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Nuggets Mailbag: What team is most likely to be 7th different NBA champion in 7 years?

Nuggets Mailbag: What team is most likely to be 7th different NBA champion in 7 years?

21/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31827096

Denver Post beat writer Bennett Durando opens up the Nuggets Mailbag periodically during the season (and now, the offseason). You can submit a Nuggets- or NBA- related question here.

What team is most likely to make it seven different champions in seven years?

— Michael, Denver

Love this question. So this is only the second time the NBA has crowned six different champions in as many years. Here is the original six-year revolving door:

  • 1975: Golden State Warriors
  • 1976: Boston Celtics
  • 1977: Portland Trail Blazers
  • 1978: Washington Bullets
  • 1979: Seattle SuperSonics
  • 1980: Los Angeles Lakers

And here is our current state of affairs:

  • 2019: Toronto Raptors
  • 2020: Los Angeles Lakers
  • 2021: Milwaukee Bucks
  • 2022: Golden State Warriors
  • 2023: Denver Nuggets
  • 2024: Boston Celtics

Despite both of these six-year runs, the league has never seen seven consecutive different champions. That means the 2024-25 season has a chance to make some history. Readers of this mailbag will understandably be rooting against that. But the possibility still makes for an interesting exercise that speaks to the wide array of teams threatening Denver.

If I polled NBA fans, I’m guessing the most popular answers would be the Mavericks, Thunder and Timberwolves, due to the trajectories of their respective young superstars. Luka Doncic just reached the NBA Finals at 25. Anthony Edwards will be 23 next season in Minnesota after leading a WCF run. And Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be 26 on the heels of an MVP runner-up season. Conventional wisdom says they each have nowhere to go but up. Fervent believers in Victor Wembanyama’s development might even go out on a limb and argue for a rapid Spurs ascent. (The fun wrinkle about this question is its timing: Picking your fighter requires forecasting an entire offseason.)

If I’m choosing from Western Conference candidates — yes, I’m intentionally overlooking the Suns and Clippers — then it’s Oklahoma City. On top of SGA’s individual progress, the Thunder earned the No. 1 seed without even playing the multiple aces in Sam Presti’s hand. He still yields a surplus of draft assets ready to trade whenever the time is right, be it this summer or the 2025 trade deadline. With Gilgeous-Alexander still one offseason away from supermax eligibility and Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams on rookie contracts, there is ample cap space to use. Oh, and this is the only 2024 playoff team with a lottery pick (No. 12) in the upcoming draft. OKC improved by 16 wins in 2022-23 and by another 17 wins in 2023-24. Another imminent leap seems inevitable, whereas I think Edwards might be a couple of years away from reaching his championship-caliber prime. He’ll get there, but will his schedule coincide with his teammates’ window?

Anywho, I’m not choosing exclusively from the West. What I can’t get out of my head is the long road Boston and Denver took to their respective titles. The Celtics waited through six years of playoff disappointment with Brown and Jayson Tatum before finally breaking through, aided by the correct adjustments to the roster’s top-six around that duo. The Nuggets needed six years with Jokic and Jamal Murray (including four playoff exits) before they also assembled the perfect top-six. In this era, I’m inclined to gravitate toward a team built around a star duo still hoping for the stars to align, rather than a core that may or may not be ahead of schedule.

And so I present to you, the Philadelphia 76ers. Controversial? Perhaps. Popular with Nuggets fans? Most certainly not. But if it’s ever going to happen for Joel Embiid, it has to be next season. Tyrese Maxey is entering his prime as a dynamic second option, and Embiid could be nearing the end of his as a consistent MVP contender. He turned 30 in March. He was never a pillar of playoff durability in his 20s, so it’s hard to escape the feeling that his elite years are more numbered than Jokic’s. But the Sixers have a unique opportunity to retool their rotation around Embiid and Maxey this summer. Lots of cap space and roster space. If they do this right, their 2024-25 starting lineup could be the best of Embiid’s career. It’s not too difficult to envision Philly finding its Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis.

And in a weaker Eastern Conference, the 76ers’ playoff gauntlet should be less challenging than the path Dallas, OKC or Minnesota will face. All the pieces are there. In the end, it’ll come down to whether Embiid can finally learn from his playoff flame-outs (seven), like the Celtics and Nuggets did.

Hey Bennett, given the animosity Carmelo Anthony has shown to the Nuggets since his retirement, do you see him ever getting his flowers from the team? He’s not getting his jersey number retired since he’s no longer the best No. 15 anymore.

