There's a vastly underrated storyline that we tend to overlook as NBA fans when a young team goes through a successful year and takes an earlier than expected exit from the NBA playoffs...
Chemistry and Experience.
That's going to be the phrase to focus on for Nuggets fans heading into the upcoming 2019-20 season. The value of a young team getting playoff experience is second to none. But if that wasn't enough for this Denver Nuggets organization, the team has another boost coming and it's something that isn't getting enough attention. No, we aren't talking about soon to be "rookie" Michael Porter Jr...yet.
RUN IT BACK
This is exactly what no one is talking about and it's crucial to creating a contender for years to come. The Nuggets have almost every player returning from last years playoff roster. This is important for a number of reasons, but the obvious is a continuity of chemistry. Teams that "load up" with new acquisitions in the offseason will look fantastic on paper, but they often struggle out of the gates as new players are still learning how to play with one another. This Nuggets team doesn't have to worry about that. They know each other, and they know how to put each individual in a position to succeed. Based off of that fact alone, we shouldn't be surprised if the Nuggets come out of the gate on fire to start the year. They got a taste of playoff experience and they will be motivated to prove to the rest of the league that they have only just begun.
THE OFFSEASON ACQUISITION NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT
One of my favorite moves this offseason that seemed to slip through the cracks in all of the offseason chaos was the Nuggets acquiring the ever so versatile Jerami Grant formally of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Grant has made his calling card as a gritty defender who isn't afraid to mix it up inside. He's going to provide a perfect boost to the identity of this Denver Nuggets team and Grant should be a fantastic overall piece of depth coming off of the bench for this roster moving forward. Remember again, the Nuggets have pretty much their entire core of important role players returning and now they added a tough defender in Grant to the bunch.
CASHING IN A LOTTERY TICKET
We were teased with getting a fresh look at the Michael Porter Jr experience in Summer League before he was sat down after experiencing some knee soreness (it's okay Nuggets fans I'm sure it wasn't too serious). Now it looks like we will have to wait until at least preseason to get our first look at the Nuggets shiny new toy off of the bench. From initial clips of the Nuggets practicing before Summer League, it looked like Porter Jr was holding more than his own in scrimmages. Buy into the hype Nuggets fan, there's a reason why Porter Jr is such an exciting talent. He possesses the ability to light it up from just about anywhere on the floor, and that's notable for a player of his size at 6'10". Although his journey to the NBA has been a bit rocky (excuse the pun), he should prove to be well worth the wait once he steps onto the floor. Porter Jr doesn't need to do much in his first year of action for the Nuggets and has the potential to be a monster threat off of the bench for this team due to his scoring ability.
We talked about it before and guess what? We are going to bring it up again. Experience for a young playoff team is so important. What's even more important is when the band is brought back to parlay that experience into a "revenge" season. It's the common tale of a young successful team that needs to learn how to win and then needs to learn how to become Champions. This Nuggets team knows what it takes to win, now they have a full offseason of understanding how grueling the season is if they want to become Champions.
One of the storylines that was sort of "forgotten" last year with the Nuggets was how the team was constantly waiting for important role players to return from injuries. Will Barton missed some valuable time getting up to speed, and the team was waiting the majority of the year to see if then point guard Isaiah Thomas would find a role in the rotation. Now, the Nuggets have a clear vision of who is expected to contribute and they find themselves healthy during this offseason. As stated before, getting the talented and lengthy offensive firepower of Michael Porter Jr could turn out to become a huge boost for this depth.
|Jamal Murray||Gary Harris||Will Barton||Paul Millsap||Nikola Jokic|
|Monte Morris||Malik Beasley||Torey Craig||Jerami Grant||Mason Plumlee|
|Michael Porter Jr||Juan Hernangomez||Bol Bol|
|Jared Vanderbilt||Thomas Welsh|
While we continue to obsess over the new "shiny toys" in the Western Conference, it's important not to overlook the Denver Nuggets this year. This team had a very nice offseason. The band is back together and the Nuggets have some fascinating additions coming in to provide a spark. Michael Porter Jr and Jerami Grant should become huge pieces for Head Coach Mike Malone to use, but don't overlook the promising bench pieces of Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris as well. All have looked to buy-in fully to their role with this team and they should provide great stability for this rotation off of the bench.