2020 Offseason Outlook - Denver Nuggets


Overview


At the suspension of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Denver Nuggets had a record of 43-22 which placed them at 3rd in the Western Conference and 6th in the league. This season, the Nuggets continued to be a quiet contender, making the top 4 in the west for the second year in a row despite little talk of them in the media. Jokic has continued his dominance as a rare playmaking center notching close to a triple-double on average as he looks to earn his second consecutive all-NBA selection. The Nuggets have had promising seasons from both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr, both players who they look to build the future of the team around. The team will have some big decisions to make this offseason, and for the first time in several years, will potentially present a noticeably different roster next season. Despite several players possibly moving in and out of the team, the Nuggets should, like the Mavericks, show patience this offseason and make their major moves in the much anticipated 2021 offseason as they look to finally build into a serious championship contender.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Denver Nuggets have 9 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020-2021 season. They have just one player with an option for next season. Jerami Grant has a $9.3 million player option for next season which I expect him to opt into. Since being traded to Denver last offseason, Grant has played a key role in their offence, helping them stretch the floor with his 40% three-point percentage. He has also been important as the team transitions from an ageing Paul Millsap into a younger replacement. With the unstable financial position of the league due to the pandemic and the potential for a lower salary cap next season, it is unlikely that Grant can obtain a contract worth more than $10 million so it is likely he will opt into some financial security this season and take his talents into the loaded 2021 free agency period. Torrey Craig will enter free agency as a restricted free agent along with two-way player, PJ Dozier. The team will have a couple of important unrestricted free agents in Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee as well as Noah Vonleh and Troy Daniels. Assuming Denver are able to avoid going into the luxury tax, they will have a $9.2 million mid-level exception and a $3.6 million bi-annual exception available to them. They also have a $3.3 million and a $1.8 million trade exception available until February next year.


Depth Chart –


Free Agency


The Denver Nuggets will enter free agency with very little cap space available. Their main goals should be to bring back their key free agents as well as signing a veteran guard to come off the bench and help develop their young team. Firstly, the Nuggets will try to re-sign Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee. Millsap has been a key contributor to this team, especially on the defensive end over the last couple of seasons but has been on an increasingly negative value contract. Millsap should accept a deal around the $10 million range as he is entering his final years in the NBA and would still be a key contributor to the team as he transitions to a mentoring role off the bench. Plumlee has been a key contributor off the bench behind Jokic and is a fan favourite in Denver. Due to his age, this would be Plumlee’s last opportunity to gain a starting spot by signing with a different team, but I expect him to stay loyal and continue to be on a championship contending team as moves into the next stage of his career even if it means coming off the bench. I expect the Nuggets to be able to sign Plumlee to a $10-$15 million contract over several years which would definitely push them above the salary cap. I also expect Torrey Craig to be brought back via restricted free agency on a cheap deal. Finally, I expect the team to go after veteran guard to come off the bench and provide some veteran leadership as the team continues to develop its many young guards. One possibility for this is Pacers guard, Justin Holiday. Holiday has bounced around the league, playing for 7 teams in as many seasons. Holiday can provide some consistent numbers off the bench on both ends of the court as well as some veteran leadership for the team’s young core at the guard positions.


2020 Draft


The Denver Nuggets will have the 21st projected pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Nuggets will look to draft a point guard to come off the bench and add to their young core as they continue to develop into a championship contender. This draft class is predicted to be a relatively weak class however teams can still benefit from adding some of the talent available. With the 21st projected pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets should look to draft Nico Mannion, a 6’3” point guard out of Arizona. Mannion is a point guard who is skilled at playmaking and has an impressive basketball IQ. His downside is his overall frame. At 6’3” with a smaller wingspan, he does not posses the size or strength to make much of an impact inside the three-point line but if he can improve this, he can become a role player of the bench for this team moving forward.


Summary


The Denver Nuggets will enter the 2020 offseason with some key players that they will look to retain in Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee. They will also look to bring in a veteran guard like Justin Holiday to provide some mentorship for their young group of guards. They will add to this young core through the draft with point guard, Nico Mannion, who hopes to be a key playmaker off the bench in the future. The Nuggets will set themselves up to continue developing next season with the goal of becoming serious championship contenders within the next few seasons.


Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –


Players IN: Nico Mannion, Justin Holiday

Players OUT: Noah Vonleh, Troy Daniels