Nuggets fans still have a lot of rooting to do

Nuggets fans
Dec 22, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone reacts during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets may be eliminated from playoff contention, but they still have a lot of rooting to do. Only, now they need to be rooting for a franchise or two not named the Denver Nuggets.

I know, I know. It sucks, but it’s for the good of the future!

While only a handful of games remain in the season, there’s still plenty of basketball worth watching. In fact, the play of three teams in particular — the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers — could have serious ramifications on how quickly the Nuggets can continue to rebuild their roster.

Let’s break it down.

Nuggets fans, remember a guard that used to play here by the name of Ty Lawson? Of course you do! Well, with the offseason trade that sent Lawson to Houston, the Nuggets landed themselves a 2016 first-round pick, contingent on the Rockets making the playoffs. Today, the Rockets are one game out of both the eighth seed, making these final few weeks critical. If Houston can’t get back into the postseason, the Nuggets are suddenly out a first-round pick, likely the 16th or 17th overall. That would be a real loss!

So, Nuggets fans, go out, grab yourself a Harden jersey and root your butt off for the Houston Rockets! We need that pick!

Oh, and we also need Portland’s pick!

Remember when the Nuggets jettisoned Arron Afflalo off to Portland last year before the trade deadline? At the time, it seemed like a bit of a throwaway, as all Denver got back was a long-time pine rider in Will Barton and a lottery protected pick in 2016. Looks a lot better today, huh? Not only has Barton turned into a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate, but that pick, which nobody expected to convey, is suddenly all but a sure thing. With the Trail Blazers seemingly locked into that sixth seed, the Nuggets look to have at least two first-round picks coming their way. Just to be safe, though, let’s hope Damian Lillard can throw up a couple more 50-point games in the next week.

Finally, the New York Knicks. And with these guys, it’s simple: Lose!

And not just a bit but … a lot. As much as possible, actually.

The Carmelo Anthony trade may have happened five years ago, but the Knicks are still paying off the Nuggets, and the Nuggets will gladly except. This year, Denver has the right to swap picks with the Knicks if their selection is higher than Denver’s, and that means a lot. Essentially, it means that the Nuggets have two opportunities at the lottery. Can you imagine if the Knicks actually won the lottery … and they had to hand over their pick to the Nuggets? It’d all be worth it!

So no long faces for those true Denver Nuggets fans. There are still plenty of things to root as the season winds down. The Nuggets are a team in a very good situation. Not only do they already have a young nucleus of talented players in Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris, but they have the opportunity to have three first-round picks in this year’s draft. And if everything goes as planned, the may end up with a top-three pick, too.

It’s not time to check out, yet.

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