37-20 • 4th in WESTERN CONFERENCE
It does seem like that the Denver Nuggets lost more than they gained after not bringing back Jerami Grant for another season in 2020-21. After his lone season in the Mile High City, Grant chose to exercise his player option and move to the Detroit Pistons for a sign-and-trade deal.
The Nuggets are losing a reliable scorer and one of their strongest defenders with Grant's departure. Both of those skills were key in last season's incredible playoff run, where he averaged 11.6 points and added 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals per game. With Grant now gone, the Nuggets have to look for another star to fill up the stat sheet around Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic on a nightly basis.
Though the tandem of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic is still young, it does seem that they need some help from another superstar to help them compete in the very tough Western Conference. In 2019-20, we got a glimpse of how much potential these two have as the main duo in Denver, leading the Nuggets back from two straight 3-1 holes in the playoffs. They ultimately ran into a huge wall against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, and both Murray and Jokic had no answers for the eventual champions.
Instead of making a deal to grab a superstar, the Nuggets might want to look closer and bet on the rising Michael Porter Jr. MPJ had a breakout season last year and proved that when he’s given the opportunity, he can ball out and be the third star head coach Michael Malone needs.
If the Denver Nuggets can pull it off, then they should definitely trade for superstar Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards. A superstar like Beal won't come at a cheap price though. The Nuggets would have to let go of key pieces on their roster, such as Gary Harris and/or Michael Porter Jr., to at least have a chance to snag the 2019-20 season’s second-leading scorer.
Given Beal's undeniable talent, throwing a lot of players on the table in a trade would surely be worth it. Adding an All-Star like Beal would immediately increase the Nuggets' chances to compete for a title this season, as his game would easily complement Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
For now, the Denver Nuggets don't seem to be a legitimate contender for an NBA title in 2020-21. With the roster they had last season, the Nuggets were Western Conference contenders at best. They did sneak out of the first two rounds of the playoffs in incredible fashion, but they were clearly outmatched by the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals. Coming into the 2020-21 season, the Nuggets parted ways with key members of last year's roster in Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, and Torrey Craig. They did snag a few promising rookies this year, but without proven players to help Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, Jr., and the rest of the young Denver unit, it’s tough to predict another Western Conference Finals berth this season.
Nikola Jokic is clearly the best player on the Denver Nuggets’ roster, with point guard Jamal Murray coming in a close second. The 7-foot Serbian has been one of the best centers in the league over the past few years, as he has slowly grown to become a triple-double machine as the Nuggets' main facilitator. Aside from being a force in the paint, The Joker has made a name for himself by being one of the best passers in the NBA, averaging over six assists per game in his last three seasons. In 2019-20, Jokic tallied thirteen triple-doubles in the regular season and notched his fifth playoff triple-double in the second round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers. Though Murray's star power is undeniable, it's Jokic's steady hand that's been the barometer for the Nuggets over the past few seasons. His ability to facilitate in and out of the paint posts a matchup problem for the entire league, and the scary part is, it seems that Jokic is far from his peak.
As of February 2021, the Denver Nuggets have an estimated net worth of $1.65 billion (via Forbes), which ranks them at No. 19 in the NBA. After continuous success behind Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the organization is slowly reaping the benefits of their team's growth with a huge increase in TV ratings (74%) last year. After the Nuggets' incredible playoff run inside the bubble, look for the team's valuation to soar amid the 2020-21 NBA season.
The Denver Nuggets play their home games at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. Formerly known as the Pepsi Center, the arena has been home to the Nuggets since 1999 and also houses the city's NHL team, the Colorado Avalanche. After almost two decades, the arena granted naming rights to the Ball Corporation, which is also the arena's exclusive "sustainability partner.”
As part of the multi-year agreement between the Ball Corporation and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (who owns the arena and the team), all KSE-owned sports teams and venues will have recyclable aluminum products provided by Ball to significantly reduce its plastic waste. The objective is to fully transition to serving drinks and other concessions in recyclable packaging by 2022.
The Kroenke Sports & Entertainment Group is the majority owner of the Denver Nuggets franchise. Spearheaded by founder Stan Kroenke, KSE took over the Nuggets organization (alongside the Colorado Avalanche and the Pepsi Center) in July 2000. Since 2015, Stan Kroenke has transferred controlling interest of the Nuggets to his wife Ann Kroenke in light of his acquisition of other professional sports teams like the Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Colorado Rapids (MLS), and Arsenal FC (EPL).
