Denver Nuggets: nba FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Denver Rockets were a founding ABA team, eventually changing their name to the Denver Nuggets to avoid confusion with the Houston Rockets. Led by stars Dan Issel and David Thompson, Denver won at least 60 games in their first two seasons as the Nuggets, before losing in the 1975 ABA playoffs to the Pacers and the 1976 Finals to the Nets. After the 1976 season, the ABA merged with the NBA,and the Nuggets, along with the Nets, Pacers, and Spurs joined the NBA.
Fans who bet on the Denver Nuggets to be as dominant in the NBA as they were in the NBA would be disappointed, but the Nuggets did win 50 games in their debut NBA season, before losing to Portland in the playoffs. The following season Denver won their division again, and won their first NBA playoff series before losing the Western finals to Seattle.
The Nuggets did not win a playoff series between 1978 and 1983, but under coach Doug Moe, the team became known for their high-scoring style, once scoring 100 points in an NBA-record 136 games.The 1981-82 Nuggets averaged an amazing 126.5 points per game.
The 1981-82 Nuggets began a streak of nine consecutive playoff appearances. In 1983-84, the team, led by Alex English, Kiki Vandeweghe, and Dan Issel, also played in the highest scoring game in NBA history, a 186-184 triple overtime loss. English would lead the NBA in scoring that season with 28.4 points per game.
Before the 1984-85 season, fans thought the Denver Nuggets odds would tank when they traded Vandeweghe, but the key piece they got in return, Fat Lever, helped Denver win 54 games, and make the Western conference finals, where they lost to the Lakers in 5 games.
The Denver Nuggets odds peaked in the 1987-88 season when they won 54 games and ousted Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, but a bet on the Denver Nuggets to make their first NBA finals would go uncashed as Dallas bested Denver in six games. The era wrapped up with a whimper as the team was swept in both the 1989 and 1990 seasons, with coach Doug Moe leaving after the 1990 season.
The Nuggets bottomed out in 1990-91 with a league-worst 20-62 record, which did allow them to select center Dikembe Mutombo out of Georgetown. Mutombo made an immediate impact as a rookie, making the All-Star game, but it took until 1994 for Denver to make it back to the postseason.
With former star player Dan Issel now coaching the team, Mutombo and star point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Denver entered the postseason as the 8th seed in the Western conference, set to face the mighty Seattle SuperSonics with Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. The Denver Nuggets odds may have been long, but the team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport, eliminating the Sonics in five games. Many fans bet on the Denver Nuggets to upset the Utah Jazz next, and while the series went seven games, the Jazz emerged victorious.
The following year Dikembe Mutombo was named Defensive Player of the Year as the team returned to the playoffs, but the Denver Nuggets odds of pulling off a second straight shocker were long and they were swept by their former ABA opponents, the Spurs.
What followed was one of the darkest periods in NBA history. The Nuggets missed eight straight postseasons, finishing the 1997-98 season with an 11-71 record and winning only 17 games in 2002-03.
The Nuggets took advantage of having the third pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and selected college superstar Carmelo Anthony out of Syracuse. Anthony was immediately a star, and the team went from 17 wins to 43 in his rookie season. From 2004 through 2013, if you had bet on the Denver Nuggets each year you would have won every time as they made ten straight playoff appearances. Incredibly, during that stretch they lost in the first round nine of those ten times.
The only exception was in 2009 when they traded for Chauncey Billups and together with Anthony he helped Denver knock off the Hornets and the Mavericks. Some experts bet on the Denver Nuggets to defeat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, but Denver fell short in six games. Year after year, the Denver Nuggets odds looked great in the regular season, only for them to fall short in the first round of the playoffs.
Finally, during the 2010-11 season, Denver traded a disgruntled Anthony to the Knicks for several good players, but no stars. By 2014, the Denver Nuggets odds were better to make the lottery than the playoffs, as they missed four straight postseasons. But, the team did a have secret weapon, as they developed massive Serbia center Nikola Jokic and surrounded him with a cast of excellent young players.
In 2018-19 the Nuggets eliminated the Spurs from the playoffs, a team that was previously 6-0 against them in the postseason, before succumbing to Portland. Jokic, along with players like Jamal Murray, kept improving and some experts even bet on the Denver Nuggets to emerge from the 2020 NBA bubble with their first NBA title. Sadly for Denver they lost to LeBron James and the Lakers in five games, but the future looks extremely bright for Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets to finally make their first ever NBA Finals.
2: Alex English
12: Fat Lever
33: David Thompson
40: Byron Beck
44: Dan Issel
55: Dikembe Mutombo
432: Doug Moe