• Russell Schmidt

NBA Future Power Rankings: 13. Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets: If you’re looking for an under the radar team, look no further than Denver, and join the bandwagon while you still can. The Nuggets appear to have a similar roster to those they had under George Karl. The Nuggets have an incredibly young and deep roster ready to run opponents to the ground in the mile high city. Like those Karl led teams, these Nuggets will rely on strength in numbers rather than the presence of a superstar. The Nuggets have built a ridiculously deep and young backcourt the past few seasons. Perhaps the two most promising players on the team are guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray, the 7th overall picks of the previous two drafts. In addition the Nuggets will have a solid veteran presence in Jameer Nelson, rookie sharpshooter Malik Beasley (19th pick), and last seasons starting shooting guard Gary Harris. Harris had a very strong sophomore campaign and is a good two-way player. The selections of Beasley and Murray in this years draft have made the backcourt too crowded and could put Harris on the trading block. At the forward positions the Nuggets once again have a crazy amount of depth. If the Nuggets had a better year as a team last season, I believe that Will Barton would have won 6th Man of the Year. Having Barton for under $4 Million per year for the next two seasons is almost criminal. The Nuggets two best players next season could be two former Knicks returning from serious injuries in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari is one of the hardest guys to cover in the league, and Chandler is so versatile he can seamlessly fit into nearly any lineup. The Nuggets even added a third 1st round pick this season with forward Juan Hernangomez (15th overall). For some reason the Nuggets decided to re-sign Darrell Arthur to a 3-year $23 Million contract. The terms of the deal aren’t outrageous, but his presence on the team isn’t needed. The Nuggets already have surplus of younger and better options to play minutes at his position, making Arthur’s signing a head scratcher. The Nuggets final forward worthy of minutes is none other than the “manimal” himself, Kenneth Faried. He is a classic hustle player with limited skills that gets the most out of what talent he has. Faried doesn’t appear to have a spot in the Nuggets present or future and is still owed about $39 Million over the next three seasons. If I had to pick one player as the most likely to be traded this season it would have to be him. Finally we come to the center position where the Nuggets are once again loaded. The Nuggets have three young and immensely talented European centers whose names no one can pronounce in Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, and Joffrey Lauvergne. Jokic and Nurkic are already arguably two of the top-20 centers in the league and are both just 21 years old. Their contrasting styles complement each other well as both bring different attributes to the table. Jokic is your stereotypical highly skilled European center that can shoot from outside, handle the ball, and possesses elite passing skills. If Jokic can develop a post-up game, he will have a similar offensive repertoire to future hall of famer Pau Gasol. In contrast Nurkic breaks nearly all stereotypes for European big man. Nurkic has shown he is not on the floor to make friends and is not intimidated by any opponent. Nurkic is one of the largest players in the league at 7’1” and 280 pounds. He is your classic low post bruiser, but he has flashed some solid moves in the paint. And if you didn’t think Denver had enough young talent they still own all of their future 1st round selections plus the Grizzlies top-5 protected 2017 1st round pick. The Nuggets have too many young and talented players to find them all minutes, but that certainly isn’t a bad problem to have. The Nuggets aren’t ready to challenge the NBA’s elite quite yet, but they will get there soon. Don’t be surprised if Denver sneaks into the playoffs as a low seed this season.

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