The future certainly looks bright in the Mile-High City. Although the Denver Nuggets failed in their quest to emerge out of Western Conference this year, all signs point to them being perennial contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy in the coming years.
By the looks of it, it seems the Michael Malone-mentored team is just one good piece away from truly becoming the top team in the league next year.
The current Nuggets ensemble, after all, boasts an intriguing mix of both young and experienced talent.
This year’s comeback kids showed no quit in them whatsoever, becoming the first team to overcome two 3-1 deficits in one playoff run. Denver also proved they belong in the West Finals by giving the overpowered Los Angeles Lakers one hell of a fight before succumbing in five closely-contested games.
Barring any bumps in the road, the Nikola Jokic-Jamal Murray pairing looks like a fearsome duo for years to come. Rookie Michael Porter Jr. is also poised for a larger role after that promising bubble performance.
Their 4-time All-Star Paul Millsap should be that third option, but it’s quite evident that his best days are now behind him.
The Nuggets must go on an aggressive hunt in the offseason to trade for that superstar to complete the trio and elevate them to the next level.
Judging by the assets the Nuggets currently have, they have some enticing pieces that can be used in an alluring trade package. Role players like Gary Harris, P.J. Dozier, Bol Bol, Torrey Craig, Will Barton, and Mason Plumlee’s respective stocks have certainly gotten higher after this season.
Since the Nuggets appear to be in a win-now mode at the moment, they can also include some of their future picks to sweeten the pot. Let’s have a look at three players Denver should make a run for this offseason.
Given Jokic’s limitations at the defensive end, the Nuggets elected to pair him with solid defenders like Millsap and Jerami Grant in the frontcourt. While the pair have worked hard to improve their range over the years, it seems Denver needs to have more catch-and-shoot threats to open up more space for Jokic and Murray to operate.
This is where K-Love comes in. The 32-year-old stretch-4 is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter. The 5-time All-Star already comes with some much-needed championship experience, which would further accelerate Jokic and Murray’s development.
In the event that Grant becomes way too expensive to keep in free agency, Denver should greatly consider this option. Millsap might be better defensively than Love, but the former UCLA product does bring a more varied skillset to the table.
A Jokic-Love tandem would definitely be the best passing frontcourt in the league reminiscent of the Chris Webber-Vlade Divac Kings pairing in the 2000s.
Nuggets guards will have a field day on the break, with both The Joker and Love being capable of throwing those outlet bombs off a rebound.
A lot of teams have their eye on CP3 at the moment, and the Nuggets should also throw their hat in the ring.
While Murray has shown that he capable of setting the table for his teammates this year, it might be in Denver’s best interest to pair him up with an already established playmaker in the backcourt.
Even at 35 years old, Paul is still the best in the business in terms of making his teammates better on the floor. With the 10-time All-Star setting up the offense, Murray can simply focus on putting up points on the scoreboard – which he has done to a great extent in the postseason.
Having around a playmaker of Paul’s caliber makes it a whole lot easier for the Canadian guard and lifts some defensive pressure off of him. Murray would simply need to be in his spots without the need to create his own shot.
Plus, Denver will arguably have two of the most creative playmakers in the league if Paul and Jokic end up in one team.
However, starting Paul and Murray together might poise some problems due to their lack of size. But Paul is still a capable defender at this stage of his career and should make up for that disadvantage.
Holiday may not be as accomplished as Paul and Love, but he might just be the most sensible and realistic target for Denver.
His arrival would immediately give the Nuggets’ perimeter defense a great boost considering they struggled at that end of the floor in playoffs.
Granted that their best stopper, Harris, played hurt and Barton was also unable to go, but it wouldn’t hurt to have another tested defensive pest like Jrue on their side.
The one-time All-Star is indeed one of the most under-appreciated players today on both ends of the floor.
Holiday also wouldn’t have a hard time playing alongside Murray, considering he is also a strong playmaker and good shooter.
Adding Holiday gives coach Malone another guard who can handle the ball and attack the D in the event that defenses collapse on Jokic.