The Denver Nuggets is the team that will represent the Western Conference in the NBA finals having swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and will face either the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics of the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The Nuggets have been the standout team in these playoffs making easy work of their opponents in every single round so far. Their opponents have not been pushovers either with the Timberwolves matching up well against their roster and the Suns and Lakers having superstar firepower of their own.
The Nuggets have been successful in recent years in large part thanks to their Serbian center Nikola Jokic. Jokic, who was a second round pick back in the 2014 draft, has been the franchise centerpiece for the Nuggets franchise who have built extremely well through the draft in the years leading up to their success in the Western Conference. Their main core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. were all drafted with the team. This has allowed the Nuggets to structure their roster around their stars and build up to a title run as opposed to what many teams in the NBA do nowadays by trading for a Superstar at the cost of their bench strength and depth.
Most recently, this “win now” route was taken by the Phoenix Suns when they traded for superstar Kevin Durant to add to their already stacked core of Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton. The Suns however gave up their entire depth assets in the trade for Kevin Durant and as such were relatively easily beaten by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals 4-2. During the series with the Suns, the Nuggets showed just how valuable depth is by being able to field several different lineups without missing a beat.
While the Nuggets bench unit has definitely helped them with reaching the finals during their playoff run, the vast majority of the credit will no doubt go to Nikola Jokic. Jokic, who won back to back MVPs the past two years before placing second in this current season, is unarguably among the top three players in the league today. His skill set is unlike any star in the league with his size, shooting and playmaking ability making him a unicorn in any era of the NBA. Jokic has averaged a 30 point triple-double in these playoffs by far and away the best performing player in the postseason and the odds on favorite to win the finals MVP award regardless of whether Miami or Boston meet Denver there.
As their performances have been so convincing and the field in the Eastern conference have not performed to expectation, Denver is likely to be the betting favorite heading into the Finals and rightfully so. Both Boston and Miami have shown signs of weakness throughout the playoffs, surely only adding to the confidence brewing in Denver to acquire their first ever NBA championship.
Should they do so, and should Nikola Jokic win the finals MVP award this coming season’s end, he will no doubt confirm himself as a top 20 basketball player all time. At 28, he will have collected every accolade of worth while also putting up numbers the likes of which have not been seen consistently in the NBA ever. His young age, 28, also bodes incredibly well for his future moving up the ranking of all time greats as he will no doubt play another decade in the league without much issue. This is due to his game not relying heavily on physicality.
By the time it’s all said and done for Nikola Jokic, he can very well be a top 10 player all time should he be able to continue at this level and win a few more championships. As for the Nuggets, they have set a blueprint for other teams especially those in smaller markets on how to properly build a championship winning roster. With Jokic, Murray and Porter Jr. all under contract for at least the following two seasons, the Nuggets are poised to make further deep playoff runs in the coming seasons.