The Denver Nuggets are fresh off of their first championship, and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic has the franchise in pole position to repeat. They are loaded with history, but it took more than five decades for them to get to the top of the mountain. Denver has made the playoffs in 29 of their 48 NBA seasons, but it has not been all sunshine and rainbows in the Mile High City.
The Nuggets have made plenty of front-office mistakes over the years, including giving up on talent only to regret it. They missed on draft picks and have struggled to evaluate talent. They finally found a championship recipe around Jokic, but it could time and tinkering to get the job done.
Denver has had other superstars and role players capable of helping them make deep playoff runs, but it was not easy finding the perfect mix. Sometimes, the Nuggets lacked patience and sent a player packing too soon.
Players Denver Nuggets gave up on way too soon: 14. Andre Miller
Miller joined the Nuggets in 2003 after his fourth NBA season. The 6’3 guard was already a starter that led the league in assists during his third season in Cleveland. Denver offered him a chance to be the starting point guard next to Carmelo Anthony, Nene, Marcus Camby, and Voshon Lenard.
The Nuggets snapped an eight-year playoff drought in 2004 as Miller led the team in win shares. He played well during his three and half years in Denver as the Nuggets made the playoffs every year. Miller did not miss a game for three straight years, but the franchise decided to trade him for Allen Iverson in 2006.
Before returning to Denver in 2011, Miller was the starting point guard for Philadelphia and Portland where he missed just one game in five years. He helped both franchises reach the playoffs twice before the Nuggets traded Raymond Felton in a three-team deal to reacquire him. Miller played two and a half more years in Denver before being traded to the Wizards in 2014.
The Denver Nuggets gave up on Andre Miller too soon, but they took the chance on acquiring Iverson. Would they have been better off with Miller running the point? It is a fair question to ask as the Nuggets did not advance beyond the first round of the playoffs until they traded Iverson for Chauncey Billups in 2008.