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Continuity will be key for Nuggets this offseason

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A blockbuster trade or draft day surprise may be the most provocative option for the Denver Nuggets to raise their profile this offseason.

However, continuity may be as important as any stroke of luck adding different players to the roster. The teams that made the deepest playoff runs this year seemed to have an important chemistry advantage over multiple seasons together that gives them the edge over their competition. Even if a team made a splash move during the offseason, that player has to develop a certain level of chemistry with the team to win it all.

Continuity and chemistry aren’t one and the same, as chemistry can be forged quickly. Just ask the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, for the Nuggets to succeed long-term, their team has to be built like Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors, Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs or Chauncey Billups’ Detroit Pistons. Teams with understated stars, players who grew together, and a rotation of players that fit together like a glove.

The best option for Denver may be for the organization to focus on player development this offseason and to bring back key players set to be free agents this fall. If they do that, they can maintain the continuity and chemistry that has allowed several other teams to reach new heights as a franchise.

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Four Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Is trading for an All-Star a good idea?

A trade for the All-Star talent that many Nuggets fans seem to want would cost the team multiple starters, likely both Gary Harris and Will Barton to start. Even worse, teams won’t hesitate to try and pry Michael Porter Jr. away from Denver, unless the Nuggets are acquiring a suddenly disgraced Paul George or the injury-prone Victor Oladipo on a bargain.

Giving up multiple starters who can be x-factors at any given time is bad enough, but giving up players who enhance the chemistry of the group is a dangerous proposition for a Nuggets team built on organic growth and trust.

A player like Bradley Beal could certainly move the needle for the Nuggets while fitting in with their youth movement; he has enough talent to make such a move worth it. However, this may be a non-starter as Beal is apparently not on the trade block.

Denver could kick the tires on a Paul George or Victor Oladipo trade but, though they would likely be available for the right price, there’s significant concern in acquiring either of them. George’s chemistry with the Los Angeles Clippers was less than stellar thanks to a lack of accountability and Oladipo is working his way back from his latest in a series of injuries.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Bringing back key free agents

The Nuggets will have six free agents to make decisions on this offseason in Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Torrey Craig, Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh, and Tyler Cook. While Vonleh and Cook’s return to the team is frankly of little importance, the other four players present Denver with decisions that will have major influences on the future of the rotation.

Fortunately for Denver, they should be able to bring back two or three of their rotation players. Grant is already being described as the team’s priority in free agency, but it’s difficult to read the Nuggets’ temperature on Millsap, Craig and Plumlee.

In Millsap and Plumlee’s cases, their minutes could go to Porter and Bol Bol, players with a rare level of potential but who are still green around the ears. Craig, a restricted free agent, has been trusted with tough defensive assignments, and that trust remains a key factor in Denver’s culture.

Ultimately, the best guess is for only one of Grant or Millsap to return. The importance of getting Porter enough rotation minutes when Will Barton comes back remains high, and Millsap looked like a shell of himself for the majority of the Nuggets’ playoff run. Grant makes up for that deterioration in Millsap, but he will cost a lot to retain.

With a one or two-year deal, look for Plumlee to return as well. It may already be time to let Bol off the leash, but Plumlee’s chemistry with the group and Bol’s slight frame make it a considerably safer option to bring Plumlee back for the short-term.

Replacing Craig could prove to be both more costly and more risky for Denver if they attempt to do it through free agency and relatively cheaper if they did it with the draft. Whether they choose to go either route, Craig is one of the few rotation players that the Nuggets have an easier chance to replicate.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Relying on the youth

In summation, the key for Denver’s offseason will be to bring back some of their main guys (who I project to be Grant, Plumlee and Craig), further develop the skills of Porter, Bol, Grant, and Jamal Murray, and add what could be another draft steal late in the first round.

They drafted two of their starters with non-lottery picks in Harris and Nikola Jokic. Porter was drafted with the 14th overall pick after he fell in the draft due to injury concerns. Bol fell all the way to the second round for similar reasons.

The 22nd pick will provide Denver with many options. All the Nuggets have to do is trust their scouting and instincts they’ve used over the last few years. If they’re lucky, they’ll find another young talent with an inexpensive contract to extend their championship window.