The Denver Nuggets as a franchise ha not been the most successful. They’ve been in the league for more than 50 years but have never been in the NBA Finals. However, the Nuggets have had a lot of very good players on a lot of good teams, which makes for a very talented all-time team.
All-Time Denver Nuggets
Point Guard: Fat Lever
One of the great names in NBA history, Fat Lever played for three teams in his 11 season career but his best came with the Nuggets. He averaged 17 points per game, 7.5 assists per game, and 7.6 rebounds per game in his tenure with Denver. He was a triple-double machine, and one of the best defensive point guards of his time, averaging 2.5 steals per game as well.
Lever’s best season was the 1986-87 season, where he made an All-Star appearance, made an All-NBA team, and averaged a near triple-double with 18.9 points per game, 8 assists per game, and 8.9 rebounds per game. While the Nuggets had Allen Iverson for a short time, and all-time Iverson is better than Lever, as a Nugget Fat Lever is the best point guard in Denver history.
Shooting Guard: David Thompson
Oh, what David Thompson could’ve been. His career was unfortunately cut short by a drug problem, but when he was with the Nuggets, he was one of the best players in the NBA. He played his rookie year in the ABA and averaged 26 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. Nicknamed “Skywalker”, Thompson averaged over 20 points per game in all but one year with Denver.
His best season came in the 77-78 year when he averaged 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. This position isn’t up for debate. There is no other shooting guard who comes close to Thompson in terms of Win Shares, where Thompson is third all-time for the Nuggets.
Small Forward: Alex English
The greatest player in Nuggets history, Alex English, is criminally underrated. He played for four teams in his illustrious career but was easily his best with the Nuggets. In 11 seasons with Denver, English averaged 25.9 points and 5.5 rebounds and was an eight-time all-star, while leading the NBA in scoring in 1982-83. He’s a Hall of Famer and has his jersey retired by the Nuggets.
While he led the league in scoring in the 82-83 season, his best year was in 1985-86. English had per-game averages of 29.8 points, five rebounds, and four assists. English is a no brainer for this list.
Power Forward: Dan Issel
Dan Issel was a great big man. However, he is relatively forgotten. Issel started out in the ABA and was incredible there, averaging 26.2 points per game. He then transitioned to the NBA with the Nuggets and averaged 20.7 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game over 10 seasons. Issel also has his jersey retired by the Nuggets and is also in the Hall of Fame.
Center: Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic just finished his fourth season in the NBA, and already has a claim to the best center in Nuggets history. He became the first Nugget player to earn All-NBA First Team honors since David Thompson this past season. Jokic averaged 20.1 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game, and 7.3 assists per game while also earning his first All-Star berth. The last three years have shoved Jokic into the spotlight in Denver, and he has responded.
Jokic signed a max contract last season, and with Denver’s resurgence, Jokic seems to be in a Nuggets uniform for a while. With all the young talent this Nuggets team has, Jokic is leaps and bounds above the rest and could be an all-time great.
Backcourt: Chauncey Billups, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
Chauncey Billups is most well known for his time with the Detriot Pistons, where he won a championship and a Finals MVP. But Billups was great in a Nuggets uniform as well. The Colorado raised Billups averaged almost 17 points and five assists per game. He shot nearly 40 percent from three-point range and 91 percent from the free-throw line in his five seasons with Denver and also played a big role in leading Denver to the Conference Finals in 2009.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf played for the Nuggets in the early 1990s and was great for them. He averaged 16 points per game in the six seasons he played for Denver and was a key piece in 1994 when the Nuggets became the first eight seed to beat a one seed in the first round of the playoffs. Abdul-Rauf’s career is somewhat “tainted” with the controversy surrounding his national anthem protest, but there is no denying he was a great player.
Frontcourt: Carmelo Anthony, Antonio McDyess, Dikembe Mutombo
While Carmelo Anthony may have spurned the Nuggets in 2011 when he demanded a trade from the team, he was one of the greats for Denver. In his eight years with the Nuggets, Melo was a scoring machine. He averaged 24.8 points, with his best season coming in 2006, averaging a robust 28.9 points to go with six rebounds a contest. Anthony, along with Billups, was big in getting the Nuggets to the conference finals in 2009.
Antonio McDyess, similar to Issel, is a little forgotten in Nuggets lore. McDyess and Nene Hilario were the two players who were considered for this position, but McDyess was better in his six seasons with Denver. McDyess had per-game averages of 18.2 points and 9 rebounds while also being on an All-NBA team.
Dikembe Mutombo started his career with the Nuggets and turned into a Hall of Famer. Mutombo led the league in blocks three times with the Nuggets and paired with Abdul-Rauf led Denver to the second round of the 1994 playoffs. Mutombo averaged a double-double with Denver, with 12.9 points per game and 12.3 rebounds and also averaged a ridiculous 3.8 blocks.
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