Denver finally made the playoffs for the first time under Malone last season, and reached the Western Conference semifinals, before falling in seven games to the Portland Trail Blazers. The coach has steamrolled Denver's rebuild, which they were in the middle of when hiring him in 2015. Proof of that is Denver's win total increasing in each of his four complete seasons, from 33 in his first year, all the way to 54 last season.
Their 21-8 record so far this season is somewhat of a surprise, since they were the only team in the top tier of the West that did not make any notable off-season moves. They only trail the Lakers for the top spot in the conference, and both teams will be in action during a star-studded Christmas Day lineup on Wednesday.