Offseason Forecasts #9: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets had a very injury riddled season, with several players missing significant time. Still, they have some budding stars who continued to show improvement this season. Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay had a fairly solid campaign, while Nikola Jokic was one of the most surprising rookies this season. Aside from those two, Gary Harris and Will Barton have also showed signs of good things to come, with Harris playing over 30 minutes per game. With Danilo Gallinari missing half of the season, a 33-win year cannot be too disappointing for Denver fans.

Here are the per game stats for the 2015-2016 Denver Nuggets:

W-L    FG%   3P%   FT   FTA   ORB   AST   STL  BLK  TOV   PF   PTS
                                                             
33-49 .442  .338  18.5  24.1  11.5  22.7  7.4  4.8  14.7  21.0 101.9

And these are the per game stats for their opponents:

W-L    FG%   3P%   FT   FTA   ORB   AST   STL  BLK  TOV   PF   PTS
                                                            
33-49 .461  .371  18.2  23.9  9.7   23.5  8.0  6.3  13.7  20.9 105.0

In terms of their roster, most of it is already set, with only a few players hitting free agency (Darrell Arthur, Mike Miller, D.J. Augustin). With that being said, there are still holes that need to be filled. Their main problem right now is their team direction. Does anyone really know what the Nuggets want to be in the near future? Are they going to use their key young pieces in a rebuild centered around one or two becoming stars? Are they going to package them or draft picks in order pick up a proven star? Are they going to play “team ball” and be a top defensive team that can pick up gritty wins? These are major questions and although there are some pieces in place, the NBA landscape is always shifting.

The draft will be a great place to see where the Nuggets are headed. Denver owns three first round picks (7th, 15th, 19th) and in a draft loaded with depth instead of superstars, these are valuable picks. With these picks, I think it is likely they will look for shooting, more point guard play, and a possible big man. In my Mock Draft, I have them selecting two shooters in Buddy Hield and Furkan Korkmaz, along with forward Brice Johnson. Other players that would fit the mold I have laid out would be Jaylen Brown, Domantas Sabonis, Wade Baldwin, and Deyonta Davis.

As I have already mentioned, this team is in need of shooting, and their free agent targets should reflect that. If they want to tackle both their problems in the front court and with shooting, players like Mirza Teletovic, Jon Leuer, and Ryan Anderson would work. All of these forwards would be nice complements for Kenneth Faried. Another nice addition would be a veteran shooter. With a young core, adding veteran leaders can make for a balanced roster. Jared Dudley, Courtney Lee, or Anthony Morrow would be solid contributing shooters for any team.

The Nuggets have to figure out their identity their offseason, but once they have their direction, the whole future will clear up. They already have talented young players like Mudiay, Harris, and Jokic, so the addition of three top-20 draft picks can only help to develop that core. Look for more than 33 wins for Denver in the near future.

Previous Offseason Forecast: Sacramento Kings (33-49).

Next Offseason Forecast: Milwaukee Bucks (33-49).

And that’s all I have for now, so this is me…signing off. -Lukas.

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