Michael Malone is the head coach for the Denver Nuggets. He is entering his sixth season as the head tactician for the Nuggets in 2020-21. After missing the playoffs in his first three seasons, Malone has brought Denver to the postseason in back-to-back years - with last season's Western Conference Finals appearance being the farthest they’ve gone.
Under head coach Michael Malone, the Denver Nuggets have seven assistant coaches for the 2020-21. Wes Unseld, Jr. is the associate head coach while John Beckett, Charles Klask, David Adelman, Jordi Fernandez, and Ryan Bowen are all part of the coaching staff as assistants. All members of the Nuggets' coaching staff have been with the team for at least two seasons, with Bowen having the longest tenure.
Bowen, who also played for Denver in his time in the NBA as a player, has been part of the coaching staff since 2011.
A few Denver Nuggets head coaches over the last decades truly stand out above the rest. For starters, current head coach Michael Malone has already put his name on the list after just five seasons. Ever since Denver hired him in 2015, Malone has slowly transformed the Nuggets into a perennial playoff team with title aspirations. Malone was key in the Nuggets prolific 2020 playoff run where they overcame two straight 3-1 deficits and were two wins away from booking a trip to the NBA Finals.
Head coach Larry Brown also earned his spot on the list of the best Nuggets coaches ever. In five seasons as the Nuggets' head tactician, Brown had the third-most wins in franchise history with 251, and he was able to bring the team to the playoffs four times from 1975 to 1979.
Right next to Brown is George Karl, who had a nine-year tenure in Denver from 2005-2013. In each of those nine years, Karl led the Nuggets to the playoffs and even went to the Western Conference Finals in 2009, only to lose to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
The head coach with the most wins to his name is the rightful owner of the title of best Denver Nuggets coach of all time: Doug Moe. Moe garnered a total of 432 regular-season wins and added 24 in the playoffs. He was the head coach for the Nuggets for 10 seasons and also served as an assistant coach for six years prior. Denver missed the playoffs just once in those 10 seasons under Moe's tutelage. He was also the league's Coach of the Year in 1987-88.
Two members of the Denver Nuggets’ inaugural team after the ABA-NBA merger stand as some of the best players in franchise history. Forward Dan Issel (5th) and swingman David Thompson (4th) were early stars who made a lasting impression on the organization after decades of playing for Denver. Issel is the second-leading scorer in franchise history with 16,589 points, averaging 20.7 points per game in his 10 seasons with the team. He was also the first Denver Nuggets member to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Thompson, just like his teammate Issel, was also a Hall of Famer. He was the ABA Rookie of The Year in 1976 and helped Denver climb all the way to the ABA Finals. The four-time NBA All-Star was known for his 73-point eruption in 1978 and averaged a total of 24.1 points per game in 498 games for Denver.
Dikembe Mutombo stands out as the third-best Nuggets player of all-time. In just four seasons with the Nuggets in the early ‘90s, Mutombo inked himself in history as the franchise's all-time blocks leader with a whopping total of 1,486 (averaging 3.8 blocks in 391 games). Mutombo went on to play the rest of his career with several other teams, but his impact in his early years in Denver will certainly last.
Number two on the Nuggets' top five list has to be Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets' third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft put the team on the map. An instant star in the city of Denver, Melo was a member of the NBA All-Rookie Team and a four-time All-Star in seven and a half seasons with the Nuggets. He averaged over 24 points per game before leaving Mile High City.
At the top of the list has to be the legendary Alex English. The Hall of Fame swingman blessed the franchise with a decade-long career with numbers that went off the roof. English tops the franchise as the all-time leading scorer with 21,645 points while making eight All-Star teams in his 10-year stay in Denver. His individual success also translated to wins, as he was able to lead the Nuggets to nine straight playoff appearances.
A number of legends have suited up for the Denver Nuggets over the franchise’s history. Early favorites to make the cut have to be Dan Issel and David Thompson - two members of the Nuggets when it joined the NBA from the ABA. Issel is arguably the best center in franchise history. He currently stands as the franchise's top rebounder (6,630) and the second-best scorer (16,589). Thompson, on the other hand, was an explosive guard who had an immediate impact to the franchise. The six-year member of the team was a three-time All-Star, an All-Star Game MVP, and a two-time member of the All-NBA First Team.
The next decade belonged to Alex English, who is by far the best player to ever play for the Denver Nuggets - and the numbers speak for themselves. English currently leads the franchise in points, assists, field goals, minutes, and even games played. His teammate Lafayette Lever is also in contention for recognition as a Nuggets legend.
Rounding out the list are Dikembe Mutombo - the franchise's swat leader who ruled the paint for Denver in the early ‘90s - and Carmelo Anthony - the team's franchise player in the 2000s.