They're coming up on a real dilemma here as at some point the excuse of being young and needing to develop is going to become outdated. The elephant in the room at Pepsi Center is that the Nuggets lost to a younger team with less playoff experience than they have.
When Masai had to trade Melo, he and Josh made the decision they wanted to remain competitive and try an unconventional method to succeed in a small market. Instead of going the Cleveland route of getting picks in exchange for the player and heading back into the lottery, they dealt for a group of good players. The smart thing Masai did was he locked up all of those assets to very cap-friendly deals so when the new luxury tax kicks in next year and teams will have to start blowing up their rosters, Denver will be in great shape. The bad thing is they're limited in their ability to advance the roster. They can make moves similar to the Iguodala trade but they're obviously too good to be in the lottery. In one sense they appear worlds ahead of Cleveland, but with Kyrie Irving and Tristian Thompson as bases- they could be a title team if LeBron returns in 2015. It's just unlikely Denver will be able to add an A player, in a league where it seems to take 2-3 A players to win a title.
Simply put, the Nuggets are built for the regular season- in every sense. A deep roster of 9-10 guys plays very well over an 82-game grind. They play an up-tempo game and win a lot of home games simply based on scheduling as they catch teams coming into Denver who inevitably don't have the stamina to keep up that type of pace.
Problem is once you get into the playoffs, those strengths are weakened. It turns into a possession-by-possession grind in the half-court where fatigue is irrelevant and execution is key. That's where star players are so key, not only can you run plays for them but they get the benefit of the whistle. Until a player receives the respect of the officials as a star, it's tough to win in the playoffs. Sure Ty Lawson can continue getting better, but will referees give him the same benefit of the doubt they do LeBron or Durant?
That's what puts them in such a tough situation. I could see them winning 60 games next season, but I'm still not sure they can get out of the first round. That's a staggering statement in that I'm simply questioning their ability to win one round, not a championship. With that, they're a business and I respect Kroenke's desire to put out a competitive regular season product to fill seats and get playoff revenue versus taking a step back as a cellar dweller in hopes of landing a new franchise player. But it sucks for those wanting to see Denver win a championship.