2018 Denver Nuggets Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
Like scoring? Find defense to be a waste of time? Then the Nuggets are your team. A precocious young team that missed the playoffs just because they lost their final game last year, this team has taken steps to be even more explosive offensively this season. And they certainly aren't going to waste a lot of time playing pesky defense. This team should be much improved and is just another example of how good and deep the West is right now.
Gary Harris Jr. just turned 24, and Jamal Murray is just 21. They are still approaching their prime, yet the backcourt duo combined for 34 points per game last year, and their chemistry increased visibly as the season went along. They are a light version of what Portland has in the backcourt, with plenty of upside. It is reasonable to expect both to take a step forward again this year. And Harris is quietly developing as a defender as well - though it's not that hard to stand out defensively on this roster.
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Nikola Jokic, with a fat new contract, is an interesting case. When you look at him he gives you hope that you could be in the league, too. He's not particularly athletic, and a turtle could give him a tough race. But whatever he does works, and he is a truly elite player - with a max contract to prove it. He plays like a point center, and he's a very good shooter - even better when you consider his size. He's only 23, too, so he fits the recurring theme with this team - they are young and could only get better.
Paul Millsap missed more than half the season last year, and it really hurt the team. He is the best defender they have, but more significantly he is an experienced veteran who brings calm composure to this young group. He is coming into this season healthy as he did last year. If he can stay that way, then it will be a huge boost for the team. They would have been a playoff squad last year if he had stayed healthy.
Maybe it's cheesy, but I am a big believer in teams that look like they are having fun playing together. That makes them dangerous. Utah looks like they love playing. Toronto did last year as well - at least until the playoffs. Milwaukee often does - especially when the Freak is in a groove. And Denver really looks like they have it going on when the starting five are on. It's like a Harlem Globetrotters game with a legitimate opponent. If they can keep that rolling - and they have the same core, so they certainly should be able to - then they will take a step forward.
2018 Denver Nuggets Additions and Departures
You have to feel bad for Isaiah Thomas. He could have won himself an MVP in Boston, but that feels like three lifetimes ago now. The trade to Cleveland was a disaster for him. Things had no hope of working out with the Lakers. Now he is in Denver where he will look to make the most of bench minutes and try to rebuild his career and earn himself another shot. He doesn't play defense but is a potent scorer, so he could fit in here. If he can fill his role then he could make a dangerous offensive team even more so. It's a good signing.
The team has the potential to have gotten very lucky in the draft. Michael Porter Jr. was viewed by many as the top player out of high school two years ago, but a back injury cost him his season at Missouri last year. Somewhat shockingly, he fell all the way to 14th, and the Nuggets jumped on him. He had a second back surgery after the draft, so he may miss most or all of the season. But when he comes back he will be yet another strong scoring option for this team, and if he is ready in time he could help the team's second unit to be scarier offensively than some team's first offensive unit. He has a lot more upside than most 14th picks.
Later in the draft the team added forward Jarred Vanderbilt from Kentucky and center Thomas Welsh from UCLA. Welsh will likely see lots of G-League time, and Vanderbilt is a project.
To open space for Jokic's deal, the team had to make some moves. Gone are Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and Wilson Chandler through trades, and Devin Harris through free agency. The moves were well done by management, and none leave holes that will leave scars.
2018 Denver Nuggets Futures Odds and Trends
NBA title odds (from Bovada) : +12500
Western Conference title odds : +7500
Nikola Jokic MVP Odds : +10000
Michael Porter Jr. ROY Odds: +2200
Season win total: 47.5
The team was 37-42-3 ATS on the season, so small profits could be found in consistently betting against them. They went "over" the total 40 times and "under" the same number of times, so finding profits on the totals was not easy here.
2018 Denver Nuggets Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
It's easy to like this team and where they are at. But the challenge with the West is that it is also easy to like 10 or 11 other teams - and to view them all as playoff teams. The defense could be an issue, and it limits their upside to some extent, but the squad still has 50 wins as a reasonable ceiling if they stay healthy and continue developing. I'd take the over on the season win total - and I expect them to be a playoff team.
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