NBA Playoffs 2020: 5 reasons the Denver Nuggets can win it all

Nikola Jokic, #15, Denver Nuggets, (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Nikola Jokic, #15, Denver Nuggets, (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets
Gary Harris, #14, Denver Nuggets, (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

2. Progression to the mean

It seemed like last season was a breakthrough for the Nuggets — not just making the playoffs for the first time in five seasons but taking a first-round series from the San Antonio Spurs and pushing the Portland Trail Blazers to seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals. With their three leading scorers all 24 or younger, it could be assumed this year would be another step forward. But development isn’t linear.

When the season was suspended, the Nuggets had a slightly better win percentage than last season but offensive and defensive efficiencies that were worse, relative to the league average. There were several issues but two of the most naggingly frustrating were the shooting regressions of Gary Harris and Monte Morris, in addition to the drop for Jamal Murray we already covered. Harris made better than 40 percent of his 3s from 2016 to 2018 but made just 33.3 percent this season. Morris dropped from 41.4 percent last year to 37.5 this year.

Projection systems like DARKO think Morris might have over-performed last year but see Harris and Murray’s numbers as being well below their actual talent levels. If they can recover the shooting rhythm they had in years past it would be a huge boost for Denver’s offense.