Ranking America's Best Nuggets : #1 Denver
The Denver Nuggets know how to rebuild. I love what the Nuggets have done since the beginning of their “rebuild.” It feels disrespectful to call it a rebuild, because the Nuggets never actually tanked for draft picks. They may not have had playoff potential, but they were never truly terrible like my 2013-2016 Philadelphia 76ers. However, this has all changed in a rather short time and the Nuggets look the part to make a deep playoff run.
The Nugget’s combined record during their rebuild from 2013 to 2015 was 99-147. The funny thing is, their worst first round selection, Emmanuel Mudiay, was the only top 10 pick they had. (Disclaimer - I also believed he would be decent and even bought his Nuggets Jersey).
Now it’s 2019 and the Nuggets are second in the tough Western Conference with a 39-18 record at the all-star break.
So what’s to love about these Nuggets? Well, they hired Mike Malone in 2015 and he’s only increased the win total every year since. News Flash: this will almost certainly happen again unless the Nuggets go 8-17 in their last 25 games. Also, have you seen these City Edition jerseys they put out this year? It’s definitely a top City jersey and a must cop for any Nuggets fan. Besides the City variation, the Nuggets have some of the best jerseys league-wide, especially the yellow Skyline (a personal favorite).
But jerseys don't make the team. Breaking down the Nuggets' roster shows why they're great and which major advantage they have over everyone else.
In 2014, little did anyone know that the Nuggets would select franchise-changing player Nikola Jokic. A pass first, lethal scoring big with nimble feet and hall of fame vision. He’s an absolute maniac and anomaly to the NBA. He has 22 triple doubles since the beginning of the 2017-18 season which he’s played 131 games total. That’s an average of one triple double every six games. In a group photo from All Star Weekend, he is clearly the tallest and biggest on his team. What’s most astounding is he looks at least two inches taller than Embiid. It could be the camera angle, but what he’s doing at 7 feet is unheard of.
After Jokic, they managed to pull three quality picks: Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez, and starter Malik Beasley. Monte Morris followed in 2017, selected with the 51st pick and now averaging 25 minutes per game. The things I would do to have someone that solid come off the bench for the Sixers and get buckets--he is awesome.
Oh yeah— can’t forget the 2018 NBA Draft’s longest fall. It was an Aaron Rodgers-Esque fall. When would Michael Porter Jr go? Finally at pick 14, MPJ found his home with Denver. A consensus top-3 pick before injury, Porter could be the steal of the year. At worst, He’ll be better than Trey Lyles and at best? The possibilities are sky high.
What astonishes me the most about this team is the amount of guards they have. They have six guards who would all be in playoff rotations of any team in the league. Murray, Morris, Beasley, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and newly-added Isaiah Thomas. This is a must-watch league pass team at all times. A perfect example is last week’s Kings game. Nuggets were down 11 at half and came back to win the game by 2 in the final second of the game with a tip in by Jokic.
Lastly, I’d like to mention the Nugget’s biggest advantage: their home court. Denver’s fans are great and probably a little happier than the average fan. (Legalize it.) But, using that ‘Mile High Advantage’ is surely what can propel this team to the Western Conference finals and even Championship. No team seems as built for a stamina contest as the Nuggets, especially because of what the altitude will do to teams coming into town for 3 or 4 games. What I’m not excited for is seeing Draymond “Mouth Breather” Green gasping for air as he’s running up and down the court.