Share this story...
Chauncey Billups #1 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles the ball against the Dallas Mavericks during NBA action at the Pepsi Center on February 10, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 121-120. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Latest News

20/20 Retrospective – The 20 greatest Nuggets players in the 2000s

Since the start of the new millennium, Nuggets fans have seen the team at both ends of the spectrum. At one point, Denver was saddled with the worst record in the league. At another, they were within two wins of reaching the NBA Finals.

During that time, a ton of different names and faces have rolled through town, donning the baby blue, rainbow skyline and Mile High Basketball jerseys. Some have been among the biggest names to ever play in the league.

In honor of the past 20 years of Nuggets basketball, it’s time to take a look back on some of the best to ever grace the court at Pepsi Center. Here are the 20 best Nuggets of the 2000s:

***

20. Kenneth Faried

(Photo via Getty Images)

During his seven seasons in Denver, Faried was an energetic forward who provided a spark off the bench and did the dirty work as a starter. While his offensive game wasn’t polished, he did manage to average 11.4 points per game by getting out on the fast break and getting second-chance opportunities. Faried was also a terrific rebounder, averaging 8.2 boards per game during his stint with the Nuggets.

***

19. Arron Afflalo

(Photo via Getty Images)

While Afflalo’s best seasons may have been in Orlando after he was traded away by Denver, he blossomed as a player with the Nuggets, becoming a starter during his first three-season stint with the team. In the shortened 2011-12 season, Afflalo started 62 games for Denver, averaging 15.2 points per game on the NBA’s best offensive team.

***

18. J.R. Smith

(Photo via Getty Images)

Smith has had a colorful NBA career, including five seasons in Denver that were memorable, both on and off the court. When he wasn’t getting into altercations with teammates by filling their car with popcorn during a game, he was providing instant offense off the bench. Smith never saw a shot he didn’t like, a trait that infuriated George Karl but could get the Nuggets back into almost any game when he was feeling it.

***

17. Chris Andersen

(Photo via Getty Images)

During the first three years of his career, all spent in Denver, Andersen wasn’t much of a player. When he returned after stints in New Orleans and on the league’s suspended list, he was an integral part of four very entertaining and successful teams. While he wasn’t one to post big stats, “Birdman” provided a lift every time he checked into the game, becoming a fan favorite for his team-first, hustle-based style of play.

***

16. Earl Boykins

(Photo via Getty Images)

During his 13-year NBA career, Boykins played for nine different teams, but he enjoyed his best seasons in Denver. He was a sparkplug off the bench during the early years of Carmelo Anthony’s career (2003-07), averaging 12.1 points and 4.0 assists. Standing just 5-foot-5, it was amazing that Boykins could succeed amongst the giants, something that endeared him to the home crowd.


OTHER 20/20 STORIES

Top 20 Rockies players of the 2000s (READ)

Mike Evans picks the best Rockies player since 2000 (WATCH)

Top 20 Rockies moments of the 2000s (READ)

DMac picks his favorite Rockies moment since 2000 (WATCH)


15. Will Barton

(Photo via Getty Images)

While one of the most-polarizing players on the Nuggets current roster, Barton has been a solid contributor across the six seasons he’s been in the Mile High. Yes, he can be a ball hog at times, but he’s also a player who isn’t afraid to take the big shot, something that was missing in Denver when he arrived. This season, he’s playing his best basketball, averaging 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds.

***

14. Antonio McDyess

(Photo via Getty Images)

Injuries provide a bit of a “what if?” quality to his career, but the second overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft still played 15 years with five franchises. When he returned to the Nuggets for a second tour, he was perhaps at his peak. During the 2000-01 season, McDyess averaged 20.8 points and 12.1 rebounds, earning his lone All-Star selection.

***

13. Paul Millsap

(Photo via Getty Images)

Millsap takes some heat in Denver because of the mega-contract he signed prior to the 2017-18 season, inking a three-year deal for $30 million per season. While he hasn’t lived up to the expectations that come with those kinds of dollars, he’s been a steady, veteran influence on a young Nuggets team. Millsap has been an integral part of the team’s development from an also-ran to a contender.

***

12. Danilo Gallinari

(Photo via Getty Images)

Gallo’s time in Denver will always be hard to accurately measure for two reasons. One, he was a part of the deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, giving him gigantic shoes to fill. And two, just as he was about to fulfill his potential, leading the Nuggets to their best regular-season record in franchise history in 2012-13, a knee injury derailed that season and the next. But he was a prolific scorer at times.

