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Vegas Win Total Projection: 23.5
New coach, new schemes, new players, this Denver Nuggets team will be quite interesting this season. I expect to see them get 25 to 27 wins, below Minnesota, Oklahoma City, and right there with Portland. The addition of my rookie of the year pick Emanuel Mudiay, is a big plus. But losing Ty Lawson from countless mistakes and then later trading him, will hurt this team in the short term. Their mock starting 5 isn't bad by any means, with the likes of Gallinari, Chandler, Mudiay, Barton, and Faried. But after that, it seems they're lacking depth. I certainly see them playing better basketball than last year, but it may not translate in the wins and losses column.
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In my opinion, I am with Mudiay and Faried on this pick. Mudiay is going to get full control over the point guard role with the Nuggets. Historically, the Nuggets have fared very well with lottery picks, the last one in the earlier than pick number 10? Carmelo Anthony. Mudiay was picked 7th overall and shows a lot of promise. His ball handling, vision on the court, and ability to make plays for everyone makes me compare him to John Wall. Emanuel and John are similar in that they both came in with question marks on shot making ability, but could handle the rock and make things happen on the offensive side. I see Mudiay getting somewhere in the 32-35 minute range and maybe more.
Faried is certainly going to give you what he's always given you, a double-double almost every night. He shoots almost 51% from the field and dominates the interior with dunks and put backs. Undersized at the power forward position, but he certainly makes up for it in athleticism, hustle, and ability to handle the ball. The last 5 games of last season Faried averaged 23 and 11, I expect close to that this next season. Considering they don't have much front-court depth, the Nuggets will be forced to run Faried to the ground and play him 34-38 minutes a night in my opinion.
Danilo Gallinari. Unfortunately, because of his injuries, he hasn't gotten back into a rhythm yet. I trust and think that Danilo will get back to where he was, so why is he hyped up? Around the league, I think people are assuming he will be the best player on this team immediately. I don't see that as a realistic gauge but more, I think that he will take 20 games or so to get back to playing the way he was. I like Gallinari, just think it will take some time for him to get rid of the rust.
Will Barton. I really liked what Barton brought to this team last season. He's always hard working, ready to play, and can handle the ball well. His last 5 games of last season, he averaged 8.6 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Translate that to 30 minutes a night and he is getting 13 points, 3 assists, and 6 rebounds a night. He will get to the free throw line 2-3 times a night, shooting a good 87% from the stripe and he will also get you a steal or two per game. Offensively, he's gifted but has inconsistencies in his game, and defensively, he will get you a block and/or steal a night. A hard worker, always liked the way he plays, even if he does make mistakes as he can be turnover prone.
The team is realistically going to be similar, record wise, to last season's Nuggets team. They were 7th in rebounds, but 27th in defense allowing over 105 points a game. I don't see many of their offensive stats change, but wouldn't be surprised to see Michael Malone get them motivated to play better team defense. Overall, I look to see Mudiay play his socks off and create for the Manimal, Chandler, Barton, and company. Even if Gallinari is back to full strength, I don't see Denver as a real option for the playoffs this season.Resources: Vegasinsider.com