Mining For A Championship

Mining+For+A+Championship

Alex Botello, Sports Reporter

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Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 marks the start of the Denver Nuggets season. After almost making the playoffs last year, the Nuggets look to surprise the NBA this year.

The hometown team ended the 2016-17 season with 40 wins and 42 losses. This mark was one game shy of making it into the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

The Nuggets have been under a serious rebuild the past four years. In 2011, the Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony for a few players, notably Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, and many other draft picks.

Every season after the 2012-13 season was rough. The Nuggets couldn’t seem to win more than 30 games in an 82-game season, and the playoffs were unattainable. Last year, however, the Nuggets showed signs of improvement.

Over the years the Nuggets have been picking up young promising talent such as Emmanuel Mudiay, Garry Harris, Jamal Murray, and rising star Nikola Jokic. After four years of development, the Nuggets have crafted a team that is viewed as a playoff contender in a stacked western conference.

The Nuggets have typically struggled to keep big superstars on the team. Carmelo Anthony left for the NY Knicks, Andre Iguodala left for the Warriors after one season, and many other players brush off signing with the Nuggets because of their lack of a superstar. Thanks to Jokic, and the success of the Nuggets last season, players are more optimistic about signing with the team. Nuggets rising star, shooting guard Gary Harris, just inked a four-year, $84 million extension to stay.

After last season’s heartbreak, the Nuggets went into the offseason with one goal, sign veteran leaders to help their young core. After many years of targeting Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap, the Nuggets were able to recruit the 4- time NBA All-Star and are prepared to pair him up with Jokic, who last season proved to be one of the NBA’s best centers; his deep range and amazing court vision have propelled him to superstar status.

With the addition of Millsap, a great passer in his own right, the Nuggets look to play a brand of basketball similar to the successful playstyle in San Antonio; a pass first game with ball movement that keeps the defense moving all over the floor.

This playstyle also works best when you’re able to spread the floor with three-point shooting. Garry Harris finished last season second in guards in three-point percentage at 42%. Jamal Murray is being compared to Stephen Curry with his ability to make threes, and after his offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia, the Nuggets guard is finally healthy.

Former Cleveland Cavaliers Forward Richard Jefferson has also reportedly signed a one-year contract with the Nuggets. This move brings in more veteran leadership and defensive stability to the roster. However, this would mean that veteran guard, Jammer Nelson would be cut from the team to make space for Jefferson. The move makes sense, as the Nuggets are overloaded with guards, but losing a player like Nelson would hurt.

The offense is clearly here for the Nuggets; they finished 3rd in points per game last season with 111.7 points. The real issue is defense as the Nuggets gave up 111.2 points per game ranking them 27th in the league in points allowed.

Bringing in Millsap was also for defensive leadership. Millsap was never known as an offensive juggernaut, but a solid defensive player. He can mentor the young players and instill a defensive mindset to the Nuggets. Scoring will come, but limiting opponents will determine how the season will go.

Expectations are high for this young team to make a splash this season. After last year’s improvements and this off-season’s signings, the Nuggets are projected to make the playoffs after four years. The Mile High crew is ready for tip-off 7 pm mountain time, against the Utah Jazz in what will be the start of a new era for Nuggets basketball.