***

11. Ty Lawson

(Photo via Getty Images)

It didn’t end well for Lawson in Denver, as the off-the-court demons that ultimately ran him out of the league derailed his time with the Nuggets, as well. But he had some great moments with the franchise, highlighted by a 57-win campaign in which he averaged 16.7 points and 6.9 assists, guiding Denver to the No. 2 seed in the West in 2012-13 before getting upset by the upstart Warriors in the first round.

***

10. Nene

(Photo via Getty Images)

A lot of Nuggets fans will never get over the fact that Kiki Vandeweghe passed on Amar’e Stoudemire to take Nene, which makes them view his career in Denver unfairly. During 10 seasons with the franchise, the power forward 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds, often deferring to the team’s more-demanding stars in the process. While never an All-Star, Nene was a very, very productive player.

***

9. Andre Miller

(Photo via Getty Images)

The long-tenured point guard had two stints with the Nuggets. First, he was the starter during the first three-plus years of the Carmelo Anthony era, helping Denver return to the playoffs by providing a steady, veteran presence on the court. Then, George Karl brought him back for two-plus seasons (2011-14), where he helped the Nuggets continue their playoff run once Melo left via trade.

***

8. Gary Harris

(Photo via Getty Images)

While his role with the team has diminished in recent seasons, as Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have blossomed, Harris remains an integral part of the current roster. His ability to shoot from the outside, drive to the basket and defend make him one of the team’s most-versatile players. During his five-plus seasons with the Nuggets, Harris has averaged 12.3 points, highlighted by a 17.5 points per game campaign in 2017-18.

***

7. Marcus Camby

(Photo via Getty Images)

Three times during his six seasons with the Nuggets, Camby led the NBA in blocked shots per game. During the 2006-07 campaign, that prowess earned him the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Camby helped Denver make the transition from bottom feeder to perennial playoff team in the early 2000s, averaging 10.1 points and 11.1 rebounds during his time with the franchise.

***

6. Jamal Murray

(Photo via Getty Images)

Now in his fourth season, Murray has blossomed into a borderline All-Star, averaging 17.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds this season for the Nuggets, continuing an upward trajectory that doesn’t seem to have any limitations. Murray was a key part of the team’s success a year ago, helping Denver earn the No. 2 seed in the West and advance past the first round. The sky is the limit for the young guard.


OTHER 20/20 STORIES

Top 20 Rockies players of the 2000s (READ)

Mike Evans picks the best Rockies player since 2000 (WATCH)

Top 20 Rockies moments of the 2000s (READ)

DMac picks his favorite Rockies moment since 2000 (WATCH)


5. Kenyon Martin

(Photo via Getty Images)

After earning an All-Star nod with the Nets, Martin inked a seven-year, $91 million contract with the Nuggets. That deal, plus the three first-round picks the team gave up to acquire him via trade, put expectations through the roof. While he was never an All-Star again, Martin brought a toughness to seven playoff teams, including the 2008-09 squad that advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

***

4. Allen Iverson

(Photo via Getty Images)

After 10-plus years in Philadelphia, the Nuggets shocked the basketball world when the acquired the former league MVP from the Sixers. While his stint in Denver was short, it was memorable. Iverson averaged 25.6 points per game and made an appearance in back-to-back All-Star Games, helping to establish the Nuggets as a national brand after being off the radar for years.

***

3. Chauncey Billups

(Photo via Getty Images)

Billups proved that you can go home again. Eight years after an unsuccessful stint with his hometown team, the point guard returned in 2008 to help the Nuggets reach their greatest heights. Providing a championship mentality, Billups guided Denver to the Western Conference Finals in 2009 and a 53-win campaign the following season. He earned an All-Star invite during both of his full seasons back in Denver.

2. Nikola Jokic

(Photo via Getty Images)

When it’s all said and done, the Joker may go down as the greatest player in the history of the franchise. He certainly has the talent, as his unique skillset make him a big-time scorer and rebounder, while also being one of the best passing centers in NBA history. Last season, he earned first-team All-NBA honors, the first Nuggets player in more than four decades to reach that pinnacle.

***

1. Carmelo Anthony

(Photo via Getty Images)

Some fans will never forgive Melo for the way it ended in Denver, but his seven full seasons in a Nuggets uniform were special. The team made the playoffs every year, reached the Western Conference Finals in 2009 and became a mainstay on national television. Melo helped put the Nuggets back on the map, averaging 24.8 points, earning four All-Star nods and producing one memorable moment after another.