Being a Nuggets fan requires, I'm sure, a lot of patience. At least there is hope, though - something that has been in short supply lately. They have a very solid coach in Mike Malone, a solidly deep frontcourt, some very promising guards, and a generally solid mix of talent. They don't have a superstar at this point, but they have guys with high ceilings and lots of room to improve. They are very, very young, though. Jameer Nelson and Mike Miller are the only two guys over 30, and if all goes to plan neither will play a major role. Meanwhile, they have 15 guys in camp who are 26 or younger, and seven key contributors who are 22 or less. It is going to take a while for these guys to grow into what they can be - and that's the best-case scenario.
2016 Denver Nuggets Betting Storylines
I have actually seen the Nuggets in person this preseason - a rare occurrence in the hinterlands of western Canada. They played an exhibition here in Calgary against the Raptors. The house was hugely pro-Toronto, but I know what Toronto is so I was much more interested in watching the Nuggets. It's only the preseason, so you can only take so much from what you see. The guy who really impressed, though, was center Jusuf Nurkic, a first-round pick of the Bulls in 2014 who the Nuggets acquired on his draft day. He is entering his third year but lost much of last season to a knee injury. He led the team in both scoring and rebounds, and he looked very comfortable and competent. He also led the game in trash talk - but not the hollow boasting kind. He was able to get into the heads of the Raptors. He had the look of a guy who was ready to take a big step forward this year and who could emerge as a very strong defensive force in the league.
Another guy who can - and needs to - take a big step forward is point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. He led all rookies in assists last year, but his shooting was not what it needs to be and he was a turnover factory. He's going to get all the time he needs this year - Nelson is the backup, and it's not like he needs a lot of minutes at this stage in his career. He was quieter than I would have liked Monday night - he rebounded surprisingly well on the night but didn't generate a whole lot, and his shooting was lousy. His ceiling is ridiculously high, though, and progress is all but assured his year if he stays healthy.
One interesting aspect of the team is shooting guard. They have a whole lot to choose from. Gary Harris, Mike Miller, Jamal Murray, and Malik Beasley all play the position and are likely to be on the roster, and they are looking at a couple of others as well. Perhaps the biggest challenge Malone faces - albeit a good kind of challenge - will be figuring out how to let the young guys develop while sharing the minutes in the backcourt. It will lead to some growing pains this year, but the investment is more than worthwhile.
2016 Denver Nuggets Additions and Departures
The Nuggets liked the hand they were dealt last year, so they mostly stood pat. They know that they have a young roster that requires patience, so they did little other than add a lot in the draft. D.J. Augustin and Joffrey Lauvergne are the only two to leave the roster, and neither will be particularly missed. No veterans were added.
It was all about the draft for the Nuggets this year. They had amassed three first-round picks, and they did a good job of using them. First, they took shooting guard Jamal Murray from Kentucky with the seventh pick. Next, they added forward Juan Hernangomez from Spain 15th. Finally, they got shooting guard Malik Beasley from Florida State 19th. All three represent good value for where they were drafted - especially Murray. It's a nice group to work with, with the only complaint being that giving at least three roster spots to rookies on a team that is already young isn't necessarily ideal.
2016 Denver Nuggets Futures Odds and Trends
The Nuggets were 42-38-2 ATS, so they were only very slightly profitable on the season. They went "over" the total in 46 games, though, and "under" in 35, so there was money to be made there.
Denver Nuggets Futures Odds (from Bovada)
NBA title odds : +50000
Western Conference title odds : +15000
Jamal Murray ROY Odds : +2000
Season win total (from Westgate): 34.5
2016 Denver Nuggets Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
Long term I like where this team is going. They can let their core develop, and maybe in a couple of years add a free agent piece or two to cement them as a contender. They just aren't going to be very good this year. They will compete hard and should cover more than their share of spreads as a result, but they will be much closer to the bottom of the conference than the top - or even the middle. Next year they have both their own first-round pick and Memphis', so a lower finish will only head them add to their stockpile of young talent to build for the future.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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