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NBA Offseason Power Rankings

Jul 17, 2014 -- 2:00pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com

1) Spurs

The entire championship team is returning, clearly the best team in basketball.

 

2) Bulls

The bet here is Derrick Rose comes back with a vengeance while Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott are all nice additions.

 

3) Thunder

Anthony Morrow adds an outside shooting element, Jeremy Lamb will need to progress with Thabo Sefolosha gone.

 

4) Clippers

Assuming the Donald Sterling distraction is behind them, they should be better in year two under Doc Rivers.

 

5) Cavaliers

We know LeBron James will make the team a contender; Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins could determine how serious.

 

6) Trail Blazers

Chris Kaman and Steve Blake add depth, but as is always the case- can LaMarcus Aldridge stay healthy?

 

7) Rockets

They’ll miss Chandler Parsons’ outside shooting but Trevor Ariza adds some much-needed defensive intensity.

 

8) Heat

Don’t laugh, they’re intriguing. Check out Chris Bosh’s numbers when James didn’t play. Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger and Shabazz Napier are nice additions. 

 

9) Warriors

Kevin Love would be a nice fit but if the move isn’t made, they’re still a tough crew. How does Steve Kerr adapt to his first year on the bench?

 

10) Wizards

Up-and-coming young team gets a nice veteran boost from Paul Piece but loses some athleticism in Ariza. Kris Humphries is a decent little pickup as well.

 

11) Mavericks

Lots of changes around Dirk Nowitzki with Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Vince Carter gone. They’re replaced by Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons. 

 

12) Grizzlies

Carter should be a great addition for a team that could use some more scoring punch coming off the bench.

 

13) Pacers

Lance Stephenson is gone, is that good or bad? Larry Bird needs to do something after last season's decline in the second half and struggle through the playoffs.

 

14) Raptors

Another young team on the rise, last year’s experience should help them in the postseason this year. Keeping Kyle Lowry around was paramount.

 

15) Suns

How many point guards does a team need? Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and now Isiah Thomas and Tyler Ennis? Keep an eye on rookie T.J. Warren who should make a quick impact.

 

16) Nuggets

Could be the most improved team in the west with acquisition of Arron Afflalo and a healthy Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee, Nate Robinson, J.J. Hickson, Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson.

 

17) Hornets

Noah Vonleh replaces McRoberts, while Lance Stephenson provides a jolt of toughness. Most important will be getting Al Jefferson healthy.

 

18) Hawks

Adreian Payne is a sleeper for Rookie of the Year while this young team should benefit from their playoff experience against Indiana.

 

19) Knicks

Can Derek Fisher get production from youngsters like Cleananthony Early and Shane Larkin or will be it the same old story with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith running the show?

 

20) Nets

They’re a year older with Pierce now gone and another coaching change. That said, Lionel Hollins should bring a needed, strong presence.

 

21) Timberwolves

Right now, it looks as though they’ll deal with the distraction of Love-trade rumors until the deadline in February.

 

22) Lakers

The coach-less Lakers hopes rest on how much Kobe Bryant left in the tank after his string of injuries, and the status of Julius Randle’s foot.

 

23) Pelicans

Anthony Davis is an emerging star but he needs help and his team needs depth. If Ryan Anderson’s neck his healthy, and he’s not traded, that should help significantly.

 

24) Pistons

They’ve made additions including Jodie Meeks and D.J. Augustin, but it doesn’t appear they’re much better. In the meantime, Greg Monroe’s progression makes Josh Smith expendable.

 

25) Kings

One of the league’s more talented, underachieving clubs hopes Darren Collison provides a calming effect that Isiah Thomas couldn’t.

 

26) Jazz 

Dante Exum will be one of the league’s most fun young talents to watch. Problem is this team is too young with nearly all of their key players under 24 years of age.

 

27) Magic

They’re improved athletically and defensively with the additions of Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton but relying on Ben Gordon and Channing Frye to score is a scary proposition.

 

28) Celtics

Will Rajon Rondo trade rumors prove to be a distraction? How does he deal with the drafting of Marcus Smart? Jeff Green could be on the move too if Danny Ainge finds a taker.

 

29) Bucks

If Rookie of the Year favorite Jabari Parker is true to his word and hopes to stay in Milwaukee long-term, the Bucks should be competitive within a few years.

 

30) 76ers

As with Nerlens Noel a year ago, Philadelphia took a flyer on redshirt rookies. Joel Embid could miss the entire season while it’ll be two years until Dario Saric makes his way to the NBA.

