Well, we are finally here. The championship round. After over two weeks of debate, several upset fans and analysts, and some surprising results, we finally came back to the two most important players of Denver Nuggets franchise history after 2000. While arguments can be made for Alex English, David Thompson, Dan Issel, and other stars of previous generations, Nuggets fans wanted to see Nikola Jokic and Carmelo Anthony face off for the title: greatest Nugget in franchise history.
In one corner...Nikola Jokic:
Nikola Jokic certainly has the argument for “highest peak performance” in Nuggets history. He might also be the most well-rounded and skilled player in Nuggets history. The non-cumulative catch-all metrics like Win Shares/48, PER and Box +/- already say Jokic is the greatest Nugget of all time (by a fairly wide margin) and even cumulative stats like VORP and win shares show Jokic rising fast in the top ten among a group of players whose time with Denver has long since passed. That is the crux of this matchup, where do we place longevity and proven results versus the potential of what Jokic could accomplish in Denver.
Joker’s individual dominance combined with an ability to elevate the team around him made him the top seed in the entire bracket. He is one of just six players to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, doing so during 2018-19 and 2019-20. His 40 triple-doubles rank second in franchise history behind Fat Lever. In his first playoff appearance, Jokic averaged 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists per game, becoming just the second player in NBA history to ever do so in the playoffs, joining Oscar Robertson in 1963.
There’s no doubt that Jokic will go down as the best player in franchise history if he stays with Denver for the rest of his career. The only question is whether Jokic is already at that level? Nuggets fans seem to think so.
In the other corner...Carmelo Anthony:
On the other side of the Finals bracket, we have Carmelo Anthony, the man who resurrected Denver from the abysmal late 90s era and brought a new era of success and perennial playoff appearances in his wake. Melo made the postseason every single season he was in Denver and was thought of as the centerpiece of the franchise. His exit was messy, but his contributions to the Nuggets were undeniable.
Carmelo Anthony was an elite 1-on-1 scorer from the moment he joined the team. In nearly eight seasons with the team, Anthony and the Nuggets never missed the playoffs, and Melo had many signature moments along the way. His battles with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were mostly incredible, and he nearly willed the Nuggets to their first NBA Finals appearance in 2008-09. His 24.8 points per game during his Nuggets tenure is second in franchise history (minimum of 10,000 minutes played) to only Alex English, and it helps encapsulate just how impressive his scoring was. He made difficult shots and may have been the best 1-on-1 player in the NBA for a time.
Melo went farther in the playoffs than Jokic has during the early segments of his career, and that could matter for Nuggets fans in this vote for the greatest Nugget. Melo did ask for a trade though, and that hurts his standing in the eyes of many. Either way, it’s clear that Melo is probably the greatest scorer in Nuggets franchise history. While Alex English averaged more points per game, those 1980’s Nuggets played faster and had more possessions. Thus, Melo has actually scored more points per 100 possessions than any Nugget in history. He was a walking bucket to be clear.
Well, what will it be Nuggets fans? The all-around superstar center who can rack up triple doubles? Or will it be the pure scorer who put the Nuggets back on the map after years of ineptitude?
Championship time: Nikola Jokic (1) or Carmelo Anthony (1)?
This poll is closed