Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray did what was once thought impossible and made the Denver Nuggets NBA champions for the first time in franchise history.
The Nuggets’ success in the draft with Jokić (No. 41 overall in 2014) and Murray (No. 7 in 2016) had a lot to do with winning a title after losing just four times in the playoffs. But Denver’s wise free agency moves played a big part, too as the team became a Colorado sports betting favorite.
And now the Nuggets need more of that free agency magic, as the rest of the league seeks to follow their championship format.
With NBA Free Agency under way, BetColorado.com compiled a system to determine the most desirable destinations within the league using a series of metrics.
We compiled data on state tax burdens (data from WalletHub), media market ranking (data from USTVDB.com, via Nielsen’s 2022-2023 DMA rankings), city popularity (World'sBestCities.com, via Resonance Consultancy), as well as attendance rankings since the 2018-19 season (ESPN.com), winning percentage since the 2019-20 season (Basketball-Reference.com) and 2024 NBA Championship Odds (SportsOddsHistory.com) to construct an aggregate ranking.
Toronto was not included on the list as we utilized U.S. data only. We did not include attendance data from the 2020-21 NBA season, as COVID protocols varied across the league. For Washington D.C.’s state tax income, we utilized data from nearby Virginia. The 2024 NBA Championship odds are up to date as of July 5, 2023.
Most Desirable NBA Cities
Colorado betting apps list the Nuggets as favorites to repeat as NBA champs with +475 odds.
Colorado Has Become Great for Hoops
The home of Jokić and Murray comes in ranked seventh as the best place to be in the NBA, ranking behind the 76ers, Heat, Celtics, Lakers, Clippers and Mavericks in the total aggregate score. The Nuggets do rank third in the team metrics, trailing only Philadelphia and Boston for the best team to join.
Oddly enough, Denver’s city ranking is in the lower half at No. 17 overall. Maybe it’s the altitude that hurts the popularity ranking, and overall transplants to Colorado have dropped in the past couple of years, according to Census records.
Drafting well helped fuel the Nuggets’ title run and that includes Michael Porter Jr. with the No. 14 pick in 2018 to go with Jokić and Murray. But what put Denver over the top this season was its recent success with trade acquisitions and free agency.
Trading for forward Aaron Gordon and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2021 and signing veteran guard Jeff Green in 2021 and guard Bruce Brown to a two-year, $13 million deal in 2022 gave Denver the right mix. That group beat the Timberwolves, Suns, Lakers and Heat by a combined record of 16-4 in the postseason.
Now the test will be winning it again after other teams have come in and poached some of the championship group. Green is gone to Houston, Brown to the Pacers and reserve center Thomas Bryant has joined the Heat. Brown earned a big payday, signing a $45 million deal for two years with Indiana.
So far, the Nuggets have kept veteran center DeAndre Jordan and guard Reggie Jackson, while adding veteran guard Justin Holiday.
And Jokić is the favorite at BetMGM Sportsbook Colorado to win most valuable player honors at +400 odds.
The Western Conference figures to be stacked again this coming season, as the Suns, Lakers, Warriors and Clippers aim to knock off the champions. How the rest of free agency plays out will have an impact on that result.