 

Derrick Rose


LeBron James


Trevor Ariza

 


Chris Bosh


Tyson Chandler


Paul George


Danilo Gallinari


Carmelo Anthony


Kevin Love

 


Kobe Bryant


Rajon Rondo


Nerlens Noel

 

Tags: NBA

Miller injured, Nuggets eliminated

Jul 16, 2014 -- 10:17pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider

ESPNDenver.com

Erick Green (photo from @denvernuggets on Twitter)


The Nuggets summer league team was eliminated from single elimination play with an 87-75 loss to the D-League Select team. The dirty word that defined last season at the Pepsi Center reared it’s ugly head Wednesday night in Las Vegas: injury.

In this case, the injury was to Quincy Miller’s right ankle in the first half, he didn’t return although initial reports were the ankle is not fractured. In his absence, Erick Green led the team in scoring with 17 points while Gary Harris added 15. The Nuggets’ recent cold shooting continued as they converted just 37% from the field and 27% from three.

Although they were eliminated, the Nuggets will have one final game to play this summer. That contest will take place on Friday against the Lakers. Miller’s status for the contest is unknown at this time.

Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

Harris scores 18 but Nuggets fall to 1-2 in summer play

Jul 15, 2014 -- 8:57pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com

Erick Green and Dante Exum (photo from @utahjazz on Twitter)

The Nuggets summer team was blown out for the second consecutive game, falling to the Jazz 87-69 Tuesday night in Las Vegas. Denver went cold, make that ice cold, during the second quarter when they failed to score a point for nearly seven minutes. The Nuggets weren’t able to recover, and began to over rely on the three-point shot despite a horrific night shooting 3-of-27 from beyond the arc.

Quincy Miller had his worst game of the summer league thus far, shooting just 3-17 night on his way to only seven points. Gary Harris bounced back from his rough game on Sunday, registering a game-high 18 points but his outside shot continued to miss. Erick Green finished with 13 points and committed just a single turnover while playing the point for nearly 25 minutes. Jerrelle Benimon made some nice plays late in the contest when the game was out of reach. He scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds during just over 15 minutes of action.

Utah’s top rookie Dante Exum was mostly quiet, taking just four shots and scoring six points. He did demonstrate his athleticism on a few occasions including a chase-down block. Ian Clark and Erik Murphy led Utah with 17 points each while Malcolm Thomas added 14 and Trey Burke scored 11.

The Nuggets finished preliminary play with a 1-2 record and will begin single-elimination play on Wednesday.

Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

Faried named to USA Basketball's Men's National Team

Jul 14, 2014 -- 10:44am
Kenneth Faried (photo from @DenverNuggets on Twitter)

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com


Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried has been selected to the player roster for USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team training camp. The camp will take place July 28th through August 1st in Las Vegas as Faried and his teammates compete for a position on the 2014 USA World Cup Team. Here are the players invited:


Centers
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings
Andre Drummond, Pistons

Forwards
Kevin Durant, Thunder
Blake Griffin, Clippers
Paul George, Pacers
Kevin Love, Timberwolves
Gordon Hayward, Jazz
Kenneth Faired, Nuggets
Kyle Korver, Hawks
Chandler Parsons, Mavericks

Guards
Derrick Rose, Bulls
James Harden, Rockets
Steph Curry, Warriors
Damian Lillard, Trailblazers
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Bradley Beal, Wizards
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors

Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

McDermott scorches Nuggets in summer action

Jul 13, 2014 -- 7:53pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com

Doug McDermott (picture from @ChicagoBulls on Twitter)

NBA Summer League action is the first chance for fans to see their team's new rookies, which makes the following statement so bizarre. Saturday, the Nuggets were scorched.. by their own first round pick. After using the three-ball to blow out the Raptors on Friday, they received a taste of their own medicine in a 103-76 loss to the Bulls who were led by Doug McDermott.

Yes, the same Doug McDermott that was selected by Denver with the eleventh pick in this year’s draft. That, of course, was part of a trade between the Nuggets and Bulls that was agreed upon before the draft. He finished with 31 points including 5 three-point shots made. Denver jumped out early 11-1, then Chicago caught fire from beyond the arc. Led by McDermott and Tony Snell, the Bulls finished with a staggering 19 made three-pointers. Snell registered 23 points in the game.

