With the Denver Nuggets already securing their first NBA championship, there is not much else the team has to prove. All together, there isn’t much to say against Denver as a team, or at least just Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray as a duo and as individual players.
A perfectly constructed team, with a balance of defense and offense, youth and veterans, and stars and role-players, and everything in between. Mike Malone successfully led the ship in the right direction and was able to lead Denver to success.
Sure, a lot of factors have to go into being a champion, but the team’s starting five is a big factor. Chemistry goes into starting lineups, but also talent has a big part. Denver’s starting lineup was carefully constructed, and it worked out.
Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokic were all the Nuggets needed for Denver to have the best starting lineup in the playoffs, and it showed.
In the regular season, though, it was only the 15th best starting lineup with any lineup that logged 100 or more minutes together, according to NBA.com’s tracking statistics. The Nuggets also had the 13th best lineup on there, as well. Replacing Jamal Murray with Bruce Brown gave Denver a better net rating overall.
Yes, that starting lineup will stay the exact same this season barring any injury, but is it the best in the whole NBA? Sure, Denver’s starting lineup has been battle-tested, and has proven to be super successful, but a lot of other teams have a lot of talent in with their starters.
Looking across the league, the Boston Celtics look super talented. A lineup of Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kristaps Porzingis is dangerous on offense and on defense. White and Holiday both made an All-Defense team, while Tatum, Brown, and Porzingis all have an All-Star appearance under their belts.
Another team that could be incredibly tough are the Milwaukee Bucks. Damian Lillard, either Malik Beasley or Patt Connaughton, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez is a talented roster. Giannis is an MVP candidate year in and year out, Lillard is one of the NBA’s most clutch players ever, and Lopez was runner-up to the Defensive Player of the Year award. Not to mention Khris Middleton is an All-Star caliber player when healthy.
Both of those teams have deadly starting lineups and are both near the top of title favorites for this season. What does Denver have with their starters, though?
Jamal Murray is an All-Star caliber player and is one of the NBA’s deadliest players in clutch moments. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a sniper from long range and is one of the best catch-and-shoot players. Same could be said for Michael Porter Jr., but he has a wider variation of offensive power. Aaron Gordon is a lengthy forward who can guard any position and is one of the best finishers. Nikola Jokic is the best player in the NBA and is impossible to contain and guard, given his court vision and post moves.
Does Denver have the best starting lineup, though? It’s hard to say. We have not seen either Boston or Milwaukee use these linueps in the regular season at all, so we cannot say for certain. But considering the possibility of how good they can be, Boston should be considered to have the best starting lineup in the NBA. The Denver Nuggets could easily be ranked the second best, though.
That’s not to discredit anything from the Denver Nuggets. They’re still the favorites to win the Western Conference and cannot be counted out at all from winning it all. A repeat would seriously cement this team in NBA history, and would cement the starters, too.