Despite being knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, the Denver Nuggets swept the non-player NBA awards this season. Just one day after George Karl was named Coach of the Year, his boss, general manager Masai Ujiri, received the Executive of the Year award.
Ujiri’s rise from an unpaid scout with Doc Rivers‘ Orlando Magic to the NBA’s first African-born G.M. is a classic American success story. He has built the starless Nuggets into a playoff contender by seeing the value in swapping individual All-Stars for multiple solid players. Then he trusts Karl to implement those many moving parts into one of the most adaptable systems in the league.
Since Ujiri received the top executive job in Denver in October 2010, the Nuggets have made very few missteps in free agency, trades or the draft. This year’s award was merely a culmination of years of deft handling of a roster, despite complicated and changing collective bargaining rules.