Ranking the greatest Denver Nuggets of all time

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

April 19th, 2021

The Denver Nuggets joined the NBA in 1976, and although they have yet to win a championship, the franchise's history is ripe with tremendous players that rank among the game’s elite.

Join us now as we turn the spotlight on the five greatest Nuggets of all time.

5. Dikembe Mutombo


Position: Center
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 8x All-Star, 3x block champion, 3x All-NBA, 4x Defensive Player of the Year
Years active: 1992-2009

Dikembe Mutombo is known as much for his defensive presence as he is for his impressive stretch with the Denver Nuggets, with whom he began his career. The eight-time All-Star averaged a double-double in each of his first five seasons in the Mile High City, and led the league in blocks three times.

Mutombo was named Defensive Player of the Year four times, and while Nuggets fans would have surely enjoyed a longer tenure, he still deserves a spot on the list because of the way he helped change the culture in Denver with his selfless play and tireless worth ethic.

4. Dan Issel


Position: Center/power forward
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 7x All-Star, 5x All-ABA, 1x ABA Champion, Rookie of the Year
Years active: 1971-1985

One of the greatest players in ABA history, Dan Issel joined the Nuggets one year prior to the ABA/NBA merger, and still holds many franchise records for free throws made, rebounds, and win shares.

Issel was a tough-as-nails 6’9" center that scored in double-digits every year, and in his prime averaged well over 20 points per game. Depending on the future success of the next player on our list, Issel may go down as the greatest Nuggets center of all time.

3. Nikola Jokic


Position: Center
Accolades: 3x All-Star, 2x All-NBA
Years active: 2016-present

Jokic is well on his way to becoming an MVP, and is one of the most dynamic players in the league. The 6'11" Serbian big man is a scorer, rebounder, and elite passer who is among the best in the game at setting up teammates.

Although Jokic doesn’t have many franchise records yet, he's on pace to earn them if Denver is wise enough to keep him in town.

2. Carmelo Anthony


Position: Small forward
Accolades: 10x NBA All-Star, 6x All-NBA, 1x scoring champion
Years active: 2004-present

It takes a special kind of player to make two different teams’ top-5 list, but Carmelo Anthony has earned that recognition. Before he made his way to New York or traveled around the league to Houston, Oklahoma City, and Portland, Anthony was "the" Denver Nugget, and one of the most exciting pure scorers the league has ever seen.

During his time in Denver, every team that took a trip to the Mile High City knew it meant one of the toughest defensive assignments of the year. Anthony is third in franchise history in points scored and minutes played, and should go down as one of the top 50 NBA players of the last 50 years.

1. Alex English


Position: Small forward
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 8x All-Star, 3x All-NBA, 1x scoring champion
Years active: 1977-1991

If you scroll through the Nuggets' franchise records, you’re likely to see Alex English’s name either on the list or leading it. The leader in games played, minutes, points, points per game, and assists, English has no peer in Nuggets history.

The Hall of Famer averaged 25.9 points per game during his 11-season stint with the Nuggets, and was the all-time leading scorer in the 1980s. That's quite a feat when you consider he played at the same time as luminaries like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Julius Erving.