Denver Nuggets The roster is officially complete, but that doesn’t mean every decision is set in stone as they enter the gloom of the off-season.
They have filled all 15 full-time roster spots and signed two players to their two-way contract slot. Leaving a trade or signing someone else to cut a player will be the roster with which the Nuggets will begin the 2022-23 season.
At this point in time, the Nuggets starting group as well as the first two players off the bench are essentially now off as Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are healthy and ready to play. This leaves eight players and both two-way contract players competing for the final two or three places in the rotation.
Let’s take a closer look at the Nuggets rotation, where everyone on the roster fits in, and what positions the fight takes place.
Jamal Murray, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokic
The Nuggets starting group, as listed above, was confirmed in the Summer League by Nuggets head coach Michael Malone when he went on an NBATV broadcast and said that Kentavius Caldwell-Pope would slide in as the starting shooting guard. . There will be no competition for anyone on the Nuggets roster for the starting role entering the season. Still, that doesn’t take away from the intrigue surrounding that five-member group.
This group has no holes in the offensive and has the ability to easily outshine its opponents. There should be no reason – outside of unforeseen injury issues – the Nuggets should be anything less than an elite offensive group for starters. The Denver debut is at odds with Murray, Caldwell-Pope and Porter, all with Gordon and Jokick. That group is also full of skilled players in every position. Against opposing defenses, 3-pointers will reign like mortar fire, cutters attacking from every direction, multiple players will be able to take advantage of a folded defense and flourish as secondary creators and in between all this I’ll be behind – back-to-back Most Valuable Award winner Nikola Jokic is orchestrating everything.
While outscoring opponents will work during the regular season, Denver will have to find a way to defend against elite teams in a playoff setting with Porter and Jokic on the floor if they hope to win the Nuggets’ first NBA title. Jokic’s game has far fewer holes defensively these days, but he still struggles against teams like the Warriors or Clippers, who have an endless onslaught of perimeter scoring threats. Porter constantly struggles with focus, fighting over the screen and normal periphery controls. That being said, the Porter is a lot more disruptive than it gets the credit for and may offer some rim protection. Still, having two players that elite teams can attack is a situation that must be carefully managed, no matter how limitless their offensive range.
This starting group must be elite on offense and no worse than average on defense which must equal one of the best five-man units in the league; The Nuggets are banking on the trade of Will Barton III and Monte Morris to consolidate the starting group by adding Kentavius Caldwell-Pope.
All that is left is to prove that they are up to the challenge.
Bones Hyland, Bruce Brown, Devon Reid, Zeke Nanaji, Jeff Green
Of the five expected bench players for the Nuggets, only two are willing to play every game unless injuries interfere; Bones Hyland and Bruce Brown.
With Barton and Morris now in Washington after being traded to Caldwell-Pope, the Nuggets are lower on creators than in years past. One reason the front office felt comfortable trading the two constructors for a finisher was because of their confidence in controlling the role of backup point guard at Highland. Highland’s development in the past season may have been massively important. If he can become the Nuggets version of Jordan Clarkson or Jordan Poole, Denver’s bench unit becomes a whole lot more formidable. On the other hand, if Hyland can’t handle the weight of his increased role, the Nuggets could be in trouble. Behind him at point guard are only Ish Smith and two-way contract player Colin Gillespie. Bones has shoes sizable enough to fill both Barton and Morris.
With him will be newly signed Brown, a defensive-minded utility player who, at six-foot-four, is one of the better screeners, cutters and rebounders in basketball. If not for the hopes rested on Porter’s shoulders, Brown might be the most interesting and important non-star on the Nuggets roster. Their versatility on both ends will allow the Nuggets to unlock many different lineups and styles of play, but that’s a topic for another time.
Beyond the two guards, the swirl turns cloudy. Zeke Nnaji should claim the role of backup forward; Notably after playing well last season before going down due to injury, but he still hasn’t shown that he can play a full-time role in Malone’s rotation. Many in the organization believe that Nanaji is ready, but he still has to show it in court.
Devon Reid seems to fit in as a backup wing. He was Malone’s favorite last season and did well this off-season on a two-way contract before being rewarded with a full-time NBA contract. It is being said that the Nuggets would like to pick Christian Braun in the first round to claim that role. Braun has yet to earn it, which will be discussed in the next section.
The last bench role to be filled would be the backup center; One of the biggest holes last season. Many, myself included, were surprised by the signing of DeAndre Jordan, who hasn’t been an NBA support player for years. It’s hard to imagine Malone having a regular spot in the rotation, meaning that spot would likely go to Jeff Greene, who concluded last season with the Nuggets despite being asked to play a much bigger role than originally expected. . If Malone wanted to be weird, he could play super small off the bench with Nanaji in the center and Brown and Reed with both Brown and Hyland. Denver has plenty of options and Malone will likely experiment with a backup center for the first few months of the season.
end of bench
Ish Smith, Christian Braun, Vlatko Cancar, DeAndre Jordan
If injury strikes or the Nuggets are looking for a change after a slow start, it will be the players who will be called up.
If Murray takes a periodic rest and Hyland has to start in his place, the Nuggets could call on longtime NBA traveler Ish Smith to provide capable point guard play off the bench. If the Nuggets needed another wing that could, in theory, guard and protect the wings while adding three-point shooting, Braun could slide. If the Nuggets need to move on because Nanaji struggles or Jeff Greene gets hurt, the Cankers will be ahead. If Jokic needs a night off or one of the Nuggets backup biggies gets hurt, that should be when Jordan spends most of his minutes.
The Nuggets aren’t the deepest team in the league, but they do have a useful group of players that can help out in a pinch. It can get quite bad and Denver is well established if they need to get more rest or deal with injuries for their start.
Colin Gillespie, Peyton Watson, Jack White
The only player in this group who can see actual NBA play time is Colin Gillespie, and this will only happen if he achieves the third point guard role that Ish Smith currently holds. Beyond Gillespie, neither Peyton Watson or Jack White should play the actual minute. If they do, it’s likely because something went terribly wrong for Nuggy.
The Nuggets plan to have Watson get most of his G-League reps this season and there is a high chance that Jack White will join him. Gillespie may stick with the Nuggets at first until Murray’s minutes restriction is eased, but he will also spend time in Grand Rapids with Gould.
That being said, it should be a very fun Grand Rapids Gold season.