Denver Nuggets Team Previewby Jackson Caudell October 8, 2021 0 comments
If it were not for injury, the Denver Nuggets could have won the NBA Finals last season. After trading for Aaron Gordon, Denver went on a winning streak and were demolishing opponents. Then, star point guard Jamal Murray suffered a knee injury and was out the rest of the season. Denver managed to get by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round but was then swept by the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semi-finals.
It was not only Murray that was hurt, however. Monte Morris and Will Barton both missed time and that hurt the Nugget’s depth. It was not all bad news in the mile-high city though. Nikola Jokic won the MVP award and had a dominant season and took the next step as an elite player in the NBA. As long as they still have Jokic, Denver should be considered a threat.
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The Nuggets might have had the quietest offseason in the NBA. The only true addition that is going to compete for any significant minutes is going to be Jeff Green. Green had a nice run with the Brooklyn Nets last postseason and should bring some versatility on defense and three-point shooting on offense.
In the 2021 NBA Draft, the Nuggets selected point guard Bones Hyland in the first round. It is unlikely that Hyland is going to have to play any significant minutes this season. However, Denver has done a great job at developing talent, so Hyland is in a great spot. The most important thing to happen in Denver this offseason was signing Michael Porter Jr to a contract extension. Porter Jr is a great talent but has not put together a full season yet. This was a good move that the Nuggets had to make and keeps the core of Jokic, Murray, and Porter Jr together for the future.
PG- Monte Morris
SG- Will Barton
SF- Aaron Gordon
PF- Michael Porter Jr
C- Nikola Jokic
This is the likeliest starting lineup that the Denver Nuggets will have on opening night this year. With Murray out for most of the season, expect Morris to man the starting point guard spot until he is healthy enough to return. The highlight of the team and lineup is clearly Jokic. He put together one of the best seasons ever for a center in the NBA and can hurt the opposing team in a lot of ways. Jokic should be considered a lock for an All-NBA team and another MVP-type campaign.
Porter Jr is one of the best scorers in the NBA but needs to grow on the other end to become a star. A lot is going to be asked of Porter Jr until Murray returns. Gordon fit in well after being acquired from Orlando and is the best defender on the team. His versatility is valued in Denver and he should fit in nicely this season. Barton brings a scoring mentality to the team and length.
This is going to be an interesting bench unit. At guard, Denver has Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers, who started in the place of Murray, Barton, and Morris last season. A guy that was also injured was PJ Dozier and he will be a welcomed addition to the bench.
Green was the headline player that Denver acquired this offseason and he should get a lot of run as the backup power forward and center this season. A guy that Denver could miss is Paul Millsap. Millsap brought quality depth to the bench and was dependable for whatever Denver need him for. JaMychal Green is still in Denver and he showed nice improvement and flashes in the postseason for the Nuggets.
One Potential Move to Make
After locking up Porter Jr for the future, Denver has the core that they want for the future. The Nuggets had been mentioned as a team looking for a big trade for a third star and Porter Jr was usually the centerpiece of those conversations. Denver also made the trade with Orlando for Gordon last season and that rid Denver of some of their assets.
With that being said, it is tough to see the Nuggets making a big move this season. Porter Jr can’t be traded for a bit after signing the extension and it does not look like Denver is interested in any big moves. Look for Denver to possibly make a small move to get an extra wing player if one were to become available or potentially a center if they don’t like their options there.
If Murray was not injured, it is possible that the Nuggets are the best team in the Western Conference. Without him, Denver is probably going to be flirting with the play-in tournament this season. For Denver, the biggest hope is that Murray can return in time to make a run in the playoffs. That seems unlikely. However, this is a team that has the reigning MVP and one of the more talented younger players in Porter Jr. Head coach Mike Malone has proven to be a good head coach that can adjust to what he has to work with and this is going to be a serious test. Don’t expect Denver to fall too far back in the Western Conference, but a serious run to the NBA Finals probably shouldn’t be expected either.
Season Prediction: 47-35, Second in the Pacific Division
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