— Frank, Windsor

Never say never. Anthony just turned 40. Time heals all — er, most — wounds. There’s no telling who’ll be in charge of the Nuggets 30 years from now, and no telling how Anthony will feel about all the petty re-litigation of 2011 that has taken place online between himself and George Karl. The romantic sports fan in me likes to believe fanbases eventually look back on embattled former star players with nostalgia, not resentment. I’m a Cardinals fan. Many of my kind weren’t pleased when Albert Pujols left in free agency. That worked out.

It felt like a game of rock-paper-scissors with the Mavericks, Timberwolves and Nuggets in the West. What do you think Denver has to do in the offseason to get back to the Finals?

— Mike, Denver

I’ll link to a full offseason primer here and a story about Michael Malone’s regular-season philosophy here, because there’s too much to get into in one mailbag answer. But I’ll identify what I believe to be two most important elements within Denver’s control, not requiring salary cap gymnastics.

First is the physical health and preparedness of Murray. It’s been proven that when he and Jokic are simultaneously at their best, the Nuggets are a championship team. When Murray is absent or an incomplete version of himself, they aren’t. Second is the momentum of Christian Braun and Peyton Watson. If they keep developing at their current pace, the Nuggets will have a formidable top-six at minimum, regardless of whether Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returns.

Bennett, wanna play a game? … Of what if? So what if the Nuggets never traded away Donovan Mitchell in 2017? We now have a core of Mitchell, Murray and Jokic. Would we be looking at a dynasty or not enough balls on the court?

— Ronald Kim, Centennial

Thanks for the questions, Ronald. The answer to your first one is no. I don’t care to play that game. Because if the Nuggets were selecting a player for themselves, rather than a player Utah hand-picked, there’s no telling who they would have drafted. It might not have been Mitchell. They already drafted Murray the previous year. There are just too many layers to that hypothetical for me to entertain it.

And anyway, if we’re going to “what-if” Donovan Mitchell to Denver, then might as well “what-if” Nikola Jokic to Minnesota or Philadelphia or any of the 29 teams that could’ve picked him before the Nuggets. While we’re at it, we should probably “what-if” Michael Porter Jr.’s college back injury out of existence and find out how many teams would’ve drafted him before No. 14.

The Nuggets have displayed an extraordinary combination of savviness and luck in the draft over the last decade. I don’t see much point in revisionist history that adds to their good fortune when so many different things could’ve hypothetically not broken their way that did.

Now, visualizing Mitchell on the current roster is different; I’m happy to discard all common sense and salary cap logic, as long as we’re honest about it. You raise a fair point about not enough basketballs to go around. But I actually think Mitchell and Murray would work well together as a backcourt. Murray doesn’t need to be a point guard in order to thrive, and there’s enough ball movement in a Jokic offense that both would be sufficiently involved, regardless of the initiator. So, I’m leaning dynasty.

Bennett, hello from Texas. I am a Colorado native, Bronco season ticket holder and recent transplant. Only since retirement last year have I started to pay attention to the NBA, more specifically the Nuggets. …
When I watch Murray, KCP, MPJ, Aaron Gordon, ANT Man, KAT, LeBron, Luka or Kyrie — they all show huge emotion. But with Nikola Jokic I never see the passion, excitement or emotion. Is it possible that he really doesn’t care as much? Unfortunately, it appears that Jokic day-dreamed his way through the series with the Timberwolves and let his team down.

— Michael Hert, Flint, TX

It’s a valid observation, but as I’ve reported, Jokic’s on-court demeanor (often stoic, but sometimes impassioned as well) is not indicative of his entire attitude toward basketball. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another athlete in any sport capable of trying so hard while appearing as though they’re not.

Jokic certainly has a different perspective on basketball based on his background, but teammates consistently attest to his relentless work ethic. He played arguably the best game of his career in Game 5 against Minnesota. What happened in Game 7 was a fuel shortage for not just him, but Denver’s entire starting lineup. The Nuggets didn’t feel like they could afford to rest him.

Want more Nuggets news? Sign up for the Nuggets Insider to get all our NBA analysis.



https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/21/nuggets-mailbag-offseason-76ers-roster-jokic/
Nuggets Podcast: Looking back at NBA Finals, assessing draft options and an NBA championship draft

In the latest edition of the Nuggets Ink podcast, beat writer Bennett Durando and sports editor Matt Schubert reconvene after the Boston Celtics took down the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Among the topics discussed:

  • How good are the 2023-24 Boston Celtics after capping off a dominant title run? Did the voters get it right giving the Finals MVP to Jaylen Brown over Jayson Tatum?
  • As the Nuggets continue to bring in draft prospects for visits, are there any names emerging for Denver’s first-round pick? There’s a lot of smoke with Dayton big man DaRon Holmes II. Could it be that the Nuggets made him a promise? Or might they be looking for a backup PG?
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s decision on opting out of the final year of his contract is coming up. Will the Nuggets guard wait until the last minute to make his decision?
  • Matt, Bennett and AAron draft the past 15 NBA champions to determine which teams rise to the top.

