The Denver Nuggets were the first team to be eliminated from the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs after losing to the Phoenix Suns 125-118. Losing Jamal Murray to a torn ACL proved to be a huge blow to the Nuggets. To make matters worse, the NBA’s MVP Nikola Jokic getting ejected for a flagrant foul on Cameron Payne put the nail in the coffin for the Nuggets’ season. Overall, the Nuggets weren’t as dynamic, especially offensively, as they were during last year’s playoffs in the bubble. However, the growth of Michael Porter Jr. should give the Nuggets optimism going into next season.
The Nuggets have 7 free agents going into the offseason. Those players consist of:
- Will Barton- Player Option ($14 Million)
- Paul Millsap- Unrestricted Free Agent
- JaMychal Green- Player Option ($7.5 Million)
- JaVale McGee- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Austin Rivers- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Shaquille Harrison- Restricted Free Agent
- Markus Howard- Restricted Free Agent
The Nuggets have been perceived as a serious title contender for the past couple of seasons; however, they haven’t been able to get over that hump. This offseason is critical for the Nuggets as far as overcoming those obstacles is concerned. The Nuggets should look at signing a backup rim protector, 3 and D wings and a secondary ball handler who can ideally complement Jamal Murray. Those players consist of:
- Serge Ibaka- Team Option ($9.7 Million)
- Nerlens Noel- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Willie Cauley-Stein- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Hassan Whiteside- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Kelly Oubre Jr.- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Justise Winslow- Team Option ($13 Million)
- P.J. Tucker- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Danny Green- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Josh Richardson- Unrestricted Free Agent
- Lonzo Ball- Restricted Free Agent
- Avery Bradley- Player Option ($5.9 Million)
- Kris Dunn- Player Option ($5 Million)
- Elfrid Payton- Unrestricted Free Agent
As good as the Nuggets have been offensively, the same can’t be said about their defense so signing the players listed above would help to solve that problem. The Nuggets don’t necessarily need to hit a home run this offseason, they just need to focus on signing complementary role players that would help them not only compete with but overcome teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Phoenix Suns.
As far as the 2021 NBA Draft is concerned, the Nuggets hold the 26th overall pick and would likely look to draft a player that is ready to contribute right away. One player that comes to mind is Oral Roberts combo guard Max Abmas. He may have only been a sophomore but his game is already polished and compares favorably to that of Aaron Brooks’, who won Most Improved Player in 2010. Like Brooks, Abmas is a smaller guard who possesses the irrational confidence to score in bunches.
After an unexpected run to the 2020 Western Conference Finals, the Nuggets came into the season with high expectations. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the chance to see the full extent of their potential because of the major injury to Jamal Murray as well as key role players such as Will Barton missing time due to injuries. Despite all of that, Nuggets fans should be optimistic about next season, especially once their team is fully healthy.
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