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The Denver Nuggets are on the verge of winning their first NBA Championship in their very first appearance in the Finals.  

The Nuggets have achieved this despite not being a huge market, or bringing in a bunch of high profile, high-cost free agents. Their two core pieces, Nikola Joki and Jamal Murray, were both drafted by the team. In fact, Jokic, now a two-time league MVP and the presumptive Finals MVP should Denver close out the series, was taken in the 2nd round, 41st overall.  

Denver’s rise mirrors the rise of the Milwaukee Bucks, another team that doesn’t reside in a huge market, that won a championship in 2021. The Bucks also won on the backs of their home-grown talent, notably Giannis Antetokounmpo.  

Could the Pacers be next in line? 

It’s possible. Tyrese Haliburton isn’t technically home-grown, as he spent the first 2 years of his career in Sacramento. He did, however, find his footing here in Indiana, and emerged as an All-Star with the Pacers. Bennedict Mathurin, the Pacers top selection in last year’s draft, turned in an incredibly impressive rookie season, and looks to be on the rise. The Pacers also have some solid supporting pieces in Andrew Nembhard, Buddy Hield, and others. 

This is not to say that the Pacers are a shoo-in to go to the Finals next season. They may well still be a few years away from truly competing. Still, for a team like the Pacers, just seeing teams that for years have been mired in mediocrity finally achieve some level of success has to be inspiring, and potentially, even provide a blueprint for how to mimic that success.  

During Monday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, John spoke to both Evan Sidery and Jake Query about the Pacers and where they’re going. Listen to those conversations and more below, and tune into The Ride With JMV from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan!  

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