NBA Future Power Rankings 19. Denver Nuggets
*Photo via Getty Images
After making the playoffs ten straight years, the Denver Nuggets have now failed to reach the postseason in consecutive seasons.
This offseason, Denver re-signed guards Jameer Nelson (3YR/$13.6MM) and Will Barton (3YR/$10.6MM) and re-structured and extended Danilo Gallinari (3YR/$45.1MM) and Wilson Chandler (3YR/$46.5MM). With former starter Ty Lawson headed to Houston, Nelson’s signing gives the Nuggets a reliable veteran backup and mentor for rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Barton only played for the Nuggets after Arron Afflalo was traded to Portland, but he looked like a role player. Barton has the potential to play a similar role as Corey Brewer use to play for Denver in it’s run and gun attack. Denver also has the Kenneth Faried (4YR/$50MM) locked up, but there is tension between members in the organization and the Manimal. Stay tuned.
The biggest headline during the Nuggets 2015 offseason was trading Lawson to Houston. In return the Nuggets received four marginal role players (two of whom they have already waived) plus a lottery protected 2016 first round pick. A year or two ago this would have been a laughable offer for Lawson, but his stock has taken a nosedive since being charged with his second DUI this year. This trade added yet another potential pick for Denver in the upcoming draft.
2016 first from Houston – lottery protected
2016 first from New York – swap rights
2016 first from Memphis – 1-5 & 15-30 protected
Likely conveyed in 2017 (1-5 protection)
2016 first from Portland – lottery protected in 2016 & 2017
Denver receives 2018 & 2019 second round picks if pick isn’t conveyed by 2017
These picks will help speed up Denver’s rebuild and add to the young core they already have in place. Denver’s core young players are sophomores Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic and rookie Mudiay. Nurkic, the 16th pick in the 2014 draft received All-Rookie second team honors. Harris didn’t see much action his rookie year, but should be a role player this season. Harris, however, did have a memorable NBA dunk early in the season, too bad momma Harris missed it.
Mudiay has been given the keys to the Nuggets offense and should be considered one of the early favorites for Rookie of the Year. Mudiay reminds me of Tyreke Evans coming out of Memphis, and he could be looking at a similar dominant rookie season to the one Evans had with Sacramento.
Denver has a solid young core that will take them into the future, but without a superstar, this team will be mediocre. Expect them to make the playoffs again within the next couple of season, only to be sent fishing in the first round. This team doesn’t have a high ceiling and could be blown up within the next three to four seasons.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, NBA.com, ESPN.com
Salary cap and contract information courtesy of Spotrac.com, Hoopshype.com, Basketballinsiders.com
Future draft commitments and rosters information courtesy of RealGM.com