Each NBA team’s greatest free agent signing in franchise history

Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets
Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Denver Nuggets: Paul Millsap, Power Forward (2017-Present)

Not too many players throughout NBA history have thought of the Denver Nuggets as a possible free agent destination. Aside from the lack of playoff success — they’ve been to just two conference finals in their 38 NBA seasons — the Rocky Mountains don’t exactly provide a trendy living situation.

Denver had been in the midst of a patient and quiet rebuild, having assembled a nice nucleus of talent with an increased win total in four consecutive seasons. They compiled a 40-42 record during the 2016-17 campaign, which had them a single game out of the eighth and final playoff spot out west.

The Nuggets were young and fun, but needed more. They needed an established veteran who could contribute just as much in the locker room as on the court. That guy would be none other than Paul Millsap, who inked a three-year, $90 million deal to join this up-and-coming squad.

Always a productive player, Millsap had blossomed during his time with the Atlanta Hawks, where he made the NBA All-Star Team in all four of his seasons with the team.

As a do-everything power forward, his production wasn’t tied to any one category who could affect the game at both ends of the floor. He would have to take a backseat to budding star Nikola Jokic, as well as developing guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, but his value to Denver wouldn’t go unnoticed.

After narrowly missing out on the postseason once again, the Nuggets exceeded expectations with 54 wins and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Millsap averaged just 12.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, but Denver was a +8.2 per 100 possessions with him on the floor including a +6.2 mark in the playoffs.

The Nuggets don’t attract the top-tier free agents and they likely never will. In Millsap, they decided to look a tier below and came out winners. Without his guidance and experience, there’s no telling whether those youngsters would’ve made a similar leap or not, an impact that’ll be felt for years to come.