The Denver Nuggets are coming off a promising 2020 campaign that included a surprise Western Conference Finals run. The Nuggets showed off their resiliency after coming back from down 3-1 multiple times in the same playoffs. They are the only team to ever do so. Led by their star duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the Nuggets are all set to enter the 2021 season as title contenders once again.
Are the Denver Nuggets Title Contenders?
The Luxury of a Superstar Duo
Having one elite shot creator is a must that any NBA team looking to contend needs, but two? That’s a luxury. A luxury that the Nuggets happen to have. Only a handful of teams in the NBA have two players with the offensive capabilities of Jokic and Murray. These two are the cornerstone of Denver’s present and future as they are both still under 26-years-old. Due to the sheer amount of young talent on the Nuggets roster, there is a real chance that they enter this season as an even better team than last season. But is it enough to consider them championship contenders?
The Nuggets were not very active in the free agency market. In fact, they lost their biggest free agent, 26-year-old forward Jerami Grant, to the Detroit Pistons. They quickly recovered from this loss by replacing Grant with JaMychal Green. Green is not the same player as Grant but he is almost as good and costs them only $7 million as opposed to Grant’s $20 million price tag. Whatever production is lost by the drop off from Grant to Green will be made up for by the Nuggets youth movement.
Michael Porter Jr’s Emergence
The 22-year-old Michael Porter Jr. looks to make a big leap this season. Players tend to make their biggest improvement between their first and second seasons so expect Porter to become the Nuggets definitive third option. Even if his horrendous defense has not improved a lick, Porter’s offensive game is elite for someone so young. Forwards standing 6-foot-10 that can handle the ball and create offense don’t grow on trees. Porter only played 16 minutes per game but his production in those limited minutes was unbelievable. Per 36 minutes he averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds on over 61 percent true shooting. The only players to match that production last season were Karl-Anthony Towns, John Collins, and reigning two-time Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo. Talk about good company.
The Nuggets should be better this season than they were last season. They are coming off a great season and should be confident that they have a real shot at winning the NBA championship. The Denver Nuggets are legit title contenders. As long as Porter and Murray continue their upward trajectory and Jokic plays like the MVP-caliber player he is, there is no reason for the Nuggets to be lower than a third seed. Even in the brutal Western Conference, only the Los Angeles teams can truly compete with Denver.
Record Prediction: 48-24
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