2013-14 Statistics: 21.6 MIN, 9.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Even against a healthy McGee and two draft picks, Timofey Mozgov earned the spot as starting center. Furthermore, despite Faried's progression, Mozgov gets my vote for the most improved Nuggets player.
While playing a physical brand of basketball, Mozgov consistently evolved on offense (minus the bizarre late three-pointers) and continued to run the floor effectively. He contested every shot at the rim and began playing around 30 minutes in the final weeks.
Mozgov simply flourished under Shaw.
To be fair, McGee and Nurkic have higher ceilings at the moment, so Mozzy may not be the long-term solution at the 5. But he's the best option at this point, and he'll always fight every second he's on the floor.
2013-14 Statistics: 16.0 MIN, 7.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG
McGee was Denver's starting center for the first five games last year, but his fractured left tibia sidelined him for the season. Considering the small sample size and that this injury could have easily been bothering him before he actually sat out, I wouldn't look into last year's numbers at all.
But unlike heading into 2013-14 when the question was if McGee could play 30-to-35 minutes a night, now it's how much of a role will he have on this team? With Mozgov boosting his game and Nurkic in the picture, anything is possible.
This will be a battle between McGee and Nurkic for who gets to back up Mozgov. McGee has the athleticism and creates momentum-shifting plays, but will we see his technique, fundamentals and half-court game develop?
McGee has the inside track for playing about 20 minutes off the bench. But nailing the mid-range jumper, defending the post consistently and not making careless errors will determine if he can get his starting job back.
2013-14 Statistics (Adriatic): 16.6 MIN, 11.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG
2013-14 Statistics (Eurocup): 15.4 MIN, 8.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 1.3 BPG
The Nuggets continue to enjoy the international route.
At 6'11" and 280 pounds, Nurkic's physicality stands out. What also stands out is how well he moves without the ball. As DraftExpress analyzes, he has a lot of versatility for someone his size.
Nurkic's efficiency in forcing turnovers catches the eye too. He's very active, can cause mayhem and run the floor.
In a sense, he has a similar game to Mozgov, but perhaps with more potential.
While there was speculation that Nurkic might get stashed overseas, Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs tells us that Connelly will have him with the Nuggets for the upcoming season. If this remains true, they will have at least three true centers.
For now, Nurkic is third on the depth chart. But as he matures, don't be surprised to see him make the primary rotation in the near future.
2013-14 Statistics (Adriatic): 25.0 MIN, 11.4 PTS, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Just when you thought Connelly was done with the frontcourt, he went back for more. And of course, the pick was an international center.
But even though Jokic is 6'11", 253 pounds and you might think he's too similar to Nurkic, they have fairly different games.
Jokic plays with more finesse, relies more on touch around the basket and can stretch the floor. He's a prime candidate for pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations.
Considering that there are only two spots available to make the 15-man roster (three if Quincy Miller's contract isn't picked up), I'd be surprised if Jokic isn't overseas for the next year or two.
All NBA statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com
All college statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.com
All international statistics courtesy of DraftExpress.com
All contract information is from Basketball Insiders