2018-19 Season Preview: Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets came close to the playoffs last season and are looking to take the next step this year.

Coach: Mike Malone (entering his fourth season with Denver, 119-127, .484, his sixth overall, 158-194, .449).

Last Season: 46-36, did not make playoffs.

Key Returnees: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee, Trey Lyles.

Key Additions: Michael Porter Jr. (rookie, Missouri), Isaiah Thomas (LA Lakers).

Key Losses: Wilson Chandler (Philadelphia), Kenneth Faried (Brooklyn), Darrell Arthur (Phoenix), Devin Harris (Dallas).

Outlook: Upon signing a free-agent deal with the Nuggets, guard Isaiah Thomas promptly declared Denver would make the playoffs this season. That’s not much of a declaration, really, considering the Nuggets just missed the postseason a year ago when they lost on the last night of the regular season to Minnesota. Denver returns its top three players in the form of talented big man Nikola Jokic, point guard Jamal Murray and swingman Gary Harris, all 23 or younger. They are surrounded by the likes of Paul Millsap, Will Barton, Mason Plumlee and Trey Lyles. Throw in the aforementioned Thomas and rookie Michael Porter Jr., once projected as the No. 1 player in a stacked draft, whom slipped to the Nuggets at No. 14 because of concerns about his balky back, and Denver certainly should be in the thick of the playoff chase again. With Jokic in the middle, Murray running the show and Harris’ marksmanship (39.6 percent on 3-pointers last season), along with the 19-year-old Porter, Denver has an exciting, young foundation and its future appears bright.