UA-59049186-1 NBA Team Preview: Denver Nuggets - Good if it Goes

NBA Team Preview: Denver Nuggets

Offseason

Draft Picks: 7. SG. Jamal Muray, 15. PF. Juancho Hermangomez, SG. Malik Beasley

Key Acquisitions: None

Key Losses: SG. Randy Foye, C. J.J. Hickson

Player Profiles

Projected Lineup

PG. Emmanuel Mudiay: 6’5, 200

  • 2nd-year PG who had some serious troubles from the field even for a rookie.
  • There were major concerns about Mudiay’s ability to shoot coming into last year’s draft and Mudiay did nothing to disprove those theories. He was even horrible at the FT line. But he did show some flashes and has potential to really be a good playmaker.
  • Struggled some defensively, but that’s to be expected being a rookie at the most difficult position to defend in the NBA right now. The potential is there for him to make significant improvement in year 2.

SG. Gary Harris: 6’4, 215

  • Short but thick built 2 guard who made huge strides from his rookie year.
  • Night and Day performance as a shooter in year 2 compared to his rookie season where he couldn’t hit anything. Shot the 3 effectively but was very good from mid range and with his in between game overall.
  • Marginal defensive player who does bring effort and tries but he doesn’t have good enough athletic traits to overcome his lack of length.

SF. Danilo Gallinari: 6’10, 225

  • Injury-prone combo forward with elite size on the wing who lives at the FT line.
  • For a guy without elite athleticism or advanced ball handling skills it’s remarkable how good he is at getting to the FT line. Only Cousins, Harden, and D. Jordan got there at a higher rate. He’s just a very crafty player and can shoot the ball from all locations of the floor.
  • Typical tweener combo forward who’s out of place on the defensive end due to lack of quickness on the perimeter and lack of strength and toughness in the interior.

PF. Kenneth Faried: 6’8, 228

  • Energizer bunny big man that runs the floor hard and dunks even harder.
  • At his best offensively rolling to the basket as a dive man, going up for lobs and rim running in transition. Offensive post footwork is sloppy and he’s short so most of his 1 on 1 post up attempts on the block are unsuccessful.
  • Average defender that can make some things happen off his athleticism and effort alone but not nearly the impact player you’d think he could be given his athletic traits.

C. Nikola Jokic: 6’10, 250

  • Very underrated big man that had an excellent rookie campaign.
  • Highly skilled offensive big man that can do a lot of things. Showed excellent passing instincts as a rookie big man averaging nearly 4 assist per 36 mins. Thrived as a scorer in the pick game both as a roller and popper. Already a very good mid range shooter with a developing 3 point game coming.
  • Very effective defensive player who plays big and gets has very active hands. Averaged 1.6 steals per 36 mins. Not an elite shot blocker but showed he can protect the rim due to his incredible stature, 7’3 wingspan and 9’3 standing reach.

 

Bench

SG. Will Barton: 6’6, 175

  • Scoring wing that offers instant offense as a 6th man and rebounds very well given his size.
  • Thrived as an off-ball scorer who’s also capable of creating some shots for himself. He’s an equal opportunity scorer meaning he takes shots from all areas of the court which is evident from his shooting chart.
  • Not necessarily a good defensive player, but probably better than you think. Effort is better than most guys who play similar roles as their team’s primary scoring option off the bench.

PF. Darrell Arthur: 6’9 235

  • Highly effective role player off the bench that plays on both ends.
  • Offensively his best trait is his shooting which allows him to be used at either forward spot. He’s an elite pick n pop threat that is a knock down mid-range shooter and not too bad from 3 either.
  • Unique defensive player that is capable of defending on the wing or as big. 1 of the better bigs in the league defending on the ball.

SF. Wilson Chandler: 6’8, 225

  • Versatile 3 position player looking to bounce back after missing all of last season with a hip injury.
  • Contributes in various ways offensively. He’s a good enough 3 point shooter (though he maybe takes too many), He’s capable of putting the ball on the floor and penetrating both off the catch or from triple threat and he’s really good in transition.
  • Versatile defensive player that can contribute on that end but not necessarily as effective as you’d think he’d be given his size and athleticism. After a year out with a hip injury he could be even less effective.

