's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 26. Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets Introduce Mike Malone as New Head Coach
Denver Nuggets Introduce Mike Malone as New Head Coach


Every weekday until NBA tipoff, AOL Sports has been bringing you our preseason NBA power rankings, breaking it down one team at a time. Most recently, we revealed the Orlando Magic at No. 27. Today, we move on to No. 26.

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After Brian Shaw's tenure as the team's head coach failed extraordinarily, the Denver Nuggets are headed in a new direction. They've added former Sacramento Kings coach Michael Malone to run the show, but where they're lacking is in the personnel department.

After various run-ins with the law, star point guard Ty Lawson was shipped to the Houston Rockets effectively in exchange for Kostas Papanikolaou and a 2016 first-round pick.

The starting point guard role will presumably be filled by rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, if not immediately then eventually. Mudiay's combination of explosion, athleticism and playmaking ability had him rated as a high-lottery -- potentially even top-five -- draft pick, but he fell to the Nuggets at No. 7. Jameer Nelson has also been re-signed and should get some time at the position as well.

Kenneth Faried, under a coach that should understand his strengths better than Shaw did, should return his impressive ways. Danilo Gallinari, still recovering from a 2013 torn ACL last season, should figure to be at full strength for the first time in several season. He and Wilson Chandler comprise a competitive, athletic duo on the wings. Jusuf Nurkic proved to be an intriguing prospect at the center spot, and should improve in his second year.

But depth will be a problem, and after losing Lawson, the focus has clearly been shifted toward the future. Don't be surprised if one of more of their already-developed pieces get traded off during the season for future assets.

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