When the Denver Nuggets splashed out on Paul Millsap in the summer, it showed how serious they were about ending a four-year playoff drought and competing in the west.
The four-time All-Star signed a three-year, $90 million contract with the team and their hope was that he would form a dynamic two-way frontcourt with rising young star Nikola Jokic.
In the early part of the season, things were certainly going according to plan for the Nuggets as the duo struck up a good relationship on the floor. As a result, Denver currently boasts a 10-8 record.
Unfortunately for the franchise, however, they have been hit with the worst possible news that could potentially derail their campaign.
After suffering a wrist injury against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week, Millsap could face up to three months out as he's set to undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament.
The Colorado-based outfit looked like a safe bet to make the playoffs with the big man on the floor but with the loss of a key veteran, scorer and defender, their chances are now much slimmer.
The Nuggets have won seven of their last 11 games and were beginning to hit their stride in a stacked Western Conference.
With Millsap's 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, a huge portion of the team's production will be missing and they may struggle to get this from another member of the roster.
Head coach Mike Malone's best hope will be to get his players to make up for it by committee.
They had a top-five ranked offence in the league last year but they missed out on the playoffs because of their poor defence. As an All-Defensive player, this was an area that the 32-year-old was expected to help and he has certainly made an impact.
Kenneth Faried got the starting nod in the first game without the power forward in a win over the Sacramento Kings and has the energy and tenacity to help fill in but he won't bring the same guile and ability.
Trey Lyles and Juancho Hernangomez were also given extended minutes and helped add to the team's offence. Increasing their scoring output may be their best hope to secure enough wins to reach the postseason.
Millsap's absence will mean the Nuggets will lean heavily on Jokic and look for him to blossom into a leader.
The 22-year-old has already taken his game to new heights this year as he impressively leads the team in scoring (15.6 points), rebounds (11.4) and assists (4.4).
Offensively, everything runs through the Serbian and he's one of the most skilled bigs in the league at such a young age.
He's quickly developing into a star and Denver will have to ride his coattails with Millsap now set to miss a considerable amount of time.
But Jokic's biggest flaw is on the defensive end where the entire team also struggles and that could once again be their downfall.
With him on the court, however, they are still good enough to at least be the eighth seed in the west as there are other teams that lack the offensive firepower they have.
The Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies are all performing badly and that could open up a spot for the Nuggets to take.
Millsap's injury is a major setback for the men from the Mile High City and could stunt their growth this season but there's still enough talent on the roster to make it a successful one.News Now - Sport News