NBA Power Rankings: Preview the Los Angeles Lakers and the rest

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Los Angeles Lakers
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. . . Denver Nuggets. 7. team. 73

Dearly Departed: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Troy Daniels, Torrey Craig, Keita Bates-Diop

New Additions: JaMychal Green, RJ Hampton, Zeke Nnaji, Markus Howard, Isaiah Hartenstein, Facundo Campazzo

Win Projection/Prediction: 43.5/Over

Plenty of people are starting to pile dirt on the Denver Nuggets as legitimate title contenders. The loss of their reserve frontcourt to the Detroit Pistons caught the headlines, especially after how impressive Jerami Grant was in the team’s run to the Western Conference Finals. However, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.

JaMychal Green is more than able to fill the role of the departed Grant and should make it so the team is not missing a beat. Will Barton, who missed the entire bubble, feels like a major addition in and of himself. He had a realistic claim as the third-best player on Denver’s roster before the season’s stoppage. He was missed and will be a welcome return.

Related Story. Denver Nuggets: Starting thoughts. light

The Nuggets have also earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to internal development leading to continued success. Michael Porter Jr. looked like a future All-Star in Orlando. He gives them a dynamic third option on offense if he can make that more of a regularity. Bol Bol is raw but is a fascinating watch from night to night when given minutes. RJ Hampton is the next in a long line of project guards the team is bringing on. He has the potential of a top lottery pick without the expectations. Trust in the Nuggets to get the most out of him.

The most important factor in the team’s success, obviously, is Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Murray is on track to make his first All-Star game this season after a dominant run through the bubble (26.5 points, 6.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds per game) and showed that he is ready to be a franchise player. Jokic is a top-10 player in this league and is perennially underrated. These two have led this team to a top-three seed in back to back seasons. That trend continues this year.