If you happen to be one of the many Denver Sports fans whose sole focus is the Denver Broncos, you might have missed how this young Nuggets team down at the Pepsi Center has started to generate a little buzz. Now, I understand that we live in Denver, and most everyone lives and dies with the Broncos, but the potential surrounding the team is something to be excited about.

One of the reasons is, or at least was, Jusuf Nurkic. As soon as six months ago, Nurk was believed to be a central part of the Nuggets’ future, but this year, his role has been diminished — significantly.

So that raises the question: Is Nurkic part of Denver’s long-term plans?

Today, when people talk about the Nuggets, they’re mostly talking about Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and the pleasant surprise that is Nikola Jokic. For me, though, I just can’t shake the thought of Nurkic being that fourth horsemen, if you will. With Mudiay and Harris, you have your back court, those two could be roaming the perimeter for the next 10 years in a Nuggets uniform. Jokic has shown that he can more than hold his own as a starter in the NBA. Add the toughness and attitude that Nurkic brings, and that is a formula for success.

Nurk brings a “me against the world” mindset, which could prove invaluable going forward. He’s the type of guy who responds to getting punched in the mouth by punching more people in the mouth; the rest of the team hasn’t shown that this season. Sure, maybe this mindset also lends to some of Nurk’s reported attitude problems, but if the Nuggets are going to stick with him, they’ll have to learn to take the good with the bad.

Instead, coach Michael Malone has jettisoned Nurkic to the back of the bench, giving the majority of his would-be minutes to Joffrey Lauvergne. This, to put it nicely, has not gone over well with Nurkic, but we’ll get to that later.

The question for Malone is: Is Lauvergne over Nurkic the right move?

While Jokic might be the best young passing big in the game, Lauvergne is what we call a “black hole.” Black hole, as in once the ball goes in, it is not coming back out.

He’s out to prove he can score and hold his own on offense; I don’t blame him for it, but I do wish he would play a little more team ball. Of the two (Nurkic and Lauvergne), the one who can mesh best with either unit will get the permanent minutes in the future.

If Nurkic is not a part of the long-term plans, then I would hope that Nuggets’ general manager Tim Connelly is brainstorming a way to make a move. Today’s NBA does not call for a big man, but when you have one that has the kind of promise Nurkic has, you have to use the asset any way you can.

But before we do that, we have to dive into that “bad attitude” claim. It was floated around that the reason he’s been seeing so many “DNP Coach’s Decision” of late is because he’s having a hard time being a “team player.” A young guy in any line of work has to earn his respect. I think Jusuf thought he already did that in Denver; coach Malone disagreed. This is not on Malone, not at all. If Malone can get along with DeMarcus Cousins, he can get along with anyone, including Jusuf Nurkic.

If Nurk can gain his coach’s trust and show him that he can, and will, play team basketball, he will earn his time back, becoming, once again, a big reason for hope in the Nuggets’ future.

With the help on Malone — again, much like he did with Cousins in Sacramento — Nurkic can use that attitude to help his game. Imagine a healthy and happy Jusuf Nurkic … I don’t want to get too crazy, but I see a Zach Randolph “light.” Z-Bo is a certified star and Nurk can get there; it’ll just take some work.