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Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets brings the ball down the court against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Pepsi Center on January 22, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Evans: Nuggets next steps post-lottery include strong draft, postseason

Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets brings the ball down the court against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Pepsi Center on January 22, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

What’s next for the Denver Nuggets now that the thrilling made-for-TV event that is the NBA Draft lottery is over?

– Slow golf clap for Jamal Murray for sitting through the dog and pony show that is the NBA Draft lottery to represent the Nuggets

Just sit there in a quiet room, and try to look enthused when the card comes up that, indeed, Denver will pick 14th.

– Can we cut out the whining about how the poor Nuggets have never once improved their draft standing?

Maybe in years past, they had a legit beef, but this time their chances of winning the lottery were 0.5 percent — not exactly the best of odds.

– No. 14 isn’t a bad spot.

Last year Denver picked 13th. And traded with Utah. And picked for the Jazz. And took Donovan Mitchell.

Ouch. That hurts just to type.

– This is a big draft for Tim Connelly and the Nuggets.

The last couple of drafts have been too hit or miss. For every Nikola Jokic find, there is the big Emmanuel Mudiay whiff.

For drafting smart with Murray, they missed the boat on Mitchell and instead settle for a bust-in-making Tyler Lydon.

– You can’t just say, “Well, look at Jokic, look at Murray, and look at Harris,” and ignore the rest.

The Nuggets themselves say they’re a draft-and-develop team. They know that, for the time being, they are not a free agent destination.

Denver has to be better than most when it comes to the draft. So taking Mudiay instead of a Devin Booker or Terry Rozier is a big mistake. Passing on Mitchell is a blunder.

Building around Jokic, Murray, and Harris is a nice start, but there are still plenty more pieces that need to be added. Those pieces have to come from the draft.

So, those two big misses are already being felt.

– Regarding Jokic, Murray, and Harris …

Are we looking at one of the NBA’s next “Big 3s?”

I had some well-meaning, but obvious pom-pom waving, Nuggets boosters try to argue Denver’s “Big 3” is better than the Boston Celtics trio of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and either Rozier or Marcus Smart.

Whoa, put the Kool-Aid down.

The Celtics won 50-plus games. They toyed with the Philadelphia 76ers. They are currently making LeBron James think about his next grand adventure (A classic case of “when the going gets tough, LeBron gets going”).

Boston represents the only team with a chance, and a slim one at that, of giving the Golden State Warriors some sort of test in the NBA Finals. It sure as heck won’t be the Houston Rockets.

Denver has a lot to prove before it can be compared to other Big 3 teams. How about playing in one playoff game first. How about winning one?

– I do like the Nuggets chances for next year.

The Western Conference is going to be weaker. The San Antonio Spurs are in decline. So are the Los Angeles Clippers. Portland is a phony. No one like the Dallas Mavericks or Sacramento Kings are coming up from behind. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a one-man team.

The Los Angeles Lakers have the chance to be much improved. We’ll see.

My point is, Denver needs to be a playoff team next season. And if its so-called Big 3 is all is cracked up to be, then enough is enough.

Finish in the top four, get home-court advantage, and win a series or two. Just sneaking in and being a one-and-done would be a failure.

Missing the playoffs is flat-out unacceptable.