Denver still looks to be a team on the team on the rise with players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris. But with these players giving signs of what their potential can be, what will Denver's starting lineup look like come opening night?
PG: Jamal Murray
After a few years of Mudiay leading the Nuggets at the point, it seems about time for Denver to take a serious look at their point guard position. Murray has said himself that he sees himself as more of a 1 guard than a 2 guard. Giving him the opportunity to lead a team could improve his assist numbers from 2.1 per game last year. Jamal also looks to be a serious threat from behind the 3 point line and adding him to the starting lineup seems like a great chance for him to pump up his points from 9.9 per game last year. Murray began to turn some heads last season, but adding him to the starting lineup offers a chance for him to show what he’s got running the point like he did in Kentucky.
SG: Gary Harris
Harris is quietly becoming one of the better shooting guards in the league. In his 3rd year in the NBA during the 2016-17 season, he shot a staggering 50.2% from the field and 42% from behind the 3-point line. Contributing 14.9 points a game, he was good enough for 4th highest Nuggets scorer and 2nd in field goal percentage. Harris has improved in just about every aspect of his game. Harris is set to start being a serious threat in the NBA, and the Most Improved Player award would not be entirely out of the question.
SF: Wilson Chandler
The Nuggets' thinnest position this year looks to be the small forward position. Aside from Chandler, the Nuggets best option looks to be Juan Hernangómez, Will Barton, and rookie Tyler Lydon. Obviously, these players will see minutes at the 3 spot, but Chandler is no doubt the Nugs best option. Don’t get me wrong, Chandler can ball. After returning from a season-ending injury in 2015-16, Chandler put up 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2 assists a game. He is a very efficient role player and essential to The Nuggets production in this newly stacked Northwestern division. Chandler should continue to be a top 3 or 4 scorer for the team and, despite reportedly asking for a trade last season, should be a very good starter for Denver.
PF: Paul Millsap
The absolute biggest free agency signing The Nuggets have had in their 50-year history and one of the highest paid players in the entire NBA. After signing a 3 year/90 million dollar contract, Millsap is looking to be the hardened veteran piece that Denver has been searching for. As a member of the Atlanta Hawks last year, Millsap put up 18.1 points and grabbed 7.7 rebounds a game. Millsap is a no-brainer to start at power forward given his production, contract, and that fan favorite Kenneth Faried seems to be the best trade asset the Nuggets have. It’s hard to tell if Millsap’s numbers will rival the ones he put up in Atlanta, but a frontcourt of Millsap and Jokic is poised to be a top 2 or 3 in the entire NBA.
C: Nikola Jokic
Being the undisputed best player on The Nuggets roster, it would be a crime for Denver to not start Jokic. Nikola finished 4th in the NBA last year in triple-doubles, posting 6 of them, and tallied 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. Jokic’s ceiling this year is to lead all big men in total assists, being a nightly double-double threat, and the leader that Denver has needed since Carmelo Anthony left. If you trust advanced analytics like most Nuggets fans have come to love, Jokic is already one of the top 20 players in the NBA. His per 36 minutes stats show he’s putting up 21.6 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. Jokic is already a great all-around player and is set to turn some heads in the NBA world this year.
6th Man: Emmanuel Mudiay
Mudiay has done less than thrive since being drafted #7 by The Nuggets in 2015. Despite averaging 11 points per game, he remains a hot topic among Nuggets fans. I believe Denver fans hyped up Mudiay too much during his NBA debut and added too much pressure on the young player. The Nuggets essentially handed Mudiay the keys to the franchise before seeing him perform at a high level. Starting Mudiay from the bench could be the perfect opportunity for Mudiay to develop his game more behind the scenes. He will likely not lead the league in assists or be a major candidate for Most Improved Player, but he could be one of the better backup point guards in the league.
7th Man: Mason Plumlee
Many Nuggets fans were unsure of Plumlee’s status on the time after entering free agency. He was 4th in big men last year in terms of assist numbers and serves a great backup for Nikola Jokic, but his 3year/41 Million dollar contract seems a bit absurd. After being traded to Denver from Portland, he came into the Mile High City averaging 9.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists a night. These are not all star numbers by any means, but his help is much needed when Jokic is sitting on the bench. Nuggets fans are probably going to have a slight distaste for Plumlee given his contract, but his gameplay will be a much-needed commodity as a backup center.