Issel: Nuggets look promising with Millsap nearing return

Nov 7, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap (4) controls the ball against Brooklyn Nets forward DeMarre Carroll (9) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets are set to shake up the NBA after the All-Star break, thanks to two pivotal players who are nearing their return as the playoffs quickly approach. The Nuggets had an impressive first half of the 2017-18 season, going 32-26, good for sixth place in the tough Western Conference. The Nuggets have played as well as any of the best teams in the NBA of late, finishing 7-3 in their last 10 games — finishing their pre-All-Star schedule with a decisive win over against MVP Candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks in Wisconsin last Thursday.

Dan Issel, former NBA great and former coach for the Denver Nuggets, joined Gil Whiteley and Mark Jackson on “Anything’s Possible” on Mile High Sports Radio to discuss that game, and the rest of the season for the Denver Nuggets.

“That was a huge win for the Nuggets to go into Milwaukee,” Issel said. “Milwaukee has a good team and the Nuggets had been struggling a little bit on the road. [Nikola] Jokic was great, but that was an even bigger win for the Nuggets.”

In the win over the Bucks, Nikola Jokic recorded the fastest triple-double in NBA history, completing the feat with 1:54 remaining in the second quarter. Jokic finished the game with 30 points, 15 rebounds, 17 assists, two steals and a block.

While the Nuggets have been superb as of late, Issel explained that they have the potential to reach another level as the postseason approaches.

“They’re playing [like one of the best teams in the NBA] without Paul [Millsap], who was signed to a big contract to come in here and be the leader of the team. When he and Mason [Plumlee] come back, we ought to be in really good shape.”

Plumlee has missed eight games with a calf strain, but is expected to return within the next week. His next opportunity to play is on February 23 versus San Antonio. The return of Paul Millsap, their injured superstar, is far more intriguing.

Millsap has missed 41 games with a torn ligament in his left wrist. He is projected to return sometime in mid-March, providing the Nuggets with extra firepower one month before the playoffs begin. Before getting injured, Millsap played in 16 games with the Nuggets and averaged 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists per game. Fortunately, Millsap’s upside is tremendous. He had the best year of his career in 2016-17, where he averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game.

The return of Millsap and Plumlee will give Nuggets’ floor general Jamal Murray multiple options while adding offensive weapons and defensive presence in the front court. Finally, Millsap’s game complements Jokic’s game wonderfully as they can be prolific together from the high post and low post, respectively.

Listen to Gil and Mark preview the possibilities in the second half of the Denver Nuggets’ season with Dan Issel here.

Catch Anything’s Possible with Gil Whiteley and Mark Jackson every weekday from 11a-1p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup. Download the all-new free Mile High Sports Radio mobile app for Apple or Android.