It was an ignominious start. When Denver Nuggets new draftee Bol Bol finally made it to the stage on NBA Draft night, he was the 44th pick, the lowest any green room invitee had ever fallen. Bol made the most of the situation by the time he was in front of a microphone, simply expressing a desire to prove the other decision makers wrong in letting him slide so far. To no one’s surprise, it seemed as if Bol felt more than a little disrespected.

Bol is joining a group of guys who are terribly familiar with that emotion.

When Nuggets elder statesman Paul Millsap had his draft day in 2006, he didn’t end up going until the 47th pick, to the Utah Jazz. Millsap watched players like Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, Mouhamed Sene, Oleksiy Pecherov, Quincy Douby, and more go to the stage ahead of him. Millsap is now one of seven players still playing in the league from that class, and would undoubtedly be a top-five selection that year if hindsight were 20/20. No respect.

Of the current players on the Denver roster, the highest-selected pick amongst them is point guard Jamal Murray, the seventh pick of the 2016 draft, who would quite probably be the second pick in hindsight. Fellow draftees Juancho Hernangomez (15th) and Malik Beasley (19th) can also make arguments they should have gone ahead of a few of the guys in front of them. No respect.

The beat goes on from player to player on this Nuggets squad. All-Star Nikola Jokic wasn’t picked like an All-Star when he landed mid-chalupa break as the 41st pick in 2014. The Joker can point fingers at every squad who didn’t draft him, his present team included (as he was the Nuggets third pick of that draft). Were you to go back and re-draft that summer, Jokic is probably selected in the second slot behind Joel Embiid, and a highly biased observer could even argue that Jokic should be first. No respect at all.

Will Barton slid to 40th in the 2012 draft, just behind Khris Middleton, and both of them just after a pair of Quincy’s (Acy and Miller). Ahead of that entire pack were names such as Royce White, Fab Melo, Arnett Moultrie, and Marquis Teague. Respect? Nah.

Gary Harris? A steal in the 19th slot (2014, ahead of Jokic), with several exceptional players ahead of him, and still below where he should have been. Monte Morris landed in the 51st slot, behind household names like Isaiah Hartenstein, Jonah Bolden, and Frank Jackson to name a few. No. Respect.

Bol slid as far as he did in the recent draft, in part, due to injury concerns, much like Michael Porter, Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt the year prior. Denver mined some gems from those moments, as team after team decided to pass on the talent and skills each of these guys possess in the interest of making sure they didn’t waste a pick on an injury-prone player. Vanderbilt had just enough time in a Nuggets uniform to make Denver look prescient, and the reports on Porter, Jr. make it sound like it will be a stellar summer for Denver in the Summer League starting next week. Hopefully Jarred and Michael will both start accruing a little more of that respect with some floor time.

Top to bottom, these Denver Nuggets have overcome the doubts and questions of NBA experts and fans alike. In the course of doing so, they have formulated one of the most entertaining and dangerous teams in the NBA, and have gotten their overdue respect the hard way, earning it bit by infinitesimal bit. If Bol Bol is one more log on what has become a raging fire, more power to Denver. As nearly every other Western Conference team reconfigures and reloads, the team that finished second in the West seems to have yet again dropped off of the radar of several of the folks picking their favorites. Here’s hoping the Nuggets will earn their respect again by season’s end.

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