Denver Nuggets 2022/2023 Season Preview
The 2021-22 season saw the Denver Nuggets lose two key pieces to major injury in Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr (Back), but despite this and a slow 9-10 start to the season, the Nuggets were able to pull together.
Lead by a monstrous MVP effort by Superstar Nikola Jokic, the team was able to battle their way to a 6th seed placement in the post-season. Denver were ultimately defeated by the Golden State Warriors 4-1 in the first round though, left unable to win a post-season series for the first time in 4 years.
The Nuggets' staff have wasted no time going back to the drawing board in preparation for the 2022-23 season.
Anticipating a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter to return to the starting line-up, Nikola Jokic won't be required to shoulder the full responsibility of the team. Instead, a three headed dragon approach will keep the ball in the hands of their key stars, with a plethora of role playing options providing adaptability on the fly.
Trading away 'high-usage' fan favourites Will Barton and Monte Morris, the focal point of the Nuggets' game plan will place the usage, and the decision making, in the hands of their key stars. In addition, moving away from low impact players like Austin Rivers and DeMarcus Cousins frees up room to acquire less ball-dominant role-players.
Michael Porter Jr (left) and Jamal Murray (right) haven't played together since April, 2021. The duos health is key for Denver to contend for a Championship. Credit: Vail Daily
The acquisition of players like veteran wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, hustle man Bruce Brown and rookie Christian Braun will round out the team's defence while also providing flexible scoring options from in-close and outside. We also can't forget mention returning players Aaron Gordon and 'Bones' Hyland who have proven invaluable in their ability to compliment the stars. Both will play prominent roles moving forward; Hyland in particular will be required to elevate, to play make for the team when Jamal Murray rests.
This may be the best version of the Nuggets roster we've seen since the 2019-20 conference finals. Denver is exuding a renewed confidence, with their aspirations high for the 2022-23 season. The increased focus of the front office to bring in a host of new talent to complement the EXISTING system shows they see themselves as immediate contenders for a title. Their success will hinge on the recovery of their young stars, HOWEVER, and we should expect a slow start to their season. It will be in Coach Malone's best interest to carefully monitor the minutes of Murray and Porter Jr., focusing on solidifying the roster and rotations as the season progresses. A cautious start to the season may not see the Nuggets soaring to the top of the conference standings; trials and challenges will be necessary to shape this talented young team into the best version of themselves and bolster their resolve for the post-season.
The Nuggets Organisation has done a great job to bring in some new talent to bolster a young, star studded roster. It is yet to be seen if these changes will be enough to make the most effective use of 2 time MVP Nikola Jokic's prime years though. Regardless, Denver's championship window is wide open.
CEILING: 3rd Seed
FLOOR: 6th Seed