The Denver Nuggets’ starting five has the chance to make sweet music together in 2018-19. By swapping Will Barton for Wilson Chandler on the wing, the Nuggets are surrounding Nikola Jokic with three guards in Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Barton who can all pass, shoot and dribble. Their collection of skills, plus a Paul Millsap who’s had a season to acclimate to Jokic’s improvisational style, means the Nuggets could harmonize to make “At Fillmore East” on the offensive end.
The Murray-Harris-Barton-Millsap-Jokic lineup only logged 65 minutes together last season, but the results were impressive in that brief amount of time. The Nuggets lit opponents up for 124.7 points per 100 possessions. There was too much speed and skill to keep up with.
After finishing fifth and sixth in offensive rating the last two years, Denver has the potential to be the top offense in basketball. A lot has to break right for that to happen, of course. The Nuggets need to avoid any catastrophic injuries; they need head coach Michael Malone to strike the right balance between calling plays and letting his team riff; and they’ll need some individual improvement. But that’s the ceiling.
To further examine what makes the Nuggets so dangerous offensively, I’ve selected one number for each member of the starting group to help explain their game. The hope is that figure gets at the essence of who that player is on the offensive end. Tim Connelly, Arturas Karnisovas and Co. have assembled a unique collection of talent through the draft (Murray, Harris and Jokic), trades (Barton) and free agency (Millsap). There’s a chance it coalesces into something special this season.
There were 2.8 seconds remaining, and Jamal Murray had to get all three to go down. On April 1, the Nuggets faced the Milwaukee Bucks in a game they desperately needed to win to stay competitive in the playoff race. They were on the verge of completing a wild comeback and forcing overtime — as long as Murray could sink three consecutive free throws.