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NBA Power Rankings: Nuggets a Top 10 team heading into Week 1

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Where do the Nuggets sit in the national media’s power rankings heading into the season?

NBA: Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020-21 season is upon us after a short two-month hiatus following the tumultuous season in which the Denver Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets kick off the season on Wednesday evening against the Sacramento Kings before hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas night in what will surely be an anticipated rematch of their second round series.

Of course, us Nuggets fans need no reminder of how good this team can and will be, regardless of who wanted a bigger offensive role in Detroit. Jerami Grant’s departure seems to be the main topic of conversation within the different outlets’ power rankings heading into the season. Yes, losing Grant hurts Denver’s playoff potential - but only if the rest of the team (which remained largely intact) doesn’t find another way to compensate for it and play to their strengths. With Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. all one offseason better and the return of Will Barton, my money is on the Nuggets being better than anticipated.

See below for how the Nuggets stack up against the rest of the NBA heading into the season:

ESPN (from Dec 7)

Rank: 7

What they say:

The Nuggets suffered a big free-agency loss when Jerami Grant left for a bigger role in Detroit. Key role players Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig also are gone. But the Nuggets quickly moved on to JaMychal Green, who brings toughness and the ability to help Nikola Jokic defensively in the post and stretch the floor. Denver brought back Paul Millsap and signed passing point guard Facundo Campazzo and big man Isaiah Hartenstein, and it drafted RJ Hampton and Zeke Nnaji. Michael Porter Jr. has to make a leap forward into the starting lineup; Will Barton is ready to return from injury; and Bol Bol could be in line for some minutes for a contender looking to surpass its Western Conference finals appearance.

CBS Sports

Rank: 6

What they say:

Losing Jerami Grant hurts the Nuggets, but that clears the way for more playing time for Michael Porter Jr. It remains to be seen whether he can fit into the stating unit next to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray or if he’s best served as a super sixth man, but he’s ready for a breakout season as Denver tries to build on is momentum from the bubble. A healthy Gary Harris and Will Barton to start the 2020-21 season are a sight for sore eyes for Nuggets fans.

NBA.com

Rank: 3

What they say:

On Wednesday, Will Barton played his first game in more than nine months. On Friday, he was in the starting lineup, pushing Michael Porter Jr. back to the bench. Porter was seemingly unaffected, scoring 20 points in 22 minutes as the Nuggets blew out the Blazers for a second straight time. Less than three months removed from a riveting run to the conference finals, they’ve seemingly hit the ground running and with, arguably, the league’s best offensive cohesion.

Nikola Jokic shot 71% in the preseason, with just five turnovers to go with his 19 assists. Heck, the entire rotation was dropping dimes. The Lakers probably got better, but if the Nuggets aren’t on the champs’ tier, they’re not too far below. And their two stars are only 25 and 23 years old.

If there’s any team that can still have a real home-court advantage with no fans, it’s the one that plays at the highest altitude. The Nuggets will play six of their first eight games at the newly renamed Ball Arena.

Hoops Habit

Rank: 7

What they say:

Plenty of people are starting to pile dirt on the Denver Nuggets as legitimate title contenders. The loss of their reserve frontcourt to the Detroit Pistons caught the headlines, especially after how impressive Jerami Grant was in the team’s run to the Western Conference Finals. However, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.

JaMychal Green is more than able to fill the role of the departed Grant and should make it so the team is not missing a beat. Will Barton, who missed the entire bubble, feels like a major addition in and of himself. He had a realistic claim as the third-best player on Denver’s roster before the season’s stoppage. He was missed and will be a welcome return.

The Athletic

Rank: 6

What they say:

Biggest change of the offseason: They lost a lot of defenders. This offseason, the Nuggets brought in JaMychal Green for the present and RJ Hampton for the future, but they had three significant losses to the roster. Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant are off to Detroit. Torrey Craig to Milwaukee. Now the Nuggets will be the high-octane offense on one end and hoping to defend well with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. on the other end of the floor. That’s a big change for what Michael Malone wants from them.

Where I think they’ll finish in the standings: Anywhere from first in the West to fourth. Denver wins games even when it’s not playing particularly consistent basketball. I’ll throw them at 4th in the West, but I don’t feel great about it.

Poll

Where would you rank the Nuggets heading into the regular season?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    #1 Overall
    (79 votes)
  • 51%
    #2 or #3
    (344 votes)
  • 31%
    #4 or #5
    (212 votes)
  • 4%
    #5 - #10
    (27 votes)
  • 0%
    Below #10
    (3 votes)
665 votes total Vote Now