They narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2018 and reached the second round in 2019. They were knocked out by the LA Lakers in the NBA Western Conference Finals last year.
This time around, the Denver Nuggets look set to cruise into the playoffs again and look good to spring a couple of surprises when they're there. For that to happen, though, the health and form of NBA MVP contender Nikola Jokic would be key.
However, there are a number of other reasons why the Denver Nuggets should be confident of reaching the 2021 NBA Finals.
The Denver Nuggets are currently fifth in the Western Conference with a 29-18 record. They had finished third the last time around.
Considering the emergence of the likes of Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz this season, making the conference even more difficult than it was last year, the Denver Nuggets' achievement is laudable.
On that note, let's take a look at three reasons why the Denver Nuggets could reach the 2021 NBA Finals.
#1 Denver Nuggets' offensive proficiency
The Denver Nuggets have one of the best offences in the NBA. They had the fifth-best attack last season.
Nikola Jokic’s improved form and better depth in their roster means the Denver Nuggets have all the tools to be even more lethal this time around. That only augurs well for their hopes of reaching the 2021 NBA Finals.
Jokic’s incredible numbers have been the result of better overall shooting, which has translated to his best-ever efficiency of over 61%.
Additionally, the likes of Jamal Murray and Will Barton are in decent form; the latter was sorely missed during the Western Conference Finals against the LA Lakers last season. Meanwhile, Murray has averaged more than 21 points per game, with the Denver Nuggets are also benefitting from the presence of Aaron Gordon.
Last season, both Jokic and Murray were phenomenal in the playoffs, a trend that could continue this year, as well as the Denver Nuggets look to reach the Finals.
#2 Defensive improvement and tactical smartness
Jeremi Grant’s impact on the Denver Nuggets goes beyond statistics. He used to be the only defender on the Nuggets’ roster capable of taking on elite attackers like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. However, the addition of Aaron Gordon has bolstered the Denver Nuggets in that department.
Additionally, the Denver Nuggets have also added JaVale McGee to their roster. He is a decent rim-protector who is also capable of defending big men like Anthony Davis, another player the Denver Nuggets would probably have to contain on their way to the NBA Finals.
McGee can step in behind Jokic for minutes and should be a better option than the likes of JaMychal Green and Paul Millsap, who have been rotated at the center position thus far.
Overall, in Aaron Gordon, the Denver Nuggets have added exactly the kind of player they needed defensively, with their offence already capable of winning them games.
#3 Improved bench strength
With Aaron Gordon starting both games he has been available for, Paul Millsap will probably start from the bench for the rest of the season.
Additionally, the likes of Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton have also produced points consistently, the latter emerging as the Denver Nuggets’ third most prolific scorer this season, tallying 16.5 points per game. He is shooting from the three-point zone with an accuracy of almost 45%, which is the best on the Nuggets roster.
Moreover, the likes of PJ Dozier and 20-year old RJ Hampton have also contributed off the bench.
With Aaron Gordon’s arrival, the Denver Nuggets have more depth and quality in their offense than they have had in years. They have significantly improved at both ends of the court and are more than capable of improving on their Conference Finals finish last season.