We’re about a third into the NBA season, and the Denver Nuggets don’t seem to have lost a step; currently 3rd in the Western Conference with an 18-10 record. Even without Jamal Murray for half of the 28 games they’ve played so far this season, Denver has shown no signs of slowing down and should be in contention for a title once again.
However, there is no shortage of competition in the Western Conference, and there are specifically three teams that pose a threat to the Nuggets' repeat title hopes. Here are those three teams and how they’d be ranked by their chances of taking down the Nuggets.
3) Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have gotten off to a somewhat disappointing start; currently 10th in the Western Conference with a 14-12 record. This is largely due to terrible injury luck, as the big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal have only played one game together.
The three were supposed to begin building chemistry right about now, as they debuted together against the Brooklyn Nets, but the following game, Beal suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out for multiple weeks.
While Phoenix should be grateful that the injury wasn’t more serious, it still means that KD and Booker will have to exert more energy in the regular season keeping the Suns in the playoff race, without much depth behind them to help win games. It also means KD, Booker, and Beal won’t have much time to build chemistry.
Considering these factors, Phoenix should be viewed as less of a threat in the Western Conference hierarchy than it normally would be. But still, as long as they have their big three all on the court in the playoffs they will be considered among the league’s contending squads.
The Suns lost in six games to the Nuggets in last year’s postseason, but the fact that they were even able to make that series competitive is impressive, considering the lack of depth on that roster Durant and Booker carried a huge load on their shoulders and almost succeeded anyway.
With a third star in Beal who’s proven more than capable of creating his shot and shooting the ball efficiently, there’s reason to believe that Phoenix could surpass Denver and potentially win it all.
Still, health and chemistry are legitimate concerns for this team that, at least right now, hold them back from being considered Denver’s top threat.