Grade of the Day: 2019 Denver Nuggets

Denver was one of the surprise teams last year, finishing second in the West.

Thanks in large part to the emergence of Nikola Jokic as a true superstar in the league and the continued growth from guards Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, the team should be one of the favorites in the West again.

The biggest move the Nuggets made this offseason was rewarding one of those key pieces, giving Murray a 5-year $170 million deal. I have a hard time imagining any team offering him a max contract in restricted free agency next year, which leads me to question this move a little bit. With that being said, Murray is a tremendous player who has gotten better every year he's been in the league. You can't fault a player for getting his bag, plus the team may have wound up offering it to him later anyway, so why not reward him a year early.

The only real acquisitions the team made this offseason was trading for Jerami Grant from the Thunder in exchange for a first round pick. Grant is coming off the best year of his career, averaging 13.6 points per game and shooting just a bit under 40% from three. The price of a late first round pick for a young player who has proven himself to have a role in the league is not too steep for a team that should contend this year.

The biggest guy to watch for me though, is Michael Porter Jr., the team’s first round pick from last year. He missed all of 2019 while recovering from back surgery and a knee injury. He was one of the best prospects in the 2018 draft, and the Nuggets were able to grab him at the very end of the lottery. If he can find his old form, it will look like a steal and will help propel this team to the next level. 

Denver only made one pick in the 2019 draft, and it reminds me a lot of the pick they made last year with Porter. At number 44, the team drafted Oregon center Bol Bol. Bol was one of the best prospects coming into the season, but his college career was cut short with a foot injury. As is the case with big men (Bol is 7’2” if you hadn’t heard) foot injuries are precarious, and as a result a lottery pick talent fell to Denver in the second round.

If Bol pans out, he could be the second coming of Kristaps Porzingis in terms of size, athleticism, and the ability to space the floor. If he doesn't, it only cost Denver a second round pick. I expect the Nuggets to treat Bol similarly to how they treated Porter Jr. last year and let him take as long as he needs to fully recover. 

Offseason Grade: B | Predicted Western Conference Ranking: 2

The Nuggets will again be one of the best teams in the West, so long as Jokic stays healthy. They made a sneaky good move to bring in Jerami Grant and rewarded Murray with a max contract. They didn’t make a big splash, but with the depth on this roster, they didn’t need to. The draft day heist of Bol Bol also helped pull their grade up a bit.

Denver hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy? Don't rule it out.

Graduate of Loyola Maryland and die hard Boston sports fan. "I rub it in pretty good when I win" - Tom Brady

Twitter: @JS_895