Denver Nuggets Top Five Greatest Players

As the NBA season approaches, we are counting down the top five players for every franchise. Today we will be looking at the top five players for the Denver Nuggets. The team was founded as the Denver Lark in 1967 as a part of the American Basketball Association. Before their first season, they changed their name to the Rockets instead. Denver later changed its name to the Nuggets in 1974. The Nuggets had some success in the ABA while making it to the playoffs from 1967 to 1976 and losing in the finals the one year they made it there. The team then joined the National Basketball Association in 1976 after the ABA-NBA merger where they would later qualify for nine consecutive seasons in the 1980’s and ten consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2013 but they have yet to make it to the NBA finals. I will be breaking down the top five players who have put on a Denver Nuggets jersey.

Denver Nuggets Top Five Greatest Players

5: Dikembe Mutombo (1991-1996)

Dikembe Mutombo was drafted with the fourth overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 draft. Mutombo was a one in a generation type of player on the defensive end on the floor. Mutombo quickly came in and dominate on the defensive end while only playing five seasons in Denver, he reached 1,496 blocks which is still the franchise record for blocks. Mutombo was also a force on the glass grabbing 4,811 boards in just five seasons with the team. Mutombo would go on to start every game of his career with the Denver Nuggets. In the first round of the 1994 playoffs, Mutombo would block 31 shots in a five-game series which is an NBA playoff record.

Accolades with Denver:
-3 time NBA All-Star
-NBA Defensive Player of the Year
-NBA All-Rookie First Team
-3 time NBA Blocks Leader
-Number 55 Retired by the Denver Nuggets

4: Dan Issel (1975-1985)

Dan Issel was drafted with the 122nd pick in the 8th round by the Detroit Pistons in the 1970 draft. As Dan Issel didn’t jump off the board with his athletic ability but Issel was the best center to ever play for the Denver Nuggets. Issel pulled down 6,630 rebounds and scored 16,589 points in his 10-year career with the Nuggets. Issel was only 6’9” but he was a force at establishing himself in the post and running the floor in transition with his great hands and around the rim. After his playing days, he became a broadcaster for the Nuggets and also became the head coach for the Nuggets from 1992-1994 and 1999-2001.

Accolades with the Nuggets:
-ABA Champion
-2x ABA All-Star
-NBA All-Star
-Number 44 retired by the Denver Nuggets

3: David Thompson (1975-1982)

David Thompson was drafted as the first overall pick in the 1975 draft by the Atlanta Hawks. Thompson is known as one of the most explosive guards to ever play the game. After Thompson won the Naismith award in 1975, he would instantly shine in his first season in Denver and their last season in the ABA. In his first season, Thompson would average 26 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 apg, and 1bpg while winning the ABA Rookie of the Year and being on the All-ABA Second Team. Thompson was one of the players that Michael Jordan looked up to and David had one of the best verticals in the game while he looked to posterize anyone who got in his way.

Accolades with the Nuggets:
-4x NBA All-Star
-2x All-NBA First Team
-ABA All-Star
-ABA Rookie of the Year
-ABA All-Time Team
-Number 33 retired by the Denver Nuggets

2: Carmelo Anthony (2003-2011)

Carmelo Anthony was drafted with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Denver Nuggets. After his success in his freshman season at Syracuse and winning the National Championship, Melo was one of the most talented players heading into the draft. With the Nuggets making a huge mistake the year before when they had the fifth overall pick by drafting Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Before Anthony arrived in Denver, the Nuggets hadn’t made the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons. After Anthony arrived the Nuggets made the playoffs every year including one trip to the Western Conference Finals. Anthony started in every game he played while averaging 24.8 points per game and 36 minutes per game. Melo scored 13,970 points in his time in Denver with his versatility on offense. Anthony had the ability to shoot from the outside, create his own shot, and finish in traffic which made him a difference maker on the offensive end. When Anthony was traded to New York, the haul for Melo would keep the Nuggets in contention year in and year out.

Accolades with the Nuggets:
-All-Rookie First Team
-4x All-Star
-All-NBA Second Team
-All-NBA Third Team

1: Alex English (1980-1990)

Alex English was drafted with the 23rd overall pick in the second round of the 1976 draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. Englis spent three and a half years between the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers but never found his groove in either of those places. The Pacers eventually shipped him off the Denver towards the end of the 1979-1980 season. In the 24 games that English played in Denver to end that season, he would average 21.3 ppg and 9.4 pg. English would excel in Denver over the next decade with Doug Moe‘s uptempo offense which allowed English to turn into the greatest scorers of all time. English would lead the Nuggets to nine straight postseason appearances including one Western Conference Finals appearance. English would score 21,645 points, 2,038 offensive rebounds, 3,679 assists, and 837 in his career with the Nuggets which are all franchise records.

Accolades with the Nuggets:
-8x All-Star
-3x All-NBA Second Team
-1983 Scoring Champion
-Number 2 retired by the Denver Nuggets
-(Career Averages) 25.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 4.4 apg

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