When the already-exceptional Denver Nuggets finally bowed out of the 2018-19 season, they’d come closer to the Finals than they had in over a decade, in one of their most-successful seasons in history. Had they been able to score one more point in any of the first three of the four overtimes they spent against Portland in last years’ Game 3 playoff loss, they may have moved on to the Western Conference Finals, as they were tantalizingly close to their ultimate goal.
Though last season’s Nuggets took the floor with one of the league’s finest teams, they still saw a need to make improvements after coming up short. Denver made a list of their own that could help them make their next step forward:
Improved three-point defense
Improved overall defense
Improved scoring above the rim
Improved three-point shooting
As well as Denver performed in each of those categories last year, and as deep as they were, the playoffs exposed a need for even greater depth in each of those spots, with a successful seven-game series carrying them to a less-successful seven-game series. Had the Nuggets gotten to the Warriors, they’d have been running on fumes. Depth and consistency in the topics above could have shortened both of their playoff series, and given them a clearer run at a championship. Finding players who could give them that boost but not upset the already-stellar team dynamic was key. But surely filling out that steep and challenging list would take a few specific bodies to fulfill, right?
Well, not so fast.