Gary Harris, one of the two players Denver received back in the McDermott trade, struggled in the contest. Coming off Friday’s 33 point performance, he was quiet most of the game and finished with just 9 points on 1-12 shooting. Quincy Miller played well for Denver, scoring 26 points while Erick Green continued to make his case to earn a roster position recording 16.

The Nuggets now have a day off before playing the Jazz Tuesday.

Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

Harris stars in blowout win for summer Nuggets team

Jul 12, 2014 -- 8:19pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com

Gary Harris (photo from @DenverNuggets on Twitter)

Denver, meet Gary Harris. One of the Nuggets’ two selections in this year’s first round starred in the team’s first game of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas Friday. The Nuggets dominated the Raptors 110-82 at Cox Pavilion due in large part to their outside shooting, led by Harris.

The Michigan State guard scored 33 points while Quincy Miller added 23 and Erick Green registered 17. Demonstrating a smooth shot and aggressive defense, Harris’ play drew rave reviews from fans on social media and from Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, who called the game for NBA TV.

In addition to Harris’ strong play, Miller showed confidence from the outside as he looks to build on the playing time he received last season due to injuries. Despite occupying one of the Nuggets 14 projected roster spots, his contract is not guaranteed this season and he’ll need to earn a spot back on the roster.

Green, a second round pick in 2013, played last season in Italy after leading the NCAA in scoring his final year at Virginia Tech. With a strong showing through the rest of the summer games, training camp and preseason, he can make a push for the team’s last available roster spot as Denver’s third point guard. He added seven rebounds and four assists to his stat line in the contest.

The Nuggets squad, coached by assistants Patrick Mutombo and Noel Gillespie, raced out to a huge first quarter lead and cruised the rest of the way. Their next game will take place Sunday against Chicago against Doug McDermott and the Bulls.

Denver’s other first round pick, Jusuf Nurkic, is not playing on the team as he previously committed to play for the Bosnia and Herzegovina national basketball team. Nurkic scored 24 points to go with 16 rebounds in his team’s 96-40 victory over Romania Friday.

The Nuggets also control the rights to two other intriguing European prospects who are not playing on the summer team: 2013 second round pick Joffrey Lauvergne and 2014 second round selection Nikola Jokic. Neither is expected to be with the Nuggets until at least 2015.

Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

Nuggets announce summer roster

Jul 07, 2014 -- 1:16pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com


The Nuggets announced their roster for summer league play, the team will play in Las Vegas July 11th through the 21st. A few tidbits on the roster:

- First round pick Jusuf Nurkic will not be participating. The Nuggets hoped to have him available but his commitment to the Bosnian national team made that too difficult.

- Denver’s other first round pick, Gary Harris, is on the roster as is Quincy Miller who started 16 games for the Nuggets last season.

- Erick Green, a 2013 second round selection by the Nuggets, will be a part of the team after spending last season in Italy.

- Two local prospects will play, Metro State’s Brandon Jefferson and Colorado’s Carlon Brown. Jefferson worked out for the team prior to the draft, as did Towson’s Jerelle Benimon who is also on the roster.

2014 Denver Nuggets Summer League Roster (from Nuggets.com)



Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

Report: Miller to visit Denver

Jul 06, 2014 -- 12:21pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com

Mike Miller (Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)

Free agent Mike Miller will be visiting the Nuggets on Sunday and Monday according to ESPN 92.9 in Memphis. The Thunder, Rockets and Blazers have all been linked to the 34-year old sharpshooter, who could still return to the Grizzlies as well. While Denver has coveted Miller in the past, the timing of the move is perplexing on a number of fronts.

He would like a long-term deal and with Denver over the salary cap, their only options would be a sign-and-trade or to offer the mid-level exception which is a 3 year deal worth up-to $16 million dollars. The latter move would likely land the Nuggets in the luxury tax as their current payroll is estimated around $73 million once they sign both of their first round picks. The luxury tax threshold next season is projected to sit at $77 million, a $5 million increase from last year. No team wants to be in the luxury tax, but especially not one unexpected to compete for a title.

From a basketball standpoint, the long-distance specialist would join a cluttered group of wings that includes Danilo Gallinari, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye and rookie Gary Harris. After a season when the Nuggets were so decimated by injuries they could barely field a team, their roster is now so deep it’s hard to see how Brian Shaw will allocate minutes.

