Established in 1967 as a member of the American Basketball Association (ABA), the Denver Nuggets joined the NBA in 1976. Over the years, the team has featured many talented players over the decades. Here are some of the very best legends to play for the mile high city.
Alex English: 25.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.4 APG (1980-1990)
Alex led the Nuggets in scoring for eight consecutive seasons and finished as the team’s all-time leading scorer with 21,645 points. English was a versatile scorer who could shoot from anywhere on the court, and his smooth, efficient style of play made him a fan favorite in Denver. He was also a six-time NBA All-Star and led the Nuggets to nine playoff appearances during his time with the team.
Dan Issel: 20.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.4 APG (1975-1985)
Dan Issel is a beloved figure in Denver Nuggets history, having played nine seasons with the team and being the all-time leading scorer until Alex English surpassed him in 1989. Issel’s scoring prowess was a key factor in the Nuggets’ success during the 1970s, and he led the team to its first NBA playoff appearance in the 1974-75 season. He was a six-time NBA All-Star and was named to the All-NBA team twice during his tenure with the Nuggets.
Carmelo Anthony: 24.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.1 APG (2003-2011)
During his time with the team from 2003 to 2011, Melo was a consistent offensive threat, averaging 24.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. In the 2006-2007 season, Anthony led the Nuggets to the playoffs, and in 2009 he led the team to the Western Conference Finals. He was a four-time NBA All-Star during his tenure with the Nuggets and was named to the All-NBA Second Team twice.
Nikola Jokic: 19.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 6.0 APG (2015-present)
Nikola Jokic has quickly become one of the most dominant players in the NBA, and his impact on the Denver Nuggets has been enormous. Since being drafted by the team in 2014, Jokic has steadily improved his game, and he is now widely regarded as one of the best centers in the league. He has earned two All-Star selections, an All-NBA First Team selection, and was named the NBA MVP in the 2020-2021 season. Jokic’s incredible all-around skills make him a matchup nightmare for opponents, as he can score from anywhere on the court, rebound at a high level, and dish out assists like a guard.
David Thompson: 22.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.0 APG (1975-1982)
He was a four-time NBA All-Star and led the Nuggets to their first NBA playoff appearance in the 1976-77 season. Thompson was known for his incredible athleticism and his ability to score from anywhere on the court. He famously scored 73 points in a game against the Detroit Pistons in the 1978-79 season, which was the second-highest single-game point total in NBA history at the time.
Kiki Vandeweghe: 23.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.7 APG (1980-1984)
Kiki was a three-time NBA All-Star during his tenure with the Nuggets and was named to the All-NBA Second Team in the 1982-83 season. Vandeweghe was known for his smooth shooting stroke and his ability to score from anywhere on the court. In fact, he led the league in scoring during the 1983-84 season with an average of 29.4 points per game.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf: 16.0 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.5 APG (1990-1996)
Abdul-Rauf was known for his exceptional range and his ability to create space for himself to get off shots. He was also an outstanding free throw shooter, with a career percentage of 90.5%. In the 1993-94 season, Abdul-Rauf had his best year as a pro, averaging 19.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. He was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player that season and was also named to the All-NBA Third Team.
Fat Lever: 17.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.5 APG (1984-1990)
Lever established himself as one of the premier point guards in the league. He was a two-time NBA All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team twice. Lever was known for his all-around game, as he could score, rebound, and distribute the ball with the best of them.
Chauncey Billups: 17.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.7 APG (1998-2000, 2008-2011)
Billups was a steadying influence on the team and was always willing to take the big shot in crunch time. Billups’ contributions to the team’s success during his time in Denver will never be forgotten by Nuggets fans, and he will always be remembered as one of the franchise’s all-time greats.
Dikembe Mutombo: 12.9 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 2.6 BPG (1991-1996)
Mutombo was a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team three times. He was known for his incredible shot-blocking ability and his tenacity on the defensive end of the court. Mutombo was also a force on the glass, averaging 12.3 rebounds per game during his time with the Nuggets. He was a three-time NBA All-Star and was named to the All-NBA Second Team in the 1992-93 season.
Lafayette Lever: 15.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.2 APG (1982-1990)
Byron Beck: 17.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.2 APG (1967-1977)