have it happen during the season.”

Robinson, one of five new faces on Denver’s training camp roster, can’t wait to see the results once he and his teammates get healthy.

“It’s going to be crazy, it really is,” he said. “We’re a long ways away, but that’s the beauty of learning different things in basketball. The more we learn, the smarter we get and the easier things become. That’s something we’re trying to get to.”