Subscribe to the podcast
SoundCloud | iTunesSpotify | YouTube Music | RSS

Producer: AAron Ontiveroz
Music: “The Last Dragons” by Schama Noel

Want more Nuggets news? Sign up for the Nuggets Insider to get all our NBA analysis.



https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/21/nuggets-nba-finals-draft-options-podcast/
JJ Redick isn't alone: How first-time NBA coaches fared with no experience

JJ Redick isn't alone: How first-time NBA coaches fared with no experience

21/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31825932

JJ Redick will become the 16th former NBA player to be a head coach without any previous coaching experience. Here's how the other 15 fared.



https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2024-06-20/how-first-time-nba-coaches-fared-no-experience
DeMar DeRozan was Drake's 'brother.' Now he's dancing onstage to Kendrick Lamar's diss track

DeMar DeRozan was Drake's 'brother.' Now he's dancing onstage to Kendrick Lamar's diss track

21/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31825933

NBA star DeMar DeRozan was one of many dancing onstage to Kendrick Lamar's Drake diss track 'Not Like Us' at 'The Pop Out — Ken & Friends' concert on Juneteenth.



https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2024-06-20/demar-derozan-kendrick-lamar-concert-drake-not-like-us
JJ Redick will be Lakers' next coach as long search ends where it started

JJ Redick will be Lakers' next coach as long search ends where it started

21/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31825824

The Lakers choose to hire someone with no coaching experience to lead the team, agreeing to bring in former NBA guard JJ Redick.



https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2024-06-20/jj-redick-hired-new-lakers-coach-after-long-search
NBA mock draft: Lakers may make up for missing out on Jaime Jaquez Jr. last year

NBA mock draft: Lakers may make up for missing out on Jaime Jaquez Jr. last year

20/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31825309

The 2024 NBA draft could be especially unpredictable, with many teams expected to weigh prospects' value based on needs rather than talent.



https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2024-06-20/nba-mock-draft-lakers-2024
Bronny James only worked out for Lakers, Suns, but won't be part of deal with LeBron, agent says

Bronny James only worked out for Lakers, Suns, but won't be part of deal with LeBron, agent says

20/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31824218

Bronny James has worked out individually for only the Lakers and Suns, but LeBron James' oldest son has received interest from other NBA teams, said agent Rich Paul.



https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2024-06-19/bronny-james-lebron-package-deal-nba-draft
Bronny James worked out only for Lakers, Suns, but won't be part of deal with LeBron, agent says

Bronny James worked out only for Lakers, Suns, but won't be part of deal with LeBron, agent says

20/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31824275

Bronny James has worked out individually for only the Lakers and Suns, but LeBron James' oldest son has received interest from other NBA teams, said agent Rich Paul.



https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2024-06-19/bronny-james-lebron-package-deal-nba-draft
Nuggets 2024 NBA mock draft tracker 3.0: What national experts predict Denver will do

Nuggets 2024 NBA mock draft tracker 3.0: What national experts predict Denver will do

20/06/2024, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 31824003

The 2023-24 NBA season came to a close this week when the Celtics captured their 18th championship. Now eyes turn toward the draft.

The Nuggets — again among the favorites to win the title, according to sportsbooks — have the No. 28 pick and draft analysts have plenty of ideas who could end up in a Denver jersey. Who knows? Maybe one of CU’s stars could be staying in Colorado.

Here’s a look at who national draftniks are thinking will land in Denver.

SB Nation | Ricky O’Donnell | Updated June 18

Pacome Dadiet, F, Ulm (France)

“It would make sense if the Nuggets shopped this pick for a win-now veteran, but we can’t have Dadiet falling much farther. The French wing measured at 6-foot-7.5 without shoes with a 6-9 wingspan, and showed solid athletic traits, a high motor, and decent three-point touch while playing for Ulm in the German league. He’s very young, but he feels like one of the best upside fliers in the draft once we get to the 20s,” . See the full mock draft.


Bleacher Report | Jonathan Wasserman | Updated June 19

Kyle Filipowski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after scoring during the second half of the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Houston Cougars at American Airlines Center on March 29, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Patrick Smith, Getty Images)
Kyle Filipowski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after scoring during the second half of the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament against the Houston Cougars at American Airlines Center on March 29, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Patrick Smith, Getty Images)

Kyle Filipowski, PF/C, Duke

“While he doesn’t project as a top option like he was at Duke, he checks the right complementary boxes to make a quick transition to a supporting stretch 4 or 5 role,” Wasserman writes. See the full mock draft.

