Denver Nuggets: Time to Tank for Lottery Pick?


The Denver Nuggets are currently riding a seven-game losing streak, so should they give up on the season and look to lock up a lottery pick next year?

The Denver Nuggets finished last season with a 30-52 record, ending up in 12th place, out of 15, in the Western Conference. By having a poor record last season, the Denver Nuggets landed the seventh pick of the NBA Draft, and they selected point guard Emmanuel Mudiay in the first round. With Emmanuel Mudiay joining a core of Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and Kenneth Faried, the Denver Nuggets hoped to turn their performances around to earn a playoff spot this season. However, through 18 games, the Denver Nuggets find themselves currently six games under .500 and on a seven-game losing streak.

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Before the Denver Nuggets lost seven-straight, they sat one game over .500 and in seventh place of the Western Conference. Emmanuel Mudiay stated that he wanted to make a playoff push this season, but the Denver Nuggets look to be a year or two behind on being a true contender. With a strong, young core of players, the Denver Nuggets possess the building blocks necessary to create a solid, playoff worthy team; however, their current roster does not bode well for the longevity of the season. Also, the Denver Nuggets suffered multiple injuries this season (Wilson Chandler, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Jusuf Nurkic), and that hurts their, already-slim, chances at making the postseason. 

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The Denver Nuggets find themselves in 13th place in the Western Conference, one spot worse than last season. Moreover, the Western Conference is loaded with great teams, and one might make the case that the West has 10 teams capable of making the playoffs. Moreover, the Denver Nuggets look to be one of the outsiders looking in. The 2016 NBA Draft, although early, looks to be a deep class, headlined by LSU superstar Ben Simmons. Currently, Ben Simmons is the unanimous first overall pick for next year’s draft, so the Denver Nuggets might be wise to focus on building experience and not winning. The Philadelphia 76ers are leading the way in the “tanking” department (currently 0-18), so they look like a favorite to receive the top overall pick next season.

However, the NBA Draft gives the three lowest teams the in the NBA the best chance at acquiring the top overall pick. Outside of the first three picks in the NBA Lottery, the following picks are determined by record, so the Denver Nuggets, essentially, need to finish, at least, with the third-worst record in the Association. Moreover, the Denver Nuggets are, pretty much, guaranteed to finish outside of a playoff spot, leaving them with a top-14 pick in next season’s draft. Normally, solid draft prospects do not fall outside of the top 10 picks, so the Denver Nuggets need to finish 12th or lower in the Western Conference to lock up a solid pick.

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With the Denver Nuggets finishing another poor season, they have the chance to add another key piece to their team for the future. The Denver Nuggets current team possess some key pieces (Mudiay and Harris), but Mudiay looks like the only future superstar on the team. However, Gary Harris could transform into a solid shooting guard down the road, but Emmanuel Mudiay shows flashes of greatness on a nightly basis. Moreover, if Mudiay can hone in on his shot, he propels himself into one of the best point guards in the NBA, especially with his size and length.

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Denver Nuggets fans want their team to be great again, but rebuilding teams are tough to support. Despite the frustrations surrounding the Denver Nuggets, they are one of the teams closer to contention. Fans need to patient this upcoming season, because the Denver Nuggets look destined for the basement of the Western Conference, once again. The Denver Nuggets need to bolster their lineup, and the easiest way to do so is by gaining talent through the NBA Draft. Thus, expect the Denver Nuggets to lock up a top-10 pick next season by finishing in the bottom of the Western Conference. Stay patient.