Denver Nuggets – 33-49
Key Additions: Jamal Murray – G (Draft – 1st Round, #7 Overall), Juan Hernangomez – F (Draft – 1st Round, #15 Overall), Malik Beasley – G/F (Draft – 1st Round, #19 Overall)
Departures: D.J. Augustin, Joffrey Lauvergne
The Denver Nuggets have been an afterthought in the NBA since they dealt Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in 2011. With the spotlight off them, they have quietly acquired a nice collection of youthful talent.
Last year, rookies Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic were able to showcase the potential to be very good, if not elite, players in the NBA. Jokic was an analytical phenomenon as a rookie, with outstanding True Shooting Percentage (58.2%), Assist Percentage (18.1%), and Real Plus-Minus Wins (9.88). In terms of box score numbers, he finished top 1o in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks, and double-doubles amongst all rookies last year.
This team is prime for a trade this year. Just their forward/center position alone is packed to the limit with prospects: Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chandler, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Juancho Hernangomez, Jusuf Nurkic, Jarnell Stokes and Jokic. Denver is definitely not letting Jokic go anywhere, they just selected Heranagomez 15th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, and Galinari has been the face of the franchise since coming over as part of the Melo trade. How they work out their glutton of forwards and centers is going to have a big impact on what this team will be able to accomplish this year.
Along with Hernangomez, they brought in Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley in the draft as well so this team is stacked with young players. Figuring out which ones have the potential to team with Mudiay and Jokic to bring this franchise back to relevance will not be decided in a day.
However, even without a trade, the Nuggets just have too many good players to be ignored. This upcoming season is the year that Denver reasserts themselves as a team on the rise. The altitude advantage always make this team a hard out at home, but now they have the actual talent to be a pest to some of the higher-ups in the NBA.
The Nuggets will break even this season, unless they are able to rope in a big name by dangling some of the above mentioned assets as trade bait (Denver is an interesting name to keep in mind in connection with potential DeMarcus Cousins deals). Mike Malone has this team heading in the right direction and it looks like only better things are to come for Denver.
Jokic could truly challenge for All-Star and All-NBA accolades in his second season in the league and if Mudiay gets more comfortable working in the pick-and-roll–as well as knocks down open perimeter shots–there are two high-level talents already residing in the Mile High city.