The passionate Ujiri will be rewarded for his work Thursday, when he is named the NBA executive of the year, a source told The Denver Post on Wednesday night. Ujiri, the first African-born general manager in major American sports, put together the Nuggets’ roster, a squad that won 57 games — the most in Denver’s NBA history.
As always, it’s important to remember that this is a single season award that is given to a person who has been making personnel moves for several years and hoping they all pan out eventually. Which is to say, always take Executive of the Year with a grain of seasoned salt. I mean, if the Lakers miraculously win the next three NBA titles with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash around, are we going to retroactively give this trophy to Mitch Kupchak because he pulled off some huge trades in the summer of 2012? It’s weird.
But it’s still a nice award to receive and it’s hard to argue that Ujiri isn’t deserving. Sure, the main trade he pulled off that left the Nuggets with an incredibly deep team — Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks for several of their rotation players — took place two seasons ago, but he also ended up snagging Andre Iguodala for a couple of guys who were expendable (Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington), stuck with reigning Coach of the Year George Karl, and continuously added players who Karl could use in his frenetic system. He built this team in a very smart way, and save for a few injuries, they could have made some noise in the postseason.
This is the Nuggets’ second award of the season, after getting nothing since 2006-07. That’s probably small consolation after a first round update, but it’s better than not getting trophies, I guess. At the very least, with the NBA’s best coach and best executive, according to some voters at least, they’re sitting pretty for the future. Let’s hear what you think in the comments.