As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day two’s daily release of a season preview ends up being the Denver Nuggets. I provide a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.
Last Year’s Record: 30-52
Playoff Status: Missed playoffs
Last season was a mess for the Denver Nuggets. Many expected the Nuggets to compete for at least the eighth seed in the playoffs, but as we know, things did not go as planned. Ty Lawson got a DUI midway through the season, no chemistry was formed, players did not listen to the former coach, trade rumors swirled among almost every player, and towards the end of the year, the Nuggets, as a team just quit trying. At least we now know not to expect much for the Nuggets this upcoming season, as their young talent needs time to develop, and their veterans are nothing but role players. Heading into the offseason, Denver had a few priorities, the main priority was trading away role players for draft picks to start the rebuilding of their franchise. The other goal was to get a young cornerstone for their franchise to build around in the draft.
The 2015 NBA draft was good to the Denver Nuggets. Although most people expected the Nuggets to use their role players to try and trade up for a franchise cornerstone, the man they wanted all along fell into their laps. Emmanuel Mudiay, who before the beginning of the college basketball season was a projected top two pick, but with questions surrounding his shooting ability and an injury during his season in China, Mudiay slowly slipped down draft boards. Denver was ecstatic to stop his free fall, and selected him at pick seven. Mudiay is the only prospect, Denver drafted this year, who will be able to make an immediate impact. Mudiay will be an early favorite for Rookie of the Year, as his main opponent, Jahlil Okafor and him play for two rebuilding teams, who are just looking to build through the draft. With a good showing in summer league, Nuggets fans should be excited for what the future holds at their point guard position, as Mudiay will likely have complete control of the offense showcasing his talents.
Denver could not even handle this responsibility of trading away their role players this offseason, which is just going to hurt them long-term. Ty Lawson was the only player traded from this team, and this was forced, as his second DUI of the year, coupled with his lack of desire to play in Denver, made Lawson’s exit a little easier. Denver waived the majority of the players they received for Lawson, but they did retain Kostas Papanikolaou, who looks to be an interesting player going forward. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari were both given big extensions. Chandler has been a good offensive role player over his career, but with other needs on the roster, he could have brought younger, cheaper options in a trade. Gallinari, if he can stay healthy, and put up star player numbers, then maybe you can justify his extension, but until that day, Denver overpaid for this player, especially when Boston was very interested in acquiring him. Plenty of teams were also interested in Kenneth Faried, but reports emerged, Denver’s asking price was too high for the Manimal, causing many teams to back away from any sort of trade talks. Denver added more role players during the rest of free agency with the likes of, Will Barton, Darrell Arthur, and Jameer Nelson. Nelson will be a good veteran leader for Mudiay, but the other two just do not make a lot of sense for the team going forward.
Now for the fun stuff. Well, just kidding, Denver is going to be bad this upcoming season, and depending on what type of fan you are, this is either a good or bad thing. The bad is you are going to be consistently losing, tempers will flare, and the image of the franchise will be poor. This bad season is just a temporary stop though, as they do have a potential star in Mudiay, as well as the New York Knick’s first round pick, who look to be just as bad as last season, which would give Denver two top ten first round picks next season to speed up their rebuild even more. Denver also has last year’s first round picks, Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic. Harris was not much of a factor last season, but with another season under his belt, Denver is hopeful he an take the next step, and can be a starter, or at worst a reliable offensive bench piece. Nurkic does not take anything from anyone, he will not back down. This is a good and a bad, as he can get in foul trouble easily, but also gives the interior defense some much needed toughness. Another offseason working with NBA coaches should help Nurkic’s limited offensive game, and with that can make him a good two-way player. Some of the older players on the roster will also need to step-up their games as well. With new extensions comes new expectations. As stated before with Gallinari, he will need to become the offensive star, and give Denver at least 18-22 points per game. Chandler will also need to step up, and give 14-16 points per game. Without the offensively gifted Lawson at the point, Mudiay will look to take over this, and while his shot is not quite there, his ability to find open teammates will only make things easier for his teammates looking to step-up as well. Denver will not be a very fun team to watch, but with the future built on draft picks, Denver looks to be in great shape for next year’s draft class, which has quite a few perimeter scorers, as well as some good prospects down-low. As long as fans can handle one more really poor season, Denver, with good drafting, has a chance to be a good team in two to three years, with the potential to be a championship contender for years to come.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17