After having one of the franchise’s best seasons ever in 2018-2019, the Denver Nuggets have set the bar pretty high for this year. And with an overall record of 24-10, they seem to be reaching those expectations – they’re currently second in the Western Conference, just behind the LA Lakers. It’s been a rough December for the team, complete with highs and lows in the form of a few critical losses and a seven-game win streak. But what are the Nuggets’ chances in the postseason? How deep can they really expect to go in the playoffs? Here’s a look at key players and depth issues facing the Denver Nuggets – and where you can get cheap tickets to see the team play!
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Key Nuggets Players
It took a while, but Nikola Jokic entered this season’s MVP discussion with his big plays and serious stats as of late. Despite a slow start, the seven-foot Serbian is averaging 18.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game with a whopping field goal percentage of 50.1%. The past three weeks have seen him average more like 22.4 points per game, resembling the outstanding player he was last season (compare that to his 15.8 points per game in October and November). The center’s three-point shooting has also improved from 23.6% to 39.3% accuracy, and he just scored a season-high 31 points against the Memphis Grizzlies last weekend. Jokic is also writing his name in the NBA record books with 34 triple-doubles – the 10th-most of all time. Yep, the Joker is back!
Jokic might garner the most attention of any Nuggets player, but point guard Jamal Murray is putting up 17.1 points per game of his own, while guard Will Barton averages 14.6 points. Power forward Paul Millsap usually starts (averaging 12.2 points per game), but the 34-year-old has been out lately with a bruised knee. He played through the injury this week, scoring 13 points against the Houston Rockets, even though that game ended in a Nuggets loss to James Harden and company. While Millsap was out, Jerami Grant started in his place, averaging 10 points per game doing it.
Starting shooting guard Gary Harris has also been integral to the Nuggets offense, but he has been day-to-day as he deals with a bruised shin.
So. Much. Talent.
But the Nuggets are a deep, deep team. One of the deepest in the NBA. This week, Michael Porter, Jr. got his first start when Milsap and Harris sat out their game against the Sacramento Kings. To the delight of fans, the rookie scored 19 points in just 26 minutes, making the most of his time on the court. On Thursday, Porter put up an impressive 25 points in the Nuggets’ statement win over a tough Indiana Pacers team. The number 14 draft pick of 2018 missed all of last season recovering from back surgery, but needless to say, everyone got a glimpse of MPJ’s potential going forward.
Torrey Craig is also in and out of the Nuggets lineup at shooting guard depending on who’s healthy. Despite suffering a severe loss of minutes, he’s rumored to be the epitome of selflessness, always actively supporting his teammates, even from the bench, which is reflective of the Nuggets’ culture. He jumped off the bench to cheer for MPJ during his debut.
There’s no room for animosity or jealousy in their locker room, and Will Barton agrees: “We are with each other every day. When you are with people every day, you want to see those people succeed.”
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But as Craig has seen, there are certain issues that come with all that depth. The Nuggets have so much talent that they’ve had to bench other talented players like shooting guard Malik Beasley. Teams around the league are eyeing the young wing, and word on the street is that the Nuggets might consider working out a deal with one of them before the February 6th trade deadline. With everybody healthy, the Nuggets just have a surplus of excellent players, so it remains to be seen if they’ll trade any of them away or keep their roster intact to prepare for the postseason.
Following their 124-116 win over the Pacers this week, the Nuggets have won nine of their last 11 games. The Nuggets will stay on the road for their next few games, playing the Washington Wizards, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Dallas Mavericks before returning home to the Pepsi Center for three in a row at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Charlotte Hornets.