There is no time like the present and the Denver Nuggets have to make the most of it. With the NBA as wide open and competitive as it has been in some time, it’s finally time for the Nuggets to make some noise.
Last year was just an appetizer for what the Nuggets could have in store this season. It was incredible to see all of Denver’s talent materialize in front of our eyes, but now the Nuggets have to find a way to build on that and take the next step.
Now, the Nuggets are on everyone’s radar and rightfully so. After falling just one game shy of the Western Conference Finals last season, the Nuggets are are back with one goal in mind, a championship.
It will not be easy as guys like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have to continue to play at a high level, while also getting help along the way. With a potential starting five of Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, and Jokic, the Nuggets could have the best starting five in all of basketball, but they have to prove it.
Denver also possesses a dynamic bench led by Malik Beasley, Monte Morris, Torrey Craig, Mason Plumlee, and new addition, Jerami Grant. We have not even mentioned Michael Porter Jr., who looked like a star in the making during his limited minutes in the preseason. Not to mention Juancho Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt, who could also challenge for minutes this season.
It is tough to look across the league and find a roster deeper than what the Nuggets have. From top to bottom, the Nuggets have a promising young roster that can compete with anyone and everyone.
It all revolves around Jokic, who is coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in points (20.1), rebounds (10.8), and assists (7.3). Jokic finished fourth in MVP voting and put together a playoff performance for the ages. In 14 playoff games, Jokic averaged 25.1 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game. Simply incredible numbers that showed not only that Jokic is built for the playoffs, but that he has the ability to lead this Nuggets roster to a championship.
Jokic is certainly the wheel that drives the Nuggets, but Murray also plays a major role in Denver’s success. Murray is coming off a season where he also averaged career highs in points (18.2), rebounds (4.2), and assists (4.8), while also building on those numbers in the postseason. In the playoffs, Murray averaged 21.3 points per game while showing — just like Jokic — that he is built for the big stage.
As far as the rest of the Nuggets roster in concerned, health is the biggest thing standing in the way of them and a possible championship. Last year, the Nuggets starters missed a combined 85 games — Harris (25), Barton (39), Millsap (12), Murray (7), Jokic (2) — which tested their depth. Luckily, guys like Morris, Beasley, and Craig stepped up, but the Nuggets still had way too many games missed due to injury.
If the Nuggets can stay on the right side of the injury report, there is a great chance they at least secure home court entering the postseason. That is a long ways down the road though as the real matter at hand is defeating the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night in Portland.
This is a Portland team that Denver is incredibly familiar with. It feels like they have played each other 1,908,150 times in a row. That might be a little dramatic, but after these two teams squared off seven times in the postseason last year and two times in the preseason, it honestly feels like Portland is the only opponent on the Nuggets schedule.
Putting all that aside though, the only thing that matters is what happens once the ball is tipped at 8pm MDT on Wednesday night in Portland. The tip-off signals not only that Mile High Basketball is back, but also marks the start of what could be the most exciting Nuggets season in history.
Tonight, the Nuggets have an opportunity to make a statement. Will they hit the ground running with a road victory over a playoff team? Or will they start the year in the loss column? The great news is it will not take long to find out as tip-off is right around the corner.
No matter what happens tonight — win or loss — the Nuggets roster is one of the most talented in the NBA. The time has come though where Denver can not simply talk about the talent level, but they have to be about it. If they can do that, there’s a chance that the Nuggets are hoisting their first ever NBA championship when the season is all said and done.