Denver Nuggets: Analyzing Their Projected Rotation for the Upcoming Season

The Denver Nuggets just missed the playoffs last season, in heartbreaking fashion. They spent their summer making sure it was not going to happen again in 2018-19.

There is no denying that the Denver Nuggets are an up and coming team in a stacked Western Conference. After 10 straight playoff appearances (2004-2013), Denver is looking to end their six-year drought.

The Front Office for Denver did what any team on the fringe of the playoffs should do, make moves. They did not do much in terms of putting a team together that can run with Golden State and Houston, but they did take some risks that could pay off tremendously.

Denver drafted injured star Michael Porter Jr and signed fallen star, Isaiah Thomas. It could be one of the more fortunate events in Nuggets franchise history that MPJ fell to them at 14. He could be the future at the 4 for them if healthy.

With the dumping of Darrell Arthur and Kenneth Faried to Brooklyn coupled with moving Wilson Chandler to Philly, there is a high likelihood that there will never be a full bench unit on the floor. The rotation is certainly affected by the health or lack thereof of Michael Porter. If MPJ is indeed able to play this year, then a full bench unit would be feasible. It seems as if a Ben Simmons redshirt year is coming.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Will Barton
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Nikola Jokic

This starting lineup should have no problem scoring next season. Combining each of their individual points per game, they were responsible for 83 points per game. 83 points is good for 75% of their 6th ranked 110 points per game.

The only problem with this starting lineup is that, while Jokic and Millsap combined for a defensive +/- of +3.0 on the season, the remaining three starters combined for a -4.1 defensive rating. No one in this lineup is known for their defense, but unless improvements are made on that end of the floor, their 6th ranked NBA offense may be in the top 14 of the draft again next season.

Lineup Combinations

These lineup combinations are made with the assumption that Michael Porter Jr. will not available for them this season. The Nuggets are not the most flexible roster with its current pieces, but with a starting lineup that scores 83 points, surely this bench with newly signed IT can manage 27 points or more.

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Jamal Murray
SF: Gary Harris
PF: Trey Lyles
C: Nikola Jokic

This first rotation allows for incredible floor spacing and ball movement. Not much defensive improvement.

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Malik Beasley
SF: Will Barton
PF: Trey Lyles
C: Mason Plumlee

Will Barton was a phenomenal first option off the bench last season for the Nuggets and this allows him to be the primary scorer for and against a second unit. Plumlee is perhaps the best big man off the bench in the NBA as well. If IT is anything close to his Boston self, this lineup could give some bench units fits.

Players like Torrey Craig, Juan Hernangomez, and Monte Morris might find themselves getting minutes on second nights of back to backs to give the stars some rest, but this rotation will feature nine players as they look to fight their way into the playoffs.

The front office did little to improve a defense that gave up 108 points per game, which was 8th worst in the league. The risk of IT may be enough to push them to a bottom 4 seed in the West but if he isn’t right, this rotation isn’t deep enough to move the needle.