The Denver Nuggets aren’t the favorites to win the championship this year, but here’s why they could still strike gold.
It’s the question of the year for Denver: What if Jamal Murray never got hurt?
Before Murray’s ACL injury in April, the Denver Nuggets were poised to make their most competitive run to the NBA finals. After the injury, the Nuggets’ odds of winning the championship fell to +3000, and that pretty much means is no one is betting on the Nugs right now.
That being said, Denver are still enjoying one of their most successful seasons to date, and with a little luck and a lot of help from MVP contender Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets could still go all the way to their first-ever NBA Finals. Currently, Denver sits at No. 4 in the Western Conference and could face a tough first round. Jokic has gone on the record to say he’s not afraid of playing the Lakers early, nor any other star-studded squad for the matter, but he knows his team still has a lot of work to do.
The Murray injury isn’t an end-all to the Nuggets’ championship run. Sure, Murray and Jokic were an offensive menace like no other, and the way they played together brought newfound hope to the city of Denver, but don’t count the Nuggets out yet. Denver could very well be the league underdogs to claim the franchise’s first championship.
5. Paul Millsap brings veteran experience to the Denver Nuggets
After the Aaron Gordon trade, Denver’s frontcourt rotation may not include Paul Millsap as a starter, but the veteran is still just as integral to the team.
At age 36, Millsap is still the glue that holds Denver’s defensive unit together, even if it’s now the second string. Millsap doesn’t balk at the Nugget’s defensive responsibilities and does his part in both guarding playmakers and effectively blocking shots on the perimeter. With his tactical wits and his 14 years of experience, Millsap is a valuable albeit grizzled asset on both sides of the court, shooting 48.7 percent from the field while recording 4.8 rebounds per game this season.
Recently, he’s been playing with fellow forward JaMychal Green, which could be a dependable frontcourt pairing for the postseason. Having two similarly sized big men can allow Denver to switch more on defense and hinder fast-break plays or disrupt opponents’ dynamic offensive sequences. If Millsap continues playing well in the precious minutes he has and locks down Denver’s defense against hot teams, the Nuggets will have a genuine chance at winning the championship.