1. Denver Nuggets. WAR: 85.1 | Best Under-25 Players: Nikola Jokic (41.0), Jamal Murray (21.2), Monte Morris (10.3). Five NBA teams had an average age (weighted by production) below 25 last season: • Knicks, 17 wins • Suns, 19 wins • Bulls, 22 wins • Kings, 39 wins • Nuggets, 54 wins. Denver’s 2018-19 season was an aberration. Teams that young typically win about 30 games or fewer, but the Nuggets—who earned the no. 2 seed in the West—stand apart from their youthful brethren. Denver’s second-round playoff loss registered as a disappointment in the moment, but for a group of players who had never even reached the playoffs before, last season’s result was bounds better than the preseason expectation.
Coach Rivers had a top-five shooting squad as well. “Dirk at the five,” Rivers said. “I would put Durant at the three. Steph at the point, because that’s what you’d need. I would put Kobe in there because of his ability to drive. Now the whole team changes. At the four I couldn’t even come up with one.” Austin contested that Ray Allen should be on his father’s top-five shooting squad, but Doc believed Kobe’s ability to drive superseded the argument. In addition to Kobe’s driving ability, the elder Rivers believed Kobe’s shooting would improve significantly on a squad of good shooters.