<
>

No. 43: Denver Nuggets

Last year's rank: 39
Title track: 82
Ownership: 49
Coaching: 46
Players: 42
Fan relations: 55
Affordability: 40
Stadium experience: 56
Bang for the buck: 36

Over the last decade, the Nuggets have been the worst best team in the NBA. They’re relevant enough to make some noise in the regular season, but they become completely irrelevant when it matters the most. In nine of the last 10 seasons, Denver has made a first-round playoff exit, including last season’s upset loss to the Golden State Warriors.

With a rank of 43rd overall, the Nugs are in the middle third of the NBA in eight of the nine categories. And the ticket prices (average) are in line with the product: The cost to attend a game, $76.56, is just 6 percent higher than the NBA mean, although a $6.25 24-ounce beer is 12 percent cheaper -- perhaps a gift to fans who know what’s coming in the postseason.

The team fired George Karl, the NBA’s Coach of the Year, and lost former big-name acquisitions Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer in the offseason, putting the franchise in the hands of highly regarded assistant Brian Shaw and the less highly regarded hands of JaVale McGee. Good luck with that. Our poll shows that 22 percent fewer fans than the NBA average believe their Nuggets will win a title during their lifetime, Denver’s lowest fan ranking in the 11-year history of the Ultimate Standings. Apparently the air isn’t the only thing that’s thin in Denver these days.