Every year, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks release their rankings of all 30 NBA teams. These rankings however involve the future of every NBA franchise, using a variety of factors to score every team based on how healthy their future appears to be. Factors include the current roster, team management, the salary cap situation, the size of the city market, and the draft pick situation. Pelton and Marks rank every team in each of these categories to form a composite ranking as a gauge on the future health of the franchise.
“The Nuggets’ jump this year from ninth in the Western Conference to second looks likely to endure. Despite having just one player they drafted in the top 10 on the roster (Jamal Murray), the Nuggets received the highest score of any team for players. That’s testament to Denver’s front office mining gems late in the first round (Malik Beasley, Gary Harris) and even in the second round (All-Star Nikola Jokic, Monte Morris) to build a team so flush with young talent that the biggest concern is how the Nuggets can afford to pay everyone.”
The Nuggets received the top mark in current player talent, which accounts for whether that talent is locked into contracts for the next several years. With Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Monte Morris, and a bevy of rookie scale contracts with an opportunity to be extended in the coming years, this is unsurprising. Denver has amassed quality talent across all positions.
The Nuggets also received the sixth best management score, speaking to the work Michael Malone, Tim Connelly, Arturas Karnisovas, and Josh Kroenke have accomplished together.
Denver ranks behind Golden State for now, but if one of their prized free agents Kevin Durant or Klay Thompsons leaves this offseason, then the landscape of the Western Conference may shift sizably in the coming years. The Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Oklahoma City Thunder are all Western Conference teams that sit in the top 10. The Nuggets may appear to have the brightest future of the bunch right now, but nothing is certain.
Still, the Nuggets have clearly set themselves up for years to come, and judging the roster for solely this season and not the potential that they possess could be a misguided proposition for Nuggets fans and the NBA alike.