Best Nugget 2015 | Kenneth Faried | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

The Denver Nuggets have been a team in turmoil this season, losing their coach, several big names and plenty of games. But while other players started to phone it in, Kenneth Faried continued to work hard, which is why he remains a fan favorite. Although he's sometimes asked to do too much, he's also a freakish athlete whose energy and enthusiasm should be infectious for teammates. Under the next regime, we hope they will be.

Readers' choice: Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson (tie)

The Avs are loaded with young talents (including Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O'Reilly) who overachieved in 2013-2014 before coming back down to earth this season. But Jarome Iginla, one of the oldsters on the squad, just kept going and going and going. He's had a storied career since the mid-'90s, mostly for the Calgary Flames, and he's not done yet. Throughout the season, he's been among the team leaders in goals, points and plus/minus, all the while offering a steadying influence to a youthful roster in desperate need of one.

Readers' choice: Matt Duchene

Although Deshorn Brown has only been a Rapid for a couple of years, he hasn't been shy about taking charge. In 2014, as in his first season with the club, he absolutely dominated from an offensive standpoint, leading the team in most categories by a lot; for example, he took 121 shots, with the next closest player (Dillon Serna) coming in at 39. It would have been nice if a few more had gone in, especially since the Rapids finished eighth in the nine-team MLS Western Conference. But Brown is definitely doing all he can to make the number of victories rise.

Readers' choice: Dillon Serna

Although he's not the team's number-one star — that's still John Grant Jr. — Adam Jones is giving the spot a run for its money. His point total rivals Grant's, and when he's on, he can provide instant offense, even under difficult conditions. During a game against New England, for example, he scored three goals in under six minutes using a borrowed stick — a necessity, because the team's bags had been waylaid. No, professional lacrosse isn't always glamorous. Still, Jones has what it takes for the long haul.

Readers' choice: John Gallant

Attackman Eric Law is a hometown boy — a native Coloradan and graduate of Arapahoe High School who played his college lacrosse at DU. But he isn't an Outlaw for sentimental reasons. He followed up a scorching rookie season with an equally impressive sophomore stint, during which he earned all-star honors for leading the team in goals, points, shots on goal and shooting percentage, not to mention recording four hat tricks through the first six games of the season. Unlike most other professional franchises in Denver, which experienced down years, the Outlaws finished 2014 as MLL champs, and Law was a big reason why.

Readers' choice: Eric Law

We come not to bury the Denver Broncos, but to praise them. True, the team followed up its humiliating Super Bowl defeat by getting bounced out of the playoffs the next year after one game. But since Peyton Manning came to town, Denver has been among the most exciting franchises in any league, generating terrific story lines week in and week out — and with Manning returning to the fold for what's likely to be his final season and prodigal son Gary Kubiak coming back with a mandate for returning to glory, the drama could ratchet even higher in 2015-2016.

Readers' choice: Denver Broncos

It's been a rough year for pro coaches of the big four teams in Denver: John Fox jumped from the Broncos before he could be pushed, Brian Shaw was unceremoniously dismissed by the Nuggets, and Walt Weiss managed to survive as Rockies skipper only because general manager Dan O'Dowd was the designated (and belated) sacrifice. That leaves Patrick Roy, whose team didn't manage to hit the heights of his first year in charge. Yet he still struck a fine balance between positivity and hard-assed realism, figuratively skating over some often-thin ice with the sort of confidence that makes us believe better things are ahead.

Readers' choice: Patrick Roy

For coaches at colleges outside the power conferences, validation for a job well done comes when bigger universities come calling, and that's what happened for Jim McElwain, who was hired by Florida after the end of the regular season. When he took the CSU gig following several strong years as offensive coordinator at Alabama, observers knew he might be looking at Fort Collins as a way station. But this sort of plan only works if a coach wins, and McElwain did, quickly turning around a moribund program and registering a 10-2 record en route to becoming Mountain West Conference coach of the year. He earned the promotion, and CSU is in a better place moving forward because he did.

Readers' choice: Jim McElwain

KOA longtimer Alan Roach has manned the public-address system at a slew of Super Bowls, but not at the 2014 edition, because of the theory that hearing him would have given the Broncos an unfair advantage over the Seattle Seahawks. In general, this is an absurd notion, and not only because even the voice of God couldn't have helped Denver enough to win. Then again, Roach's bottomless tone is the next best thing to divinity, at least as far as most local fans are concerned. To people in Colorado, Roach simply sounds like sports, and for someone in his line of work, there's no greater compliment.

Readers' choice: Dave Logan

Vic Lombardi continues to stand head and shoulders above his sports-anchor peers, in part because he refuses to be confined to TV. In addition to his work at CBS4, he's become a regular on the 104.3/The Fan morning show alongside Mike Evans and Nate Lundy, giving him even more opportunities to exercise his keen wit and incisive analytical skills, and he's also a near-constant presence on Twitter. All of this activity demonstrates that Lombardi is as passionate about sports as ever. He just can't stop talking about it, and we still love listening.

Readers' choice: Vic Lombardi

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