Denver Nuggets Present Biggest Challenge For Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are one of the most interesting teams in the Western Conference this next season with the additions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, but there are so many fascinating teams to talk about – starting with the challenge the Denver Nuggets present.
In the next few episodes of the Jazz Notes podcast, Cleon Wall lists his 10 most interesting teams in the West and asks five questions of the women and men who cover the teams.
First Up: Denver Nuggets
Unlike their border rival to the West, the Nuggets didn’t do much in terms of shaking their team up. They only traded for Jeremi Grant.
Nuggets team reporter Chris Dempsey wasn’t shocked that the team didn’t make many moves since Denver finished with the 2nd best record in the West.
“They felt the young players were still growing into NBA veterans. When they had as much success as they did getting to the playoffs and one game away from the Western Conference Finals, I think that sealed the deal in (Nuggets management’s) minds that they thought ‘Let’s not change this equation,” said Dempsey.
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Nikola Jokic was an All-NBA talent last season, but could the Serbian center go up another level? Dempsey was not sure but said we might have seen a glimpse of it in the playoffs.
“Every single night, it was like 28 points a game in the playoffs (25.1 pts a game over 14 games). And he wasn’t necessarily like that in the regular season…His numbers really do equal wins for the Nuggets,” Dempsey continued, “If he did that for 82 games over the regular season he would really be in the MVP debate for next season and maybe that would be the next level for him.”
In an earlier Jazz Notes podcast, Wall said he thought the Nuggets could have the best overall record in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Clippers coming in at number two and the Jazz at number 3.
Dempsey would only say he believes Denver is a top 3 team, but unlike the Clippers, he doesn’t see many of the Nuggets resting like current Clipper Kahwi Leonard did last season with the Raptors.
“This is a young group of players who expect to be on the court a lot this next season. And they’ve had the experience now over the last couple of seasons to go into Utah and to know how that feels…and how you have to play and to rise to the level of these teams in those venues. To put (themselves) in a position to win a game and they didn’t have that a couple of seasons ago. I think they are a more mature basketball team will a lot of good to elite level basketball players and I think that will serve them well in the regular season.”
Denver won the division last season, but Utah won the season series. Expect it to be close again this season. Fivethirtyeight predicts Denver to barely win the Pacific Northwest Division by one game over the Jazz.
It should be another fun matchup between these Rocky Mountain rivals.
Listen to the entire interview below.
For all the analysis of the Jazz and their Western Conference competitors subscribe to the podcasts wherever you find them or on kslsports.com.