5. Denver Nuggets
Outside of Paul Millsap, the Denver Nuggets had virtually no playoff experience heading into the 2019 postseason. That didn’t stop this team — which earned the No. 2 seed in the loaded West, in case anyone had forgotten — from nearly making a run to the conference finals.
The Nuggets ultimately fell short in a tight Game 7 against a Blazers team with much more experience, but you can guarantee they’ll be back next season. One could even make the case they should be the favorites to emerge from the West, with Millsap’s $30 million option likely to be declined so the two sides can negotiate a longer deal with a cheaper annual salary.
Nikola Jokic earned a First Team All-NBA nod and will only get better with more playoff battles under his belt. The same goes for the inconsistent Jamal Murray, who’s only been in the league for three years. A healthy Gary Harris could make all the difference in the world, and don’t discount this team from perusing the trade market either. The Nuggets may have fallen short of the conference finals, but their playoff run with such a young group tells us big things are coming.