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Nuggets 2016-17 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2016

From left, Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5), Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) and Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 4, 2016, in Denver. Brooklyn won 121-120 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

For the third straight season, the Denver Nuggets missed the playoffs, going 33-49 in 2015-16. 

Once one of the most consistent teams in the league, including 10 straight playoff appearances from 2004-2013, the Nuggets are spiraling toward mediocrity as they look to turn things around in 2016-17. 

They'll have an opportunity to start game-planning for next season following the release of the 2016-17 schedule on Thursday

Here's all the important information you need to know about Denver's schedule.

        

2016-17 Details

Season Opener: Oct. 26 at New Orleans Pelicans, 8 p.m. ET

Championship Odds: 100-1 (per Odds Shark)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

       

Top Matchups

Utah Jazz

First Game: Nov. 20 at Pepsi Center, 9 p.m. ET

As one of Denver's biggest division rivals, the Jazz have dominated this matchup throughout the 40 years of competition. 

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In 183 games, Utah has won 108 times, including five straight wins dating back to April 2015. 

Last season, Denver finished seven games behind the Jazz, who fell just one game short of snagging the final Western Conference playoff spot.

As a team that added George Hill to address its backcourt issues, Utah is the kind of team that the Nuggets must try to keep pace with in order to have any kind of success in 2016-17.

An early win against the Jazz will show head coach Mike Malone and his roster that they can compete in the Northwest Division, and it could be used as a building block for the future.

       

Sacramento Kings

First Game: Jan. 3 at Pepsi Center, 9 p.m. ET

Malone spent 106 games as head coach of the Sacramento Kings, amassing a 39-67 record before being fired in December 2014.

While these two aren't necessarily rivals, this could be a game of major interest for Malone, as he has yet to beat the Kings as Denver's head coach. 

In three games last season, the Nuggets lost all three matchups to the Kings by a combined 19 points. It was the first time that the Kings swept the season series since the 2002-03 season.

While they weren't blown out in any of those games, being swept by a team that was dysfunctional at times last year showed there was no way the Nuggets could be competitive in the Western Conference. 

By beating teams with sub-.500 records, the Nuggets will find themselves in a much better position to at least be in the conversation for the final playoff spot. 

      

Record Prediction

This is a Nuggets team that is filled with question marks, but its most promising pieces are a trio of guards in Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.

Mudiay, who will be the team's starting point guard, will be starting his second NBA season, and Murray is expected to play alongside second-year man Harris at the 2 in his rookie season. 

Harris and Mudiay have already shown during the NBA Summer League that they can work well together, via the Nuggets:

Denver Nuggets @nuggets

OH. MY. MUDIAY. #NBASummer #Nuggets https://t.co/TRWTZRwXUr

Denver also has a center in Nikola Jokic who is coming off a rookie season in which he averaged 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Their accrual of young talent is something that has made the Nuggets a dark horse in the league, even though they didn't acquire a big name during free agency, according to CBS Sports' Matt Moore:

The Nuggets lost out on Dwyane Wade in the free-agent sweepstakes, but with a talented backcourt combo and equally-under-the-radar phenom Nikola Jokic, Denver continues to percolate what is a stealthy good team headed into next season despite adding nothing to the roster in the free agency bonanza.

Depending on the development of this young talent, the Nuggets could have an above-average supporting cast for Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari, who are 26 and 27, respectively.

However, that hinges on Faried's and Gallinari's abilities to stay healthy, as the two missed a combined 44 games last season. 

With so many questions surrounding the team, it will be difficult to predict a major improvement or drop in its record next season. 

Record Prediction: 40-42

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