NBA Power Rankings #11: Denver Nuggets
Photo via Flickr
Denver has missed the playoffs in the Western Conference on the last game of the year two years in a row. That's rough. This is shaping up to finally be the year where Denver is able to get over that hump and make a run in the West. Denver is coming in healthy, talent at every position, and the drive and motivation to get the job done.
Last year, injuries certainly contributed the Nuggets missing the playoffs. Yes, every team deals with injuries throughout the course of the season but you know what this isn't about them right now. This is about the Nuggets. Paul Millsap's injury cost him to miss over half the season (he played just 38 games) and Gary Harris missed 15 games. 15 games may not sound like a lot, but that's almost 20% of the season. The Nuggets are coming in without major injuries to the players who played major minutes for them last year. Their first round draft pick Michael Porter Jr. has back injury concerns, but he may not be needed for Denver to make a playoff run this season. They should be able to rest him and focus on his body more than his on court production during his first season in the league.
When healthy, this is a team that has quality talent at every position. All five of their starters are legitimate and not aren't just starting due to a lack off depth at that position. When you look at their starting line up, every one of them is a threat to score, Jokic is one of the most underrated players in the league, and the backcourt of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris can preform similar to the likes of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. They're not quite on that same level yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they reached that level of talent and production in the next season or two. Oh, and have I mentioned they added Isaiah Thomas who will be able to play valuable minutes of the bench? That's worth noting.
Once again, this is a team that missed out on the playoffs one the last day of the regular season each of the last two seasons. This is a team that's hungry and doesn't want to come up just short for a third straight season. If the joy of winning isn't enough to motivate, they also have several players (Trey Lyles, Paul Millsap, Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Murray) who will be looking for new deals or extensions. Denver is going to be aiming for the throat of every team that steps in front of them and they have the talent to pull off their gameplay and finally make it back into the playoffs.