If nothing else, signing Miller would add veteran experience to a young locker room. After years of dealing with injuries, he played in all 82 games, averaging almost 21 minutes per contest. He shot just under 46% from long-range, his best mark in five seasons. Miller won two NBA championships with the Heat before signing with the Grizzlies prior to last season.

Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

Afflalo makes his return

Jun 30, 2014 -- 2:01pm

By Raj Sharan
Nuggets/NBA Insider
ESPNDenver.com

Josh Kroenke, Arron Afflalo and Tim Connelly

AAA is back. "Amazing" Arron Afflalo met with the Denver media Monday after being acquired last week for Evan Fournier and a second round pick. He’s no stranger to Denver, playing as a Nugget from 2009-2012 before being being dealt to Orlando in 2012. Calling the Nuggets the franchise who gave him his first real opportunity, Afflalo said he’ll be forever grateful to the team and is excited to be back. 

He didn’t back off of recent comments that he believes the team can be a title contender. “If you look at the history of champions, it’s not necessarily the highest level of talent all of the time,“ Afflalo said. “It’s the guys who know how to play together and have been through things that make them deep rooted in their passion to win games.”

Since his departure, much has changed, but not all. Afflalo said he’s talked with Ty Lawson, his closest teammate during his first tenure in Denver. He expressed a desire to help Lawson continue his development while forming a strong backcourt. He’s also played with Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov.

Saying the environment seems “friendlier” than the one he left two years ago, Afflalo commented he was very familiar with his new head coach Brian Shaw. The two have similar backgrounds, coming from California. Afflalo mentioned his college coach, Ben Howland, also coached Shaw.

Afflalo can opt-out of his contract next summer, but said he wouldn’t be addressing it during the season. He did mention the fact Denver reached out to bring him back, and his appreciation for the opportunities they gave him in the past, would come into consideration.

Follow Raj Sharan on Twitter @Raj_Sharan

Nuggets 2014 NBA Draft Recap

Jun 27, 2014 -- 3:17pm
By Duvalier Johnson
ESPNDenver.com

BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 26: Gary Harris, aquired via trade by the Denver Nuggets, poses for a portrait during the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 26, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Getty Images)

The needs to jump start  the Denver Nuggets in the 2014-2015 NBA season are simple:  get healthy. Creating depth is something that can happen through off season acquirements or making big moves in a very loaded 2014 NBA draft . 

The first acquisition happened early Thursday morning with Denver Nuggets re-acquiring Arron Afflalo from the Orlando Magic, via trade exception in exchange for rarely used Evan Fournier, and also the 56th overall selection in the draft. This trade was interesting because the overall idea was that the Nuggets received Afflalo in hopes of landing a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, for heavily sought after Kevin Love. Nuggets have denied any involvement with looking to do anything with Afflalo other than having him in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season.

Now it's time to celebrate because with the No.11 pick in the 2014 NBA draft the Denver Nuggets has selected . . . Doug McDermott, NCAA's 5th all-time leading scorer. Having scoring star power had become a problem for the offensively battered Nuggets since losing Carmelo Anthony, so attaining McDermott could possibly change that and get them back into successful half court playoff mode. That celebration was short lived as McDermott was immediately traded away to the Chicago Bulls in a deal that sent Anthony Randolph to Chicago and a future second-round pick to Denver.

Now,back to the board for the Nuggets whom also had the 16th and 19th pick due to their trade with Chicago. With the 16th overall pick the Nuggets selected 6'11 international center Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic played in the Adriatic League in Europe, where he averaged 11.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. As seen with most international players, Nurkic will not be playing in the NBA right away.

The biggest surprise came with the 19th overall pick when Denver selected 2013 Big Ten freshman of the year Gary Harris out of Michigan State. Harris averaged 16.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore last season for Michigan State. Gary is widely considered to be the steal of the draft for the Nuggets. Harris was projected from the late lottery to the mid-teens because of his reputation of being perhaps the best perimeter defender in the draft despite his size, an area in which the Nuggets need help with since dealing away Andre Iguodala.

Needing a shooting guard appeared to be the focal point for the Denver Nuggets. When they acquired Arron Afflalo via trade and drafted Harris it has undoubtedly left speculation as to what they are going to do with Randy Foye. This duo represents the Nuggets present. These two are capable of seamlessly guarding on the perimeter while shooting the open three pointers. Brian Shaw the 2nd year head coach will be accompanied by Afflalo and Harris while Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and Javale McGee are fresh off of injury. It will be interesting to see how things take shape in the highly competitive Western Conference.

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