Nuggets Reporter: This Is Their Coming-Out Party

The Denver Nuggets, who missed the playoffs by one game last season, are atop the Western Conference

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
December 06, 2018 - 9:30 am

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After missing the playoffs by one game last season, the Denver Nuggets appear poised to not let that happen again. In fact, the Nuggets (17-7) are atop the Western Conference entering play Dec. 6.

The Nuggets have won a league-high seven straight games, as well as five straight road games – something they haven’t done since 2013, the last time they made the playoffs. 

Denver is 8-4 on the road; the Nuggets didn’t win their eighth road game last season until Feb. 10.

Why have they been so much better – especially away from home – this season?

“I think defensively they’re much better than they were last year,” Altitude Sports Nuggets reporter Chris Dempsey said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “You’re talking about a bottom-two, -three defensive team last season, and this season a top-two or -three defensive team. So their defense has traveled to all of these places, which has given them an opportunity to take a lot of these games into the fourth quarter. And then in the fourth quarter, especially late, they’ve been able to make the plays that win games. So it is a total turnaround for this basketball team on the road this season.”

The Nuggets don’t have many well-known stars, but that could change in a hurry.

“If the Nuggets continue to play like this for the majority of the season and get into the playoffs, some of these guys are going to become household names,” Dempsey said. “They are getting good performances from a number of players. Nikola Jokic is right at the top of the list. You’re talking about the best player on the team. He’s one of the best passing players in the NBA.”

Jokic, who is averaging 16.5 points, leads the team in rebounds (9.6) and assists (7.8), which is rare for a big man.

Six Nuggets are averaging double figures, including Jamal Murray (17.9), Gary Harris (16.6), and Paul Millsap (13.5).

“Gary Harris is a player that I think would become more of a household name,” Dempsey said of the former Michigan State standout. “Paul Millsap has been in the past with the Atlanta Hawks. I think for the Nuggets, if they keep playing this way, they will gain the notoriety that comes with it. This is kind of their coming-out party, and if they continue to play like this over the course of the regular season, they will be a lot more well-known by a lot more NBA fans across the nation.”