Culture of Hoops

2016-17 NBA Preview: Denver Nuggets

Screen capture courtesy of the the NBA/YouTube.

Screen capture courtesy of the the NBA/YouTube.

Atlantic: Boston Celtics | Brooklyn Nets | New York Knicks | Philadelphia 76ers | Toronto Raptors
Central: Chicago Bulls | Cleveland Cavaliers | Detroit Pistons | Indiana Pacers | Milwaukee Bucks
Southeast: Atlanta Hawks | Charlotte Hornets | Miami Heat | Orlando Magic | Washington Wizards
Pacific: Golden State Warriors | Los Angeles Clippers | Los Angeles Lakers | Phoenix Suns | Sacramento Kings
Northwest: Denver Nuggets | Minnesota Timberwolves | Oklahoma City Thunder | Portland Trail Blazers | Utah Jazz
Southwest: Dallas Mavericks | Houston Rockets | Memphis Grizzlies | New Orleans Pelicans | San Antonio Spurs

Presenting an NBA preview of the Denver Nuggets that looks at the potential highs and lows for this coming 2016-17 NBA season.

The Good… Youth is on their side. Out of the projected starting five (Jusuf Nurkic 22, Nikola Jokic 20, Danilo Gallinari 28, Gary Harris 22, and Emmanuel Mudiay 20) Gallinari is the only one over 25. We’re talking Jokic and Mudiay are “can’t even walk into a bar in the states and order an adult beverage” type of young! Even key reserves like Kenneth Faried (26), Will Barton (25), and Wilson Chandler (29) are on the southside of 30. Add in rookies Jamal Murray (19) and Juan Hernangomez and you’re looking at one of the youngest, most talented, up-and-coming teams in the NBA.

The Bad… While all teams deal with injuries, the Denver Nuggets seem to have experienced an unfair amount over the last several seasons. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and Darrell Arthur have all either missed large stretches, or been out entire seasons due to injury. Even now, their projected starting shooting guard, Gary Harris, is questionable for Denver’s season opener due to a partially torn groin. Some things you just can’t control, but it does seem about time the law of averages starts leaning back in the Nuggets’ favor.

The X-Factor… As Denver’s starting point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay, has the keys to the car. What he does with them will greatly impact the immediate future of the Nuggets. Whenever you’re dealing with such a young core, player development is important. But when your lead guard is only 20 with a bit of a shaky jumper and loose handle, it becomes crucial.  He needs repetitions in the gym and confidence instilled in him by the coaching staff. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t a kind gentle place where mistakes are easily forgotten and there’s plenty of practice time to work out the kinks. So once again, Mudiay will be thrown into the fire and have to learn from his mistakes on the court, much like he did last season. For the Denver Nuggets to become a threat to the playoff teams in the West, his game has to be taken to the next level. For the Nuggets’ sake, let’s hope it’s sooner than later.

Bet On… The Nuggets to beat teams they are not expected to. While the Nuggets won’t make the Playoffs in the stacked Western Conference, they will catch a lot of the teams that do by surprise. They have an extremely talented hulking frontcourt in Nurkic and Jokic, a deadly shooter and versatile scorer in Gallinari, an electric guard in Mudiay who will keep driving the ball at the heart of the defense, and young athletic players at almost every position coming off the bench. Yes, they will get overlooked, but catch some teams slipping during the long grueling NBA season; you can’t deny the talent on the roster.

The Crystal Ball Reveals… It’s the Nikola Jokic coming out party and we are all invited.  Standing 6’10, and only 20 years of age, Jokic is already one of the most skilled big men in the NBA, and easily in the discussion for best passing power forward in the game. In just under 22 minutes a game Nikola put up per-game averages of 10 points, seven rebounds, 2.4 assists, and one steal, with a healthy mix of blocks and threes. Combine that with his stellar shooting (51 percent from the field, 81 percent from the line, and 33 percent from the three-point line) and you have the makings for not just a great fantasy player, but also one that is highly effective, one may even say dominant on the real life hardwood. And if you still don’t believe me watch this:


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