Nikola Jokić | 20.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 7.3 apg
An All-NBA First Team selection, All Star and MVP candidate, Joker will be looking to further cement himself as the premier big man in the league (though Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert and Karl Anthony-Towns will have something to say about that). Jokić won’t be winning over fans for his defense. While it is not elite, his defensive positioning has been slated a little too harshly. Offensively, the Serbian center may distance himself in 2020 as the best dual-threat the game has to offer, after finishing the previous campaign as tied for eight in assist per game (and the third most assists per game ever for a center after two seasons by Wilt Chamberlain).
Jamal Murray | 18.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.8 apg
At just 22 years of age, Murray should be entering his fourth season with high expectations after coming off a post season in which he stepped up big for the Nuggets, with eight games of 23 points or more. He can be inconsistent, but with maturity, Mike Malone will be hoping Murray can become the team’s leading scorer.
Paul Millsap | 12.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.0 apg
Though no longer considered a first, second – or perhaps even third – option on the offensive end, Milsap has flourished in his role as defensive anchor for a Denver team that jumped from 23rd in defensive rating 2017-18 to 10th in 2018-19.
Gary Harris | 12.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.2 apg
Perhaps Denver’s best two-way player, Harris will continue to guard the opposing teams’ best offensive guards and wings. Against the Spurs in round one, Derrick White averaged 23 points in games one through three, shooting close to 70 percent from the field. Coach Malone opted to have Harris guard White from thereafter, and from that point on averaged less than 10 points per game on almost half the efficiency he had before. Offensively, expect Harris to continue to thrive in the Nuggets offensive system, which is dominated by Jokić finding open cutters – something Harris may be the best at on the team.
Michael Porter Jr. | DNP
It may be strange to consider Michael Porter as a key player considering he has yet to play an NBA game, and only played three college basketball games. However, if the reports are to be believed and he has fully recovered from a second back surgery, then Porter Jr. could go on to have impact with Denver. In today’s game, with pace and space becoming ever more important, Porter Jr. has great movement on and off the ball and has drawn comparisons to a young Rudy Gay, which could be key in creating quick plays on a team that finished 26th in pace last season.