Top 5 Players to Watch for Denver Nuggets

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The Top 5 Players to Watch for the Denver Nuggets

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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

As the Denver Nuggets celebrated their best regular season in franchise history last year, there were a number of players on their roster who had coming-out parties as well.

There are the obvious stars in Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari, but who will show up this season as a breakout superstar when they need him the most?

Like many other teams in the NBA, the Nuggets made some key additions to their roster this offseason in the form of Nate Robinson, J.J. Hickson and Randy Foye. But the real question is can these players make a significant enough impact to make them a contender in the West?

Robinson showed up as a star in last year's playoffs with the Chicago Bulls, averaging more than three points more than his season average and dropping 34 points in a key triple-overtime win against the Brooklyn Nets, as well as a 27-point, nine assist victory against the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat.

As for Foye, he has unfortunately has only reached the playoffs once in his seven-year career when he played for the Los Angeles Clippers. However, he has averaged a consistent 11 points, two assists and 1.5 rebounds a game during that time. Hickson, who has also only enjoyed one playoff run with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a double-double machine who will work well with rebound kings Kenneth Faried and Javale McGee.

As the 2013-14 NBA season approaches, I take a look at the Nuggets' top five players to keep an eye on this season.

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5. Javale McGee

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With arguably one of the best NBA bodies in the entire league, Javale McGee needs to have a breakout season to give the Nuggets the slightest chance of competing in the West. Averaging a minimal 18 minutes a game last season, McGee needs to get in better shape if he wants to be an important member of this roster. Because when this beast of a man is on his game, there is no stopping him down low.

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4. Wilson Chandler

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson Chandleris one of the many players on this roster who has the ability to be an X-factor for the Denver Nuggets this season. Averaging around 13 points and five rebounds a game last season, Chandler has the raw talent that any player would kill for. But if he wants to take over Danilo Gallinari's starting spot at small forward, he needs to raise those numbers to around 18 points per game to accompany around nine rebounds. And if he can keep up that consistency throughout the season, he might enjoy a lot more time on the court than off it.

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3. Danilo Gallinari

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Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Posting career-highs in points, rebounds and assists last season, but unable to participate in last year's playoffs due to an ACL injury, Danilo Gallinari will make a huge return for the Denver Nuggets this season. As "Gallo" was the second-highest scorer on a roster that didn't have a single player average over 17 points last season, his scoring will be provide a tremendous boost to this squad. There still seems to be some uncertainty as to when Gallo will return to action, but as long it's before next season's playoffs, the Nuggets will have to be considered as a playoff contender heading into the 2013-14 season.

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2. Kenneth Faried

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the possibility of earning his first All-Star appearance this season, Kenneth Faried is most certainly a force to be reckoned with this year in the NBA. Averaging 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds, Faried is an up-and-coming star in only his third season in the league. Still holding the record for most rebounds all-time in NCAA history during his time at Morehead State, Faried has proved himself to be a "Manimal" on both the offensive and defensive end of the court.

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1. Ty Lawson

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It's no surprise who the most important player on the Denver Nuggets' roster is: Ty Lawson. With 16.7 points per game to accompany almost seven assists last season, Lawson is the heart and soul of this Nuggets team. He also showed how he can be a leader of his team by putting them on his back in last year's playoffs, averaging 21.3 points and eight assists a game. However, even if Lawson continues to better his game and has an even better season this year, it will take a collective effort on all fronts in order for this Nuggets squad to succeed.

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