PG. Jamal Murray: 6’4, 207

  • Rookie offensive minded combo guard that can impact the game as a scorer and passer.
  • Was an elite shooter in college from both 3 and mid-range. At his best scoring off the ball where he can utilize off-ball screens to get his shot off. Has no problem shooting on the move.
  • Terrible on-ball defender who was more a victim of bad technique than anything. The effort and work ethic are there for him to improve.

C. Jusuf Jurkic: 7’0, 280

  • Big physical brute of a center that is an emerging force on defense.
  • Horrible offensive player that struggled big time when attempting to score with his back to the basket.
  • He fouls way too much at the moment (6 fouls per 36 minutes) but he’s a very physical and imposing interior defender that blocks shots at a high rate and is a dominant rebounder.

PG. Jameer Nelson: 6’0, 190

  • Old declining miniature PG
  • He can still distribute the ball some but the decline in athleticism limits him to jacking up more 3s and he’s not making them.
  • Too old to defend at a high level at his position anymore.

SG. Malik Beasley: 6’5, 195

  • 1st year wing that could potentially be a 3 and D guy.
  • Thrived off the ball offensively in college as both a shooter and slasher. However, he struggled when asked to create and doesn’t have a quality handle.
  • Highly active defender that has the quickness to keep things in front of him.

SF. Mike Miller: 6’8, 218

  • Ancient 3-point specialist who serves as a veteran presence on the bench more so than a player at this point.
  • Has no use on offense anymore other than spotting up behind the 3 point line.
  • Has no business attempting to defend on the wing in the NBA these days.

 

Breakdown:

The Nuggets are a young team with a lot of developing young talent. This season needs to be about continuing to grow that talent. The organization was smart not to go out and try and get veterans to come in and prevent their younger guys from getting PT and simply staying pat as they pretty much brought back all the major players from last year. The starting lineup looks pretty decent from 2-5, but the PG is a major question mark. Last season the other 4 guys all did their job but Emmanuel Mudiay was a major liability at times. He simply couldn’t shoot the basketball a year ago, that was his major problem and if he doesn’t improve in that aspect the Nuggets will have another bad season. This team needs Mudiay to improve from the field because he’s the 1 perimeter player on this entire roster that has the talent to become a star caliber player one day. Gary Harris was the biggest surprise for the Nuggets last year showing insane improvement from his rookie year where he was pretty dreadful on the offensive end. His shooting ability will help the space the floor for guys like Gallo and Mudiay to attack the basket. Gallo at SF can be sensational at times on offense and figures to be the team’s leading scorer again if he can stay healthy. Kenneth Faried aka. The Manimal is back at PF with his high flying and high energy game. He’s going to dunk the ball, run the floor and crash the offensive glass at a high rate. The player that I expect to be the best of the 5 this season is center Nikola Jokic. He’s the best 2-way player on the team and I expect him to take his game to another level on both ends in his 2nd year.

 

The bench for the Nuggets doesn’t look too shabby either. 6th man of the year candidate Will “The Thrill” Barton figures to reprise his role as 6th man and lead scoring option off the bench. Darrell Arthur will be a vital contributor as a big coming off the bench with his pick n pop shooting and defense. And the big physical Nurkic can be counted on to rebound and block shots. But there are a few new additions to the bench that should help the Nuggets this season. The ever so versatile forward Wilson Chandler didn’t play a single game last season after going down during the preseason with a hip injury. He looks to return this season and provide the Nuggets with a boost in athleticism in the front court which is something they could definitely use. Another thing they will have that didn’t have last year is sniper in Jamal Murray. The guard out of Kentucky was honestly a steal for the Nuggets at 7 and he’ll be able to help the Nuggets offensively right away at either guard spot and should be an instant upgrade over Jameer Nelson.

 

Expectations:

Last season the Nuggets only won 32 games. So what to make of a team that won 32 games and made so little changes? A lot in this case. The Nuggets should be a lot better this season than they were a year ago. For starters, just for the simple fact that all their young guys should be better than they were a year ago. Look for both 2nd-year players Mudiay and Jokic to step up and be 2 of the team’s best players this year as they are the future of this team. I think the Nuggets are going to be very exciting to watch this year but in this year’s Western Conference they are still not a playoff team. I just don’t see the Nuggets being able to do enough on defense to make the playoffs. Nobody in the starting lineup is a good defender outside of Jokic and nobody in the backcourt on the entire team has proven yet to be a good defender. They are going to score points but they are also going to give up a bunch of points as well.

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