The Denver Nuggets were one of the more surprising teams last season. The team was at the top of the Western Conference for most of the season but not a lot of people were talking about them. They ended up with a 54-28 record, winning the Northwest Division and placing 2nd in the conference.

Part of the success was the combination of their young stars in Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokić and veteran players forming well together. They ended up losing in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Portland Trail Blazers in an exciting seven-game series. Still, Nugget fans should be excited about their team and what they can do heading into the 2019-2020 season.

They did not make any huge splashes in the offseason, rather taking care of their own. They re-signed Murray to a 5-year, $170 million contract, showing that the team is really high on him being the future of the franchise. They did not have any official draft picks in the 2019 NBA Draft but they did acquire one of the second-round picks, Bol Bol, from the Miami Heat. They also traded for Jerami Grant to boost their bench presence.

Let’s take a look at their roster heading into training camp/preseason.

Point Guards

Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Monté Morris
  • Jamal Murray

Murray has improved every year since entering the league in 2016, with his 18.7 points a game being a career-high for him last season. He’ll continue to be the main ball handler up the court and I believe is on the rise as one of the best young point guards in the league. Morris is a former second-round pick back in 2017 that has been a solid role player with the team.

Shooting Guards

Credit: Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports
  • Will Barton
  • Malik Beasley
  • P.J. Dozier
  • Gary Harris

Barton went from a bench player for the Portland Trail Blazers to a solid starter in Denver. He is an athletic SG that can get his shots when needed. Beasley was taken in the same draft as the previously mentioned Murray and while he may not start, he is a solid bench contributor. Harris is one of the more underrated players in the league as has a career scoring average of 12.4 points a game and will likely be the starter next to Murray and Barton moving to the SF spot for now. Dozier is a former 2017 undrafted free agent that’ll look to earn a role with the team.

Small Forwards

Credit: Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images
  • Vlatko Čančar
  • Torrey Craig
  • Jerami Grant
  • Michael Porter Jr.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt

The main question out of this group is Porter Jr., who at one point, was the top high school recruit. He ended up only playing three games at the University of Missouri due to injuries. He was drafted 14th overall in 2018 but has yet to play a single minute as he recovers from back surgery. We may finally see him play this season but don’t expect him to start right away. If he can find his rhythm early, he may be the final piece the Nuggets are looking for to make a deep playoff run. Grant was acquired this past offseason to be a main contributor off the bench and is a solid two-way player. Craig was an in-and-out starter last season and looks to come off the bench to start the season. Čančar and Vanderbilt are two rookies that’ll look to fight for playing time as training camps/preseason gets underway.

Power Forwards

Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Tyler Cook *(Two-Way)
  • Juan Hernangómez
  • Paul Millsap

I have always said that Millsap is in the conversation as one of the most underrated players in the league right now. He is a solid double-double machine and a nice veteran presence on this young team. He’ll continue to be the starter as he heads into his 14th season. Hernangómez is a solid backup to Millsap while Cook will look to earn a full roster spot during the season if he impresses during his two-way contract stint.

Centers

Credit: Mark Sobhani/Getty Images
  • Bol Bol *(Two-Way)
  • Nikola Jokić
  • Mason Plumlee

An MVP candidate last season, Jokić was really impressive, averaging 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.4 steals last season. A center that can do it all? What more can you ask? He’ll look to the main focal point the offense once again. Plumlee will continue his role as the backup and has been a solid role player for Denver the last two and a half seasons. Bol is an interesting prospect here. He was considered a lottery selection but ended up slipping to the second round. At 7’2″, there is a lot of potential here, as he showed he can be a solid scorer and fantastic shot-blocker during his limited time at Oregon. A two-way contract is a good move here for Denver, as he won’t count towards the 15 man roster but they can keep him around for the early part of the season and have him spend time in the G League to develop his craft. If he turns into the top 10 pick scouts were saying he would be, watch out.

Coach

Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Mike Malone was named the head coach back in 2015 and before last season, he never led the team to the playoffs. In 2019-2020, he turned things around and showed what he can finally do with the young lineup. After a successful stint, he’ll look to build upon last season and potentially make a deeper postseason run.

Projected Lineup/Roster Cuts

  • PG: Jamal Murray
  • SG: Gary Harris
  • SG/SF: Will Barton
  • PF: Paul Millsap
  • C: Nikola Jokić
  • Sixth Man: Malik Beasley
  • Key Role Players: Torrey Craig, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Monté Morris
  • Rest of the Bench: Michael Porter Jr., Juan Hernangómez, Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Dozier, Vlatko Čančar
  • Two-Way Players: Bol Bol, Tyler Cook 
  • Roster Cuts: None

Like stated before, this lineup is a combination of young stars and older veterans that can still contribute. Murray and Jokić are the main players to look at, while guys like Harris and Millsap will also be solid second scoring options. The bench of Beasley, Grant, Craig, and Plumlee is a solid second team to run the floor. If Porter Jr. comes back fully healthy, he’ll only make them better.

I am really high on the Denver Nuggets this season. With another season together, I expect them to be at the top of the conference once again this season. It will be tough as they’ll have to deal with the likes of the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and Los Angeles Lakers for example. They’ll hold their own and Nuggets fan should be excited heading into the season.

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