They were the big winners of the Richard Jefferson sweepstakes yesterday! Pretty much the biggest free agent signing of the day.
They are horribly mismanaged by the front office 50% of the time (the Plumlee/Nurkic trade and subsequent Plumlee outrageous over pay are examples), and fantastically managed 50% of the time (McBuckets for Harris and Nurkic, Jokic draft pick, Mozgov for 2 firsts) so the management adds some flair that you don't get to see out many front offices. You can't be sure that they won't trade Jokic for Kevin Love and a first rounder, but they also might land some Jimmy Butleresque trade mid season.
On the court, the Nuggets are going to be a lot of fun. They'll play with good but not quite George Karl/Doug Moe level pace while playing elite level offense and bad to poor defense. Obviously Jokic is the foundation of the offense with lots of cutting from the guards, but all their starters are comfortable pushing the ball up the court and can all attack the basket off the dribble. Just about everybody on the court at all times (save Plumlee and Faried) should be somewhere between excellent (Murray, Harris, Beasley, Hernangomez, Jefferson, Jokic for a center) to average (Chandler, Millsap, Lyles, Arthur, Barton, Mudiay if they are catch and shoots) at shooting 3's. I don't have a shot charts to point to, but they have a similar distribution to Cleveland and GSW (not quite Houston levels), where pretty much everybody shoots either at the three point line or in the lane.
Jamal Murray - With the release of Nelson, they are clearly thinking that Murray is ready to be the full time PG. If things break right for him, he is Steph Curry-lite. He's a big PG (6-4, 207) that has perfect shooting form with a quick trigger, and he is incredibly crafty with the ball. He's also an average athlete with a long ways to go creating shots for others. He had two sports hernias that he played with all season, so maybe the athleticism will come around this year. The shooting certainly will, but he may be more of a 38% shooter rather than a 42% shooter or something.
Gary Harris - He has a reputation as a 3-D SG, but I think he is mostly overrated defensively and underrated offensively. Pure 1-on-1, he does an alright job, but he gets caught watching the ball a lot and gets caught up on screens. He'll never be elite because he's a little short for an SG. Offensively, he is a D Wade level cutter which gets him a lot of easy buckets from Jokic, a great shooter (42% last season from 3), but he is also a capable secondary ball handler. He's also a better athlete than advertised, getting up for some dunks from time to time.
Wilson Chandler - He's pretty much the definition of average other than at creating shoots which he does better than most SFs. He's an average shooter who plays average defense who rebounds at a slightly above average rate who uses an average number of possessions at average efficiency with a perfectly average PER (15). That makes for a nice complementary player because he doesn't really have any weaknesses which is rare for a SF and probably makes for an above average SF in today's NBA. He is also capable of playing small ball 4.
Paul Millsap - The biggest free agent signing to a new team that has two functioning ankles. Millsap was asked to do too much last season in Atlanta and his efficiency suffered for it. In Denver he'll be allowed to do the things he does best without taking a primary, or even secondary, ball handling role. He'll be the defensive quarterback, get back to rebounding the ball, and get his chances attacking a defense that is on its heels. I expect his counting stats and minutes to fall a little bit, but his on court impact to improve.
Nikola Jokic - He is truly a transcendent offensive talent. It is well documented what kind of passer he is, but look at his shooting:
0-3 3-10 10-16 16 <3 3P
.674 .624 .530 .552 .324
Dude is lights out from everywhere. I think he was number two in the league in post up efficiency, which is incredible because he isn't especially strong or long and he is certainly not a bouncy athlete. Defensively, I think he is capable, but they had him in the wrong system last year (mostly because their guards are terrible P&R defenders). I think they'll have him come up a little further this year, rather than dropping back, a la Rudy Gobert, because he doesn't have the ability to be a great shot blocker/contester.
Will Barton - He'll play a little bit of 1-3 off the bench. He is a taller, more athletic, but less crafty version of Jamal Crawford. He has very good handles for a nominal SG, but doesn't have the vision or know-how to be a PG. His lanky frame can be helpful against smaller guards, but he doesn't have the muscle to be even an average defender. He's bouncy, finds his own shot with ease, and has turned into a plus shooter.
Emmanual Mudiay - He's been a disappointment, but shows flashes of elite play making ability from time to time and can find his spot through the defense surprisingly well. He is also a very good athlete, but not in the Wall/Rose/Westbrook explosive way, he's like a quicker/bouncier version James Harden that uses his strength and leverage to his advantage. His problem is three-fold, he is a turnover machine because of a sloppy handle and some sort of need to do too much, he is terrible near the hoop despite his physical gifts, and he has a nasty habit of shooting on the way down, especially off the dribble.
Juancho Hernangomez - He was a surprise to me last year. He'll probably split time at the 3/4, but his offensive role will be the same. He is a knockdown shooter (41% 3pt) that is comfortable putting the ball down for a couple dribbles. He's too skinny right now to be a good defender, but he puts in a lot of effort and has the feet to move with SFs and the tenacity to guard bigger players in the post. He is a plus rebounder as a 3 and more than adequate as a 4. He reminds me of a shorter, more athletic version of young Ryan Anderson.
Mason Plumlee - The worst contract of the offseason is still a great backup center. My worry is that Malone will play him too many minutes by either playing him next to Jokic (barf) or over Jokic in the 2nd/3rd quarters. He has a skill set that is exceptional for a backup center. He passes as well as any center other than the truly elite (Gasol, Horford, Noah, Jokic), dives hard to the rim, and rebounds well. He sucks defensively, despite being an upper tier athlete for the position (not quite a McGee/Whiteside type, but not that far off). If he is playing strictly at center 15 mpg, I love him. If he is taking any minutes away from Jokic or playing along side him, I hate him.
Kenneth Faried - His days are numbered with the extension of Plumlee. He's a crowd favorite because of his athletic abilities which he never bothered to translate into defensive prowess. He's a very good defensive rebounder, and elite offensive rebounder, has excellent hands, and jumps out of the gym, but that is basically his whole game. If the Nuggets can find a trade partner for him, he's gone.
Malik Beasley - We might get to see him if Barton is out for the first few games. He's a good to very good athlete that doesn't know quite how to make that work in his favor consistently. He looks like a plus shooter with defensive potential but doesn't seem to have much inbetween game or secondary ball handler abilities. He's a G-League all-star type that may or may not translate to the real NBA.
Richard Jefferson - He's old, everybody knows his game. Malone will probably play him twice as much as he should.
Trey Lyles - He might be the traditional backup PF. He looks like a plus athlete with a nice stroke. Haven't seen much of him.
Darrell Arthur - He can't get healthy. If he was healthy, he would be a nice rotation piece. He is a plus shooter as a 4, moves his feet well on switches (they used him against 3s on purpose from time to time), and is strong enough to competently cover centers in the post. Rebounds like a small forward.
Tyler Lydon - Lyles and Lydon are what they got instead of the opportunity to draft Mitchell or Anunoby (that would have been my pick at the time). Lydon is billed as a PF that can shoot, but I'm not convinced that he is big enough to play PF (although he does look like a nice weak side shot blocker) or that he is a plus shooter. He's not going to be a SF either.
TL;DR - The Nuggets like offense because they are good at, don't like defense because it is hard, and Jokic is the GOAT.
If anybody reads that whole post, kudos.