The Western Conference has always been stacked with contenders. The 2018-2019 will prove to be no different as a lot of offseason moves make for a deeper and more competitive conference. Lebron James’ move to the Lakers instantly makes them a playoff team at the very least.
The Houston Rockets have acquired the services of Carmelo Anthony. There are still dark horse contenders in the Thunder, Jazz and Spurs. And, of course, there’s the defending champion Golden State Warriors and their newly acquired superstar in Demarcus Cousins.
One team, however, that might not be getting as much attention are the Denver Nuggets. Last year, they were one of the teams that were fighting for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, despite having a more than decent 46-36 record, they missed out on the playoffs and finished in 9th place in the West. For perspective, that same record would have been enough to get them to the 6th seed in the East.
During this past offseason, the Nuggets made some great additions to their team which would surely help in their campaign. In ESPN’s NBA Basketball Power Index Rankings, the Nuggets are already projected to be tied for the fifth seed with the Los Angeles Lakers with an 88% chance of making it to the postseason.
First of all, the Nuggets did a great job in sorting Nikola Jokic contract which secures that the Nuggets have their centerpiece moving forward. The talented big man was signed for a five-year 148 million dollar contract.
Then, in the 2018 NBA Draft, they took a flyer on Michael Porter Jr. Many experts believe that this was an absolute steal for the Nuggets considering the position they were drafting from (14th overall) and the potential Porter has. No more than 2 years ago, Porter was the consensus pick as the No. 1 overall pick in most mock drafts. A lot of people were comparing him to covering because of his ease in scoring and ball handling for a guy of his size.
Unfortunately, he was hampered by back injuries during his college stint with Missouri which caused him only to play 3 games with averages of 10 points, 6.7 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game and ending with a first round exit in the NCAA tournament. If he can recover fully from his multiple back surgeries and return to form, he surely has the talent to make a difference for the Nuggets.
A lot of people probably thought that the Nuggets were done making moves after that but in free agency the Nuggets made another brilliant move in signing Isaiah Thomas. This addition would add to an already potent backcourt for the Nuggets led by Jamal Murray and Gary Harris. The great thing about the Thomas addition is they are adding a legitimate threat off the bench, something they lacked last season (25th in the league in bench scoring). Having a 2-time NBA All-Star coming off the bench will surely be an advantage for them.
It is worth noting that even if everything pans out for the Nuggets in terms of the performance of their acquisitions, this does not guarantee a deep playoff run for the Nuggets. This just shows you the amount of talent that is currently in the Western Conference. However, they can prove to just as dangerous as the other top-tier teams come playoff time.