2016-17 Season in Review: 40-42, ninth place in the Western Conference.
Key Offseason Acquisitions: PF Paul Millsap, PF Trey Lyles, G Monte Morris, SF Vlatko Cancar
Key Offseason Losses: SF Danilo Gallinari, C Roy Hibbert
2017-18 Projected Starting Lineup: PG Jameer Nelson, SG Gary Harris, SF Wilson Chandler, PF Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic
2017-18 Season Outlook: After years of searching for their next star post-Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets finally found him in 2016-17. At last, they can build around center Nikola Jokic, who took over Jusuf Nurkic’s role as starting center and turned the Nuggets into the best offense in the league for over half of the season.
The Nuggets followed this revelation up by pulling off one of the biggest free agent signings in the history of the franchise, signing four-time All-Star Paul Millsap to a three-year, $90 million contract.
It’s official! Paul Millsap put pen to paper this morning. pic.twitter.com/18Mwxcfkje
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) July 13, 2017
Denver already had a complementary cast around Jokic, with a trio of guards who can shoot, cut, and compete defensively in Will Barton, Wilson Chandler, and Gary Harris. But now they’ve given him the best tool he can ask for: a veteran big who will cover up for many of his flaws defensively while also taking some of the load off on offense.
The loss of long-time Nugget Danilo Gallinari will definitely sting, but with their healthy wing rotation, plus the addition of Millsap and an impressive rookie season from small forward Juan Hernangomez, the Nuggets should be able to survive.
A playoff berth will definitely be expected from this young Nuggets team after missing a trip to the postseason by just one game last year. If Millsap can help their defense — 29th in the league last year — as much as he helped the Atlanta Hawks for the past four years, Denver should be competing with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies for a potential five seed.
Projected strengths: Shooting, ball movement, offensive consistency
Projected weaknesses: Defense, guard depth
Projected win total: 47 wins.