A Mile High Offense


Carter Segal

When you think about the greatest offensive teams in today’s NBA, the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets, or perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder probably come to mind. But there is one other NBA team whose offense has been steadily improving year by year, and may establish itself as a top offense in the upcoming season. The Denver Nuggets have a perfect blend of star power and depth that combined can challenge even the best teams in the NBA.

Denver’s Head Coach, Mike Malone, has been known to prefer a slower style of play but the rooster put together for 2018-2019 season has the tools to be one of the most deadly teams on the fastbreak.

Fourth year center, Nikola Jokic, will be the main catalyst for this team. The offense typically runs through getting him the ball in the high post, and letting him break down opposing defenses with his incredible court vision and ball handling. Jokic has an advanced set of post moves and is also a capable three-point shooter. His shooting ability not only adds dimension to his game, but it also makes the team as a whole more filthy. This is because when Jokic is at the three-point line, it draws the opposing center (usually the last line of defense) away from the basket, which gives his teammates less obstacles when driving to the rim.

Jokic does not run the offense alone. The Nugget’s starting backcourt consists of two budding stars, Jamal Murray and Garry Harris. Both Murray and Harris are great shooters who can create their own shot off the dribble or play a more conservative role in the Denver offense. Harris has solidified himself as the best three-point shooter on the Nuggets roster, and Murray has displayed an ability to take control of close games that not many young guards possess. The scoring dynamic between them is similar to that of the Portland Trail Blazers guards who are an established scoring pair: Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

However, what truly makes the Nuggets different from other teams is that they have more than star power. They have multiple veterans who know their role, but can still wreak havoc on opposing benches. This year’s bench is led by six-year veteran, Will Barton. The 28 year-old wing has earned himself a reputation as one of the best bench players in the league. He is a great three point shooter, and is a creative finisher around the rim. Barton can also function as the main ball handler of an offense, and does a great job getting his teammates involved in the play.

The most notable acquisition the Nuggets made in the 2018 NBA offseason was signing two-time all-star, Isaiah Thomas. The 5’9” point guard was an MVP candidate just one year ago before a season-ending labral tear in his hip. Although he struggled early in the season, Thomas appeared more comfortable as the year went on. He hopes to reestablish his value this season to land himself a bigger contract next summer, and Denver is the perfect place for him to do it. In the past, Thomas has thrived playing next to big men who can create plays for their teammates out of the post so Nikola Jokic could potentially be a perfect fit. If Thomas gets his game back to where he was a year ago, you can expect to see his name as the headline candidate for the 2019 Most Improved Player of the Year Award.

Last season, the Nuggets statistically had the sixth highest offense in the league. This year, their young core will have another year to improve, Thomas will be added to the roster, and former All Star Paul Millsap will hopefully remain healthy. In addition, Denver has also drafted the former number two high school recruit, Michael Porter, to their offense. This combination of shooting, depth, and star power is a winning combination. The Mile High City is ready to play fast and go toe to toe with the best teams in the association.