The Denver Nuggets have had some of the league’s most exciting and talented players emerge or spend their prime in the Mile High.
Happy Thanksgiving! Especially to Denver Nuggets fans!
In honor of one of the nation’s most beloved holidays, NuggLove has decided to create a list of the three Nuggets — either current or former — that the franchise and its fans should be thankful for.
If you’re a diehard fan, there shouldn’t be any surprises on this list (even if there are disagreements).
So, without any further ado!
Nikola Jokic is easily one of the best players in franchise history despite the 25-year-old only having been in the league for five seasons.
A premier center widely regarded as the best offensive player at his position because of his court vision, passing, low-post play, faceup jumpers and ability to stretch the floor to 3-point range, Denver’s return to legitimacy coincides perfectly with Jokic’s rise.
Nuggets fans, particularly those born at the turn of the millennium, should be thankful that The Joker has put the franchise in position to win their first championship for the first time in over a decade. To make it better, Jokic does it in a way that’s so pure and innocent — both in his style of play and his personality — that the Nuggets’ national reputation isn’t marred by an unsavory perception.
A two-time All-Star and All-NBA selection, Jokic currently ranks sixth in all-time assists (2,675), eighth in all-time rebounds (3,657) and seventh all-time in win shares (48.7) in Denver’s franchise history.
Remember me talking about the Nuggets being in position to win a championship for the first time in a decade?
Although many Nuggets fans soured on Carmelo Anthony after the former Syracuse standout forced a trade to join the New York Knicks in 2011, Denver was lucky that the Detroit Pistons whiffed in the 2003 NBA Draft and Melo ended up with the Nuggets.
Certainly, Melo’s affinity for New York was understandable. Aside from New York City being an attractive metropolis, especially for those with celebrity status, Anthony was born in New York.
Nonetheless, it’s only natural for fans to grow frustrated when a marquee player leaves their favorite team.
All that said, Anthony revitalized the Nuggets after being drafted third overall in 2003. Denver was a perennial playoff team with him at the helm and, after the trade that sent NBA icon Allen Iverson to the Nuggets in 2006, a championship contender for a short time.
Those were some of the most exciting times to be a Nuggets fan.
Anthony, a 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection, remains one of the league’s most popular players today despite being at the end of his career.
Melo currently ranks sixth all-time in games played (564); third all-time in minutes played (20,521); third all-time in field goals (4,989); third all-time in points (13,970); third all-time in free-throws (3,582); seventh all-time in steals (634), and fifth all-time in win shares (53.5).
There are a couple of former Nuggets that could have went here.
Dan Issel. David “Skywalker” Thompson.
However, I’ve decided that no player belongs on this list more than the one who produced the most for the Nuggets: Alex English.
Traded to Denver in middle of the 1979-80 season, English broke out as a multi-dimensional playmaker.
Earning the nickname “The Blade” for his slashing ability, English was named to eight straight All-Star teams, led the Nuggets to nine consecutive playoff appearances, and ranked in the top-10 of MVP voting in 1982-83 (when he led the league in scoring with 28.4 points per game) and 1985-86 (when he averaged a career-high 29.8 points per game).
The best part of all, English was — like Jokic — a second-round draft pick. He was also a great guy, winning the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 1988.
It would be a lot easier to list the categories that English isn’t the Nuggets’ all-time leader in: 3-point field goals, total rebounds, steals, blocks, and win shares. That said, aside from the 3-point conversions, he still ranks in the top-five of all those categories.
English’ no. 2 jersey was retired by Denver in 1993.