More picks:

  • Second round, 56th pick: Oso Ighodaro, PF/C, Marquette

CBS Sports | Gary Parrish | Updated June 17

Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II (15) backs into Nevada forward Nick Davidson (11) during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 21, 2024 (AP Photo/Isaac Hale)
Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II (15) backs into Nevada forward Nick Davidson (11) during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 21, 2024 (AP Photo/Isaac Hale)

DaRon Holmes II, PF/C, Dayton

“Holmes is the rare top-55 high school prospect who enrolled at an Atlantic 10 school — swatting away bigger opportunities to start at Dayton. He’s a reasonable option at this point in the draft in part because of the way he went from a non-shooter upon entering college to a real stretch-the-floor threat as a third-year player while earning A-10 Player of the Year honors,” Parrish writes. See the full mock draft.


ESPN | Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo | Updated June 19

Dayton's DaRon Holmes, left, drives to the basket against Virginia Commonwealth's Christian Fermin (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, March 8, 2024, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Dayton’s DaRon Holmes, left, drives to the basket against Virginia Commonwealth’s Christian Fermin (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, March 8, 2024, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

DaRon Holmes II, PF/C, Dayton

“Most NBA teams are operating under the assumption Holmes has received a promise from the Nuggets, although it is possible the team might attempt to trade down a few spots into the second round to draft him for financial reasons.

“Holmes canceled a half-dozen workouts shortly after the NCAA withdrawal deadline, with several smoking guns pointing in Denver’s direction, a scenario that is similar to what we saw play out last year with Jalen Pickett,” Givony writes. See the full mock draft.


CBS Sports | Kyle Boone | Updated June 17

Weber State forward Dillon Jones, right, shoots over Saint Mary's center Mitchell Saxen, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Moraga, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Weber State forward Dillon Jones, right, shoots over Saint Mary’s center Mitchell Saxen, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Moraga, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Dillon Jones, F, Weber State

“The modus operandi of Denver’s front office over the years — drafting the likes of Jalen Pickett and Nikola Jokic — has been to lean into unconventional prospects. That’s Jones. He was the best player in the Big Sky last season and produced like an All-American in four years at Weber State as a passer, defender and all-around Swiss Army Knife,” Boone writes. See the full mock draft.

More picks:

  • Second round, 56th pick: Cam Spencer, G, UConn

USA Today | Jeff Zillgitt and Scooby Axson | Updated June 11

Wake Forest forward Bobi Klintman, of Sweden, reacts after making a 3-point basket against Miami during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Wake Forest forward Bobi Klintman, of Sweden, reacts after making a 3-point basket against Miami during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Bobi Klintman, F, Cairns Taipans (Australia)

“Likes to run the court, can score in transition or on drives to the bucket; does not have a textbook jump shot, but gets it to go down. Played one season at Wake Forest before going to Australia to start his pro career,” Zillgitt and Axson write. See the full mock draft.


The Sporting News | Kyle Irving | Updated May 14

Marquette's Tyler Kolek (11) goes up for a basket against North Carolina State's Mohamed Diarra during the second half of a Sweet 16 college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Dallas, Friday, March 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Marquette’s Tyler Kolek (11) goes up for a basket against North Carolina State’s Mohamed Diarra during the second half of a Sweet 16 college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Dallas, Friday, March 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette

“Once Jamal Murray started to nurse a calf injury in the playoffs, it became clear that Denver could use another ball-handler. Kolek would be a steadying presence with a high basketball IQ who would thrive in that backup role for the defending champions.

“He’s a patient playmaker who would play well off Nikola Jokic as a reliable perimeter shooter and crafty finisher. The 23-year-old senior is one of the few players in this class who could handle the transition to the NBA right away,” Irving writes. See the full mock draft.

More picks:

  • Second round, 56th pick: Cam Spencer, G, UConn

Yahoo! Sports | Krysten Peek | Updated June 17

Tyler Smith of G League Ignite saves the ball from going out of bounds in the second half of an NBA G League Fall Invitational game against the Perth Wildcats on Sept. 6, 2023 in Henderson, Nev. Ignite defeated the Wildcats 124-105. (Ethan Miller, Getty Images)
Tyler Smith of G League Ignite saves the ball from going out of bounds in the second half of an NBA G League Fall Invitational game against the Perth Wildcats on Sept. 6, 2023 in Henderson, Nev. Ignite defeated the Wildcats 124-105. (Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Tyler Smith, F, G League Ignite

“Smith improved significantly during his season with the Ignite and has great size at 6-11 with an inside-out game that translates to the NBA. He shot the 3-ball well all season and improved his motor,” Peek writes. See the full mock draft.

More picks: 

  • Ajay Mitchell, G, UC Santa Barbara

Want more Nuggets news? Sign up for the Nuggets Insider to get all our NBA analysis.



https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/19/nuggets-2024-nba-mock-draft-tracker-3/
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