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Watch out for the Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are a team on the rise. They have built their team through previous drafts and now have added All-Star forward, Paul Millsap.

If the Nuggets were in the Eastern Conference, they would be getting a lot of attention. However in a loaded Western Conference they are overshadowed by already established talented teams.

What we have here is a team full of talent with an established leader looking to make it in a stacked Western Conference.

Emerging Talent

Denver Nuggets
Emmanuel Mudiay, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

As of this week, former Michigan State guard Gary Harris signed a four-year, $84 million contract extension. Harris has jumped into the starting shooting guard role for the Nuggets. He’s coming off his most efficient season in the league shooting 42 percent from three and 59 percent from the field overall. Averaging 14.9 points for the Nuggets, he is quickly turning into a consistent and lethal perimeter threat.

Nikola Jokic averaged nearly a double-double in 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in 73 games for the Nuggets. His most interesting statistic is that he averages 4.9 assists showing that he can set the table for others as well as create for himself.

Emmanuel Mudiay has matured his game in the two years of him being in the NBA. He has dropped his turnovers per game from 3.2 to 2.2 in just a year. He has also increased his assists per game from 3.9 to 4.8 as well. These two statistics show that he isn’t forcing things and adapting to the speed of the NBA. He also managed to shoot 11.4 percent better from the free throw line. This makes him more valuable because he can be on the floor in close games without hurting the team.

Jamal Murray provided instant offense for the Nuggets. In 22 minutes a game, he averaged 9.9 points and shot 33 percent from three. As a combo guard he can help give some rest to both Mudiay and Harris if they need it without skipping a beat.

Incoming Help

Paul Millsap decided to join the Denver Nuggets this offseason. Millsap adds versatility, the ability to stretch the floor as well as handle the ball when he needs to.

Millsap provides a leader and a proven All-Star to a young team filled with talent. For his career, he is a near double-double player who thrives in pick and pop situations.

The Nuggets have lost their highest scorer from last season in Danilo Galinari and as they look to transition into a legitimate playoff team they are looking for a new leading scorer. Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic look to take back courts by storm and lead this young Nuggets team deep into the playoffs.

Previous Performances

There’s no doubt that the Nuggets have gotten better this summer. Paul Millsap helps a team that drastically needed a leader. The young talent has another year under their belt and the biggest strength of the Nuggets has proven to be their depth at power forward and center.

The Nuggets went 8-22 against Western Conference playoff teams last season. Last season they finished third in the NBA in scoring at 111 points per game.

However the problem came on the defensive end where it matters most. The Nuggets landed at 27th in the NBA in defensive points allowed.

They allowed 111.2 points per game which is less than their points for average. The Nuggets finished above the Lakers, Nets and Suns who all had much worse records than the Nuggets finished with. They were the third worst in defending the 3-point line and in an league where there are so many prolific shooters it could cost them important games down the stretch.

The solution here is Paul Millsap. Defending the paint and pick and rolls are vital to winning games in the NBA. Paul Millsap is very well known for doing both of those things. On a team that needs defensive help, Millsap will fit in seamlessly and pick the Nuggets up when they need it most.

The Denver Nuggets will be in a dogfight for what looks like the last few spots in the Western Conference. I like them to surprise some people and finish in the sixth spot coming out of the West. I think they have the talent and now have the leadership with Millsap. Look for the Nuggets to win around 48 wins and give a team a run for their money come playoff time.

 

Featured Image from Nugglove.com.

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