- Here’s a list of the best Denver Nuggets draft picks in franchise history.
- Nikola Jokic leads the list of players Denver selected in the draft.
- Other notable players include Carmelo Anthony and Dikembe Mutombo.
The Denver Nuggets have finally removed themselves from the list of NBA teams that never won a championship, as they captured their first Larry O’Brien championship trophy in 2023 after beating the Miami Heat in six games during the NBA Finals. This success was mainly because of the draft picks and trades they made before the title run, which boosted their NBA championship odds.
Some of the players who helped Denver secure the title include Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Christian Braun, who were all drafted during the past decade. However, there are three draft picks that made a significant impact on the franchise. See the list of the three best Denver Nuggets draft picks and contributions below.
From the infamous Taco Bell commercial that was shown when he was drafted as the 41st pick in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft, Nikola Jokic rose to superstardom because of his complete and all-around basketball arsenal, capped off by his incredible passing ability and sweet shooting touch. The 6-foot-10 big man from Serbia created a new era in Denver.
Jokic steadily became the franchise’s cornerstone as he piled up the accolades. He was a member of the All-Rookie 1st Team in 2016, became a five-time NBA All-Star from 2019 to 2023, won back-to-back league MVP awards in 2021 and 2022, and spearheaded the team’s championship campaign in 2023, where he also captured the NBA Finals MVP honor.
NIKOLA JOKIĆ IS AN NBA CHAMPION AND YOUR FINALS MVP. pic.twitter.com/2hBGcFqNVh
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) June 13, 2023
Because of his outstanding contributions to Denver, he was awarded a massive contract worth $272 million for five years, and he is now included in the list of NBA players with $200 million contracts. In his first eight seasons as a Nugget, “The Joker” is averaging 20.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6.6 assists.
Carmelo Anthony was part of the stacked 2003 NBA Draft Class, which is considered one of the top-five NBA draft classes of all time. Denver selected him as the third-overall pick that year, and big expectations were put upon his shoulders to help the team consistently contend in the Western Conference. But the Syracuse standout didn’t shy away from the spotlight.
Anthony instantly lived up to the great expectation by becoming the Nuggets’ number one option on offense. The 6-foot-8 forward has racked up an average of over 20 points in every season he played for Denver. Also, he helped the team qualify for the playoffs in eight straight seasons after missing the eight previous years.
Melo had one of the most iconic careers in basketball history 🔥
➖3x Olympic gold medalist
➖2003 NCAA champion
➖2003-04 All-Rookie team
➖2012-13 scoring champion
➖Ninth all-time leading NBA scorer
➖NBA 75th Anniversary Team pic.twitter.com/kartZCX7gW
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 22, 2023
Before “Melo’s” relationship with the team fell apart in 2011, he was able to represent them in the NBA All-Star Game four times in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. Also, Anthony was named to the All-NBA 2nd Team in 2010 and the All-NBA 3rd Team in 2006, 2007, and 2009. He finished his career with the Nuggets with averages of 24.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 564 games.
In 1991, Denver selected Dikembe Mutombo as the fourth-overall pick to shore up their frontcourt. The Georgetown standout immediately produced a double-double output in his first year with 16.6 points and 12.3 rebounds, which earned him a spot in the 1992 All-Rookie 1st Team.
Mutombo played five seasons for the Nuggets and helped them clinch a playoff spot twice in 1994 and 1995. The more memorable run among the two postseason campaigns was the 1994 campaign when they authored the first-ever first-round playoff upset in league history by beating the Seattle SuperSonics, 3-2.
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) May 7, 2022
“Mt. Mutombo” left the team in free agency and signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 1996, but his legacy was forever etched in the franchise. Some of his achievements with the Nuggets were being named a three-time All-Star and winning the Defensive Player of the Year in 1995. The 7-foot-2 center accumulated an average of 12.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks in 391 games for Denver.
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